Week 23 - Once Again

What a week!  The pain issues have slowly improved but they’re far from gone.  I’ve seen a few doctors and I’m hopeful that I’ll be on my way to getting better soon.  As far as I understand it, there seems to be a nerve that’s impinged (or pinched) somewhere between the left side of my neck and my shoulder.  Mind your poor work habits people!  They will catch up to you.

Due to the pain and Week 22’s song taking a day longer to get out, I was behind schedule to start the week.  On top of that, (I don’t mean to sound like a wimp but) I was hurting pretty bad and it was hard to be creative in that state.  I think it was Wednesday when I finally reminded myself that I had to write, record and release a song in the next few days.  Yikes!

I sat down to write that Wednesday morning and couldn’t get past my misery.  So I started writing about it.  I was playing the acoustic and fell into the simple Am – C – G – Am pattern that makes up the verse.  I started singing over it and a few lines came along.  At this point, I don’t remember what was first, but I quickly had some rough lyrics that would work over the progression. 

Next stop was some sort of chorus.  After fiddling around a bit, I fell into the pattern that you hear in the song.  It seemed to work nicely coming out of the first progression, so I went with it.  After some time, I had the high melody you hear in the song.  It was fun to sing and you can’t beat that.  I fleshed out some lyrics and soon had a rough structure in place.

One of the things I thought as I was writing Once Again was that it would be a bigger production, meaning multiple instruments.  In retrospect, that was probably a poor decision.  I should have stuck with a simple guitar and voice arrangement given how I’ve been feeling.  But once I got started down the multiple instruments path, there was no turning back.

I started with programming drums and bass and actually had a little fun.  I felt like I got a nice groove going.  From there, I added simple strummed acoustic and electric guitars and organ and it was on to vocals.  I had a bit of trouble with the part of the melody that drops down – ‘I’ve fallen down so lowww.’  I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to go down like that line or up as it does with ‘Their shadows down below’ in the second verse.  In the end, I went both ways and I’m still not sure which I prefer. 

At some point in the writing process, I decided I wanted to end on a hopeful note.  I am a glass half full type of guy after all.  I was able to tweak the chorus lyrics to give me that hopeful ending, but I needed to somehow get from the ‘pity party’ of the early song to the ‘hopeful’ ending.  Enter the bridge…

I had this funky idea for the bridge where we’d go into it with the repeating line ‘Tell me now will it ever get better’ and come out of it with the repeating line ‘I tell you now that it’s gonna get better’.  Somehow I had to create some sort of musical sausage grinder that would take that despondent line in, carry us through and spit out the hopeful line.  I spent a lot of time on it but in the end, I think it works.  I hope it works for you too.

The final step was adding the electric guitar parts.  I’m not a very adept guitarist so this was painful.  What might have taken a seasoned professional a pass or two to get down, took me hours.  And it’s not even close to as fine as what that seasoned professional would do.  But you work with what you’ve got.

Lastly, the Wizard of Oz imagery in the second verse.  I'm not sure where that came from but I imagined the bridge as sort of a walk through a haunted forest, although the second verse came first, so...I don't know.  What can I say?  I liked it.  

In the end and in spite of the pain, I enjoyed this song.  Occasionally (well more than occasionally) you write a song that has a therapeutic effect.  That was the case this time around.  I’ve been a little freaked out by this incident with my shoulder, neck, etc.  I’m fairly confident that it will get better (glass half full) but I think it will take some time and effort improving my work habits and getting the area flexible and fit.  Singing this song over the two days of finishing it up made me feel hopeful.  What more can a guy ask for from his song?

That’s it for now.  I know this is a quick brain dump of a blog entry but I need to move on to Week 24.  Thanks for following.  Have a great week!