I had a first this week. I gave up on a song idea after initially committing and doing some work on it. (I suppose I did have an idea in place for Week 3 that I put aside for another but that happened from the outset of that week so it was a little different.) Thankfully, I didn’t get too far along with this one before it happened. However, I did lose a precious day of work and that’s a big deal when trying to get these done and out in a week’s time. Here’s what happened...
I sat down as I typically do early Sunday morning to see what I could get going. After a bit, I had a chord progression that I felt was interesting and worked. Thinking at this point that I at least had the chords in place for the verse, I began fishing for melody ideas. I spent some time at it but in the end had nothing much to show for it. Given that it was still early Sunday, I figured no big deal and set it aside to return to later.
One of the benefits of using my phone to record these little audio sketches and ideas is that I almost always have them with me throughout the day. So in a case like this where I’m still searching for a melody line, it’s very easy for me to give the rough recording a listen or two while I’m driving or otherwise going about my business and get my mind working on ideas. And if anything pops, I’ve got the phone right there to record it. That’s what I did with this one.
Come Sunday evening, I did have a melody idea that seemed to work well with the morning’s chord progression but something about it just wasn’t resonating with me. It wasn’t that I felt it was bad. I just wasn’t feeling it and the thought of pushing myself all week to complete it was not exciting me. At that point, I went to bed with the idea of starting from scratch the next morning which is what I did.
Up early Monday before work, I was back at it and soon had the simple 6/8 chord progression that became the basis for Can’t Let You Go. I ended that early morning session with a rough chord progression and the segment of the lyric that I wanted to have ending each verse/chorus - “…probably will, but I think you should know, that I still, can’t let you go.”
At this point, I turned my mind to the music and instrumentation of the song. In my head, I imagined this as a simple soulful piece and if I couldn’t figure out a way to do it convincingly, I was afraid it would come across as a cheesy imitation of soulful. So while I didn’t completely ignore the lyrics, I did spend the next few work sessions playing around with various instruments and sounds. I wanted to get the bass to feel right (which is a challenge for someone who really doesn’t play the bass) and add some organ. And I also imagined a simple guitar solo in the middle. Trying to achieve the sound that I heard in my head took some experimentation with various amp sounds.
Once I felt that I had the feel or groove of the song down, I returned to the lyrics. It’s a simple song but it took a few sessions to get them to a point where they felt ‘complete enough’. By that point, it was early Friday morning. Friday night, I did some final recording of the instrument parts and used Saturday morning for the final vocal recording and mixing. I intentionally left the vocal recording for morning because my voice is a little rougher then and I thought it would work better for this song. I’m not sure if it makes a difference that the listener can hear, but part of the fun of this whole project is experimenting with different approaches and learning what makes a difference and what doesn’t.
The songwriting train just keeps on rolling. Thanks for following and have a great week!