Just finished up a remix and remaster at about 9:00 am, November 4th. Usually by the time I'm done with a song, I can't stand it anymore. Although, this one still has me going back for more.
This song changed the most during the recording process. Usually that means I didn't have a clear vision. I don't think that is the case here. This song works any of a number of ways. Which is a good thing.
What I've posted is the smooth, almost ear-candy pop version. It features very straight forward drums along with an addictive guitar rhythm, that seem to try to catch up at the end of every measure. The bassline is pure Fleetwood Mac, but the rhythm guitar keeps it from finding a classic Mac groove (believe, I have versions that are soooo Fleetwood Mac I had to be dragged away from it kicking and screaming. Once you find that pocket you don't want to leave). But, the Monkeeish organ in the chorus just didn't seem to work well with that, or the other background vocals in chorus. Had to make a Sophies choice and chose the organ over the backups.
Smooth. Catchy. Just the way I like it.
I originally wrote this song about ten years ago...maybe 15. Hard to remember. It has evolved over the years. The version I just posted is the best version of the song.
I've always liked the playful lyrics and catchy melody. Sometimes you can try to make something they're not. Once I embraced the most important element, the smooth catchy melody, the rhythm guitar and bass line sort of fell into place.
And 3-D, yes, it is another 4 chord song. I know how much you hate that.
I used to consider myself a decent lyricist. And while I think I do a good job every once in a while, the issue now seems to be one of apathy. You see, I've written over 100 songs over the course of my 30+ years of songwriting. And it appears that it has occurred pretty much in a vacuum.
With nothing breaking out into the mainstream, it doesn't matter if I rehash a thought from another composition because nobody knows. Secondly, you get tired of trying to make a statement and no one hearing. And so at some point you kind of give up. By that, you write a verse and a chorus, and work through a song. After that, you are kind of filling in the blanks to see if it all works. There is no grand attempt to finalize a masterpiece.
Recently, however, I finished up two new songs: "Oxygen" and "Believe." They aren't masterpieces, but they are different in a few respects.
"Believe" for example, started with the most specific idea or concept. I was watching an old Doris Day film on TCM. The soft focus they usually film her face in was offering off a sort of glow. The screen kept cutting back from Doris Day to her co star. I said aloud to my wife. "out of focus...in focus...out of focus...in focus." Cary Grant was in focus and she wasn't.
A few days later I picked up my guitar and started working on a song and the line that came out of my mouth was simply: "She's shimmering and sugar-sweet like Doris Day in screen sheen."
I immediately thought, I like that, and the rest of the song built from there.
I still believe in many things. I'm a devout Catholic. The song isn't a grand statement of disbelief but rather a very specific instance in time.
In 1981, Foreigner wanted a sax solo in the style of Junior Walker. They wanted it raw and nasty. There are several conflicting stories that range from Walker being homeless, to some having him playing a club just down the street from where Foreigner was recording in New York. But the band, after failing to get a sound they were happy with from other saxophone players, got Junior Walker into the studio.
Walker heard the song twice before popping into studio and laying down an amazing first take. It was exactly what the band wanted. It speaks to the singularity or uniqueness of some musicians and how some sounds are almost impossible to duplicate.
Compare Junior Walker sax sound on "Shotgun" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnhI_ECOAK4 and his sax solo on "Urgent" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPEjF3LSM64. There is a certain verbratto from the tonguing that is distinctive.
