Help Me Finish This Song! (Please!)

So here’s the song I’m talking about. It’s called “Queen of Evening”, the whole thing has been written and mostly recorded, but there’s one teensy issue with the arrangement…
I have no idea what to put in the middle. 
Check it out – this is a rough mix with scratch vocals, but it’s definitely finished enough that you can hear what I’m talking about.

 
The second chorus chugs along nicely, building towards the next section of the song, and then…what?
Keyboard solo? Guitar solo? Bridge with different chords and more lyrics? A marching band? 
I’ve tried all kinds of things (maybe not the marching band), but nothing’s giving me the “that’s it!” feeling.
So I’m throwing it over to you. What do you think this song is asking for in that blank spot in the middle? (or the “hole” in the “donut”, if you were wondering whether I was gonna wrap that up 😉
It’s the section between about 2:40 and 3:08.
Complete this song! Solve my problem! Get your name in the liner notes! Just leave a comment below….
 

36 replies on “Help Me Finish This Song! (Please!)”

mike – i love this song!!!! really a lot. can’t wait for you to finish it. how about a sexy lady voice (leah) with some cool vocal riffs in the middle? possibly mashed up with your voice? My sacred heart is so burning down right now….. i need a minute

Thanks, ren – hopefully it’ll be just a few weeks before there’s a finished version. Once it’s no longer a donut. I think I’ll play around with the sexy lady idea and see what comes of it…wait – does that sound weird?

this song is reminding me of ‘say it isn’t so’ by hall & oates. that’s a simple song with a nice keyboard riff that they tease at and build to. then in the musical interlude, they just play with it. what sells that song to me is that it’s a nice riff and they build up to it well.
i’d add some more to the riff that you love, probably in the keyboards. if you love it, and it’s thick n juicy, that’ll work… me thinks
nice sound. has a great feeling

Thanks, H. I think you’re onto something here. To the extent that any of the things I’ve tried have worked, something along the lines of your suggestion was getting the best results. Thicker & juicer may be the ticket.

More cowbell! (just kidding) I once read that if a solo doesn’t add any meaning, it can be left out. A bridge might be better.

Ooh…love that aphorism! So short & sweet – might even be able to remember that one.
I always lean more towards bridges, but this song is pretty stuffed full of words already…maybe a Bill Withers-style breakdown where I just say the same thing 29 times in a row?

The song has earthy tones to me… it’s warm and human…so I think that an instrument like the flutes that Native Americans play, mixed with a female wailing, backing it up…..will mix well with the wind that seems to be blowing in the background through the song. This is one to listen to on a nice warm Saturday evening.

“…the wind that seems to be blowing in the background through the song…” – so well said, Bill! I’d been feeling something similar but wouldn’t have known how to articulate it until I read this. I do want to magnify that feeling, just not sure whether underlining it or going away from it for a while before coming back to it will be the best approach…

Hi Mike,
First, great concept.
Second, is the drums real live drums or some kind of software???
Third, it is simple for what is missing in your song. You are missing the climax in the song. In my opinion at minute 2:40 I want to get excited and I was not. Pump in some energy, intensify the tone, get louder and stronger on the vocals and rhythm.
I would also revise the choice of complex beat right from the beginning. I think it makes hard to elaborate later.
I hope I could help you.

Thanks, Avishai – excellent feedback! I agree that the song, as currently structured, doesn’t have a climax, and it definitely needs one. Good point on the complexity of the drums, too. I always get excited about some interesting groove and want to hear it all the way through, forgetting that it doesn’t work that way for people who are not me. Will probably dial back the initial flair…

If you don’t go the Bill Withers breakdown route, consider a change of vocal tempo and instrumentation ala the bridge from Eyes Without a Face (advocating for tension, not saucy guitar riffs).
Killer song, Bake. This is a hot one.
Lemmy tribute in the hopper?

Break up the steady diet of offspeed stuff with a fastball right down the pipe? That’s crazy enough that it just. might. work. Bonus points for working Bill Withers and Bill Idol into the same sentence, too.
Working on Lemmy tribute, but completing my diet transition from lentils and kale to Jameson and cocaine is proving to be a little thorny.

Never mind….figured it out!
I think the interlude in question clearly calls for a jamming keyboard solo….performed by someone with some serous chops!

Thx, DVG – I was thinking the same thing at one point. I tried to do it myself, but it sounded like someone had seriously chopped my hands off. Don’t send a guitarist to do a keyboard player’s job…

Change key then sweat over a few lines that at first listen seem to walk away at a tangent from the previous thread then weave back into the second half. As a bridge, reduce it to a suggestion, a quiet annotation to the rest of the story, almost buried in the music. Maybe see how singing the same lines, half whispered, overdubbing the first take a half a thought behind tempo will feel.

