Apr 30

Mike Wich and I finished “Closer” finally, after only about 2 final mixes. This is the first time in many years that Mike and I have written a song together. He’s played on some recent songs of mine, but as far as writing together, let’s just say I’m pretty sure Ronald Reagan was still the President.

For those that didn’t see my prior posts about how we were writing the song, Mike wrote the music, I wrote the lyrics and melody. Mike played all the instruments and programmed the drums and I added the vocals.

It’s the first of several concept tunes we’re doing for an album currently titled “Obsessions”. This one is about those people that are totally and nearly psychotically driven to be as close to a tornado as possible.

Here it is in it’s entirety:

Closer

For those folks out there that thrive on the techie stuff, here’s what Mike said about how it was done:

For this tune, I wrote the chord progressions then Vic wrote the lyrics and melody. When that was done, I recorded all the tracks and added a final cut of Vic’s vocals.

Vic’s work was done with his brand new mic, a Sennheiser E835, an Edirol UA-4FX USB interface and Kristal.

Mine was done in my MRS-802, with my usual Ibanez guitar, Peavey bass, Roland Juno-D keyboard and Beatcraft for drums. Everything was mixed in Kristal.

We’re probably going to have a final mix with a backing vocal shortly, but I’ll just update the file when I do with a quick note about it here.

*****

The next song will be a bit cathartic for me. I’m going to tackle a stalker (not literally).

I’m my past I’ve had someone who said they were in love with me that wouldn’t leave me alone. As heartless as I may sound, there’s no easy way to put this: she bordered on psychotic though years later I found out it was more specifically “alcoholic”.

Now I’m not the tall dark and handsome type, and I’ve never been that guy that always has a date, a hot car or a high paying job for that matter. I’m about as average as they come. So how could I have ended up with a stalker, you ask?

As it turned out, it was kind of a wrong place wrong time sort of thing. Why would I consider it stalking as opposed to just “affectionate pursuit” ? Ha ha ha, well…

  • she showed up at my door on a Wednesday evening having driven 700 miles as a “surprise” (suitcase in hand)
  • under the pretense of looking for a job in the area, she just made herself at home never actually looking for a job.
  • when I asked her to leave (First in a calm voice, then later in a screaming “Get the !@#$ out of my house!”) she just laughed
  • I had to call the police to remove her from my house
  • Weeks afterward, she made multiple calls to my house every 10 minutes between 9:00PM and 2:00AM several days a week. In those days call blocking didn’t work across state lines, and she used my business phone that I had tied to multiple advertisements so I couldn’t cancel the number. Answering machines were analog back then, and she filled up a tape every two nights.

    It got to the point that I had to call her local police lieutenant to send someone round. Get this: she called me to tell me they were there and that she wasn’t going to answer the door. Yeah, how frustrating is that?

    Finally, after calling my office and reaching every single one of my staff multiple times a day (this went on for a good week), my Manager called me into the office and had the brilliance to say “These calls have to stop. Tell her not to call here.”

    I was dumbstruck by such a creative suggestion.

    I also think she (the stalker) had something to with me losing that job I’d had for 11 years, but hey, that’s the way it goes. After a while she finally did stop calling.

    That was in 1997. Since then I’ve gotten married, moved across the country, and 2 years ago on New Years Eve the phone rang.

    Guess who?

    My number’s now unlisted.

    Thanks for putting up with that long story, but I felt it was important to show how dramatic events in one’s life can foster creativity.

    I’ll break out some outlines for the song in my next post.

    V

    Apr 26

    Since my posts have been somewhat infrequent over the past week or so I felt it was time to show some progress with “Closer”.

    When we last left our heroes, they were feverishly working on a cure for “badlyricitis”, which is sometimes confused with but not unrelated to the more common “hypercheesiness”.

