It Gets Better

October 31, 2010

Hey there my long lost friends! Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! I honestly thought that I’d be way back into the swing of things by now, but it has just not panned out. I’m so proud of myself for making it halfway through the year though, and as much as I’d have loved to have pushed through for all 52 weeks, I will not allow myself to view what I HAVE accomplished as anything less than a triumph. I wrote 28 songs this year! Who cares if Tim Riordan did that in February alone? LOL.

Actually, I wrote 29 songs this year if you include the one that I’m posting now. It seems fitting that I was brought out of the whirlwind of my life for the sake of writing THIS particular song, because it was written in support of such an important cause: the It Gets Better Project, which is part of The Trevor Project.

Like so many of us I have been heartbroken to hear of all the teen suicides that have happened in recent months. I have had a pretty easy time of things in my life, and I cannot imagine how horrible it must be to go through each day being harassed by people just for being yourself. I know that I THOUGHT my life was rough in my teen years WITHOUT that kind of pressure. My heart goes out to the families of those who took their own lives, and to all those who continue to suffer, wishing and waiting for it all to go away.

I have been moved and proud of the videos I have watched by people like Tim Gunn, Kathy Griffin, Mary Gauthier and Joel Burns just to name a few. I was inspired to create my own video message, to become part of the collective standing behind the LGBTQI community during this chaotic time in our nation’s history. As I was contemplating what I would say, I realized that I needed to write a song. After all, that is what I do. Once that idea occurred to me, the song came pretty quickly. That’s usually a good sign. I had a gig earlier this evening where I played the song live for the first time, to test the waters so to speak. The response was amazing, and I came right home and recorded my video. I hope you enjoy it. I hope it inspires you to make your own video in support of this important cause.

I love the story behind The Trevor Project. It all began with a group of filmmakers who created a film about a suicidal gay teen. As the movie was being prepped to air on HBO they decided they wanted to include a hotline that could be shown on screen during broadcast, for any teens that found themselves in similar circumstances and needed help. What they discovered was that no such hotline existed. So they created one. They founded The Trevor Project and The Trevor Lifeline, “the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.” Isn’t that amazing? I love it.

So please take a few minutes to check out the video and the song. If you’re moved to share it, please do. And if you’re one of the many people out there feeling helpless and alone, please know that you are NOT alone. And help is available. Check out www.theTrevorProject.org for more info.

Freeze-Frame!

July 21, 2010

Well, my little blog-followers, the time has come. Perhaps you saw this coming long before I recognized that it had to happen. I think I was in denial.

New Song Weekly is taking a little break. Nobody panic. Just a LITTLE one. I’m two songs behind (or about to be when Friday rolls around) and I’m realizing that in the next two days I will simply not be able to finish two songs, get them recorded AND posted, while also practicing for a very special gig I have this Friday night, which is part of a weekend away, which piggy-backs into a family function on Sunday.

I’ve stressed all week about catching up, while also trying to work as many hours as I can (weddings are expensive! Even when they’re not yours), and I’ve suddenly been forced to realize something very important: I am only human. I have no super powers of stamina or time management. I can only do and worry about so many things at one time, and while my commitment to this project is deep, I cannot let it take precedence over my health or sanity. This week I have felt like I’m fast approaching a major breakdown–and it’s only Tuesday. Needless to say, something has to take a back seat in the short term, and this is it.

Don’t worry. I will be back before you know it, and I will have a song for each week that I missed (hopefully not very many). I think by next week I’ll be back on track. You’ll hardly notice I’m gone.

So thanks for stopping by, thanks for listening every week and taking the time to comment and message me. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to beginning our exchange again very soon. In the meantime, enjoy your summers, hit the beach (something I have yet to do), have something frosty to drink, take your kids to the zoo, and KEEP COOL!

I’ll see you in a couple weeks!

~ Kim xoxoxo

Week Twenty-Seven

July 11, 2010

Something’s Gotta Give
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

It’s not too comfy when the eye of the hurricane’s the only safe place to stand
And you can’t step out or you’ll get caught up and there’s no telling where you’ll land
And the devil you know, he says all the right things to keep you at his side
It’s a hell of a ride…

CHORUS: And the world just gets heavier on your shoulders
The camel’s back’s been broke so much he’ll never walk again
You’ve lost touch with all your friends and humor, and spend your days countin’ to ten
That’s no way to live… something’s gotta give…

You have to look pretty far back ‘til you find a time when you still believed
Is it askin’ so much when you can’t have it all just to have a little reprieve?
And there’s nobody there just to lean your head on so you don’t feel so alone
Weary to your bones…

CHORUS: And the world just gets heavier on your shoulders
The camel’s back’s been broke so much he’ll never walk again
You’ve lost touch with all your friends and humor, and spend your days countin’ to ten
That’s no way to live… something’s gotta give…

