Archive for the ‘rock and roll’ Category

laughter carries far

March 15, 2008

laughter carries far

lyrically, this started for me on a night recently where i sat for a long period of time (tipsy perhaps), wondering if i’m stupid (moreso than i thought at least). wondering how i would even know. i could be filtering my life through completely different eyes and ears than everyone else and i wouldn’t know it. it snowballed a bit from there, but the idea got me pretty emotional, as i assume (but don’t know that) it does any number of us (humans) from time to time.

so, lyrically, i wanted to tackle a bit of that feeling, that fear, and i started thinking about fourth grade at South School in Jefferson City, Mo. and the horrible feeling of being laughed at by swarm of “pretty girls” cause i had my friend’s shawn and adam ask one of them out for me while i hung out (or hid behind) the jungle-gym. funny now, but not so funny then; and i think i’m still connected to moments like that in my life. in the same way that i’m connected to fond memories and encouraging or gratifying expereiences and relationships. it’s all building you into someone. but in this song, i focus on the fear of being stupid. 🙂

lyrics:

this feels like fourth grade
monkey bars and growing pains
hang’n like the three amigos
hid’n from a wolf-gang

and when i asked them to
my boys had follow through
ran upon the girls
and asked her just what i had asked them to

and laughter carries very far
when high voices know who they are

who they are to me (big C chord)

i’m at the club again
whiskey just mixes in
hang’n like that guy from bands
you like he’s got a funny grin

a conversation has
endless potential
as it gets a little later though
everyone starts to laugh again

and laughter carries very far
and i can hear it from my car

drive it out clean it up like
old (times)

time and time again
the things you know
live in a world you cannot know
and time again
swings make amends
for reckless useful thoughtful men
boys will be boys
girls will be girls
it’ll all comes out in
the wash
in the end
friend

————————–

music

live instruments! guitars! bass! drums! guitar wallowing in effects! fake drums in the background that served as a click and kept in! wow!! what fun!

this one, musically, was written from the geetar. zowie! alright!

mix

if anyone wants to volunteer to mix this one, i’d love to hear it. i had a hard time accounting for the space and volume once the vocals got in there. let me know. i’ll bake you dinner.

thanks for listening,

love,

j

p.s. mailing list ist hier

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EVERYTHING IS PERFECT

October 16, 2007

well, not exactly. this song for example, is not perfect. but hey! welcome back to the weekly song a week for the weak songy song-time leek seekers song blog!

everything is perfect” is a three part diddy i wrote over the past week (give or take), and started with the idea to just make a guitar rocker.

PART ONE:

once i came up with the rhythmic idea (drums first), i looped it and added the crunchy, dissonant guitar chunks. i liked it because it was confusing and sporadic, but that’s a funny thing about writing and recording a song, that as you know it better it gets a little boring to you. this is part of the reason this openning is so short i guess. it also made sense to me to keep it short, cause it’s so noisy and high energy that it sounds like a scream in my memory, which i like. (“run-on”, sorry english buffs).

lyrically, this guy got pretty cheezy to me, but you should’ve heard the first version. 🙂 the “we’re gonna be ok!” shout chorus just made sense to me hearing that repeated “chorus” at the end. i was thinking teeny-power-emo-punk a little here in general. the openning is so convoluted rhythmically, that i found the straight ahead chorus to be a pretty satisfying break. so…”we’re gonna be ok” was easy, repetitive, common, and the lyrical break from the tense, worrisome “verse” lyrics before that, which are appropriately TENSE. in general, these are all general lyrical ideas, actually about some other characters that i neither am nor know. (man, i think my writing is really confusing right now, sorry). bascially, the lyrics were written by high school kids.

PART TWO:

i wanted this MADNESS to go in to something totally polar. i opted for a little organy sound (actually a sine wav) that reminded me of a not-so-memorable prelude or offertory in church. something that was relaxing and unobtrusive, to contrast the openning section. i thought of singing choiry reverbed four part over this, but decided to go “super stripped down simple style” for effect. i like this section a lot acutally, in the context of the whole piece. the calm after the storm.

PART THREE:

this part, started with the drums again, and i went for another pretty different character altogether. the electro element for one, the light and clean guitar parts, and the pitch shifted spoken parts i’m such a fan of these days. the joke of the piece is in this section, but it’s not actually the voices, although chipmunk steiny always makes me laugh. i was thinking of singing over this section as well, but ended up liking the little skit with “lucious” better, imagining who this weirdo is and why he’s in my room when i wake up and why that doesn’t seem to bother me at all. 🙂

but, i guess it’s because everything is perfect.

thanks for listening!

tune in next week for one of a couple of ideas:

1. a piano trio doing an original steiny JAZZ number

2. another boring pop song

3. some sound design

4. maybe something for strings

5. maybe a recording of me eating a burrito.