    Mike and I have gone through about 5 versions to date and have finally settled on the best arrangement. I’ve been working on the melody and phrasing and before I show you all any version of it, I felt it was more important to describe than to let you hear what crap sounds like. Well, lyrically and vocally that is. Mike’s done quite well with the music. :-)

    Some of you know I’ve had equipment issues that have caused me to buy a new microphone a beautiful Sennheiser Evolution e835 (sweet) and many of you helped me to understand what the problems were. I owe a lot to the guys at the 2090 Zoom Forum. Thanks so much for that :-)

    Note: I strongly suggest that if you love to write music, or love to record music that you check these guys out. Visit the forum by the above link or the recommended link on the sidebar =—>

    Mike was satisfied with the last vocal cut and we decided to save it as a first take since I was more focused on testing out the microphone than I was on the phrasing. This weekend I’ll do a few more takes as there’s some tweaking with the melody I need to decide on. Some of the phrasing on this version was experimental and I’m not completely sold on it.

    Also, some lyrics are bugging me like : “a knight on his horse riding through the abyss”. It sounds as forced and phony as an 80′s dragon slayer movie.

    I like the knight and horse part and “abyss” is ok because it rhymes with “no place like this”.

    It’s needed because of the Don Quixote reference. I decided to go medieval rather than 16th century because it was more heavy metal than windmills and tulips would be.

    Knights- Heavy Metal

    Tulips – Not heavy at all.

    I think my issue is that an abyss isn’t something you would go through, but rather into.

    The meter needs to be “a knight on his horse dah dah dah the abyss”. I haven’t decided yet but I may substitute one of these:

    “a knight on his horse fly into the abyss” (edit: don’t like “horsefly”)
    “… up against the abyss” (edit: against? meaning versus? that’s just weird)
    “… ride into the abyss” (edit: this is the one unless something better comes along)
    “… have no time for a p—” (just kidding, obviously, I wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

    You might be thinking, “Ok, I’m bored”, but I think it’s important to show things that we songwriters struggle with. The right words may not seem important to some writers, particularly because it’s too easy to get hung up on semantics.

    This song is at the stage where it takes on a life of it’s own. It talks to me (not in the “I’m hearing voices” sense).

    I’ve come to learn that if something bugs me about a song, it’ll bug someone else as well. I woke up this morning with that one line in my head and I knew if I didn’t get past it, I couldn’t move forward.

    ***

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m kicking around ideas for our next obsession song. I tend to hover over stalking as the next one. Now I could either go from the point of view of the stalker or of the victim, but the stalker would be the one with the obsession, unless the victim was truly vain and paranoid and just “thought” they were being stalked.

    Hey, that could be a different obsession song entirely. Conspiracy Theorist? I’ll let that idea incubate for a while.

    As far as stalkers go I’ve got some personal experience as the victim. Guys aren’t typically the victim but though I may be vain, I’m not paranoid.

    I’m thinking the song needs to be set as a love ballad, probably with a pretty melody. It will require the creepiness factor though.

    Maybe a line like this:

    I’ve been in love with you for years.
    I know you’d love me too, we just haven’t met yet.

    More to follow on “Closer” including a clip in the next couple of days.

    Thanks for staying awake through this. :-)

    -V

    Apr 21

    Sorry for the wait between posts, but sometimes you just have to stop and regroup, especially when songwriting. This past week has been full of fodder for tunesmithing. Mike and I have been making strong progress in the first of the songs for the upcoming Obsessions concept album.

    Again, that’s its working title which is what you’re supposed to say when you think you’ll have a better one later on. ;-)

    So he sent back a more complete arrangement and final structure for it. He decided that rather than starting out with the chorus, he’d prefer starting with a verse, slowly building in intensity until the chorus. That caused me to swap around a line from the second verse with one from the first, and it fit perfectly.

    Oh yeah, I’m not planning on anatomizing every step in every tune for this album as that would be torturous, this is just to illustrate what happens in the rewrite process. Secondly, it occurred to me that you would have needed to hear how the vocal was laid over the initial sketch to really see why I needed to rearrange the verses.

    There was a vocal intensity that I originally applied to the end of the first line. Adjusting it made it more suitable to being placed before the chorus rather than after the first verse.

    I don’t it’s wise to include a link for every stage of the song but I will include some once we get the final vocal track laid down, which should be next week.