I used to have a song posted about growing up in Italy, titled "Blood Oranges and Chocolate." I pulled it when I decided to remove it from upcoming CD. It will reappear later at the appropriate time. Someone asked me in a post the other day about what was special about blood oranges. First, there are several things grown in the region around Napoli, in the fertile ash from Mt. Vesuvius. One, are the worlds best tomatoes called San Martzano. If you ever see them in a can, either whole or crushed, buy it and use it in your sauce. You won't regret it. Don't buy fresh in America. The reason is that regional produce cannot be duplicated in other regions because the soil itself is part of what makes it unique. For example, if you were to take Vidalia onion seeds and grow them in say, California, they would not be the same as the ones grown in or near Vidalia, GA. Another spectacular agricultural product from Southern Italy are blood oranges. For years, I told my wife how I wished we could get real blood oranges in America. I lived on these things in Napoli when I was 10. One day, in Nashville, she comes home from the grocery store with a grin. She tells me to come into the kitchen as she puts away the groceries. And then she pulls out what looks like a tangerine. I said "what is it?" She said, "It's a blood orange." I was confused. So I cut it open and it was dry and sour. I appreciated the effort, but, it wasn't a blood orange. It may have had the right color, but it certainly was a different animal. A few years ago, we went to Napoli on one of our vacations in Italy. We pulled off the Amalfi Drive by a souvenir shop with a produce stand outside. "Those grapefruits look nice," she said. "Those aren't grapefruit," I said, "THAT, is a blood orange." I went into the shop for a while and when I came out she was sitting on the side of the road, with the blood colored, sweet juice running all the way down to her elbows. "Okay, now I get it," she said. We've never purchased blood oranges in America again.
Every time I click that little button proclaiming to Reverbnation that I own the rights to this material, I have to pause just a little. To be honest, this song is one of the four I sold away the licensing rights to as part of The Londons' PinD deal with World Artist Entertainment. They were supposed to give us studio time to record four songs, which never happened because the band broke up before we completed the studio EP.
Many letters were exchanged over the decades and have received no firm acknowledgement from them that they have relinquished any claim to my songs that were part of that deal.
But, I'm pretty sure since the company doesn't exist anymore. Our manager is now a successful Environmental lawyer and the other "characters" are probably doing time in some state prison somewhere, I'm sure I'm pretty safe posting this.
This song has one of my favorite lines of mine: "Johnnie left his band of old for plastic instead of gold..." A reference to John Lennon leaving the beatles and moving on to the plastic ono band.
We won't last another day if we don’t run, run, run, run away Suddenly our love’s gone cold, your face shouldn’t look that old well it’s hard to say and it’s hard to take when you need a break from your love
Maybe I’ll go south of here I’ve heard there’s a lot of girls down there If we leave before it’s dark we won’t change our minds Maybe you should start tonight, before it’s light you might break a heart
Run, run, run, run away Run, run, run, run away
I’ll take a bus, I don’t care. I’ll take anything at all just to get me away from here...tonight
We won’t last another day if we don’t run, run, run, run away Johnny left his band of old for plastic instead of gold And I’ll find a girl and you’ll find a guy, maybe then we’ll both get some piece of mind
I wrote this song as my answer to the notion of being "spiritual" as opposed to being religious. I've never been into chanting mantras, praising oceans, daisy chains, or anything you have to do with your legs crossed. I'm more a kneeling in the pew and learning my rosary sort. And while I'm okay with anyone's attempt to find their own way, I think sometimes they try to hard. Everything doesn't have to be that complex.
"The Only One I Need"
Everyone needs someone everybody’s waiting then everybody runs Far from here, lost in fear full of thirst and hunger searching for the one If there’s more than one way I’d be lost and so scared Now I know you’re the only one I need
I’ve looked high, I’ve been dry Started praising oceans, earth and the sky Everyone sang love’s the one started chanting mantras and went to India But if there’s more than one way I’d be lost and so scared But now I know I know you’re the only one I need
Time will fly Flesh will die Everybody’s searching Trying to learn how to fly Far from here So, free and clear Let the spirit in me and let it take me high Cause if there’s more than one way I’d be lost and so scared But now I know you’re the only one I need
One of my more fun songs, felt like I needed to lighten things up after "A Gospel of Sorts." This was an attempt at trying to create some of the stereotypical country songs in which there is usually some witty little turn of phrase. And, in a country song you can call yourself an ass.
