Ep. 76: Song “Little Bird” (Influenced by The Dodos)

This week, I’m featuring a brand new song just recorded called “Little Bird,” which will be on my new album coming out this October.

This song was influenced by a San Francisco band called The Dodos. In particular, I like the fast picking patterns and the driving percussion they typically use so I tried to incorporate some of those sounds into my song. Here’s the Dodo’s tune, “Black Night.”

So with that influence in mind, let me break apart my song for you. It starts with the acoustic guitar playing a syncopated picking style, which basically means the accents are played on the off beats.

To ground the song, I played a real simple kick drum beat with a cajon. It’s just quarter notes – or as they would say in dance music “4 to the floor.” Here’s the bass guitar along with played the same rhythm. Basically, I’m trying to stay out of the way of the busy guitar part.

Next I used the cajon again to play something like a tom fill every couple of bars, just to add a little extra excitement to the beat.

So now with these basic parts down, we needed a little extra texture. So, I added a soft organ to go in the background. I also added two electric guitar parts. One of them copies doubles what the acoustic guitar is doing and the other is sort of an ebow drone sound.

For the last minute of the song, the acoustic guitar switches from picking to strumming and the energy picks up. To go along with that an add a little punch, there’s another electric guitar part with distortion. I also picked up the energy with the percussion. Instead of having a tom fill every couple bars, I turned it into a quick roll almost surf style like the song “Wipe Out.”

The lyrics tell the story of someone having some heavy social anxieties and trying to work through those issues about whether they are good enough and what other people think of them. They are able to persevere with the thought that there’s someone out there looking out for them. I wouldn’t really call it autobiographical but it certainly pulls from feelings I’ve had from time to time.

Lyrics:
I wouldn’t want anyone to see
The little bird sitting next to me
Telling me what I’m doing
Even though I keep losing

I wouldn’t want anyone to know
I’ve really got nowhere else to go
I’m out on a Friday night
Nothing is feeling right

But I got a feeling that someone’s coming back for me

I wouldn’t want anyone to leave
They’ve really got no reason to agree
I’m standing here on my own
Thinking I should go home

I wouldn’t want anyone to hear
It’s really been quite a rocky year
I don’t know what went wrong
That’s making me sing this song

But I got a feeling that someone’s coming back for me

I wouldn’t want anyone to say
I’m mixed up in my head and lost my way
I don’t know what I’m doing
But something is keeping me moving

But I got a feeling that someone’s coming back for me

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Ep. 74: Brother Chunky – Interview and Song Challenge “Ode To Nashville”

This episode, I’m joined by local blues legend, Brother Chunky. He plays a few tunes, then we talk about how he got started making music, the ups and downs of playing in a band and recording his new album. After that, we even write a new song together about going to Nashville.

Here’s Brother Chunky’s Chicken Pot Pie video:

For the recording of “Ode To Nashville (You Gotta Strum),” Brother Chunky sang lead vocals and played the guitar parts. I filled things in with percussion, bass and harmonies.

Lyrics:
When you drive down, to that place
You won’t come back, ever the same
Music playing, on the street
Pickin away now, in that heat

When that chance comes, you better run
When that chance comes, you gotta strum
Yeah, you gotta strum

Head to the Honky Tonk, guitar on my back
I talked to the manager he said, you don’t stand a chance
I got twenty others, ready to play
My advice to you son, you best be on your way

When that chance comes, you better run
When that chance comes, you gotta strum
Yeah, you gotta strum

I finally got my shot to, get on that stage
I started pickin, and blew them away
People were dancing, and having a ball
They threw their money, at my guitar

When that chance comes, you better run
When that chance comes, you gotta strum
Yeah, you gotta strum

Brother Chunky Links:

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Ep. 73: Song “Harvest Moon” (Neil Young Cover)

For this week’s episode, I’m sharing a cover I recently recorded of Neil Young’s song, Harvest Moon.

I’m playing a wedding later on this summer with my acoustic duo, The Fab Folk, and the bride requested that we play this song for her and the groom to dance to. I wanted to record it for her so she would have an idea what it would should like before we play it. The instruments are sparse: just acoustic guitar, mandolin, cajon and tamborine. I think it’s a great tune for a wedding and I’m excited to perform it for them.

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Ep. 72: Song “Not Aloud” (Influenced by Low)

This episode, I break apart an old, slow song I wrote influenced by the indie band Low.

