Archive for the ‘Original’ Category

One of our dogs is afraid of guitars. This means that I’ve done a lot less playing around the house than I used to. But I’m hoping over time I can get her used to it. For the last couple of weekends, I’ve been working on a new tune. I’m going to resist the urge to make a joke about dogs and country music and just go ahead and post the song.

The Finer Things in Life [demo]


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Sometimes a song just pours right out of you and other times it’s more like giving birth. And then there are times when it’s a blend of the two. This song was a blend.

I’d had the idea for the melody and chorus for a long time, but never knew what the story should be. The tune first popped into my head one day after driving down South Congress to visit The Mighty Cone for lunch (probably making it my first food-inspired melody). In fact, the original the reason I was “going downtown,” as the lyrics say, was to get a chicken cone. It was a sunny spring day in Austin, I had a full belly and a spring in my step. I was feeling good. But as it turns out, I didn’t have much more to say about fried chicken. So I just filed it away.

Eventually, I got the first verse down. After that, I just needed to spend some time with the song and let the rest happen. So for the last three days, I’ve basically walked around with a constant tape loop in my head, trying to make it all work. It’s like solving a crossword puzzle. Any syllable out of place can throw the whole thing off.

Looking back, this song started out in a pretty strange place and ended up somewhere completely absurd. Namely, it ended up in a place where you can catch gout from your wife. It was fun to just follow the strange logic of this thing to its conclusion.

A couple of the lyrics were inspired by one of Eliza’s recent posts, some were in there to make it rhyme, and others were in there just to test the boundaries of my marriage. I wanted to see what I could get away with. Besides, doesn’t every girl dream that one day someone will write a song about them? Shaliza Price, this one’s for you.

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I always thought it would be fun to have a songwriting blog. I imagined myself posting little snippets here and there, possibly even collaborating with musicians around the country. I would upload a file, they’d add something and send it back, and pretty soon we’d be internet sensations. We’d write a book about collaboration and the creative possibilities of the social web. The book would be followed by a speaking tour, appearances on the Today show, and a movie version directed by Wes Anderson. He’d naturally find me so compelling that at the last minute, he’d scrap his plan to have Owen Wilson play me and insist I do it myself. So goes my train of thought.

The problem with that story is that I never collaborate on songwriting. In fact, my favorite part about songwriting is spending time in my own head and answering to no one. And if I’m honest, the thought of collaborating on an original song seems about as fun as waking up early to go running. There are so many times in life that you have to compromise with one person or another. But when I write a song, I don’t ask for anyone’s input or opinion. The only thing that matters is that I enjoy singing it. (Actually, when it comes to the band, I am interested in the other guys’ opinions. But if they’re not crazy about a song, it’s no skin off my back. I’ll still keep it in my head.)

My songs are my little playground. There’s no approval process. Legal doesn’t approve them and there’s no client or boss to offer input or suggestions. The only feedback involved is the kind that comes from a noisy Fender amp. If there were other people giving me pointers, I probably wouldn’t end up with this little half-song I put together today, in which I call Eliza the meanest girl in the world:

(It’s not true, by the way.)

For the gearheads: I recorded this on Garage Band. The drums are fake (but pretty convincing, right?) Bass is also fake (less convincing). Acoustic is my 1966 J-45. Electric is my Reverend Buckshot played through a little toy Fender amp (the MA-10), powered by a nine-volt battery.

Update: Forgot to mention that this was all recorded using whatever mic is built into the iMac.

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