22. Vorarephilia

DAY TWENTY-TWO

Do you remember Sam McCormally of Ugly Purple Sweater?  From Song 10: A Thousand Thousands?  Since collaborating on that song on tour, Sam and I have become good faraway friends and far away music friends (yay!).  When I was in Portsmouth visiting with Guy Capecelatro, he mentioned to me several different kinds of collaborations he had done with friends.  One such collaboration incorporated the handing over of lyrics from a previously written song to someone else with which to make a new song.  One week ago, I approached Sam McCormally (the assumed formerly O’Gormally – alliteration!) and asked if he wouldn’t mind, instead of using an already written song, writing new lyrics for me, and I would put music to them.  Neither one of us had ever done anything like this before.  Why Sam?  I love his writing style (it’s a plus that it’s also different than mine: he reads books.) and intuition, and he’s as smart as they come, so I knew he would really challenge me.

Today, I received an email:

Here’s a song! Do whatever you want with it! Use it for a song! Laugh at it! Print it out and use it as bathroom tissue!

But more seriously–any rearranging of things, or adding to things, or repeating things is perfectly fine by me. And you can do it with zero consultation; so if you decide to double the chorus and add a verse about a pie eating contest, then God bless you.
A brief word on the meter: the verses are triambic, so the syllable pattern is unstressed-unstressed-stressed. In each pair of lines, the first is 4 feet and the second 3 feet.. The chorus (the “do you want to eat me?” part) has no particular meter.

Vorarephilia

I can tell by the look on your face that my face
has belied what I mean. Yes, it’s hard:
every twitch, every twinge, every flicker of lid
makes a tongue of its own you must learn
just as sound underwater is faster, arrives
all at once and from nowhere at all
I would speak from inside of your head, I would speak
from inside from inside of your head
(do you want to eat me?
do you want to swallow me whole?)
on the shore, sand in orifices way before
I could speak fell in love with the sea
so I swam, and she kept me afloat with her salt
and I took home a bucket of her
when I drank, stung the cuts in my mouth, made me sick
and left her alone in the sun
after weeks, the only thing that was left was her salt
just the remnants I couldn’t keep down
I would speak from inside of your head, I would speak
from inside from inside of your head
(do you want to eat me?
do you want to swallow me whole?)

I sat with them all day, reading them, singing them.  At one point, after working on several melodies moving from instrument to instrument waiting for some kind of inspiration, I wrote Sam an email saying:
The best way of describing this experience is this:

I have a huge ring of keys: skeleton keys, square-cut keys, round keys, stupid keys, red keys… they are heavy and jingling. I am standing at a door that says, “Sam’s Lyrics. Please Enter.”  There are keys that obviously don’t fit: a key to a Hummer is not fitting in this door, and I don’t have to try it to know that.  However there are some keys that are going in, but they don’t turn the lock.

This is my free-form analogy to how I feel.

That is all.

______

Cello Opening: Going to my cello, I began experimenting with tunings once again.  I ended up with three strings all on D# and let the C down to an A#.  I started playing around with motifs which ended up creating the “prelude” improvisation at the beginning.  I have played some really awesome microtonal music in grad school from the middle east: so fascinating and very difficult to play.  I tried to incorporate a tiny decoration of microtones in this opening, but they are so hard to play accurately, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in reality, they weren’t in there after all.  Afterwards, finding the melody only became easier when I called up Sam and he sung the rhythm he had been intending.  It was important for him to not give me any melodic material: I’m easily affected musical ideas.

Recording: Wanting Sam to put his incredible voice on this song was a priority for me, so I recorded my vocals and cello simultaneously, but purposely leaving vocal spaces for Sam to use at his discretion.  He added vocals to my chorus, and I love it.  Sam sent me his original version of this song, which I refused to listen to until I had sent him mine.  I was such a wuss about it, too… I was sick nervous to send him my version, wondering what he’d think.  I’m unhappy with the performance on my part, but I have to say, doing this song really had me thinking in ways I don’t normally (at one point I thought, “How would Ugly Purple Sweater handle this?”).    Given that Sam wrote very long lines lyrically, it was challenging to find something I really liked that was easy for me to sing, which this is not.  With a little practice and familiarity, I could get these vocals where I want them…and play it live.  (Sam? Trip to NYC, yo!)

The title is one Sam sent with the vocals.  Dad, just go with this definition: Vorarephilia is derived from the Latin vorare (to ‘swallow’ or ‘devour’) and Ancient Greek φιλία (philia, ‘love’).

I am posting Sam’s version and my version of this song.  (These versions are so different from one another.  The coolest thing about today was hearing two very different songs.  I loved doing it, even though I’m sitting here being gross critical of my version, but hey, EHP, let’s stop that.  Sam’s version is unbelievably wonderful…unsurprisingly.)

Vorarephilia (Sam’s Version)



Vorarephilia (Emily’s Original Version)


(P.S. The entire construction and all of Sam’s parts, was done over email this evening.  Sam, you are the best.)

January 27: Remixed version with a bit added, without intro (just in case you were fast forwarding past the intro like I was).  I like this one better, but I’ll keep up the original.  I’m sentimental.

Vorearephilia (Emily’s Remixed Version – No Intro)



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11 thoughts on “22. Vorarephilia

  1. Pingback: 110. Untitled: Sam McCormally and Emily Hope Price #3 (Incomplete) « Emily Hope Price

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  3. I LOVE this one! So, so beautiful, luscious, haunting, enveloping. I think your musical genius lies in the way you layer vocals and instruments in the background to give a song just the right touch. And the way you write and sing melodies that reach out and grab you by the frontal lobes and won’t let go. And the way you evoke so many different sounds out of your cello. You’re just a friggin’ musical genius.

    Oh, and I think I must own this song or I will die.

  4. You are such an incredible cellist, Emily. Your tones, texture, and timing are so rich. It’s as if you’re playing a part of your own body rather than an independent instrument. The intro on your version is outstanding, and the following vocals are so sensitively delivered. The actual recording job sounds amazing, too… neat and polished but still tangible. And the layering vocals towards the middle are so Radiohead to me… what a thoughtful way to incorporate Sam’s original track into your version. I also love that both songs are so incredibly different, yet live in the same world. It’s like they’re neighbors in a dark forest filled with unmentionable beasts.

  5. Pingback: 24. “That’s A Big Butt For A White Girl” « Emily Hope Price

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