This song was first written back in my sophomore year of high school. The lyrics are from the perspective of someone in jail who is longing to be back outside. At the time, I kind of envisioned it sounding like a rock power ballad along the lines of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. The song got set aside in favor of other songs I was working on.

In 2012, when I did my 50 Song in 50 Weeks project, I revisited the song and decided to pattern the production style after the band Low.

Low is a band from Duluth, Minnesota started back in 1993 by husband and wife, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, and has included handful of bass players over the years. The music is sparse and minimal, which instruments usually just including a light guitar part, bass, and a snare drum and ride cymbal played with brushes. The tempo is also usually very slow, to the degree their music is often described as slow-core. There more recently releases have added a little more variety and sped up the tempo a little but here’s one of their early, slow songs called “Over The Ocean.”

My recording borrows many elements from Low’s sound, particularly the same style of guitar, percussion and singing. I also added a soft piano line and towards the end, several tracks of guitar played with an ebow. If you’re unfamiliar with an ebow, it’s a small box that sends an electro magnetic pulse to the guitar strings and makes vibrate and make sound without actually touching it.

This ended up being one of my longest and slowest songs I’ve ever done but I think by about halfway through, you get used to it and it becomes a little bit hypnotic. At least that’s my hope.

Lyrics:
Watch out they’re coming,
Quickly shoving to the gate,
What am I looking for,
A missing key to the door of my fate.

But I’m not aloud here,
Not aloud here,
Not aloud here today.

Looking through the bars,
I can see speeding cars as they roll on by,
Then I realize that I’ve been on the inside this whole time,
And it doesn’t surprise my why.

But I’m not aloud here,
Not aloud here,
Not aloud here today.

Searching, what can you see,
Seems that I have lost the key and it can’t be found,
I’m patiently waiting, slowly anticipating,
But I’m not aloud.

I’m not aloud here,
I’m not aloud here,
I’m not aloud here today.

Download “Not Aloud” on Bandcamp

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Ep. 71: Kimberly Knighton, Singer/Songwriter (Interview/Performance)

I’m joined this episode by singer/songwriter, Kimberly Knighton. We talk about how she got started playing music, including taking songwriting classes, her time in Nashville and finding her voice as an artist. She performs the songs: Better Now, The ABCs, and We Don’t Have To Save The World.

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Ep. 70: Song Challenge with Severin Bozung “The Underdog (Swervy Courage)” – Music Podcast

seve and jake recording and episode of the making music podcast

This music podcast, I’m joined by Severin Bozung of Seve Vs. Evan. We challenged ourselves to write a song about being picked last in gym class. We ended up with a fun synth-pop tune called “The Underdog (Swervy Courage).”

For the recording, Severin played the synth parts and sang lead vocals. I programmed the drum machine, added harmony vocals, a tambourine, handclaps, and a synth noise pad.

Lyrics:
I just got picked last in gym class,
My crush was laughing from the stands,
Yesterday I asked her to the Valentine’s dance,
She claimed she already made plans

The swervy courage of the underdog,
Never saw it coming, never saw it coming,
Waiting in line til he’s number one,
His little heart is thumping, little heart is thumping

Captain sprained his ankle now I got my chance,
Laced up my kicks, “Coach put me in,”
Started a romance with my breakaway pants,
When I tried to rip them off everyone grinned

The hidden courage of the underdog,
Never saw it coming, never saw it coming,
Waiting in line til he’s number one,
His little heart is thumping, little heart is thumping

Clock is ticking, got the ball,
Crowd is cheering, show them all,
My crush was kissing the captain in my place,
Instead of shooting I threw it in his face

The swervy courage of the underdog,
Never saw it coming, never saw it coming,
Waiting in line til he’s number one,
His little heart is thumping, little heart is thumping

Thanks for listening to my music podcast!

Links:

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Ep. 68: Song Challenge with Tom Brinton “The First Time I Heard The Strokes”

For this week’s episode, I’m joined by Tom Brinton. We challenged ourselves to “write a song about another band.” We ended writing a song about the first time Tom heard The Strokes and appropriately titled the song, “The First Time I Heard The Strokes.” Listen to our conversation writing the song and the process of recording it in this podcast.

For the recording, we started with the drum machine sound from a really old, cheesy keyboard. To give it a little punch and keep it in line with the Strokes sound, we added some light distortion to the recording. I added acoustic guitar and organ. Tom laid down two electric guitar parts, bass and tambourine.

