Alright. I’m admitting it. This is hard. But, I’m pretty sure I’m in denial about the everyday-ness of this whole thing. I’m thinking this might benefit me. It’s just one, right?
I had an interesting conversation today with a friend who’s a songwriter (who will also, I hope, appear very soon in a future installment). I was explaining my apprehensions and concerns about this project to her and her response was, “This is going to change your brain…” and “you need to start picking three chords.” Oh, she also added, “You need to listen to some Magnetic Fields.” (If you haven’t guessed already based on the M.F. recommendation, my friend is uke wielding Emilyn Brodsky.)
This is a great topic to address today, actually. My friend knows I bend over backwards to insert anything but three chords. In explanation, I’ve had people come over to my house who aren’t musicians and ask to play my cello. They sit down with it for a few minutes having never touched the thing in their life. And it’s those people who come up with some wicked riffs on an instrument they don’t even play. I get stumped all the time on my own instrument with what to do or where to go. When I get a new instrument that I don’t know how to play, I feel total abandon and write freely without hesitation. (Which is why I hardly ever write an entire song on my cello any more. I write it off my instrument then take it back if need be.) I’m sure there’s a study out there about this phenomenon. That’s how I feel about music theory. Now that I’ve seen into the possibilities of the proverbial musical theory microscope, it’s hard for me to turn that knowledge on and off. I have problems being okay with simplicity. This little voice says, “A classical musician not utilizing the tools of the trade?! What’s wrong with her?!” So, today’s song is written with these chords: C major, F major and G major. Nothing more. Nothing less. Writing this song was a great lesson for me. Less can totally be more.
This brings up another thought. I apologize if it seems disjointed later: Right now, I’m sitting at my computer with headphones on with my iTunes running on shuffle. Right now it is playing: Phenomena by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is a rockin’ song. (I saw them live, and Karen O is totally crazy. The kind of crazy I want to buy in a bottle at my nearest Bodega and put in everything I digest from now on.) It’s hot. She is hot. When I listen to iTunes on shuffle it will fall on something totally kick-ass, and I’ll think, “Man, why can’t I write like that?” I’ve come to realize I say that about every artist I love, but if I was going to write like them, I’d be them, not me. As a side note, maintaining individuality is really important in my work, so there’s an important duality happening there. Being inspired and motivated by other people without sacrificing your own musical identity. (Guarantee this topic will come up again. I have yet to even mention Radiohead- on purpose. But I will. Oh. I will.)
You’ll Be Lonely. After working on another more difficult song most of the day today, I came out with this instead. It took probably and hour to write in it’s complete form and another hour to completely record. (I’m working on limiting my working time. Tour with Pearl and the Beard and Ugly Purple Sweater is starting!) These lyrics just came out, and I’m not sure where they came from, but they were quick. (Hear this: I’m super relieved. It doesn’t always happen this way; I was just really lucky today. Will address lyrics more very soon.) Death Cab for Cutie does a freaking amazing song called I will follow you into the dark. When I finished with the lyrics for You’ll Be Lonely, this song came to my mind for my song’s color, and I was content. This is a love song of various meanings. I’m not totally happy with the title, but I choose not to get hung up on it. Recording-wise, I’ve never done multi-vocal tracks in unison before, so I thought I’d try it. I wanted it to feel like sisters were singing it together: two people knowing each other really well, but not exactly. I put the other voices lower in the mix, as I later felt it distracted from the lyrics. (I also felt like the bells were too loud so I added the other voices also as support. Bells and main vocal was a one-take, live recording.)
You’ll Be Lonely
I’ll tell you someday you’ll be lonely/But my body will die smiling/I will turn myself out and away from you
The wall could go down and crush our bones to Hell/But I know that you’re mine tonight/I’m so weakened and I’m sure our shoulders will rub raw/But keep pushing and fail not our hearts will out
And when I see you, see you in the morning/I will see you in the morning light/When poor my head has gone from my body/I will see you in the morning light
I’ll tell you someday you’ll be lonely/But my body will die smiling/I will turn myself out just to see you in the morning light
I haven’t thanked you for listening and reading in few days. Thank you. Really, thanks a lot.
See you soon,