This week we bust into the thirties as we plow our way through the heart of the summer. It’s a mighty fine milestone but I must admit that it’s been a challenge keeping up with the songs. No question, the pace has been tough. Both work and family life have been busy this past month, so just finding (or making) time to write and record has been difficult.
However, I think it’s a little more than that. It’s summertime with its warm weather and long days. I have to believe that makes it just that much harder to spend countless hours of what would otherwise be my free time sitting in the home studio. It’s certainly a very different feel from those first few wintery months of 52 in 52 where it was almost nice having something to do inside. It will be interesting to see how it feels come the colder, darker days of autumn. But about the song…
The Best Things started with the chorus. I was playing around with some chord patterns last weekend and became enamored with the little I – III shift that starts it. I’ve used it before (although I don’t think this year) but it’s been a while. It has that unique feel and in just a minute or two of playing it, I had the chorus’ lyric idea in place based roughly around the ‘best things in this life are free’ line. It didn’t take too much time after that to develop a verse melody and chord progression that seemed to go well with it.
With the music and melody in place fairly early and a pretty good sense of what I was writing about, I spent most of the week’s sessions on lyrics. It was all pretty straightforward with maybe a few interesting things to mention. The first was the decision to double the length of the chorus. I initially had it as three lines: ‘Took a while babe but now I see / That the best things in this life are free / I’ve got you and you’ve got me’. I liked it but it felt like it should be more. It’s a fun chorus to sing so why not repeat it? I toyed with doing just that, simply repeating it. However, in the end I added the three lines, including the ‘was, is, will’ thing which I like. One of those happy accidents, I suppose.
As I was working on it, I also felt that the ‘I’ve got you and you’ve got me’ line was making this a bit of a love song. My early lyrics were really focused (and still are) on the ‘best things in life are free’ theme. In order to give it a little more ‘relationship’ context, I changed the first line of the chorus from ‘babe but now I see’ to ‘but you helped me see’. Just a subtle tweak but I think it helps.
The last interesting decision involved ending with the bridge. It was a little later in the week when I was playing around with the bridge idea that you hear in the song. I started to experiment with the vocal, taking the melody up to the highest parts of my range. Once I settled on that direction, it just seemed to feel right having that section take us out. Going back to the verse and/or chorus idea at that point seemed a little anticlimactic. So I broke with convention and ended with the bridge.
As for recording, I’m sticking with my ‘keep it simple’ campaign. The song seemed to lend itself to that sort of approach, so I had no interest in complicating it. I doubled the guitar part, panned them left and right, and added the voice. I also added the background vocals which were fun. I love the feel that the oohs and ahhs give the song as opposed to harmonizing along with the actual lyrics.
And I think that does it. I hope you enjoyed The Best Things. The next few weeks are looking busy with both work and some travel. It might get interesting for me (in a bad way). But no worries on your end. You get to sit back and watch it unfold. Remember my words as I started the year, ‘Triumph or train wreck, you’ll have a front row seat.’ And you do. But we’ve made it to Week 30, so I’m counting on triumph.
As always, thanks for following and for taking the time to read this blog. Your support means so much to me. Have a great week!