Songwriting: Lyrics for a Friend

My friend, John, has long had a vision of producing a country album on his bucket list. John and I play in a rock and roll band but his country project was something he always wanted to do, drawing on Hank Williams and others as inspiration for the sound he was after. So many months ago, he started to write the music and then he asked if I would contribute lyrics, and I readily agreed.

We had worked on some of his songs live, with our bandmates, and then the Pandemic hit and that came to a sudden pause. So John did it all solo at home in what he calls The Demonstration Tapes, and the tracks are, as he explains, published drafts for a possible future studio project.

Here is his song page for Bodie Madison & The Ranchers.

I tried to write the lyrics as character sketches for a general theme that John had in mind, and it was an interesting experience to try to do a whole collection of songs this way. John and I have collaborated before, many times, so this was not a new experience, but I really wanted to give him words that would make his songs work as he wanted.

Listening to what he did, from a distance, I am proud of the stories in running through his songs and happy that music remains a connection point in our friendship.

Peace (listening in),
Kevin

Song Lyric Deconstruction: With You With Me

I shared a new song entitled With You With Me the other day and wanted to use the draft lyric sheet (this is often what my notebook paper look like as I am writing songs — messy, with crossed-out words and phrases, and crammed things all over the place) to annotate what I was thinking as I was writing the song.

I did this annotation in Thinglink (which allows for audio embeds and layered notes) for myself but maybe you will find it interesting, too.

Peace (with you with me),
Kevin

Music of the Pandemic: Sitting On Horizon

I am not sure if this new song — Sitting On Horizon — is part of my Notes from a Quiet Corner project of music written and produced during and about the Pandemic …. Maybe it’s a late add to that mix … the lyrics are inspired by thinking about the days ahead and the unknowns of that waiting …

Sitting on Horizon

Everybody’s waiting
‘cause nobody knows
today’s hesitation
is where tomorrow always goes

We walk around in daydream
sink me like a stone
We’re fingers on the touchscreen
but in the slipstream, there’s no flow

You can take me
when you need me – I’ll go

I’m writing you this letter
from somewhere in the past
I hope you can forgive me
with the shadows fading fast

I’m stuck inside the story
with the place gone mad
It’s not as if you lost me
it’s the world we used to have

you can find me
when you want me -I’ll go
You can call me
when you need me -I’ll go

maybe when we’re older
when time turns slow
we’ll sit on the horizon
and remember what we don’t know

‘Cause everybody’s waiting
but nobody knows
today’s hesitation
is where tomorrow always goes

You can take me
when you need me – I’ll go
you can find me
when you want me -I’ll go
You can call me
when you need me -I’ll go

Peace (in the listening),
Kevin

Music of the Pandemic: We’ve Got Shadows (Bring the Light)

This is likely the final piece of music for this project of mine, which began back in March to create music of this time in the Pandemic. Here, I first did the basics on the guitar and the moved over to the Garageband app to construct the entire music, with a piano-centered feel. The key of the song is a bit out of my limited singing range.

I’ll be pulling all of the songs together soon into a collection.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Music of the Pandemic: Words Left Behind (The Wheel Won’t Spin)

I’m nearing the end of my collection of songs written and recorded during this Distancing Time of the Pandemic entitled Notes from a Quiet Corner. This song is just acoustic guitar and voice, with little production, entitled Word Left Behind (The Wheel Won’t Spin). It will be probably the final song on the collection of songs I am curating for release on Bandcamp in the coming days.

Peace (listening),
Kevin

Music from the Pandemic: Faucet Drop (Quarantine Together)

My friend, Bob, the drummer in all of our rock and roll bands over the past 20-plus years, called me up the other day to chat and, as he is apt to do, Bob handed me a phrase of words that he thought I could turn into a song: Dripping Faucet.

When I went quiet, he explained that these quarantine days have forced, or allowed, couples to get to know one other, to spend time together, to be active and quiet, to hear the dripping faucets. He thought the metaphor could work, but I was doubtful. Even trying to rhyme with “faucet” is pretty tricky.

Still, later, I kept circling back on the idea, as much because if I can give a friend a gift of a song — and Bob loves to inspire songs — I will do it, but also, it was less the phrase than his explanation of the phrase that rumbled around in my head. That evening, I wrote the lyrics and the next day, I worked on the music.

I changed the original phrase, first to “here we sit / we let the faucet drip” in the song and then when I misspelled “faucet drip” on my paper to “faucet drop” I thought: I like that mistake and kept it as the title of the song.

This is another song in my collection of music tracks I have been making during this strange time of being home. My aim is gather them all up on Bandcamp at some point.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Music from the Pandemic: Every Day The Same But Different Every Day

I was walking on my usual hikes (with the dog) throughout the day when both the title of this instrumental beat/loop track — Every Day The Same But Different Every Day — and the beginnings of the melody lines began to converge in my head. When I got home, I went right to work on it, trying to capture the ideas brewing of both the tedium of days in social isolation and the noticing of the small things that are different each day — the new buds blooming on the bush, a fading flower, a trinket left on a wood stump, a fallen tree branch, the frog pond higher or lower, and more.

There’s a lot of purposeful repetition in the piece, but also, if you listen, there’s small things happening underneath as things move along — percussion and keyboard lines and other elements that intrude upon the forward motion.

In the piece, the most entertaining moment (I think) is where I placed the single triangle, the light tapping of pause in between the main elements — a point where the listener leans in and takes a breath, before the music propels forward.

Peace (sounding it out),
Kevin

Music from the Pandemic: Connect With You

I wrote and shared the first draft of this new song with my students, as a message staying connected in the time of isolation and as an avenue to peel back the process of writing.  I have a handful of students who are writing songs, too, and sharing with classmates in our closed spaces. I wanted them to get a glimpse of how I go about writing a song.

In the first video (below), I showed students my scratched-up, penciled lyric page, and then played the song on acoustic guitar. The more polished version (above), which I am sharing today, was done over a series of days, and I like the rock/pop feel to it.

Peace (keep connected),
Kevin