Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Carmelita Street

Tash and I have never really made a big deal about Valentine's day. Flowers maybe, dinner every other year. We really should be more romantic! We did promise each other to make some sort of effort this year - and this is part of my effort.

An early acoustic version of this song was a birthday present for Tash's 26th birthday. She used to live on a cool little cul de sac called Carmelita Street. Creating the song was one of those rare and delightful occasions where a song presents itself from my sub conscious, whole and complete. I was walking over to her apartment one evening, and the first verse and chorus popped into my head; the second one arrived, just as complete, later in the night. The next day, I picked up my guitar (which happened to be tuned to dropped D tuning), and my fingers just picked out a little pattern which perfectly suited the lyrics (ah yes, only if it were so easy with every song...)
I recorded a rough version, just me and a guitar, and stuck it in her tape machine (anyone remember those), on the morning of her birthday. I made her cry! - and for once it was with happiness, as opposed to complete frustration and annoyance :)

I like the song - instead of being about the melodrama that precedes the death of a relationship, or the altered state of bliss that occurs at the start (standard love song fare), this is about the comfort and security that a good relationship brings. It's about that moment when you realise that you have moved beyond the initial heady romance, and you know that someone fits you like a comfortable piece of clothing, and makes you happy.

Click the link to play, right click and select "save" as to download.

Carmelita Street

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Monday, February 05, 2007


Another song

This started out as a pattern on a drum machine, to which I added the basic piano chords. I then added guitar, organ, and bass. The last part was writing the lyrics, and to be honest, they were something of an after thought. This is the opposite of the way I normally write. Usually I have either some lyrics, a guitar riff, or harmonic progression to work with - I rarely just flick on the studio and see what happens. I added some more guitars, and a guitar solo, and then some aural candy. The reverse part at the start is the "real" beginning - cut, reversed, and digitally mangled.

Once I had a decent demo, I submitted it to the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. To my delight, it won an honorable mention. Basically this means that I didn't win anything, but of the thousands of songs submitted, they felt mine was worth singling out. After this, I left the song alone for about a year or so, and as my other songs neared completion, I picked it up again. We added real drums, sampled strings, and my friend Claire did the gospel-style vocals over the last chorus. I took it to my friend Paul's studio, Duff Studios, to be mixed. And here it is - Collide

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What's The Story Frank ?

I spent a lot of time recording over the last five years. At the end of it all, I have nine songs. It might not seem like a very productive five years, but the process was somewhat interrupted by having 3 children, buying and renovating a house, and starting a new and demanding job. There is also the fact that the limited time I have for music is split between occasionally playing live shows, guitar lessons and the practice time that involves, and jamming with other musicians.

I had planned on releasing an album, putting it up on itunes and CDbaby, and playing some shows around it, but the energy required for getting and keeping a band together, rehearsing and finding shows is just too much at the moment. In fact,if it wasn't for the getting gigs part, I'd probably give it a go. That takes considerable time and effort when you are performing original material.

I joined the online A&R organisation Taxi. They let members know of opportunities: movies and TV shows that need music, performers looking for songs, labels looking for artists, publishers looking for music etc. One of the great and humbling benefits of this is that you get feedback from industry professionals. They don't hold back, so it can be fatal to the fragile artist's ego, but if you can handle it, and incorporate it, it's incredibly helpful. I have gotten generally positive feedback, but mostly I am told that my songs are not suitable for any given opportunity, or are not commercial enough, or don't fit any genre easily. The latter is a common theme. That's fair enough, they are looking for commercial music, (that doesn't necessarily mean Britney type pop, they look for a very wide variety of stuff), and I understand if I want to follow this route I need to tailor towards it. Also my music was recorded over a long period during which I was learning the recording process, so it's stylistically inconsistent. The way I look at it, it's 90% of the way there. I have already started a new project, and I am really working on making the quality 100%. The one thing I will do differently this time, is have it mixed by someone else. I love mixing, but I am too close to my own work to be subjective. I have noticed when I have mixed other peoples music, I do a better job.

I have decided to post some of my songs on the blog. The first one is called "Whats The Story Frank?" You can listen to it by clicking here, or right click and "save as" if you want to download it. The title comes from a saying a college friend had. We were both from Limerick, and we had this theory that most Limerick males were either named, Ger, or Frank. Every time I would meet my friend, he would put on a thick Limerick accent and say "Whats the story, Frank?" I always thought it would be a good title for a song. That said, the song has nothing to do with this story. Have a listen, tell me what you think.

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