Ep. 91: Song “Brand New Life” (influenced by The Lumineers)

This week, I break apart a love song called “Brand New Life,” which I released last December on my album, Good Grief.

So, when I was putting the track list for my album, I felt like there was lot of intense topics covered. I wanted to end the album on a positive, upbeat note to balance it out a bit so this is the last song I wrote for the record. It’s about being in love and proposing and specially written for my wife, Melissa. I actually wrote a different love song and played it at our wedding about 12 years ago but I didn’t really think it was that great of a song. I was a bit rushed. So, this is my attempt at writing a better wedding song and I think it definitely tops the first one, at least.

I also talk a lot about water in the lyrics. There’s lines about crossing the river and walking towards the sea and watching the boats float by. It’s all kind of in homage to growing up near the water in Washington state. It carries a bit of nostalgia for me and there’s also something about how the water is peaceful and simple and I want to have that type of feeling in a relationship.

For my first attempt at the recording, I tired a really sparse approach with just acoustic guitar, piano, vocal and shaker. I was gonna go with just that but it sounded a little bit too serious or even contemplative to me. I started thinking about the Lumineers song, “Ho Hey” and like how it’s still pretty simple but there are some elements like the mandolins and percussion that give it a nice, upbeat and looser, folkier vibe.

I actually scrapped my first version and started over. This time I recorded a bit faster at 85 beats per minute instead of the original 80. The beginning starts with mandolin, acoustic guitar and a kick drum sound, which I played on a cajon.

I wanted the song to build so that with each section of the song, more instruments come in. So it would start spare but by the time you get to the end of the song, it sounds pretty full.

One of the first things that comes in is an organ, which just acts as a pad to fill out the sound and also provides some low end, since I chose to leave off a bass guitar.

There’s also the piano, which I pretty much played the same as the original version. I played really simple whole notes with the chords on the lower half of the piano, then played a simple solo about an octave higher right in the middle.

There’s also the percussion. By the end of the song, in addition to the kick, there are two tamborine track and two snare tracks played on cajon with almost sort of a horse trotting type of rhythm. It’s sort of a folkie sound that I think fits the vibe.

All and all, I think it came together nicely and I think it fulfills my goal of adding a positive, upbeat message to a somewhat serious album. Most importantly my wife enjoyed it so, mission accomplished.

Lyrics:

What if we got together
We could watch the boats float by
You could talk and I would listen
And I would understand your mind

Oh I long to be with you
Walking toward the sea
And the times when I’m lonely
You could be the one to comfort me

Everyday I am thankful that our
Separate paths have crossed
Every night I lay my head down
I know I’ll never feel so lost

What if we crossed the river
We could start a brand new life
With a house and a family
If you’d only be my wife

So I leave it you now
You can tell me what you think
We could step to the altar
And I could wake up to your face each day

And my promise to you now
Is you’ll always smile me
Blessed day when I come home
In your arms is where I’ll be

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Ep. 86: Song “Make It Up To You” (Influenced by Wilco)

In this episode, I break apart a song called “Make It Up to You,” from my album Good Grief, which came out last December.

This one’s a piano ballad influenced by the Wilco song, Reservations. I love how murky and disjointed everything sounds so I tried to bring some of that atmosphere into my song.

I had the basic idea for the song kicking around for a few years but wrote most of the lyrics and finished the song a couple months before the album was released, on a weekend when my wife and kids were out of town. We didn’t have a fight or anything but I wrote the song from the perspective of someone who had been in a fight and was waiting in their empty house for their loved one to come home.

The instrumentation is fairly sparse so there’s not a lot to break apart. Besides the piano, vocal and bass, there are 4 guitar tracks in the background, which come in towards the end of the song. Three of them are played with an ebow and the other is played in a tremolo style with a delay pedal. I tried adding drums and some other things but I felt like the song stood better on it’s own with a sparser arrangement. Sometimes less is more.

Lyrics:

I was just guessing what you’re thinking
But I know I’m often wrong
My good intentions fall to pieces
When I’m wandering down that road

I need you here with me
Like you promised you would be
And as far as I can see
You’ll get through and I will
Make it up to you
I can make it up to you

Walking in circles I’m pretending
That these empty walls can talk
I keep on waiting for the moment
When I finally hear you knock

I need you here with me
Like you promised you would be
And as far as I can see
You’ll get through and I will
Make it up to you
I can make it up to you

I need you here with me
Like you promised you would be
And as far as I can see
You’ll get through and I will
Make it up to you
I can make it up to you
I can make it up to you
I can make it up to you

Download “Make It Up to You” on Bandcamp

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