Archive for the ‘beck’ Category

cha cha cha

April 8, 2008

welcome back! this weeks song comes to us from where my funny bone meets my dance bones (there are a couple of ’em). and, after the “pop song” project of the past couple of weeks, i must say that writing “cha cha cha” was really satisfying. i just needed to get goofy again. i needed to make something weird. at least MORE weird. maybe next week i’ll make something EVEN MORE WEIRD. i digress. “cha cha cha” is this weeks song of the week and it welcomes back one of my favorite characters, MC Def G.

MC Def G is a hip hop super star from the streets of Jefferson City, MO. he grew up fast, and learned at a very early age to say things in a way that makes them sound important, or even urgent. unfortunately for Def G, he’s not able to think much deeper than said delivery, and therefor rarely has anything of substance to say. he’s not brilliant. he’s not quite an idiot. he’s some strange combination of the two…well, he’s mostly an idiot. questions you may be asking, i’ll attempt to answer below:

why should we say “cha cha cha”?

well, mostly because MC Def G said so. and also because he told you to. don’t hurt his feelings, play along.

why did you write this song?

i didn’t. occassionally, the MC and his “crew” take over the studio for a while and i just have to deal with it. this was one of those cases.

what’s he talking about?

in this case, i think it’s the following things mostly:


stunt doubles

having wings

godzilla having a cell phone

being rich enough of have someone poor toxic acid on your skin


dancing while thinking

banana muffins

how old is Mc Def G?

no idea

are their pictures of him?


is he real?

totally real.


thanks for listening!


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November 8, 2007


machinery” is this weeks trek into “song writing,” as well as working with HORN samples. this was a fun one. i’m pretty happy with it, although i could see myself re-writing the lyrics at some point. i like them well enough, but i feel like i never got that “thing” that i wanted, content-wise.


let’s start there. my subconscious loves to throw in some combination of days or weeks of real life material that i’ve been compiling, without letting me know about it before hand and just seeing if it works together in one way or another. in this case there was an interesting level of “meaning” that appeared to me after they were all written. the goal in writing them was more sound and imagery than meaning, but i ended up connecting a couple of dots in my head after listening to the “final” take.

1 . the smoking a cigarette imagery is just something i generally like, and in this case everytime it happens, it’s the context in which the character (me) gets contemplative…having a smoke and thinking on something.

2. references to motorcycles i think came in part from my friend nadia, who bought one this year, in part from the image of freedom associated with them, and i just loved the idea of jumping on one and leaving your “past” behind you. cinematically of course.

3. the reference to a heart attack is also something connected to adulthood, and maybe therefor “freedom” to me. although, i don’t consider this song to be ABOUT “freedom.” if anything, it’s about how a machine is supposed to operate verses how real life operates, and how sometimes the machine idea is really exciting to me in my “productive” states, and looking at a community of people as some sort of intelligent, organic machine. i love it. i have no idea if this makes sense. the heart attack though, is a personal concern of mine, for one reason or another. as is being “mean”, like in that same, first verse.

4. masks are probably a reference to a recent short play i did with sharon lanza, where we both wore masks and slowly (and brilliantly i might add) removed them throughout the show. but, as in the case of the play i think, the masks are symbolic of people’s “masks.” really though, in the context of this song, i think it’s a nod to how it doesn’t make sense, how we operate like machinery sometimes cause that’s what we know, or because we’re being task oriented and “productive.” we’re machinery in a different sense now. not really conscious of why we’re doing what we’re doing, but doing it nonetheless.  and that’s not always bad…it just is, sometimes.
man…i’m floating away into drug induced art philosphy or something here…

WHAT I THINK THE SONG IS ABOUT…is loving creating things…and understanding that sometimes the “control” you have over what you create is limited, for any number of reasons, but that this can be a brilliant thing for the work, and for you (me) as a thinking person.

(sorry about all that – i just got abducted by aliens and they uploaded some sort of “artist statement” into my fragile brain to see if it made me hungry)



hip-hoppy dance beat – awesome

two basses, one midi, and one real, with an octave pedal for SUPER LOW time – awesome

rhodes – awesome

guitar – real, and key for the character

HORNS – ok, this was really the fun of it for me. i used different samples recorded at different times by different people, and worked them into hooks and hits, and tried to make them sound like one horn section. i think this worked for the most part, but if you listen closely enough, you can probably tell they’re all a little different (maybe i should keep my mouth shut). but this was really fun.

put your hands in the air.

thanks for listening!


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certain things

September 10, 2007

welcome to another weekly update of the jon steinmeier “song a week” weekly blog weak week blog leek. this weeks song is for everyone, especially brad smith, who challenged me to get serious. THIS SONG IS SUPER SERIOUS. it’s called “certain things” (CLICK FOR MP3).

okay. this song came lyrics first, in eight stanza’s that had to be tweaked once the music was written. i was conscious of the lyrics as i wrote the piano/melodic parts but not specifically enough to write the music TO the lyrics. so, the lyrics (syllables per phrase, etc) had to be modified eventually to fit.


if i were to say what this song “is about” i would say it’s about taking comfort in knowing that while you don’t know as much as you’d like to (in general), no one else does either. i’ve found that we generally say a lot of stupid things when we pretend to know what we’re talking about and don’t. opinion is inevitable and crucial, but we have a natural desire to KNOW, and often jump the gun by assuming (or acting like) we DO know. this is vague i know, but it’s true i think in a very general to specific sense.

that being said…i love the peace of mind that comes with understanding how little i know as an individual, and the learning that can actually happen when i keep my mouth shut and pay attention. the things in life that we often learn aren’t the things that we’re seeking out. they sometimes come to us in that process toward some other knowledge, like learning (the hard way) that you’re clingy, or that you still see yourself as the fat kid with glasses that you were in 7th grade, or figuring out why you care about that, or having political and/or religious opinions and why…

i reference “checking out the humans” in a sort of “we’re all in this together” sort of way. just to say that everyone has more questions than they let on. and “there’s an amazing level of relax, that comes with checking back” is a key line in the song for me. it’s the first line i wrote, basically as a reminder that we can learn from our own and other people’s triumphs and failures, and relax in the idea that we’re not gonna figure it all out. it’s ok not to know everything. 🙂

as i sing/read the lyrics i find other little ideas (in the same realm) that make sense to me…which is funny and maybe ironic, cause the “meaning” behind the lyrics is something that has evolved a little bit as i read ’em. not to say that they’re lofty by any stretch, but that as i write some bits of my subconscious show up and i have to decipher them later.


so, writing from the piano, i wrote the A section (certain things are certain) first and liked the character of the Major 6 chord to the diminished chord and looped it. the B wanders a little harmonically (still just two chords though) and made sense with the A so i dug it. i end that section with a FIVE chord (sorry for the harmony talk…hopefully interesting to someone) and had the idea for the intro of the song…just lingering on the five (sol) as a single note. it makes your ear thing that it’s one when it’s the first thing presented to you, so when the full A section comes in it’s like you’ve been tricked, but that note (Five) is still IN the ONE of the A section. 🙂 baaaaaaaaaa sjdklfa;jsdkfl;ajsdklf;jaslkdf;ajsdf. i do the same thing with the bridge, where the chords meander all over the place and end up on a chord (a NEW chord) that has the same single not from the beginning in it…which then repeats just like the intro. again, you’re ear (in theory) has been directed to a different harmonic “home” and will (hopefully) be surprised again to hear the A section return. so, again, you think you know where the one is, but you could be wrong…get it? like the lyrics. get it? yeah? ha! woo…

what do ya’ll think?

thanks for listening.