BRIDGE (spoken): The bills keep pilin’ up, the phone keeps ringing, collectors on the other end,
All you do is work, but you never see a penny ‘cause the money’s always changing hands,
No sleep, no sleep, no sleep, no sleep, gotta keep pushing ahead
And you just hope you might have a day or two left to have some fun before you’re dead

CHORUS: And the world just gets heavier on your shoulders
The camel’s back’s been broke so much he’ll never walk again
You’ve lost touch with all your friends and humor, and spend your days countin’ to ten
That’s no way to live… something’s gotta give…

Welcome to the third quarter, y’all. Things have been kind of busy here at KD Central, as you may have guessed by the number of late postings. No worries–I am keeping on and will continue to deliver new songs and videos every week, but they may occasionally be late between now and September, as I am actively involved in my sister’s upcoming wedding celebration in August.

My Tuesday routine has been upset a bit by varying work hours, and my indulgent writing lunches have been foiled by lack of funds. The past few weeks have been challenging to write during, considering that it’s hard to put my butt in the seat when my butt is constantly on the run. And yet I have prevailed. The first half of this year and the routines established set me up well for this crazy period where I am short on stamina and time. Somehow I have still managed to churn out a weekly song, and that’s a testament to the discipline I cultivated early on, for sure. I’ve been noticing that I am able to more quickly chase down song ideas and turn them into complete songs. I’m more able to edit as I go and refine my songs on the first pass. That doesn’t mean every song is a finished product, or a keeper, but it means more are both of those things than were before. It’s kind of cool to be able to see that progression in myself.

This week’s song may seem a bit obvious, given my current lifestyle. Stress has been abundant, relaxation has been hard to come by, and it seems that the universe likes to rain additional crap on me just as I’ve folded up my umbrella. I’ve tearfully wailed the words “something’s gotta give” more often than I’d like during the past month or so, and it was only a matter of time before they made their way into a song. But it’s all good. This too shall pass, and life will be fun again.

Meanwhile, it would appear over the past couple months that I’ve been writing what may very well be my next album. Does it seem that way to you? Can you hear the common threads between many of the most recent tunes, and imagine them all together, fully produced with some gorgeous instrumentation behind them? I definitely can. And there are a few oldies but goodies that I would love to throw into the mix and hit the studio. All in good time. “Free Therapy” has to be finished before I can move onto the next thing. If you’d like to help get it finished, you can find more information here.

Thanks for taking the time to listen and read. If you feel inclined to share with a friend, I’d so appreciate it. See you next week!

Week Twenty-Six! Halfway Mark!

July 2, 2010

Hole In My Heart
By Kim Davidson
(c) 2010

My life is in boxes, suspended in time, in between towns and tomorrows
And I’m given pause by a dusty old album, photos of a life that I borrowed
On each yellowed page is your smiling face, a beacon of light down an old road
And I’m torn for a moment by selective memory, wanting to reap what’s never been sowed

CHORUS: There’s a highway where our house used to be
Another divide between you and me
And there’s a price to pay for what used to be free
And a hole in my heart where you used to be… a hole in my heart where you used to be…

It’s history so ancient, I shouldn’t care now, but moving on feels so familiar
I’m thinking of then, and wondering how you’re made stronger by things that should kill ya,
But time moves to fill all the empty space… this is what we call progress
Three steps forward, two back, still moves you ahead, ‘til you’re someday healed more or less

CHORUS: But there’s a highway where our house used to be
Another divide between you and me
And there’s a price to pay for what used to be free
And a hole in my heart where you used to be… a hole in my heart where you used to be…

BRIDGE: I’ve been good at forgetting, I will be again, this I know
But just for today, yes just for today, I might let it show…
I might even think about reaching out for you, as if you might meet me halfway
But before I can finish the thought I’m wondering what you could say

CHORUS: When there’s a highway where our house used to be
Another divide between you and me
And there’s a price to pay for what used to be free
And a hole in my heart where you used to be… a hole in my heart where you used to be…

Okay, first of all can I just say: “WEEK TWENTY-SIX!!!!!” Seriously. High-fives all around. We’re halfway through the year. Halfway to the finish line. Last year I got to week six. This year I’m at week twenty-six and going strong. Kinda cool. Just sayin’. Onto the blog…

So I kind of can’t believe we got this far into this project without really referencing one of my favorite, and most consistent, forms of inspiration, which is the live show. Invariably, inevitably, when I am out hearing live music being performed, I get some form of song idea, very often many. Some shows I am literally inundated—it’s really fun.

