Monday, July 11, 2005

Birth Of A Song

This time around it was more like God threw me a football. Easy pass. "Go Long." 'Twas the day after 7/7 (just another in a parade of numbers - some countries lose track of the dates, but somewhere, somebody's keeping a list) and had been promising to sit down and do some intense songwriting during the band break. Intense not only because I was going to really sit down and do it with much determination, but because there were some really intense subjects to explore this year, and though I like singing happy-tree music, I keep a balance by writing whacked-out stuff like "Monsters At The Garden Wall."

Being mindful of the self-imposed challenge of writing tunes under five minutes in length, I hearkened back to the days of slave chants when the workers would sing as they did what slaves do. Massa always thought they was just singin', workin' folk, but the slaves were actually singing in code, making plans for their escape and expressing well-disguised contempt for their white slaveowners. Many years later, as that music developed into the blues, the code-speak would continue in an era that saw prohibition, the rise in popularity of marijuana and more songs of dissatisfaction towards authority and The Man.

"Monsters" is filled with code, and as it came gushing out in colorful spurts, you have to think of someone riding one of those big-ass brahma bulls with the huge horns and the big neck flap flying back and forth, crazy eyes, crazy maux-faux on the back, and when a song idea comes swooping in from wha-fu, you have to hop on its back and ride it, or it gets away from you. That's why so many musicians go running and scrambling over themselves (and you, if you're laying in bed next to one) to jot down bits of music, hum into tape recorders, sing into their cel phones, etc. Keith Richards reportedly got the lick for "Satisfaction" in his sleep. Woke up and grabbed a guitar to lock it down for all eternity. We should all be so receptive.

So anyway - it works on a lot of different levels, and I was careful to allow that vagueness so that you paint your own picture. I guess it's rock, or it could be pop, I dunno, I'm open to suggestions, so I made a demo.

I'm a Mac user (we rock!) and there's a program called Garageband (not to be confused with that's a sound application where you can combine instrument loops with your own recorded sounds and MIDI input to create songs. Easy-to-use, comes with a lot of neat built-in effects, some of which sound even better than what I'm playing through on-stage (a Line 6 Spyder - for anyone who cares. It's a piece. Never again.)

To set a groove, I took a drum pattern and pasted it repeatedly into the timeline and then worked out the dulcimer part, found a really nice and crunchy sound. Tracked separate tracks for left and right dulcimers with a track of lead dulcimer. Put in and layered some different drum patterns to change things up a bit. I love working with loops - I don't spend a lot of time trying to program patterns (on the other hand, about a million other people have used those drums. I dunno. They sound cool. Laid in some keyboard bass and about fourteen tracks of voices, cymbals and other assorted production muckery and came up with this.

Bing Futch - Demo DuJour - 01 - Monsters At The Garden Wall (Remix).mp3 (3.5MB 3:53)

I did everything pretty much first take - the vocals were a pain in the ass, but I'm not shying away from that challenge either. But I am looking for input on the song itself, the lyrics, the melody, the mood, the hook, that sort of thing. Just c-n-s, let me know what you think.

I'm at a point where I've basically accepted the fact that not everyone's gonna like this stuff, so I should just focus on a groove and stay there. And that's what I'm doin', especially on my summer vacation, which I guess is a lot more like "workation."

No comments: