Sunday, December 05, 2004

Music Conference (the story continues)

As the story continues, now it was my turn to get critiqued!

First up was my baseball tune called “Swing!” I've been working on this song on and off for months. This is a hit! First writing and demoing it myself on my computer with Sonar then getting some assistance from some musician friends. Real drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and people (including me) singing. I finally decided to take the plunge and even added some real horns. I knew (ok, just dreamed) this song was going to blow everyone's socks off. I had it first on my list to impress John. He's worked with a zillion other hit songwriters so he'll know how good this song is. Ha ha, or he'll hate it and tell me how bad I am. Tell me to get back on that plane before the conference even starts. Confidence is a hot and cold thing for me as a songwriter...depending upon the moment.

John popped in my CD (with fancy ink jet label I had printed just the night before). He hit play with his headphones on. I had my lyric sheet out in front of him. He started bobbing his head to the music as I scribbled John's name and the date in my note book. My scribbling took only a few seconds. I sat there pretending not to be nervous. I thought about how impressed he must be with those horns then thinking that he must hate my vocals then wondering how quickly he'd escort me directly to someone for a contract (any) then knowing he must think I'm an idiot for writing such a stupid crap song THEN pondered if I was the worse songwriter he'd ever heard then daydreamed about Aerosmith recording this song then knowing it sucked, it's awful. I'm not a songwriter I'm just pretending.

Swing!” runs only a little over 2 ½ minutes. He listened all the way through the song. He hit stop and said, “that was good, you didn't have any solos.” I started to tell him I could easily add solos. He went on to say, “I just fast forward through solos. Most people critiquing songs either fast forward through the solos or just stop listening to the song when a solo happens.” I've spent hours, weeks (months) working on solos. Note to self: solos are not needed for a Taxi “song” submission. Right there I saved a year of my life.

What about the song? “Excellent groove. Good length on the intro. You've got something clever going here in the chorus. Very good, but...” But? But what? “Tell me what is this song about. What are the verses saying? You have a nice rhyming thing happening, but it doesn't seem to really mean anything. What are you saying in this song? You're making some baseball references, but then making some pop culture references and music references. I can't really follow any theme or story that fits with the chorus.”

Wow, I had never looked at it like this. I didn't know I really needed to say much in the verses. This is an upbeat (140 bpm) fun song. Looking uncertain I said, “I'm just kinda taunting someone maybe kinda sort of.”

Verse 1
Slick as a whistle clever as a fox
Sharp as a tack you know I like to rock
Swinging like a jungle rollin' like a stone
Leapin' tall building everybody phones
Smart like Eistien throwin' like Ford
Stick by me you'll never bored
Life's a party New Years Eve
Tootin' my horn you know that's me

I'm a “Pour Some Sugar On Me” kind of guy. Lyrics are needed, but they can be whatever as long as I think it's clever or funny. I make references to things that only I get. Sometimes I go out of my way to do this. With the verses in Swing, I was just rattling off some things.

He pushed me on the song concept. What could be said? What might reach an audience? Instead of just saying nothing, John expected this song to have some moral to the story. Get up to bat. Take a swing. Life's too short to sit on the bench. Keep your eye on the ball. ANYTHING, but I said nothing. Then it hit me, the song should be about MOTIVATION! I said to John, “Thanks! I get it now! Duh, it's a song about taking a swing in life. Giving it a try. Take a little taunting and get back up there and swing! The whole reason I'm here.” I thought the song was done, but now I clearly could see it needed a rewrite. Wow, what a great simple idea.

John had a cassette rolling for me so that I could listen back to all his comments. This was helpful in matching up my notes to what he actually said since I selectively filtered when I was sitting there as he listened and commented.

Next up was my song called "Feels So Good".