Behind the Scenes (Album): Part 5

(If you’re just joining us, please visit this website to listen to the songs being discussed in the current blog series.  Thanks. -editor)

Okay, I’ve got 8 songs down so far.  That’s pretty good.  I’m happy with my pace here.  There are 16 song titles altogether so that means I’m half way done.  Also, I’m seeing that for whatever reason the first 8 songs written have mostly been the first 8 on the list (other than #4 “Okay to Disconnect [which hasn’t been written yet] and “Eye Contact Diversions” [which is number 13 and has been written]).

Most of the writing is taking place after midnight so maybe there will be one or two more songs added by the time the sun comes up.  Or maybe I’ll fall asleep during the night like a normal person finally.  Not sure yet.  I am noticing something about my working habits though.  It seems like each night (or morning) I’ll pick up the guitar to try to write something and nothing will come out.  That has happened a lot early on in each night’s writing time.  I think it’s like a warm up time.  I’ll strum some chords and write down some lyrics and for whatever reason it just doesn’t work and it sounds like crap.  And after that I’ll get in a pissy mood and put the guitar down and feel stupid for about 30 minutes.  During which time I’ll often lay down on my bed and think dark thoughts and feel like a fool for attempting this record idea.  Then, after going through the toil and woe some line will come into my head that suddenly seems inspired and I jump up and start writing.

What’s weird about this is that it’s probably not a new part of my songwriting process but I’m just now noticing it.  It’s almost as if the songwriting brings with it these deep levels of despair and self doubt.  It’s all in my head so it seems hard to explain exactly.  I sometimes wonder if other writers or creative people have that, where you’re always questioning yourself and your choices and noticing where you might have made a mistake and all this.  I’m pretty critical of myself but I know that I have to be gracious at the same time.  I think it’s best to be realistic but still hope for the best.

And I usually don’t write as proactively as this.  I mean, I’ve been really chasing these songs down to get them on paper and I feel good about what I’m getting.  I don’t know if any of these songs are going to change the world or anything like that but each one so far has at least an interesting quality (at least by my own standards).  Last night I didn’t think I was going to write anything but two songs came along and I was glad that I was prepared for them.  I look at this list and I try not to think too hard about what the songs could be about.  You can overthink songs, that’s for sure.  I’m happy that the songs are kind of different from each other.  I mean that they’re not all about the same thing (musically they might sound similar).  Thematically they go in many directions.  I think when I’m done with it they’ll be nice to listen to all together as a collection.  And that’s something I wasn’t necessarily anticipating.

One of the songs I wrote last night is called “Super Conservative Adventures”.  It kind of came out of nowhere.  The first line popped into my head and I had to write it down (“We’ve been conservative most of our lives and it’s a nonstop, free-for-all party all the time”).  That made me laugh because it’s so not what a conservative person would say.  After that I had to google what conservative even means.  Then the song turned into something like a School of Rock song that more or less defined conservatism (small, centralized government, abortion stuff, health care stuff).   I had to research a lot of that because I don’t actually know what the different party stances are on the issues.  And I think the second verse is probably more about religious conservatism more than political conservatism.  It all kind of blurs together in the song.  I’m not sure how people will take that song because it’s sung like a protest song but the words are really just definitions of conservative ideas.  It’s like a rallying cry that’s actually just singing definitions from a dictionary.  I think that’s what’s funny about it (if I may completely deconstruct my own song).  After I wrote that song I had visions of conservative groups inviting me to come sing at their rallys.  It’s funny because I think I’m the most nonpolitical person I know.  But I don’t know, if they paid me enough money I might sing about how “we want real boobs-no implants!”

I wrote a second song after that called “What’s His Mutation?”   This one I might have cheated on because when I was coming up with song titles that sounded cool to me I was flipping through one of my sketchbooks where I’m writing a story about a mutant who dreams to be an actor.  So I have the story down in a different form (I might turn it into a comic someday).  I decided to just include details from what I’ve already written and that made it easy.  I’ve always thought that story songs are particularly challenging to come up with so it was nice to have some back up material to glean from.  This might end up being my favorite song on the record.  The narrator sounds like such a persistent gossip.  It’s like a paparazzi song about a guy who may or may not be a mutant.  Now that’s funny!

I have a few ideas for the next couple of songs.  I think I already know which one is coming after this.  But yeah, I might try to sleep instead because I’m helping some people move tomorrow and doing some recording with Josh.  Might not be able to sleep all day, sadly.

Rock.

Jeff

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