Back in the day (a Wednesday) I began to realize this was happening frequently and I started making sure I had some sort of paper on hand so I could scribble song ideas in the midst of crowded bars and auditoriums (where singing into a recorder obviously wouldn’t be appropriate). I hadn’t quite found a notebook small enough that worked for me, so I’d often end up writing on the back of whatever random sheets of paper would find their way into my purse; Mapquest directions, old receipts in my wallet (those long CVS ones with expired coupons are great), whatever. I’d be in and out of my purse throughout the show, adding whatever ideas came to me at whatever moment they came, and then I’d go home and sort them out later. “Bar Comfort” was written entirely this way. In fact, it’s the only song that was written as a complete piece without my realizing during the process.

I kind of love this story, so indulge me. I used to play in a country cover band called “STAMPEDE” with this amazing pedal steel player named Adam Ollendorff. He was in Berklee at the time, and he played out and about with a ton of different acts, and was doing all kinds of cool stuff with different pedals for his pedal steel, lap steel, and dobro. I really dug the sounds he got, so when I could I’d go out to support him and whatever group he was playing with. I was just starting to pursue the idea of playing original music, so it was exciting to go out and see who was doing what and imagine myself doing the same down the road. One night I went out to Tir Na Nog in Somerville to hear him play with the Kevin Byrne Band. We were chatting a bit before the show started and he asked me if I had a pen he could borrow for a moment. I said I didn’t. Well, I had one, but it was in the car; in my purse, which I’d left behind because it’s big and Tir Na Nog is small. Adam said, “What kind of songwriter doesn’t have a pen?” I laughed, because he totally had me. He then said something to the effect of, “And don’t you usually get song ideas during shows?” I loved him for saying that because for a brief moment I felt known in a way I don’t often experience. He’d seen me scrawling down lyrics from the stage during another recent show and remembered that. It was nice. I excused myself, went to my car, and brought back my purse (pen and all).

When the show started I was immediately grateful I’d done it, because I started getting snippets of verse right away. That’s all they were to me, just fragments, little bits and pieces. I had a double-page blank gig calendar template in my purse, which I kept on hand so I could fill in new dates for the band as they became booked, so I’d always have the latest shows and conflicts on my person to reference if anyone asked us to play a show. I folded it in half so I could maneuver at the crowded bar, and wrote down the snippets as they came, on the back. I would write something, then put the pages away for a few minutes. Listen. Drink some beer. Get another idea. Pull the pages back out. Write some more. It went like that for the rest of the night, until I’d flipped the folded pages over to the other side, and then moved on to one-half of the second piece of paper.

When I got home I decided to type the snippets into my computer, just so I’d have them, because I was going to have to put the gig calendar back into my purse, and at some point when the info was transferred to our digital calendar, I’d throw it away and start fresh, probably forgetting I had lyrics written on the back. I sat down and just typed what I’d written in the order I’d written it. I wasn’t aware of the thoughts having any kind of order at the time, but as I typed them out I realized they did. I realized they were a song already, born completely subconsciously over several hours of being inspired by different musical moments throughout the night.

Here they are (click on the image to enlarge):

You can see I was also making a list of Patsy Cline tunes for an upcoming gig. :)

If you’re familiar with the song, you can see that just a few words changed slightly, and a few connecting words were added. That’s it. Nothing was rearranged. Nothing was eliminated. That’s the song. What a gift.

All of that, of course, is a long-winded way of saying “I get song ideas at other people’s shows.” I now have a little spiral notebook in my purse, and it gets a lot of exercise, believe me. It’s been replaced four or five times by other little spiral notebooks, themselves eventually heavy with ink and potential.

Good Lord, Kim, why is this relevant? Well, obviously this week’s song was conceived this way. Not the whole song. That’s never happened again—at least so far. The idea for the song, however, was conceived during a live show. During the Ryan Adams Tribute Night that I played at Passim, to be exact. Adam Rothberg had just gotten up to play his song, which was “Harder Now That It’s Over.” I don’t know what it was. I think it was the rhythm, honestly. I got this feeling like, “Damn, when was the last time you wrote a killer slow song?” And from whatever place these ideas come from when they come at these times, came the concept for the chorus, which I scribbled furiously into my little notebook, trying not to attract too much attention from the people around me, who clearly were meant to be watching the stage and listening to Adam.

On the ride home I found a melody to go with the verse, and over the past couple days I spent a lot of time just thinking about the attitude of the song, and the underlying story, so I could flesh out some specific details or emotions later. Later became yesterday afternoon, and the rest of the words just poured out of me, honestly. It wasn’t grueling or difficult as it often can be. I found a melody for the verses, for the bridge. The bridge may or may not change, melodically, but it’s off to a nice start, don’t you think?

I did make two mistakes, and I’m ‘fessing up to it before anyone e-mails me to call me out on it. First, I messed up the last line of the first verse. I wrote “wanting to reap what’s already been sowed.” That should have been “never been sowed.” There was a bit of family drama that interrupted me in the middle of final tweak, and when I returned it was after midnight and I just wanted to get the recording done so I could meet my deadline. I didn’t even catch it until I’d listened a couple times and then I realized it completely didn’t make sense. I’d essentially reversed the meaning of the two words. Secondly, I screwed up the last line of the second verse (hey, as least I’m consistent). I reversed the lines and said “Two steps forward, three back, still moves you ahead.” It should have been “Three steps forward, two back.” Sigh. I was told there would be no math… I’ll be totally open about it—I didn’t just sing the lines wrong. I wrote them wrong. Both of ‘em. Maybe the fact that I rhymed “familiar” with “kill ya” makes up for it? ;) At any rate, I corrected the lyrics you see above, but I didn’t bother resinging because I’d already put everything away by the time awareness filtered through my addled brain, and I figured you’d forgive me. If you come out to a show and I sing it live, I promise to sing it correctly.

Speaking of which, I’ll be playing out at the Harvest Café with Susan Levine in a couple weeks, July 16th to be exact, and you should come. The venue is in Hudson, MA and we play from 8-10. Yummy food, casual atmosphere, and us—what else could you want?

Week Twenty-Five

June 27, 2010

Taking a Stand
By Kim Davidson
(c) 2010

I gave you the sun, you said “Where’s the moon?”
Whatever it was, it was always the wrong move.
And I crossed my heart, and I hoped you’d fly
And leave me here on the ground, waving goodbye…

CHORUS: We had a good run and I wish you well, but I can’t, I just can’t anymore
I’m not your mirror or conscience, and you are not mine, I don’t care where you’ve walked before
I’m done haggling for blame and holding back everything so you have a soft place to land
And in case you missed it, while you’re stuck on yourself, this is me taking a stand

So look in my eyes now, what do you see?
Look past your reflection and you might find me
Do you know you don’t know me, or love me at all?
Do you know that you’ll never again make me feel small?

CHORUS: We had a good run and I wish you well, but I can’t, I just can’t anymore
I’m not your mirror or conscience, and you are not mine, I don’t care where you’ve walked before
I’m done haggling for blame and holding back everything so you have a soft place to land
And in case you missed it, while you’re stuck on yourself, this is me taking a stand

BRIDGE: Let the accusations fly, I know that you’re frustrated losing control
I’ll try not to laugh at how stupid it sounds now that I’ve stopped playing my role
All that you want now is for me to beg on my knees, to apologize to you
Well I’m sorry you think you deserve that–that’s the best I can do

CHORUS: We had a good run and I wish you well, but I can’t, I just can’t anymore
I’m not your mirror or conscience, and you are not mine, I don’t care where you’ve walked before
I’m done haggling for blame and holding back everything so you have a soft place to land
And in case you missed it, while you’re stuck on yourself, this is me taking a stand

It’s been a busy and emotional couple of weeks. I’m not really going to get into it, but let’s just say that as I was scrambling yet again for a song to post, most of what had been pent up came out on the page.

I was inspired by a song from an episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” which I just started watching with my sister. The song was “All We Are” by Matt Nathanson, and the lines that grabbed me while it was playing in the background of this one particular episode were “I tasted, tasted love so sweet/And all of it was lost on me.” I thought that was such a beautiful turn of phrase, and I so got it in the moment I heard it. My song has nothing to do with this song, but it was the song that got the wheels turning when I was kind of starving for something to write about.

My Tuesday writing routine has been a bit disturbed the past few weeks, so I’ve been flying a lot more by the seat of my pants (as you might have guessed with another late post, though not nearly as late as Week 23 was). With that being the case, it was a gift to have another song spurn me into action and have me churning out a song of my own in nearly record time. The ones closest to my own emotional experiences tend to be that way. I don’t know if they’re better or worse than other songs I write; I just know they’re faster.

In listening to this one again, I feel like it could maybe use another four lines of verse before the first chorus. Maybe. It feels like it jumps so quickly into the chorus, and it’s such high energy… I’m not sure it works as it is. But I’ll have to let it sit a bit and revisit before I really know.

I’ve been getting back in touch with my old Broadway voice lately. I watched the first season of “Glee” online and I’m sure that’s a big part of why, in addition to just wanting to cultivate my upper register mix a bit more. So that’s evident in the chorus as I’m singing. Again, I’m always just a tad inhibited at home while recording, so it’s not all it could be, but it’s definitely a different sound than some of my older recordings.

How cool is that plane sound that comes in at the end? I couldn’t have planned that with better timing, I’m sure. Mostly having the windows open is a bad idea when recording–for exactly this reason–but in this case it was an apt effect, I thought. At any rate, I wasn’t going to do it again. I kind of just needed to get this one out. I had two false starts and then one complete take, and that’s what’s posted.

So that’s Week 25.

Week Twenty-Four

June 19, 2010

PERFECT SUMMER DAY
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

I remember waiting all year ‘til it was finally here
Three months of freedom, that passed in an instant
Winter she had to drag me outta bed, suddenly I was up ahead of the sun
So much to get done

Sidewalk chalk and skipping rocks, across the pond around the block
And Chinese jump rope… and eyes wide with hope
Maybe we’ll go to the beach today
When I ask what will they say?

CHORUS: There’s nothing like the wind in the car
When you don’t even know where you are, but the sun and you are heading home
And the air is cold, but your skin’s still warm, from a day of sun, and the sweatshirt you’ve got on
Sand still on your feet, and a bucket of shells and a head full of dreams, and ice cream on your tongue
You lay your head down, you watch the stars come out, as it fades away, another perfect summer day

Brightest green I’ve ever seen, against grey skies, you know what that means
Staring through the window and waiting on the rain
Maybe just to get out for a bit, we’ll see a movie, but trying to sit still…
An accomplishment of sheer will

Air conditioning makes me shiver, but back outside the sun decides to deliver…
And I am wondering
“It’s still early,” I say to them, trying to keep my cool, they see my smile
“Can’t we go to the beach for a little while?”

CHORUS: There’s nothing like the wind in the car
When you don’t even know where you are, but the sun and you are heading home
And the air is cold, but your skin’s still warm, from a day of sun, and the sweatshirt you’ve got on
Sand still on your feet, and a bucket of shells and a head full of dreams, and ice cream on your tongue
You lay your head down, you watch the stars come out, as it fades away, another perfect summer day

BRIDGE: No cares at all… safe and loved and warm as the night falls
Dad at the wheel and Mom at his side, I grow tired the longer we ride

CHORUS: There’s nothing like the wind in the car
When you don’t even know where you are, but the sun and you are heading home
And the air is cold, but your skin’s still warm, from a day of sun, and the sweatshirt you’ve got on
Sand still on your feet, and a bucket of shells and a head full of dreams, and ice cream on your tongue
You lay your head down, you watch the stars come out, as it fades away, another perfect summer day

You may remember me mentioning a couple weeks back that I had written a happy little song about summer, and then I got waylaid by this other idea, and went with it for the moment. That was “Wannabe,” if I recall correctly. “Perfect Summer Day” wasn’t quite finished in my mind, and honestly, it’s still not quite finished. Having a bit of a work hangover from last week, and having to add recording a second video into the mix, meant that I really didn’t have a lot of time to write a new song for THIS week. While I was at work recording last week’s video, I was really, really hoping I would have myself organized enough that I could make both videos at once, but it just wasn’t gonna happen. I did start working on a brand-new song, but I didn’t get very far and I was feeling SO pressured… I dug out “Perfect Summer Day” from my Gmail account, did a tiny bit of tweaking, and went with it. The recording was done a bit late in the evening (as usual!) and so I tried to give it a kind of quiet groove. It was a bit easier to do than it sometimes is because the song falls into a higher register and sounds fine with a bit of soprano in the mix. That’s not always the case, but it worked out well enough here. I did, I think, three takes and decided that would have to do. I actually had a pretty good second take except I messed up the words in the second chorus (because they’re so fast) and sang something like “and your sdin’s dill warm” or something like that. It was noticeable enough that even though for a few moments I entertained using it anyway, I had to do a third take, and that was the one that got posted in the end.

This is one of those songs that has so much emotion running through it for me, so much sense memory, that I kind of didn’t know how to get it all down. I feel like the chorus is really close, and the rest of it is just kind of floating around waiting to be refined further. I’ll definitely bring it to my songwriting group and let them take a crack at it because I think it needs it. In a perfect world I’d have probably let it sit for a bit longer and posted something else until I could spend more time on it, but God knows my world is far from perfect and it was this or nothing. And nothing is unacceptable.

Besides, this is about the journey, eh? Not so much the destination. At the end of the year I think I’ll find many of these songs will require rewriting. It will be interesting to see which ones. Sometimes the ones I think need fixing right off the bat seem flawless to me after some time away. And the ones that I thought were fabulous at the time suddenly make me cringe. So again, not good judges of our own work, we songwriters.

