190. In The Woodshed


Ha ha! I love you Google Image!

Now, I’m not saying that any of these 365 songs are completed, but, today, this song isn’t even close to finished (by saying that I mean: there really aren’t any words down on paper or a form or any changes, really).  I have posted incomplete songs before, but have yet to revisit them.  However, I think this song has some potential to become something interesting.  I like the uke part, but it needs a chorus, a bridge, etc., to really flesh it out.  I’m hearing some really dark and beautiful chord changes that color it up.  I’m posting it in this youthful form, having only improvised lyrics and form, as I am out the door.  Sometimes these moments of rush can really open up doors for possible gems.  We’ll see (hopefully soon) if this ends up in that camp.

May your weekend be as fruitful as your local produce section.  I sure do like you.

In The Woodshed

189. Bring A Man To His Knees


That's right. I found a picture of Freddie Mercury kneeling.

I have nothing intelligent or witty to say about today’s song… other than I heard a Fresh Air interview this morning with Queen guitarist Brian May who said they recorded the claps to “We Will Rock You” using a bunch of different distances from the mic.

Oh, yeah, and I want to be Karen O

Man, I love you.

Bring A Man To His Knees

188. I’m Going Down To the River


Watauga River

I thought I would try this idea today.  This song came from the first few days of tour and is actually the song I intended to work on yesterday.  I woke up early one morning and worked on this song while in Columbus, Ohio.  I was half way through when Jeremy woke up and gave me some ideas about Moses floating down the river.  The vision in my mind was oddly clear to me: a man walking with his dead son in his arms to bury him in the river.  When it came down to recording it, Jeremy and I actually did a rough recording of it that morning, and, his voice being so nice, it sounded awesome, but we never did a final for it.  So, for the song today, I just did one take each of three parts, each of them joining the walk to the river.  Because it’s basically a tragic funeral procession, beats and vocals aren’t lined up on purpose thinking that this funeral song would be more improvised by the father anyway, and, grief-stricken, he wouldn’t care about cleanliness, timing or intonation.

My choice to add a distorted amplification effect was made mainly to aid in the  recording process: it’s easy to get distracted by the voice whilst recording and focus on the wrong things.  The effect helped me clean my ear and focus only on the emotion rather than critique the little things.  I kept it in.

Hope you’re doing well!

P.S.  Ray Charles has an incredible song called “I’m Going Down to the River”.  The first line is “I’m going down to the river to drown myself.”  Now that’s an opener.

I’m Going Down To The River

I’m goin’ down to the river
Gonna bury my son
I’m goin’ down to river
My Lord, he’s comin’ on
Oh, he’s down in the river
He’s down, goin’ down
He’s down in the river
He’s down, oh, he’s down
My life for my boy
My life for you gone
My life for you, my boy
Too soon, too soon, my son
Like Moses you will find him
Like Moses, Lord you will
Like Moses you will find him
Like Moses, Lord you will
I’m goin’ down to the river
Gonna bury my son
I’m goin’ down to river
My Lord, he’s comin’ on

187. That Boy (A Study on Truth)


This is a study on TRUTH.

Which one is that boy? Company E, 4th US African-American Infantry. Shown armed with rifles at Fort Lincoln. (I obviously love these Civil War photographs as I've used quite a few for the 365 gallery. I love wondering who they were and looking into their faces.)


The idea came to me sometime last week, and I wrote out the lyrics really quickly and set it aside and worked on something else.  I started the background vocals, intending to use them for something totally different.  My initial idea for the melody and genre of this song was totally different, happier, and cheekier.  It was not at all intended for this genre, but I really like the end product.

So, let’s talk about TRUTH in relation to two people.  The easiest and most universal ways to communicate the idea of truth is with love or lust.  The basic idea in my mind was to paint a picture of a girl/woman exclaiming that she has a boy coming for her, calling out her name, thinking of only her.  My thought was ,”Well, how do we, the listener, know that that’s true?  What if he isn’t thinking about her at all.  Sure, maybe they met once, had a nice conversation, but now he’s just out working or fighting in the Civil War or rolling a cigarette complaining about the papers he’s bought?”  I find this kind of social relationship so fascinating.  I know it’s happened to me.  I was so certain, so sure of myself, that the emotions and actions of the other person were exactly as I said they were.  But what is the truth?  What is the reality?

That’s the irony for me, personally: between two people, there are many truths, many realities, and they all apply.  He is or isn’t thinking of her.  He does or doesn’t want her.  She might even be lying to us or falsely believes he’s preoccupied with thoughts of only her.  Is she on her deathbed (Lay me down backwards – as opposed to being buried facing East, face her West if he doesn’t come find her, and, if he does, he’ll be devastated to find her gone)?  Or is she just being cheeky with us and using strong sexual innuendo throughout her song to communicate something totally different?  Is someone being taken for a fool here?  Is it who we think it is?  Is it her?  Is it him?  Is it us?

It’s totally fascinating to me.

