Saturday, 30 August 2008

Day 28: Dora and Rudy

In the car on the way back from my step-niece and nephew's naming ceremony I came up with a short little verse for them, which I've set to one of the piano improvisations from Thursday. I've just recorded it, and I hope they like it when they hear it (they're only a few months old so probably won't have strong opinions either way).

Things are now as follows:

Written and recorded:
Brooklyn Bridge
City Song
Everyone Likes Coffee Except me
Former Glories
Impulse Control
On Those Dark Days in July
Murder, She Wrote
A Reverie
Dora and Rudy
The Mismatch Man
The Race
What's Lost to You

Written but not yet recorded:

Almost finished:
Sing a song

I may also put the other piano improvisation on there as an instrumental, I think it's nice to have something without words to break things up, don't you?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Day 27: It's only words

I was on good piano playing form yesterday, and whilst going over what I recorded I realised I had a couple of really sweet improvisations of about two minutes each, which I'm going to try to put words to over the weekend. I played some really crazy frenetic rhythmic stuff too but none of that is really usable as a song - sometimes I get carried away and start to play the piano more like I used to play the drums, thinking of paradiddles and fills more than chords and melodies. It's fun but I don't think the piano likes it too much, and the Yamaha I'm using has a really heavy action so I was exhausted afterwards. I've been editing the takes together today and will set about recording vocals as soon as my house is empty. I'm still a bit stuck on some of the lyrics though, sometimes they come and sometimes I feel like I have nothing I want to write about... I'm going out shortly though, and then to my niece and nephew's naming day tomorrow (very cute names for very cute babies: Dora and Rudy, I might have to write a song for them), so I should get some ideas from one or both of these things. If not expect a lot of humming in some of the songs.

p.s. Speaking of lyrics, I've just realised how grammatically incorrect the song Words (which I've quoted in the title of this entry) is - it's only words? They're only words, surely?

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Day 26: Wires and hammers pt 3

Today I went back to do the final piano recording session. I did the parts for Fail and Doodlebug, and re-did Untitled and Sing a Song. Fail is a song about how afraid most us are of failure, and how that fear actually prevents us from learning the things that might allow us to be more successful.

I was thinking about this again today, and about how often people are referred to in terms that basically ascribe who they are to what they do, even on the level of "she's a plumber" etc. I suppose in a world of six billion people the human mind ends up falling back on this pigeon-holing as a short-hand to make sense of things, but I think on some level it's also indicative of our approach to other people and to ourselves. How often when a person does something wrong do they scold themselves by saying "I'm an idiot" or somesuch, rather than "I just did something idiotic"? It's as if by doing something wrong they completely invalidate every other aspect of themselves and become just that one thing. This kind of thinking is what makes success so important to us, and failure terrifying to the point that we will avoid it at all costs.

The best thing about the song Fail is that it is in itself a failure, as I went way over the two minute rule I set for this project, coming in at nearer three. Actually, quite a few are longer and a couple are shorter. But hey, who cares, it's a good song.

Day 25: Chipping away

I recorded vocals for City Song, re-did them for July and You Amaze Me, and re-wrote some of the chords for Fail. Played around with my ukulele, started to get some interesting things happening but no actual song as yet. Tomorrow I'm going to do the final piano recording session so otherwise have been getting stuff ready for that. I've also been listening to the Hidden Cameras today, having helped out at a gig of theirs on Saturday for a friend. I hadn't heard their music before but they were really quite special, particularly as the gig was held in Shoreditch Church. I spoke to the vicar afterwards, which felt all kinds of wrong as I had a beer in my hand and had just watched a gay band singing about watersports. He didn't seem to mind.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Day 24: Getting down to busy-ness

Productivity drive: vocals for Everyone Likes Coffee Except Me, July, Reverie; a first draft of Doodlebug; first verse and chorus lyrics for Fail; and electric guitar for Impulse Control. I'm hoping to get all my left over piano stuff recorded on Thursday so need to have all that prepared by the end of tomorrow. It's exciting...

A friend and I had a bright little thought the other day about what I might do with these songs when they're finished. My original idea was to be obstinately retro by releasing the thing strictly on cassette only, in part for the sheer perversity of it but also because I like the idea that whoever wants to hear these songs will have gone to some effort to do so. However, my friend Catherine and I have now had a better idea, one that involves concealing CDs all around the city, which is going to be a fun project in itself, and will probably be reported on this blog. I might still put it out on cassette though. I'd love to do a proper vinyl release of course but that's just too expensive.

I also managed to go swimming today, which left me feeling elated but exhausted and slightly sick as I haven't exercised my upper body since about 1998.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Day 23 pt 2: Late night reprieve

The mind is a mysterious thing. Having written earlier that I was feeling under-inspired, I just sat down and wrote a song, and then wrote half another song. The first is called Doodlebug. On Sunday I visited Shoreditch Festival, which was themed around the year 1948 and was a very well put together event. Anyway, some people there were dancing the jitterbug (see above) all dressed up in forties clothes and stuff. I started to think about the word jitterbug, and the word doodlebug, which was a nickname for the V-1 flying bomb, and about how it would be cool to somehow use those and other bug-ended words in a song. Well, I started to play around just now and came up with a really catchy thing in which I thought I might be able to use those words. Long story short, I wrote the lyrics and sadly they don't include the words jitterbug, litterbug, bedbug or humbug - but the chorus is doodlebug over and over... It actually makes sense lyrically too, which is good as I can't live with writing total nonsense. The other song is called Fail, and doesn't have words yet, but feels like it will be a good one to sing as it's sort of soul-ish.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Day 23: Perspiration/inspiration

More of the former than the latter today. I'm getting some of the written but not recorded stuff into shape and have been playing around with chord progressions for some of the unfinished songs. I think I may have to abandon the Pigeon song, which is a shame as I like some of the lines in it, it's supposed to be about a pigeon singing from the afterlife:

I was a pigeon
By a prior breath
And I met my death
In this

Oh, I was a fine bird
A Bonaparte
Of both park and heart
I sparred
As well as I sparked

But train stations are dangerous places for pigeons

I fell foul
Fell down
Onto the tracks
And in the black
Of the soot
I lost my foot
As the train came in
Then it crushed my wing
Precious thing!
And somebody said
"How disgusting, it's dead!"
And at last I lost my head...

Despite having done quite a lot of stuff that usually triggers ideas over the weekend I'm not feeling particularly inspired, but that's okay as there's plenty to get on with that doesn't require a particularly fertile mind.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Day 22: Mind the gap

So far I've been punctilious in updating this blog every day, however the weekend just past was alternately too busy and too hungover to maintain the habit. I am now back in the swing so normal service is resumed. I've just totaled my work so far, which is as follows (lots of these are working titles):

Brooklyn bridge
Former glories
Murder, she wrote
The mismatch man
The race
Nothing can replace what's lost to you
You amaze me

Written and partially recorded:
Impulse control
The mind
City song

Partially written:
Sing, sing a song
Friday, 8th August
Maslow, actually
The pigeon song
Awake, love
Art loving people

So, another three to finish... I should make it, my only worry is not getting the last piano recording sessions done in time.

Day 21: The Hidden Cameras