one of my favorite things ever is when folks make things for each other, and i just recieved a piece of birthday music from good pals Ben Miranda and Drew Durepos yesterday. it’s awesome! thanks you two guys!
i wouldn’t call it a tradition yet, but this sort of thing’s been happening ’round these parts for a while. here are some examples!
1. a piece i wrote for my buddy jaron hilger a few years ago:
3. my 30th birthday recording, which i heard from the backseat of a car, blindfolded. this was made by a whole bunch of loved ones including steve niketopoulos, ben miranda, nadia cone, jim cooper, james mitchell, my dad, andrew sole, rick franklin, ryan jedlika, elaine friedberg, and “ola.”
4. a piece of mark messing’s that i arranged for his birthday this year:
hi mom! while, i haven’t updated this blog in a while, i have been busy making things! don’t worry!
just came across this track this afternoon and thought i’d share it. i made it a few months ago, before moving, starting Tour de Fat, etc. it’s something i like and may develop or use for a steinomite song or something. i dunno.
ok, so roommate drew durepos and i shared an office in our old place… in the living room. it was tight. but we did a good job of coordinating our noisy times to work for the other person. one day i was working at my desk and drew asked to do some guitar practice, which was fine by me. having been a little rammy anyway and needing a project, i realized that i could record his practice and possibly get a new set of samples out of it. so i did.
i then went in and grabbed stuff i liked and tried to play with them as musical motives/repeated figures. i’m pretty happy with it! love the combination of electronic and ambient live instruments in this.
The show apparently had half the room in stitches and half the room pissed. i’d call that a success!!
this show required johnny amazing to perform the Top Gun Theme live, multiple times, so i made a karaoke version of the song that just repeats the main riff, transposing up at each repeat. to be between 3 and 4 minutes long and cover the necessary range on the guitar, i went up a minor third every time.
i ended up making 4 or 5 versions of this for the live show, including a funky dancetime curtain call
WARNING – this theme might be rolling around in your head all day, but you’ve prolly known that since the 80’s.
“freaks of nurture” is a poppy little romp through my last few weeks, and simultaneously through years of field work in the area of relationships and human interaction.
this was another song written from the “guitar.” this is often a good bet for me, if i give it time and enjoy playing the instrument. as a keyboard player and drummer, the guitar is both a nice break and an environment with welcome limits. the verse section of this song is a testament to that: very simple and melody driven. the “chorus” has a “strange change” that i think helps get its’ point across, even though the “nothing new under the sun” theory still applies.
for the geeks: i go to the the four chord for the chorus, but make it it IV, IV/I, #IV. what the hell?.
also for the geeks, or anyone who feels like singing along, the melodies in the verse and chorus start exactly the same way…with the same four notes, but in different keys! yay!! this is one of those “continuity” issues that i was really happy with.
after writing the core of the song on my back porch with guitar and voice and verse one lyrics (and coffee), i went to Ableton Live and laid down the fake drums and keyboard parts. i was going for simple, synthy, and a bit funny. i then added guitar, bass, and background vocals that were vaguely in my head from early on, but as usual, came together during the recording process.
WORDS (also known as “lyrics”)
whew…ok…well. this is another song in the “serious” category, which i’m getting increasingly comfortable with for some reason. while it’s understandably vague (i think), it stems from a short list of things:
1. the maplympics (july 4th weekend of events here)
3. human nature, social verses innate
4. a funny compound plural noun coined years ago by my friend, steve williamson: “freaks of nurture”
5. a couple of recent dates i’ve had.
woah. dates? i won’t get into it here. but let’s say that i know some lovely people. this song isn’t “about” anyone but me ultimately, but touches on some of my “romantic” relationships, and the conflict and joy therein. in this song, it’s something that reminds me of how wonderfully humans are made (creationist theory), and how interesting and tricky it can be to operate as one (inherently).