Anyway, in other news… for those of you wondering about the first quarter CD… We’ve had a bit of bad luck all around with an irresponsible studio kid who was unfortunately completely incommunicative until drastic measures were taken, and an outdated system that wouldn’t allow all tracks to be transferred to a digital format (which I needed so I could just get this kid out of the equation already). What this leaves me with at the moment is about half the tracks I thought I’d have ten weeks after the fact. Obviously had I known ten weeks ago that the tracks I recorded were not all going to be useful, I would have been exploring alternatives all this time. Since I just found this out this week, I’ve got to find a plan B if I want to get these tunes all down for posterity. Which I really DO. But it might all just take a kind of long time to actually happen. I mean, having a deadline at this point is kind of moot. So hang in there. I’m working on it, but I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do just yet.

Week Twenty-Three

June 19, 2010

COME AND GET ME
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

Maybe I should have stayed
Maybe you’re right
Maybe I wouldn’t have been played
But you can’t blame me for thinking that, right?
You and I, we both know who you are
You and I, we both know it’s a miracle we got this far

CHORUS: But if you really want me back, well you know where to find me
So all you have to do, is jump into that beat-up car and drive on down the road to that little bar
The one we spent so much time at, that everybody knew our names
And half the time the drinks were free… that’s where I’ll be
If you want me back, come and get me…

Why don’t you call my bluff?
Why not surprise me?
Why don’t you stop acting so tough?
‘Cause that whole act has never impressed me…
What if I know exactly what you’ll say?
What if I still need you to say it anyway?

CHORUS: If you really want me back, well you know where to find me
And all you have to do, is jump into that beat-up car and drive on down the road to that little bar
The one we spent so much time at, that everybody knew our names
And half the time the drinks were free… that’s where I’ll be
If you want me back, come and get me…

BRIDGE: There’s still time, but it’s on you, to show me what you’re made of, to show me I can trust
All I want is to believe, but baby, you’ve got to prove it to me, you’ve got to prove it to us…

CHORUS: If you really want me back, well you know where to find me
And all you have to do, is jump into that beat-up car and drive on down the road to that little bar
The one we spent so much time at, that everybody knew our names
And half the time the drinks were free… that’s where I’ll be
If you want me back, come and get me…

First of all, apologies again for the belated posting of this song! As explained in the video, it was a really hairy week at work, and while I did get my song written on schedule, I found that I was entirely without time to make a recording until this past week. It was really crazy, and I was tempted to fret over it big time, but in the end I decided that you guys would understand, and as long as I posted it at some point it would all be okay. At no time did I consider skipping a week—just so you know.

So given the circumstances, I’m not afraid to tell you that this song kinda came out on a wing and prayer. I actually wrote it while at work (shh! Don’t tell!) and then sat and added chords about a week later, as I was getting ready to record it. I did the recording at work also, as you know, and I am kind of bummed it’s not better than it is. One of the obstacles I regularly deal with is that when I record at home it’s typically later in the evening (even if not un-Godly) late, and so I find that I have to hold back on my vocal performance, which can sometimes make things not sound their best. It also sometimes affects the quality of the recording, as a quieter signal will leave the track with some high-pitched humming or hissing or whatever. So I was actually pretty excited that I was going to end up at work, because with no one else around I would be able to belt it out and make it sound great, right? Oh, if only it were that easy.

I was initially going to record on Monday night after hours. I brought everything I needed with me to the office, and figured around 11:00 PM, when I was finished with my work day, I’d make the video. Then at about 9:00 PM our payroll chick came back in to burn a little midnight oil herself, and so I couldn’t do it. Drat.

On Tuesday I was finally able to have the office to myself, but what happened was that after working for the past seven days straight, I was kind of tired. And so everything just kinda came out sounding a little forced and less than stellar, in my opinion. It was disappointing because like I said, it’s rare I have those kind of circumstances, but there wasn’t anything I could really do. After five takes I’d pretty much had it, and it wasn’t really getting any better. I mean, I wasn’t stopping because I was making mistakes or anything. I had pretty much five full takes. I just kept redoing them to see if I could get a better one, and in the end it didn’t much matter. The differences between takes were negligible. But so it goes, right?

So because of the crazy timeline I don’t have a ton to say about this song except that I am clearly unafraid to rhyme “right” with “right” and “me” with “me”, in the first verse and second verse respectively. I didn’t even notice I’d done it at first (with “right”) because the rhythm is a bit different from the first two lines to the second two lines of the first verse. For about a nanosecond I thought, “Oh, crap… what else rhymes there?” And then I thought, “Screw it! Rhyme it with itself!” I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever done it before, so why not? And then I did it again in the second verse so it would match. So there!

What I like about this song is that it’s on par with the commercial country thing I have been flirting with off and on this year. I am really trying to write some radio-friendly country tunes, because ultimately I’d love to get a publishing deal somewhere and sell my songs to whoever wants to sing ‘em. I’ll keep singing too, of course, but it would be nice to have the bills getting paid musically, and publishing is probably my best bet at this stage of my life. So it’s nice to be assembling a little collection of tunes that I can hopefully polish up and pitch down the road. I’m hoping to be able to rejoin TAXI by the end of the year, so that will be a great place to send some of these tunes. Even if they don’t get forwarded, they’ll get great feedback, and that’s important when you’re trying to write specifically to genre in the hopes of penning a “hit.”

