last week i wrote something so good it scared me. i’ve been reaching for a breakthrough in myself, a different way of approaching my writing and singing, and this piece felt like it — the thing i’ve been looking for. it scared me cause i’m scared to play it for you. i mean, what if you don’t like it as much as i do?
this is a good feeling, sitting in front of the speakers anticipating every line, complete satisfaction washing over me as they trickle by, one crisp couplet after another. being in the music business means making babies and then sending them out to slaughter. some people love them, some people hate them, most people ignore them. they get loved and it feels good and when people don’t like them it feels bad. when they get ignored it’s just endlessly frustrating.
so pretty early on songwriters tend to grow a thick skin, which makes writing something honest a challenge. so it feels good to write something from my heart and feel scared to play it for you. it feels like i’m doing my job.
ok, you were all so helpful with your advice about the ‘sad piano thing‘ that i’m giving you a second whack at input-giving. this month’s free mp3 is a demo of a new track called “out of promises” that we’re hoping makes it to the record. it’s sparse and simple — just a drum machine and synths — with lyrics that lack some of the fireworks of my previous efforts. the thing is that i like it. i like how empty it is (of course, the final would have more dynamics, but this offers a good sense of the general vibe), i like how i’m not trying to push the lyrics down your throat, and that it focuses things on just the words and my voice (which given what a prima donna i am makes me happy).
so my two questions for you are —
1. does it feel like the lyrics in the verses are too unspecific or lacking heft?
2. does it feel like the track lacks dynamics, is too flat and empty?
basically — does it feel like something’s missing? these are the questions i need your help with, you have been listening with careful ears to black lab for years. please respond either here at our facebook page.
and it’s of course great for us when you tweet and post about this kind of stuff, let your friends know what’s up and help spread the luv.
i was wondering what it is that makes lyrics work for me as a listener — is it something that evokes an emotion inside myself? is it the sound of the words in conjunction with the singer’s voice and the music?
then i was wondering how it is i make my own artistic decisions — what are the priorities for me? the personal meaning and connection of the words? how clever they are? how good they sound?
do i want to write an album of badass lyrics that don’t have a lot of direct expression of my life in them? do i want to write a very personal album that other people maybe don’t understand? i’m always surprised how much you guys actually understand what i’m trying to say. and i’m more surprised (pleasantly, of course) when you read into things i’ve written that are more rich and powerful than what i meant in the first place.
so these are the things i struggle with as i try to crowbar meaning into lines of set length and emphasis and rhyme. i want to say what i want to say, and the best case is when it all just falls together perfectly — meaning and sound in one perfect turn of phrase.
unfortunately, this can take a lot of time… so thanks for your patience.
ok, so i’ve been working on this beautiful track andy sent me and it’s been kicking my ass — not because i don’t have any ideas for it but because i have too many. before i hunker down and write the lyrics i want to finalize the melody. after a week of work on it i had four (count ‘em) complete melodies to the song, and i haven’t been able to decide which one to pursue. i’ve been working on a different track, trying to get some space from it, but while i do i thought i thought i’d shoot it out to you all to and you can let me know what you think.
parameters: ok, i’ve never done anything like this before. it’s freaky to have you hear the very much work-in-progress thing in this stage. please remember:
1. nothing about this track is final, not the piano or vocal or especially…
2. the lyrics are purely mock-up. not one single word may survive to the final version. your job is to listen to the melodic line of the voice without listening to the lame-stream-of-consciousness-
3. the main thing we’re listening to here. the verses of each version are different. the choruses of 2, 3 & 4 are the same (mostly).
4. ok, go to town and please let me know what you think on facebook.
we’ve got a little sale going on — buy a disc or a download and get a download free. now’s your chance to get your friend a gift and grab that obscurity you’ve always wondered about. or maybe you haven’t had a chance to hear two strangers and want to hear the remastered version of your body above me. buy any CD or download (or whatever, as long as it costs $9 or more) and then choose a second download to buy, then enter this coupon code in the shopping cart when you check out – FREEDOWNLOAD – and you’ll get credit for the second download. it’s two-fer-one baby, so get it while it’s hot.