Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New song, "Bomb Shelter"

Most of the new songs I've recorded this year are songs I've had in my repertoire for years. One new song -- "All the Same" -- was just a riff that a song got built around. Another, "Tucson," was based entirely on a riff using the modDelay function on my Cubase music editing software. But this latest song, "Bomb Shelter," has a very novel beginning. I was jamming out with my church organist friend Jim N. a few weeks ago and we each wrote down five chords on slips of paper and put them in a bowl. We drew the first three and developed melodies around them. The next two or three chords were drawn and melodies built around them. By the time we were done, all 10 chords had been jammed around. As I was composing the song, I had to throw out the G-seventh and E-augmented fourth chords. Even though I love that E chord, I couldn't find a place for it.

For the next couple days I worked out verse, chorus, and bridge parts for Jim, recorded the guitar, and gave Jim a copy of it to work out his own accompaniment. By the time we got together again the following Monday, I had added drums and a bass line. For the first time, on this song I recorded live drums, using a tom drum and snare Todd gave me when he visited in May. Not having a snare stand, I suspended it between two chairs. Totally ghetto, but it worked. Cymbal and bass drum sounds were recorded using a Yahama keyboard.

This is my favorite song so far because its creation happened so fluidly. Not to say it was easy. I practiced until I almost "got blisters on my fingers." After the initial tracks were laid out, much decision-making about the song ensued. It originally was a single verse and then a chorus, but late in the process, as I was writing lyrics, the song almost demanded two verses, so I added them. This involved hours of cutting and pasting, re-recording, etc. Much more busy work than musical expression.

I asked Esther, who has a lovely alto voice and a good sense of pitch and rhythm, to provide backing vocals in the bridge and one part of verse one. This is the first time we've recorded together, and the first time we've sang together on a song since participating in community choir in 2003. I hope to use her voice on future songs.

The lyrics are based on a poem I wrote a few years ago about what it would like to live in a post-apocalyptic world. I've also had a lifelong fascination with basements and the underground in general. So it fits. Here are those lyrics.

"Bomb Shelter"


There is a storm upon the horizon

Leaving chaos in its path

Nothing we can do to stop it

To flee is certain death

Is it a bomb out on the horizon?

Or a thought that eats into our souls?

Underground huddled together

We'll never know

CHORUS: I will take you there

To a place and time that now seems far away

Anything to take my mind from the bunker

Where we're trapped and all is gray

There was a blue sky once

By god, I hope we see the sky again

It's always the simple things

we long for in the end


Rationing portions of food and water

A candle flickers on the wall

flitting shadows in the darkness

And a rumble from below

There is too much time now to wonder

The radio plays a static song

Listening to voices in the clatter

From a world that's gone


I have also re-mixed the first song I recorded, "Progress," so it's a little louder and friendlier to the ear. I know all of my songs are demo quality, but it's still a lot of fun and I enjoy having the tools now to allow my musical visions to see fruition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I think that I liked the lyrics better than I liked the song as it was recorded on stage. I could not make out too many words as they were sung. So seeing the words on a page made a more favorable impression on me.

You seem to have a Bryan Ferry sound. Is that intentional? I mean once you have gone Roxy there is no turning back!