I used to not care about writing hits. I was an artiste, after all. Now I have realized that I can have both. I can write songs for myself that may not adhere to the formula, or that may have intrinsic “faults” and it’s okay. Those are for me and for the people who like those kinds of songs. At the same time, I can try to understand and write to the formula for the people who enjoy that, and for the people who pay for that. I’ve never understood the people who argue against “selling out.” I mean, if you can do something that’s marketable and someone’s willing to pay you for it, why not make a living? You can STILL do what you want on the side. You can always do what you were doing (the thing that wasn’t making you any money), except now you can do it without the pressure of worrying how you’re going to pay your bills. I mean, how is that not a win-win? There’s nothing noble in being poor. It’s difficult to be poor, and many people don’t have a choice about it. If someone offers to pay you for your services (legitimately) then I feel like you’re insane not to take advantage of that opportunity. I don’t mean doing something to degrade yourself, or something completely out of line with what your goals are. I mean, if your love is country music, for example, and someone offers you millions of dollars to become a rap superstar, there’s a valid reason to think twice about that, because it’s going to take you very far away from what you love, and you probably can’t do both. BUT… if you are good at writing rap songs, then by all means you should be writing them and selling them to the highest bidder while you book country gigs for yourself, because you have to earn a living somehow. And who wants to wait tables or work in an office if they’re good at writing rap songs and someone wants to buy them? That’s all I’m saying.

Week Twenty-Two

June 4, 2010

WANNABE
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

I could point fingers in any direction, but blame comes back like a boomerang
I could flip through and rewrite my life’s history, but I doubt that time’s improved my aim
I could name my frustrations like cats, like the children that I’ll never have
I could die today
And my epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

Too many things made promises to me, and too many times I believed
Too many times switching ladders mid-climb, far too much left unachieved
I’d have shared all the wealth and success, but I’m left all alone with this mess
And if I die today
My epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

BRIDGE: Please, little girl, keep your dreams in your pocket, don’t let them out in the air
You’re not prepared for the moment you’ll realize, there’s nothing there…

I could throw myself down at your feet, but the last you’d absolve would be me
And I would die today
But my epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

So I had written this happy little song about summer. I really liked the chorus, because it spoke to how I remember feeling coming home after a long day out doing summery things with my parents and siblings, especially time spent at the beach. The chorus came to me first so I tried to write verses around it, and that’s where I got stuck. Well, I guess it’s hard to say I got stuck considering I did flesh out an entire song; but it didn’t feel finished to me. Even though structurally I had all the pieces in place, it wasn’t quite doing it for me. But it was still probably going to be this week’s song. Except then my entire day went to hell.

I sought out the music of my friend Jacqueline Francis, who has this amazing song called “Wrong Turn” that just gets me in the gut. It was how I was feeling and I needed to hear it while I was in this black mood. At the same time my friend Vincent, who has his own music blog called Folk Yourself, had posted a Patty Griffin video on Facebook that I also had to stop and watch after reading a snippet of lyric he’d included in his post: “’every day i take a bitter pill that gets me on my way/for the little aches and pains, the ones i have from day to day/to help me think a little less about the things i miss/to help me not to wonder how I ended up like this.’ Patty Griffin knows exactly what to say.” Indeed, I thought, and immediately clicked PLAY and watched the video for “Useless Desires.” Another tune that hit its mark in the moment.

I decided I had to write my own version of these two songs. Something that summed up all I was feeling about missed opportunities and living this shell of a life I never saw coming. It was a quick outpouring of emotional images that made it to the page, but sometimes I do my best work that way, frankly. It’ll be a little while before I can objectively judge this one as any kind of stand-alone piece, worthy of being played before the masses for any stretch of time. For the moment, it serves its purpose as a cathartic piece, and that’s enough.