Man, that sounds like a ton of work! Didn’t I get into rock’n’roll to avoid work? 😉
Ha ha. Srsly, though, like the idea of quietly sing/whispering lines behind the beat. That one might have legs…

With first glance read title as “queen of everything”, ain’t bad. strangely while listening until donut i was thinking “oh, gotta offer drum break”. well, yeah. i vote for piano high-notes interlude or solo. actually had a thought that i miss bass solos in your songs sometines, but not here (can imagine a suggestion here like “add slap bass!!”, would be funny)

Hadn’t heard this track before, but anything with both Joseph Arthur AND Vernon Reid on it gets a thumbs-up here. Like the bass, too!

Mmm…drum break…I like that idea for the beginning of the spot, but I’d still have to come up with something to transition into the last verse. Good idea, Andrey!

great song concept, appreciate your projects. was thinking maybe some low volume spacy-type synths with a soft monologue. (something along the lines of “children of the sun” crossed with the prayer from “enter sandman”.) dunno, i’m weird. good luck and keep working!

Hmmm…forgot about Enter Sandman. Not sure if I know any prayers that would work here, but I like expanding the range of what’s possible in the donut hole. Thanks, R.!

Really like the song! I want a guitar solo, of course. Crunchy and contrasting with the rest of it- creating the climax of the song. Not sure I would change key. Then right back, rolling with the rest of the song. Nice lyrics , especially the one about writing your name on her skin. Fill the donut hole with guitar snarl custard, I always say! Can’t wait to hear what you decide!

Guitar Snarl Custard! If I were a better guitar player, I’d do a whole album of instrumentals and call it that. Thx, Frank – maybe I’ll set aside a few hours & a glass of whiskey & see if I can come up with some guitar that fits.

Nice groove Mike. Read through the comments and you have lotsa great suggestions. I hear a climax sultry melodic special effects female voice and/or harmonica to finish the donut.

Aha – harmonica! Wouldn’t have thought of that, but I love putting harmonica into things. Think I’ll try that this afternoon – thanks, John!

Sounds great the way you describe it, and if I can get Mark Knopfler I’m DEFINITELY putting a guitar solo in there.
Asking the blue gods for their opinion is a very good idea too, and I’ll be doing that next time they’re available.
Thx, James!

Just wanted to say a quick but huge Thanks! to everyone who’s commented so far! The fact that you took the time to listen carefully and leave a thoughtful comment is amazing to me; I appreciate it and don’t take it lightly. Seriously – thank you.

Hey Mike, I like the interplay of the drum groove that pushes forward and the keys’ mellow counter. I see two themes going on: the obvious loss of innocence and rebellion against a Roman Catholic upbringing for allure of the night life (and the danger of the men who want it for free). The more interesting thing I see going on is a reference to Mozart’s Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute opera (18th c.). As always, the witch (Queen of the Night) lures her victims away from virtue into the darkness and is herself, in the opera, hell-bound. And when she calls you…
Do I win the prize? Were you getting all operatic on us? In case not (and for everyone else) here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpVV9jShEzU … or maybe you had the Whitney Houston song in mind.
So, my thought is, what about a ripping guitar solo that 1) plays on the famous inarticulates in the Queen of the Night Aria (link above), and 2) communicates the excitement, allure, and ominousness of the Queen of the Night/Evening? I envision one of those solos that is too rockin’ for the song, catches folks a bit off guard, but was so good that the artist just had to work it in and no one could blame him. A surprising, rockin’ solo could also create a significant change/point of interest in the song before getting back to the established groove of drums and keys.

Jenni is suggesting the totally different direction of a Nels Cline style solo… uh… she’s obviously not a guitarist! Ha! Good luck with that.

That frightens me just to think about…the number of years I’d have to practice (and rewire my brain) to come close to Nels Cline. I like it, though. Listening to Bowie today, I heard a number of Adrian Belew solos that were sort of in the same category, and they really worked for those songs. Hmmm…

Wow…yes, you do definitely win! Most erudite and multi-dimensional comment for sure – thanks!
I know what you mean about the initially inappropriate guitar solo that eventually rocks so hard it just can’t be denied, and I’ve tried it, but it hasn’t really worked. Maybe because I haven’t rocked it hard enough – kinda rusty right now. Maybe it’s time for mor e Red Bull & finger exercises…

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