-j

p.s. the mailing list is here (updated weekly)

grease machine

August 22, 2007

hey kids! welcome to this weeks episode of the “song of week” mini-drama magic show super series. “grease machine” is a new song that i wrote on my back porch and recorded in my imagination. the nice thing about my imagination in this case, was that it took me into the future (2112 or so) where it’s possible to merely imagine things, like sound recordings, into existence. really convenient.

MUSICS

this was another of a few recent posts that i wrote on the guitar, something i don’t do that often these days. i rather like it though (the guitar), and in this case, had a lovely time on my back porch with guitar, pen, paper, coffee, and cigarettes. made an afternoon out of it.

i’ve been thinking about form lately, most recently about a conversation with jeff thomas about the writing of mark messing (mucca pazza), someone i’ve admired for years, as a writer, player, and human. jeff noted that some of mark’s forms are set up in an A B A C A D A E etc…format. “A” being the main idea (chorus, hook, theme, refrain, whatever) and the others being various developments of the idea. i really like this approach to form, almost in a theme and variations sort of way. it keeps the piece moving in potentially new directions within the confines of “theme,” something i find to be truly satisfying. i was at least conscious of this approach in writing “grease machine,” as someone who recently gets trapped in ABABABABA sorts of forms. so, i expanded my horizons a bit. i ended up with an A B C D A B C D E F A form. i used a rhythmic motive of groups of two (over three for the most part) as one way to keep it all together. i think you’ll hear what i’m talking about…but let me know if you don’t and i’ll give you min/sec examples. from the beginning, you can listen for repeated groups of TWO, and you’ll probably hear what i’m talking about. a little thing, that i think goes a long way in keeping the tune together.

i also played with time alot in this tune, mostly marrying the rhythm to two things:

1.that two over three idea, and

2.the lyrics.

the two over three idea came from the openning guitar part, the first thing i wrote. i liked it enough to make a theme out of the idea, and off we go…

i continued to use these groupings of two’s throughout the piece though, in the B, D, E, and F sections. the C section stands out because it hangs on long notes, and doesn’t adhere to this otherwise relentless grouping, in the same way that the beginning of the E section does…sort of serving as a “bridge” in the song. bla bla bla…

other rhythmic play that i had fun with was the frequency of chord changes in the “chorus” or D section of the tune (“i’ve been swallowed by the grease machine“). there are three chords in this section that repeat in order over phrases of four…so, you end up with a vocal pattern that repeats in twos and four’s, and guitar parts that repeat in three’s. i find that this actually makes the guitar part SOUND like a longer phrase than the vocal part, when it’s actually shorter (oddly enough). what do you think?

WORDS

alrighty, enough nonsensical gibberish. oh…wait. no, there’s more. the lyrics of this tune (again) come mostly from the steiny subconscious super computer, designed in 1978 and developed more fully over the past 29 years as technology became available to “us.”

the first part is a play on words between english and german…ultimately blending together the word for toilet (bathroom) and merchantile. this finding took my imagination to a place i’ve been in the past couple of years a few times. that place where you’re on tour with a band, and have to use a bathroom somewhere, whether you’re allowed to or not. whether you’re a patron or not. in this situation, i’ve had to (a couple of times) be quick and/or sneaky to get the job done, or (in a couple of cases) get scolded by an employee of said establishment. so, naturally, in my mind, the Das BaditzimMer-chantile exchange on main had a lovely bathroom, if you could get in and out with getting into trouble, or being swallowed by a gigantic grease robot. if you really want more meaning out of this song, you’ll appreciate the E (bridge) section, where i too express the desire for meaning, even questioning why it’s “meaning i want.” an excellent question for the philosophers in the audience.

i thought today, about things that this song COULD be about…and again, came up with a couple of good ideas, but yea…it’s a sound and picture game to me on this one. it’s all a part of the aesthetic. the character of the tune.

any questions?

comments?

concerns?

sandwiches?

as always, thanks for listening. 🙂

famous people

August 16, 2007

hey kids! welcome back. i’m kind of excited about this weeks song. i had fun playing with guitary stuff, and with the character of this rocker. it’s called “famous people” (click to open or download).

well. this guy started with an entire drum track, and was a far cheezier animal in my head at first. once i started playing with guitar and bass parts, my aesthetic changed. my ear was drawn more toward eastern mystery macho for some reason. and so it goes. i’m pretty happy with where it ended up though, especially the “chorus,” the repetative spoken part with octave guitars/bass and sort of cliche guitar melody.

