One Down

October 6th, 2008 |

Saturday morning I finished the lyrics to one of the new songs and tonight I finished the rough demo to make sure it all works. It does.

The song is written to Riley and it’s called “Wait Child Wait.” Hmmm, now that I look at the title it might seem like it’s a “sit down and shut up” song. It’s not. It’s basically a love song to my boy.

When I was writing out the final version of the lyrics I was crying like a little baby. Luckily Angel was asleep at the time. It’s a really touching song I think.

Tonight, when I started recording the vocals for the demo Angel was sitting right across the room at her computer. As soon as I started singing she got up to leave. She said, crying “I don’t want to be a distraction.”

Making chicks cry is always a great affirmation of a song’s efficacy. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Someday Riley will listen to it and cry too. I hope. Maybe when he’s a dad.

Birthday Party

October 5th, 2008 |

Last night my family celebrated my and my second cousin Brock’s birthdays. I was a little concerned before the party because no one had asked me what I wanted. There is usually a thread of emails that gets forwarded around the family before a birthday asking if the birthday person has any gift suggestions. Not to worry though, I was very pleased with the outcome.

My mom got me a seven volume, hardback collection of the complete sermons of Martin Luther. Wow! I was very surprised by that and extremely exited to own such a thing. Super cool. I also got some pajamas that are much more age-appropriate than the Spongebob jammies Riley got me. Right on. In the event of a house fire I would be much more inclined to run into the front yard wearing these pajamas than if I were wearing my Spongebob jammies. If I were wearing the Spogebob jammies I would probably just have to go down with the house so as not to cause any humiliation to my wife.

I also got a bunch of cash. For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis you might rememeber that I already bought myself a birthday present six months ago banking on the presumption that I would get some money for my birthday to pay it off. Phew! My gamble paid off.

Here’s a picture of me and Angel from last night.

Isn’t she pretty. This picture demonstrates why God created Rock-n-Roll bands. Because some pretty girls are suckers for an oaf with a Stratocaster.

Dino and Gina

October 4th, 2008 |

Last night we hung out with Dino and Gina Nicastro and went to an art exhibit at Dino’s and my alma mater (although Dino and I attended Webster at different times and for different reasons. Dino studied Computer Science to get a good job and I studied Jazz to quit after my third year and be labeled a quitter for the rest of my life) Webster University. I guess it’s technically not my alma mater since I didn’t actually graduate. So we’ll just call it the school I paid a whole slew of money to so I could learn to play altered dominant scales way faster than you.

The artist who was exhibiting (how would you say that?) was Jason Hackenwerth. He did the artwork for The Imps‘ album, which was the band Dino played with before he played in The Drew Johnson Band.

It’s always great to get to hang out with Dino and Gina. It’s funny how our conversations have changed over the years. Five years ago Dino and I would have griped all night about how we’re not seeing the success from the band that we knew we should be having. But last night we just talked about our kids, laughed a lot, and conceded the fact that there are aspects of the music scene we don’t miss at all.

Here’s Gina and Angel from last night.

Here they are from eight years ago or so.

Palin Pwned and Angel’s New Site

October 2nd, 2008 |

I can’t take any more. I had to come down here in the basement to escape watching Palin get her clock cleaned by Biden.

I couldn’t tell if she wanted me to trust her as the V.P. or if she just wanted me to buy her a drink. I don’t want to be charmed. I don’t want to be flirted with. I want to know that she is qualified for the job and (much to my dismay) she has clearly shown that she isn’t. I was really pulling for her too.

Being that I’m a non free-thinking, creationist simpleton I thought that McCain walked all over Obama in their debate. Issues aside, McCain clearly showed a higher level of authourity and experience in his answers. Obama’s answers seemed canned and rehearsed, not to mention the wholly unattractive level of arrogance Obama portrays. Pride is the single most repulsive characteristc in humans and Obama has it by the barrel.

I’m seriously disappointed in Palin’s performance. If she winks at me one more time…

Enough said.

Speaking of pretty ladies who wink at me all the time, Angel has her own blog now. And she has promised to actually use this one. Make sure you add her to your feed reader.

On Songwriting

October 1st, 2008 |

There are only two aspects of songwriting that I thoroughly dislike: writing lyrics and writing music. As much as I love songwriting I just really hate writing songs.

Songwriting has always felt to me like sitting down to learn a cover tune that you’ve never heard before. Does it go to an F chord here or an A minor? I have no idea. I’ve never heard it.

The thing I like most about writing songs is listening to the very first demo. That’s where most of the enjoyment comes from for me. It’s rare for me to get more pleasure from listening to a finished recording than from listening to the first demo. That’s probably why I like posting my demos. But what you hear in my demos and what I hear are (I’m learning) two very different things.

As a basefall fan I would rather watch a major league pitcher with a 12-8 record than I would watch a nineteen year old, single-A, minor league pitcher who doesn’t have a change-up, can’t always locate his fastball, and can’t really throw his slider for strikes but is the guy that the scouts are drooling over because he has so much ability and potential.

Does that metaphor even work? In songwriting I’m a scout, not a fan.

Hearing a rough demo for me reveals the truth about whether or not the song, at its most basic core, works. Is the note choice correct? Is the melody memorable even with the distracting “nah, nah, nahs” in the abscence of lyrics? Is the emotional content there even without lyrics? Does the song have momentum? These are the things I’m listening for and it’s a very exciting thing when all of the answers are “yes”. In fact, for me, it is the most exciting moment in the birth of a song.

I remember hearing Spielberg say that if a movie is well-made, a person should be able to watch it with the sound turned down and still understand what is going on. I think my demos are an attempt to check for the same sort of thing in my songs. Does the song still work with only a guitar and a vocal consisting of random syllables?

I have five new songs that I’ve written since the new band was formed. Only one of those has the lyrics completed. I decided that instead of just charging forward to write more incomplete songs, I should put down the guitar and pick up the pen and get down to the dirty work of writing lyrics, which is what I’ve been doing lately.

Picking up the pen always feels like slamming on the creative brakes for me because the progress always slows to a crawl when it comes time to write lyrics. But writing and recording new demos for half-finished songs isn’t really progress either, it’s just piling up the work and putting off the inevitable drudgery of playing the lyricist. In fact, writing this post right now is just another way of dodging my notebook. If I can make this post long enough, then I will have to go straight to bed instead of writing lyrics.

Mission accomplished.