Ep. 116: Song “Heaven Help Us” (Influenced by The War On Drugs)

In this episode, I break apart a song called, “Heaven Help Us.” This comes from my album Starting Over released back in August of 2022.

Originally, I thought of the song as more a sparse folk ditty. The chord structure is super simple. Most of only one chord: C9. And in the chorus, I add a second chord. So with the simplicity of a song, I need to make the production a little more interesting. As It came time to record, I started thinking about the song, “Red Eyes” by The War on Drugs.

Their song also has a pretty simple chord progression for most of the song but they keep it moving with a steady beat and plenty of atmosphere elements, which tend to borrow from the heartland rock of the 1980s, like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. So, I tried to keep some of those elements in mind when I produced my song.

First, I chose this drum loop from the Circles Drum library and added a few extra snare and cymbal hits. It was labeled “Petty” which I assume is a reference to Tom Petty. To me, it’s a little bit like the drum sound on “Running Down A Dream.”

With the beat squared away I laid down acoustic and electric guitars for the rhythm part.

I added another guitar with distortion to give the chorus a little bit of an explosion of energy.

Next I added a lead guitar part played with an Ebow, which is a little device that makes guitar strings vibrate without actually touching them, giving it a sound a little bit similar to a violin or cello. Here’s what it sounds like.

Next, I added a simple retro-sounding synth part to fill out the choruses and double up some of the lead lines.

For the vocal production, there I added on a heavy slap-back style reverb to add to the atmosphere.

The lyrics from this song are based on a personal experience. My family recently went on a hike in southern Utah, where we underestimated our timing and ended up having to walk in the pitch dark for a few hours along steep terrain with just the light from our cell phones. We made it back fine but there was this fear in my head the whole time that we would get lost. I made the situation worse in my head, which led to some intense prayers. And so, the worst-case, “lost in the desert” scenario became the basis for this song. It’s also a religious metaphor for our time on earth and our reliance on God to return home.

And with that, here’s the complete song. I hope you like it.

This song is available to license for your projects like podcasts and videos. Get 50% off your purchase until April 23. Use promo code “makingmusic” at checkout. Find it at archesaudio. 

Also, for listeners of this podcast, Arches Audio is offering an additional 10% off your purchase of this and other songs in the music library, as well as any services, including audio editing, artwork, and a new course on podcasting. Visit archesaudio.com and use promo code “makingmusic” at checkout.

That’s all. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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