I waited in line for about five hours one cold, rainy day at the Bluebird Cafe to audition for their writer nights. I sat through a lot of really cheesy songs. Some that I still remember involved a guy asking a girl "can I be frank with you tonight..." Why, because she was in love with a guy named Frank. Get it? He wasn't asking if he could be honest. Another person rhymed Mabel with table. Why is this memorable? Because he was at a gentleman's club and, as he described in the song: "I looked up on the table, and it was my wife Mabel!" After waiting five hours, and given an opportunity to sing one verse and one chorus, I abandoned my plans to sing this song and instead offered one of more heartfelt and sincere songs.
I didn't get called back that year.
"Lights, Camera, Action"
Please come to hollywood and stay for a while Don’t have much money but I’ve got a nice smile And it’s been so long now since you’ve been home I’ve been reading the lines on the phone playing the scenes all alone
I’ve seen you in cafes and you’re looking fine you’ve been sipping cream and caffeine and I’ve been drinking wine and I stare at you and then walk away I’m still petrified of what you’ve say It’s not a scene I want to play
And its lights, camera, action Another scene I aint got no lines and I’ve been cut from the scenes of a blockbuster movie with a glamorous queen One’s my life and the other’s just a dream that’s been fading fast from the screen
I’m leaving here and going back to Racine I’ve been in 14 films and I’ve barely been scene I’ve been behind a paper or pumping gas I’ve been looking in while cleaning glass but most of all I’ve been an ass
I wrote this song at one of my most depressed states. There was a time when I was convinced God was angry with me. I thought he was sending me signs to take some steps and those steps usually ended in utter failure or brokenhearted.
But immediately after penning the lyrics, I realized how assbackwards they really were. It wasn't God's responsibility to understand me, mine to understand him. But, I love the chord progression and melody, and I guess even though I realize the immaturity of some of the lyrics, I don't necessarily won't to rewrite or forget this song.
"A Gospel of Sorts"
There doesn’t seem to be any hope for me or any chance of walking through your door I’ve taken all you’ve said and mixed it round my head but all I do is talk of you as if you were my friend
I reached my hand up high I squeezed my fist and cried Lord I need a sign To make me feel alive
I put my life into your hands and hoped that you would understand me I played your game, I prayed your name and hoped that you would save me
There doesn’t seem to be any chance for me I’ll drift away and never find the shore Everything’s gone bad, every song’s turned sad But all I do is reach for you like something I should have
There doesn’t seem to be any hope for me or any chance of walking through your day
So...I'm fixated on comic book heroes. Probably due to the four years I spent in Italy between the ages of 10 to 13. There was no television I could understand and I read everything from Richy Rich to Avengers.
Who is Debra? And why is she Batgirl? Two good questions. Let's just say lyrical connections sometimes are very tangled and thin. A friend of mine was a law librarian moving to a very gothic city: Chicago. Since batgirl's alterego was librarian Barbara Gordon, Debra became Batgirl to me. And yes, she lived on the 15th floor of neat little apartment in downtown Chicago. Great views.
And yes, my friends hate it when they make appearances in songs and they seldom agree with my observations on them.
"Batgirl’s Gone Away"
Debra’s on a highway, she’s been running far away. She never looks in her rear view mirror. She’s been walking 15 stories high, maybe she thinks maybe, she thinks she can fly, I tell you, It’s never easier, you’ve been running so long that you can’t touch ground It’s easy though, it’s easy for her for our little batgirl
She’s a batgirl in disguise she’s been flying all around praying for someone superhuman Maybe she thinks he can pull her down, maybe she thinks maybe she should be on the ground It’s never easier You’ve been hung on the line but you won’t get dry
Batgirl, Batgirl’’s gone away You’ve always been stronger than the rest You were there just to pull us through the mess It’s never easier, you’ve
Batgirl’s stole the batsign, she’s been lighting up the sky looking into every window hoping someone will ask her please won’t you please come back, please come home to me