Last came vocals. During the verses, Tom and I sung in unison and during the choruses, I sang an octave higher. We added distortion to once again pay homage to the sound of the Strokes.

I’m pretty excited with how it turned out. It’s one of the most fun and quirky songs I’ve ever recorded and I hope you like it.

Lyrics:
Morning bell, I hear it ringing and it’s time for school,
They got the TV on, it’s turned to channel one,
I turned my head around and heard a brand new sound,

I thought my life was going fine but I was wrong,
Thought it was perfect til I heard it in a song,
When something comes along to change your mind,
You’ve been missing something you can’t define,
You can make a bad day turn around,
Anytime you hear it, Tell me did you hear it?

Heading home, I cranked it up and now my speaker’s blown,
Back to my driveway and I’m pulling in,
I’m in my car and I’m still listening,
My mom’s banging on the door,
But I just want some more,

I thought my life was going fine but I was wrong,
Thought it was perfect til I heard it in a song,
When something comes along to change your mind,
You’ve been missing something you can’t define,
You can make a bad day turn around,
Anytime you hear it, Tell me did you hear it?

Visit Tom Brinton’s Website, Space Venture Coalition, and The Song Club.

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Ep. 67: Song “Flawed” (New Song)

For this week’s episode, I break apart a brand new song I just recorded called “Flawed,” which will be on my new album coming out later this year.

This is song I started writing a couple years ago. The chords and melody came pretty quick and I had the words for chorus and bridge down but had a hard time getting anything solid for the verses. So, it sat on the shelf for a while until I finally finished the words for the verses about a week ago.

The songs about coming to terms with being human and making mistakes. It’s understanding that we’re all here to learn and to try to be the best person we can be.

For the recording, I started the song with vocals and acoustic guitar. I added a slap back style reverb to my vocals similar to the effect Elvis used to use on his voice.

For the drums, I played what I call a train beat, which is sort of a steady rolling on the snare with brushes that sort of resembles the chugging on a train.

The next several parts for me were really about adding texture to the sound.

  • First, the mandolin, which basically doubles the guitar part.
  • Next, an organ with I played on my keyboard and using midi, I ran it through the DB-33 plugin set to the gospel fast vibrato setting.
  • I felt like it could use a little extra twang so I added this slide part played on the acoustic.
  • Next, a piano playing to chords to the song, which I played on a real upright piano. I think it has a really cool tone.

I felt between the verses it needed some sort of lead melody line, so I added another piano part. This time, I actually used the midi keyboard instead of the real piano because some of the higher notes were out of tune. I added a glockenspiel sound to help it pop and give it a little more of an upbeat element to sound.

I felt like the song was just about there but it could use a little something else to make it unique. Last Christmas, my wife bought me a musical saw so I ended up giving that a try. It’s played with a violin bow and It’s actually really to get it to sound good. I’m still just barely able to play a few notes but it was enough to have it in the right key and sort of act like a pad for the lead line. I added heavy reverb and I think it adds sort of a ghostly quality to the sound.

Lyrics:
I’ve never been the best at words but
it keeps running through my head that
I should try and make amends but I keep

Following the devil’s trap
I got this itching in my bones to leave this place I call my home and yet I

Couldn’t take a single step
She would never understand the way I’m
Filled with these demands

Because I’m flawed from the start
And it’s keeping me apart
From the ones I love and adore
They expected so much more
I’m a better man and it seems
That I’m living in the dream you know
The devil gets the best of us
And I ain’t gonna rest because I’m flawed

Could have lost my only chance and never
Admit that I was wrong
And yet I knew it all along you know it

It doesn’t have to be this way
I tried to keep it to myself
And yet I know I needed help and now

Its hard to put it on the line
You know that something wasn’t clear
And now I’ve gotta end it here

Because I’m flawed from the start
And it’s keeping me apart
From the ones I love and adore
They expected so much more
I’m a better man and it seems
That I’m living in the dream you know
The devil gets the best of us
And I ain’t gonna rest because I’m flawed

Lonely as it seems this moment’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things
Take me for my word,
I’m trying to harder everyday
To shed the weaker man way
Because a man is only as good as his word

Because I’m flawed from the start
And it’s keeping me apart
From the ones I love and adore
They expected so much more
I’m a better man and it seems
That I’m living in the dream you know
The devil gets the best of us
And I ain’t gonna rest because I’m flawed

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