    This was the re-write:

    There’s a silence in the air, and the sky’s turning green,
    See the wall cloud rising and threatening the town at it’s feet

    I can’t be like the rest, for me there’s no peace.
    I’ve got a job to do, and I just… I just… got to get

    Closer, closer. Closer, closer
    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer

    Adrenaline pumping there’s no place like this
    I’m a knight on his horse riding through the abyss

    Oh that freight train is coming with a loud sucking sound,
    Let it hail let it rain, let them go underground

    Chorus

    Its a monster that’s growing like a demon unleashed
    It’s chewing up the highway and spitting out the trees

    There is no tomorrow, there’s only right now
    And it’s all up to me, and I just… I just… got to get

    Chorus


    I recorded a scratch vocal track with a basic melody and emailed it back to Mike. Now that he’s got an idea of where the syllables fall in the tune he can place his fills, adjust the programming for the drums, add effects etc.

    While he’s doing that, I’ll listen to the song over and over in my car singing along and tweaking the melody. Once I have it where I want it, I’ll record another vocal and fire it off to Mike to replace the one I did before.

    This is the part where the song is no longer our own. This is the cool part. It’s like when a baby starts to develop it’s personality. You realize then that now you can only guide it in the direction you think it should go in. It will certainly tell you what it needs at this point. I’ve known songs to do that for a long time. Interestingly enough I found the same thing happens with painting.

    Anyway, we’ll probably be done with this one in about a week and a half.

    So meanwhile, what to do? Mike and I discussed some other obsessions, but nothing gelled for me as yet.

    I find myself now “between ideas”. I used to think this was being blocked, but now I call it “incubating”.

    Deepak Chopra once talked about the subconscious mind as being a “field of infinite possibilities”. He said when you have a problem to solve or in my case an idea to hatch, you “place the seed in the fertile ground of the field of infinite possibilities”. Click for Sound Effect

    Basically, I think he meant “sleep on it”, but his phrasing was much more “oh ee oh, ee oh ah” ;-)

    So, while my seeds incubate, I won’t worry about it. The next idea will come when it’s time.

    Until then, I’ll leave you with a different tune I’ve been working on called “Recovery”. It’s mainly piano, at least for now, and it needs to be properly mixed and will have vocals, I just haven’t added them yet.

    :-)

    Enjoy

    Apr 14

    I’d call this a second draft:

    *******************

    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer
    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer

    There’s silence in the air, the sky’s turning green,
    See the wall cloud eating the ground at it’s feet.

    That freight train is coming with a loud sucking sound,
    Let it hail, let it rain, let them go underground!

    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer
    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer

    Adrenaline pumping there’s no place like this
    A knight on his horse riding through the abyss

    Can’t live anywhere else, there’s too much to miss
    I’ve got a job to do, just got to get closer closer

    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer
    Closer, closer. Just got to get closer, closer

    ************

    I sent this to Mike so that he could work on the arrangement. As of now I haven’t decided whether to add another verse or not.

    My vision for this was to have a steady build to a very violent bridge. It really needs to be explosive. We even talked about possibly adding a lightning effect, but that may not be necessary.

    At this point, it could finish instrumentally, perhaps ending with wind noise. My gut feeling though is that it needs a final verse, a resolution of sorts. It’ll really depend on how the song develops.

    As a side note, Mike’s original title was “Wizard”, as in “…of Oz”. He had no idea I was working on lyrics about a Tornado.

    Ooooo Weeee Ooooo Oooooo

    :-)

    Apr 14

    I felt it was necessary to post on a main page what Mike had responded to in a comment. It’s important because it lays out the blueprint for the project (sort of an inside joke as Mike has an architectural degree) ;-)

    Here is his post:

    “Ok, so I sent Victor the bare-bones outline for this new tune. It has your standard verse, chorus, change configuration, however, it’s not arranged yet, so Victor can determine his needs based on the lyrics he writes.

    IMO, the process will continue like this:

    He will tell me how many verses/choruses/changes he needs… I’ll take that info into my studio and record the music for the tune.

    He’ll then write the melody and record the lyrics.

    Involved, intense and not possible just ten short years ago without broadband internet to transfer files all the way across the country!

    Vic, do we want to post what I sent you somewhere as a frame of reference?”

    Sounds like a great idea: click here for the first sketch

    « Previous Entries