Recording: I sketched the 4 vocal chorus parts with a drum, but decided to leave the drum out as it was causing more problems that what it was worth, and I re-recorded them.  Initially, I meant these choral parts to go under a song about going down to a river, a song I worked one while on tour.  Surprisingly, these lyrics ended up in its place, and I’m much happier about it.

For the lead vocal, I turned up the sensitivity very, very high and sang very quietly into the mic.  I love the little things it picked up.  I loved the color so much that, even though Lacey breathed loudly towards the end, I kept it in.

Today, I am going to see about a rusty car I am considering purchasing with the fake money I have that grows on the fake Money Trees in Central Park out here in New York.  Chances are it might fall apart in the test drive.  We’ll see.

Hope your truths are keeping you at the edge of your seat today… have a cold one on me…

See you tomorrow!

That Boy

That boy, he’s comin’
That boy, that boy
That boy, he’s comin’
He’s comin’ for me
Bringing my bracelets of hair bound carefully
Lay me down backwards
He’ll come screaming
Just you wait
Just you wait
Just you wait
Just you wait and see
There’s a boy
And he’s thinkin’ ’bout me
He calls out my name
That boy, that boy, for me
He’s comin’, he’s comin’
He calls out my name
Oh, that boy, that boy
Oh he’ll never be the same
That boy’s comin’
That boy is comin’ for me
Lay me down
He’ll come, come screaming

186. West Coast (I AM BACK!)


HELLO, 365!

Phew!  This is the longest recovery time I’ve had to take after a tour… ever!  (What am I saying, I don’t remember ever having to take recovery time. Bah!)  But, here I am!  And the 365 continues on!

Hello, dear friend!  I have missed you, and I apologize for being away for so long!  Let us not mourn lost time!

Lots of things have happened, but I am here now!  When I started the 365, I swore to myself nothing would get in my way… and it worked for a long time, but I went on a tour that made posting impossible, and I fell behind.  I am here to tell you that there are some awesome things in store, and, admittedly, I really needed that sabbatical, so I hope you are still here BECAUSE I AM STILL HERE!  Let’s get going!

Today’s installment didn’t meet my expectations and gave me some big problems, but as a draft it’s ended up in an interesting place.  I had a totally different vision for this song when I started it.  I used several Garageband samples as a guide.  The most helpful aspect of this song was how I constructed it.  I had general outline of the song and its melody on paper and then built the percussion and beats around the skeleton of the song, using scratch vocals first, building the string parts and then doing final vocals.  Sound familiar?  Yeah.  That’s how it’s usually done in the real world.  I haven’t been using that technique to do most of the 365, so I enjoyed myself.

The main thing I would do differently is finalize the tempo BEFORE I try to change it within Garageband.  I have changed the tempo post recording before and haven’t minded the weird distortion it creates, but this time, it bugs me, but oh well!  The ending was totally different, and I had huge visions for it, but I had such a hard time managing it that I just cut it.

As far as the lyrics go:

These are various scenes which have occurred in real life (Note: the line: the Iron Door of the North Plain refers to the legend of The Iron Door from Malad, Idaho).  The idea was about someone trying to locate a person who is of great worth to them but is always constantly one or two steps behind.  I can identify a few events as directly happening to me sometime in the past, and there are a few sections that call out to a specific person.  So, we’ll see if they can hear me! (I’m winking through my words to you…)

I saw Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Sharon Van Etten and tUnE-yArDs last night at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn.  It was such an awesome show.  I wrote an email to a friend afterwards describing the show, and I wanted to post a tiny bit of it here for you to read:

A friend of mine in grad school was getting his bachelor’s degree in industrial design.  Late one night, he drew a graph on a napkin outlining zones of the following: boring, exciting, and scary.  He argued that boring is where all appliances and household gadgets fall.  They are comfortable, affordable, ergonomic.  His preference was to create tools that bordered excitement and scary, never tipping over into scary completely, but allowing the user to feel the intensity of nearly reaching that limit.  He believed people experienced more and learned more in this more “dangerous” zone.

This is how I want to create music.  This is brave to me.  I want to be brave.  Let’s be brave.

West Coast

(headphones are recommended)

Did you know she burned your name into the sand on the West Coast?
There a tide, it took your shape deep underwater like a fine ghost
Did it feel like you’d survive; lungs both taking in their last hope
Sick are seas and martyrs made such easy prey with their own rope.
Soon, brother, soon
In a mount she hid her heart, the Iron Door of the North Plain
For a thousand years or more with rusted key, did you search in vain
Constant companion: horse of black and red with its sick brain
Ride until it died you did but seek her still again again again
Soon, brother, soon
From a window, does it seem to sound out?
Beat the glass in as if she could hear you
Only distant wind she hears and sleeps again
From where you are, is it like it sounds?
Can you feel the earth, it shakes again as it hears you
She will not, but lose her mind, oh what a strain just to undo
This cause of flux and shift when bodies ache as they come to
Your mind, the author, seals a kiss on lips as an adieu, adieu