Louder and Weirder: Where A Song Comes From

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Whenever I talk with people about music, and they find out I’m a songwriter, just about the first question they ask me is: “what comes first, the words or the music?”
It’s a good question…without a good answer. Because the answer is “both”, “neither”, and “sometimes” (Satisfying, isn’t it?).
By way of a response, though, I thought I’d take a song that I’m working up right now and explain how it came to be, in installments. Like a Dickens novel, but with fewer adorable urchins and more distorted dub tape loop feedback.
Let’s start with the beat (which is actually not where the whole thing started. Confusing? See paragraph 2, above). This song was just a few words and a musical vibe which had been flitting around my head for a long time, until one day when I decided to blow off my job and finish the !@#$!% &@! thing.
I began laying hands on various instruments and devices in my studio, attempting to strike just the right combination of notes and sounds to coax the song out of its hiding place and into the world of verses, choruses, and royalty checks.
Instead, I came up with this beat.
[audio:beatwithout.mp3]
Whoo-ee. Funky as Ryan Seacrest in a pair of pleated Dockers, eh? I was about to give up and call in un-sick to work when I decided, as a last resort, to run that thing through an old guitar distortion pedal that I’d been using as a pencil holder. Check it out.
[audio:beatwith.mp3]
Better, no? I thought it brought out a sense of mysterious atmosphere which had been totally absent before, which was much more inspiring. And louder and weirder, which is always good. Skipped the phone call to work. Spent the rest of the day on the song, of which more next time…

Comments

One thought on “Louder and Weirder: Where A Song Comes From

  • Ryan Seacrest in Dockers? The original was cool; the distortion version was cooler.
    It’d be a lot cooler if you did.
    I like step-by-step music. Looking forward to the next time you decide to lay some hands on your instruments/furniture.

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