Song-a-day 06. I didn’t really want to write this, I felt the chords were maybe bit obvious, and maybe just a little bit Dylan-esque. It’s also a bit Leonard Cohen-ey, the chords sound quite ‘Stories of the street’ in places. And then the words arrived and I realised that I already had written it and it was too late for messing around with some new chord changes. I wish I had a 3rd verse for this, maybe I’ll write one in the future sometime. If Dylan had written this it would have 7 verses and take up a side of vinyl.
I spared you my atrocious harmonica playing, recorded but not included in the mix (that would have made it too Dylan-ish?). I think the problem was that the guitar has drifted out of tune over the week, it might be in tune with itself, but sure as hell not in tune with anything else. There is a horrible asthmatic wheezing on one track – that’s me!
Song-a-Day #3*: This took ages to write. In fact, it’s not even the first song I wrote today. I had a really nice chord progression and melody going first thing this morning, then had my breakfast, by which time I couldn’t remember the tune. So I had to start again, fresh chords changes and tune. I think the first one was in 4/4, this is in 6/4.
Although the singing is quite lugubrious in places, it’s a fairly upbeat song lyrically. I have no idea why. I’ll probably be back to my normal dirges by the end of the week, don’t you worry.
*I’m trying to write a song every day this week (I’ve got the week off) and record it and upload it. I’ve done this before with Ok results, and I seriously need to kick-start my songwriting mojo before it atrophies completely.
It’s that time of year (most years, anyway) where I decide to try to write and record a song in a day, every day for a week. Sometimes I’ll keep going for the next week to. I usually take the weekends off (but not this time). The quality is variable, to say the least, but there are normally a couple of songs that come out ok.
I didn’t do this at all last year, I had writer’s block for 14 months, and it wasn’t fun. Good job I don’t do this for a living.
It’s an unusual feeling, when after a musical drought, you have the feeling, you know that all you have to do is pick up your guitar and open your notebook and songs will appear. It seems to work, though.
Here are songs #1 and #2 from this week: (I started on Saturday this time, just because).
‘Unbroken’ is uncharacteristically upbeat and positive for me, I thought I’d try for ‘not miserable’ and surprisingly, it worked!
I don’t normally win things. I can count on the fingers of one hand the things I have won in a competition. I once won a case of Smirnoff Mule from a competition in the back of a copy of GQ someone left on the train (That was a long time ago, I don’t think you can even get it any more). I won a copy of ‘Trainspotting’ (on VHS) with the very first edition of the now-defunct film magazine ‘Neon’, back when ‘Trainspotting’ was new. And just before Christmas I won a lap steel guitar on facebook.
A lap steel guitar is one played flat across the legs (or on a table) and you generally use a lump of metal – the steel – to fret the notes. It is commonly used in Hawaiian music, country (not to be confused with the pedal steel), and also in blues and rock.
All I did to win it was to click on a ‘enter the competition’ thing on Facebook. I’m normally wary of these, suspecting they are mostly used to harvest your email address to send spam to. Anyway, I got an email saying I’d won it, spent twenty minutes checking it was a genuine thing (paranoid, moi?) and then replied ‘yes please how soon can you send it me!!!’ (or similar).
You might notice from the video above that it appears to be surfboard shaped, and that my bedroom isn’t very tidy. You’d be right on both counts.
#14 in my make some music every day project. I had one half of the groove, and nothing more, for about two hours, wondering what to do with it. It seemed another chord might be a good idea. There was a much better melody to start with, but by the time I came to record it, I couldn’t quite remember it.
This is first time in ages I’ve played my bass guitar, should do it more often. Maybe this needs electric guitars, not acoustic. Too much piano. Otherwise, I’m quite happy with this, a good combination of song and groove.
This is one I think I’ll go back to next week, and re-do the vocals. And the mix.
(When I do the vocals properly, I might try making a proper video to go with it. Maybe. you know, one that’s in sync and everything).
I’ve really let things slide this past couple of years. I used to read loads, at least a book a week. I used to play my guitar and write a song or two every week. I now read a book once a month, on average, and write a song about once a month too. I’m not sure if these two things are connected, whether the imagination required to read a book spills over into songwriting too.*
Last week I start to change things: I set myself the challenge to write a song a day, every day for that week (I was off work that week, handily). I might post some of those songs later this week if you don’t behave yourselves. And I have decided to continue into this week, and possibly forever. Every day I will do something creative.
Also, I am going to spend an hour a day reading a book. I have a backlog of 40 books, so I should really get a move on, in case Santa decides to bring me even more, which has been known to happen.
*This time coincides with me getting a decent-ish internet connection, and spending lots of time sat in front of this infernal machine clicking on things. Not the most creative activity, really.
I’m going camping on Saturday¹ and it is sort-of expected that I will bring my acoustic guitar. This year I’m going to try and learn a few songs that my friends might know or like, instead of playing my songs² or jamming on blues scales.
One friend suggested ‘Chuck E’s in Love’ (until she realised just how wordy it is) and has requested ‘Sara’ instead (which should be easy, it’s only 3½ chords). Another friend has requested ‘Amy’ (will be sounding more Ryan Adams than Mark Ronson, obviously).
To this I have added ‘Reel Around The Fountain’ (my friends will like that) and ‘Jennifer She Said’ (still a few Lloyd Cole fans in the gang). After that they are just going to have to put up with me jamming.
My notebook with all the songs I’ve learned in it
¹If it doesn’t stop raining between now and next weekend, I will be seriously thinking of not going.
²My songs aren’t terrible (although they tend towards melancholy) but no-one will be singing along as they don’t know the words.
I have booked a week off work, and have decided to make music. More than that,I have decided that I’m going to play the guitar every day, and try to see if I could kick-start my songwriting. I wrote a couple of songs April 2011, but otherwise I’ve not been able to write anything for a couple of years now.
Well the songwriting is going really well so far – 3 songs in 3 days. My singing is bit crap as I’ve got a bad throat, but these are proper songs with middle-rights and everything.
I’m feeling quite positive about my music now. I nearly posted a rough movie of me singing one of the songs, but it really is a bit too rough for public consumption. And the singing is a bit wobbly in places.
It’s a confidence thing, I think: The more I write, the more confident I am in writing, so the easier it is to write… etc. Let’s see how long I can keep that feedback loop going.