MUSIC

i’m a big fan of doubling. i do this with guitar and bass on this tune, as well as vocals. i even have the bass guitar rhythm following the kick drum pretty closely thoughout, something that i think really keeps a tune “tite” in a specifically “tite” feeling way. the bass part of this tune actually came first (second…after drums). i like the the mean little metally sounding lick of the verse, and was imagining AB-ing it with the vocals, guitar lick – vocal line – guitar lick – vocal line – etc, though i wasn’t sure yet what the vocal line would be, musically speaking. i ended up speaking that vocal line after trying a couple of singy parts that just weren’t work’n for me. speaking with some level of urgency seemed to fit the meany dark character of the verse guitar/bass parts than singing did, to my ear.

the idea of the little B section that happens after these verses was to lighten the mood a little, probably residual material from the cheezy original concept i had (albeit vague). it made sense to me to sing this section (in parts too), as the character is lighter and less funky.

the “chorus” or C section is my favorite of these main three. the bass and guitar double was the first idea here. repetitive, a little funky, driving. a character that you hear when the guys in the movie are heading out to do macho things and tensions are high. here, i’ve got bass and two clean guitars doubling the riff, and the octavy distorted guitar playing the eastern sounding single line dealy. really fun character.

the last section of the piece builds over four sections. the drums change slightly in every “section” here, and guitars generally don’t. they loop four different lines, designed to be a little off kilter and to “move” well, or be rhythmically driving. the big distorty line does this by being relentlessly steady eight notes that change keys and chords. bass follows the kick drum (generally) again, another guitar (clean) a short loop around one of the rhythmic themes of the tune, and another plays a more melodic part here, but with an intentionally groovy rhythmic pattern of twos over groups of three. you could think of this like “one, e…a, two…and, a…” based on at “one, e, and, a” four count. i thought about playing even more with rhythm here, firstly trying to mess with triplets over the eighth notes, but found it too be too complicated for how not-so-cool it sounded. i think this (as weird as it is) makes a lot more sense to the ear. it’s tense sounding, and “complicated” but it still moves foward. it flows. to me at least. i guess that’s part of the question. i feel like these things are happening, but really it’s just that these were the intentions of or motivations for the part writing decisions…not to say that they’re affective. 🙂

WORDS

well, what do YOU think the words are about? they’re a bit convoluted, but there are some strains of theme in there that i think ended up making some sense in a strange way. these were written with a stronger focus on character and sound than “meaning” or “subject.” but, i think that my subconscious created some consistencies that work pretty well. i felt, by the end of recording the vocals, that it started to make some sense (not the original intention). in this case TITLE came first, then rhythmic and melodic ideas for the three sections, and then words, A to B to C. i recording myself riffing over these sections with jibberish, which i often do, to get the rhythmic and melodic ideas down. then i added in texts that worked with those melodic constraints, and fit the character that i was hearing.

so, any ideas what it’s about? don’t think of “about” in terms of narrative, but more in terms of character, context, imagery, etc…but i’d be interested to hear what people’s take on subject matter are on this. i have ideas, but i usually consider this sort of thing a “no wrong answers” deal. i love hearing what something sounds like through some elses ears and processing system. here are the letters:

he’s com’n round the bend
make sure it’s ready to go
he’s wearing davidoff
and a face like jonny joe

famous eyeballs long flowy lines
famous pitfalls help me unwind

LIGHT IT I LIKE IT I FEEL IT IN MY EYELID
I’D EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST ON MY YELLOW BRICK LAWN
I HATE IT FILET IT I KNOW IT’S THE JUST WAY IT
LOOKS UP ON THE TELEVISION SCREEN IN MY DREAM..AH AH AH

he’s got a lobster in his hand
he’s made of butter and sand
that’s not our man
we’ve been had…we’ve been had

famous eyeballs long flowy lines
famous pitfalls help me unwind

LIGHT IT I LIKE IT I FEEL IT IN MY EYELID
I’D EAT IT FOR DINNER ON MY ORANGE-WHIP PLATES
I HATE IT JUST ATE IT I KNOW I’VE GOTTA SAY IT’S
GONNA BE A LONG LONG NIGHT…

BUT IF YOU EXIST TO QUALIFY MY SEA-DO
I’LL TAKE YOU TO FAKE VIEWS OF CARAMELLA LIGHTS
YOU’LL LOVE IT BLACK GLOVE IT RUB IT ON MY TUB IT’S
THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES ME LATE…AH AH AH

eh?

thanks for listening/reading.

j