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wartime. a letter from home to a loved one overseas. we don’t know how long the soldier will be away, or how long he/she’s been gone. we get to know little bits about the current events here at home in the verses, with a focus on the simple, beautiful things we may take for granted. the chorus focuses on dreaming that you’ll be together, and that this soldier will be safe. this song was a stretch for me in a nice way. i went for the real life drama, love, emotion, loss, heart stuff…which i don’t often do, but also made it up. as the “characters” developed in my head the lyrics became easier to write, but i also got a couple suggestions and edits from family and friends. anyway, here are the lyrics:
ever since you left for war
tonight the johnsons treated me
to dinner and wine
i know letters
might not make it through
but i hope they get to you
and you write some too
and i can dream tonight
by the candle light
i love it that you love me
and far away tonight
by the morning light you hold
my memory tightly
and i can close my eyes and here you say:
i will hurry free
while you dream”
tonight the neighbor had another date
billy finally got time to fix the gate
when you get home
i’ll take care of your things
just think of me when it’s getting late
i can dream tonight
by the candlelight
i love it that you miss me
far away tonight
darkness turns to light
and suddenly it hits me
i may never see my love again
lover hurry please
while i dream
i can dream
i can dream tonight
thank my lucky stars i
i can dream
the b section (i can dream tonight) was the first thing i wrote of this, THEN the C section (don’t worry, i will hurry), and then the openning Verse Sections. i think these verse sections may the weakest of the three, but i don’t mind them being less interesting, and more text driven. the question then becomes whether or not the text is sober enough to drive (if you will), or interesting enough to carry the verses. i’m still not sure. i AM happy with the ending though, the tags, and the repetition of that B Section “i can dream” melody. i also am pretty proud of the “thank my lucky stars i dream” line. i think this really wraps up the piece for me, as seeing stars is one of those connections people can have from wherever they are in the world, making it feel a bit smaller, and being thankful that your imagination gives you hope. aw….
okee. this song is titled in honor of my niece, the Amazing Grace Steinmeier. gracie called me a couple of times in the past week cause her mother let her, and just wanted to say hi and thank me for the songs i’ve been writing and encourage me to write another song and to come and visit. so sweet. made my week. she’s increasingly coherent and impressively polite in conversation, and these recent interactions inspired the content for this weeks song. well, these interactions along with her God given charm and sweetieness.
i’m honored that you’d call
big smile from baby doll
i see it through the telephone
i’m glad you like my songs
that you would sing along
this one’s for you per your petition (peticiown)
you’ll have a lovely lifetime
no color greys on gracies dime
if i could visit you
we’d dance around the room
and cook a meal and talk on telephones
you’d call me by my name
listen to “aeroplane”
i’d tell you all about chicago
we’d have a lovely playtime
no cloudy days on gracies dime
precious babies bring
life to things
this is an unusually sappy and sincere song, coming from me. some explanation of said lyrics: Gracie loves to talk on the phone (real or pretend), and her favorite steiny song is “airplane”, which is up at http://www.jonsteinmeier.com somewhere down the list, halfway or more. so that’s the phone bit. cooking a meal goes back to one of the amazing christmas gifts she got from her mom and dad, an expansive plastic play kitchen.
the end of this song is the real sap…”precious babies bring life to things, fragile life.” this part is a bit about the life cycle. this is the point in the recording process where i had to wipe tears down and do a few takes…i had a hard time making it past the word “fragile.” and this song was pretty satisfying to record in that way. it’s a pretty personal one to me, in honor of a couple of very dear people in my life. Gracie and her dad, Dave. (holla!)
i started this track with drums and little beep boops and keyboards and harp, and added guitar lines that weave around each other. setting up a groove and some harmonic changes. i added bass in a weavy way too, and found it to be too complicated and scrapped it, opting for the now simple “anchor” bass part. i treated the little keyboard and harp parts differently after each verse. three times, a “chorus” of some sort happens, and each time, i opted for different chord changes under the same beepy boopy material, which i was pretty happy with. my attempt at not being so repetative. 🙂 that was half of the fun of this tune. the other half, was getting it to build at the end, or evolve from point A to point B. i feel as though i accomplished this in the writing, but not in the performance. i feel as though doing it with a live band would fix it…that dynamic evolution. this one is a bit static for me, compaired to how i hear it in my face.