Musically it’s on track with my recent A-minor kick, however what I did that surprised me was I found a way to flip from the minor key back into the major key the minor came from (in this case, C) and give the chorus a bit of new life that way. This is hardly earth-shattering, and any music theorist worth their salt would probably say “duh” to this maneuver. However, for me music theory is like doing calculus (a subject I flunked and subsequently abandoned after one semester in high school), and it does NOT come naturally or easily, so anything I can do that’s remotely interesting that doesn’t involve me doing higher math to figure it out gets me excited. Even just using C as the second chord in the verse progression was kind of exciting for me, since I normally wouldn’t have thought of it or bothered with it. I was just kind of playing around, trying to break out of the mold of the chord progression I’d used in some of my other more recent songs in the same key, and I stumbled onto it and liked it. I also have to give myself medium props for hanging on both the Dm at the end of the second line of the verse, and the F at the end of the second line of the chorus, because my habit is definitely to put some other kind of transitional chord there. I mean, I’ve been lovingly accused by people, and I readily admit, that I have a tendency to be chord crazy. I think I’ve mentioned it here before, and have definitely made some strides in that department. I mean, did I not write a three-chord song two weeks ago? Yes, I did. So I know it can be done. I also know that sometimes it’s RIGHT to have more chords, or some variations on the same chords (like Csus and C7 in addition to C, etc). Then again, there are times when you just don’t need all that extra crap going on. Where if you let the chord hang for an extra moment, the melody really gets some breathing room, and that’s what happened here. And it was a conscious decision, so I really do have to give myself a tiny pat on the back here, for stepping outside my little box and trying something new. And liking it.

When I recorded the video my bedroom was about 120% relative humidity, and of course all fans and anything that would make a background hum were off. So it was tropical and uncomfortable, and my arms were sticking to the guitar, and the strings (which I recently changed, but which I think were old, and so they aren’t sounding or feeling as good as they should for being “new”) felt sticky as well, and it just wasn’t an enjoyable experience. I started out with a lot more dynamic play than I ended up with on the fourth take, which is the one that’s posted. There weren’t any outtakes that were worth including, as it was mostly me sighing and swearing and not in a comedic way. I’d just come home from an unsuccessful attempt at attending a friend’s CD release show, and I was angry and frustrated at having been thwarted by the STUPIDEST of obstacles, so I was hardly in a mood to be recording in the first place. The only reason I did it was because I figured I should get it done early and take advantage of my sister being out of the house. And of course, I wanted to get it done before my make-up melted off my face. But I was really riled up by the time I got to the fourth take and so I think it comes across as pretty one-note emotionally, and that’s not what I would have wanted in the ideal situation. Of course, the situation with these recordings is never the ideal situation, so I encourage you to come out to a show and catch this one live; I’ll definitely be including it in the set-list for a little while.

Meanwhile, if you’re a reader of this blog, do drop a line and let me know. It gets depressing when no one comments and you feel like you’re talking to thin air week after week…

Week Twenty-One

May 28, 2010


RAIN FROM A CLOUDLESS SKY
By Kim Davidson
(c) 2010

We chose this life
We said that we would walk together
And as long as we had love
There’d be no storm we couldn’t weather

So how is it
I find myself in this position
Suddenly all on my own
When no one asked my permission?

CHORUS: And it just goes to show
No matter what you think you know
Things can always change before your eyes
And you can’t be prepared
No matter how you try
‘Cause sometimes rain falls… from a cloudless sky

No warning bell
I thought that everything was fine
Until you gave another
What I’d always thought was mine

Pick myself up
Amid the wreckage and the ruins
Take a long deep breath
And figure what I am doing

CHORUS: And it just goes to show
No matter what you think you know
Things can always change before your eyes
And you can’t be prepared
No matter how you try
‘Cause sometimes rain falls… from a cloudless sky

BRIDGE: So I guess this, this is the test
In how I reemerge from this mess
It’s one thing when you know it’s coming and you hunker down
It’s another to be caught off guard and try to turn it around

There is no choice
Because I will not fade or wallow
So I’ll try to gather sun
Until my heart’s no longer hollow

I will give thanks
For any good that may find me
And keep my faith
Until the Universe reminds me…

CHORUS: And it just goes to show
No matter what you think you know
Things can always change before your eyes
And you can’t be prepared
No matter how you try
‘Cause sometimes rain falls… from a cloudless sky

So last week I mentioned I was a week ahead, right? I had this song kind of almost ready to go. I couldn’t quite figure out where it needed to lead (it didn’t have an ending) so I took it to my regular songwriting group for a little guidance. I got a lot of useful feedback, but thus far I haven’t been able to really put it to any good use. So I guess maybe that song is going to need a little more percolating before it gets finished.

That’s okay. I had this idea a few weeks ago that I had wanted to chase down anyway. I was driving, which is one of the two most common situations where I tend to get flooded with song ideas (the other is almost anytime I’m out enjoying live music), and it was a beautiful sunny day, so I was completely surprised when it suddenly started down-pouring. It literally came out of nowhere. I mean, one second there’s no rain and then the next it’s POURING. And still completely blue skies and sun shining. It was so weird! I drove for another few minutes and just as abruptly, the rain stopped. And I couldn’t help but think, “Where did that rain COME from?” I mean, I’ve experienced the phenomenon of the sun shower before, obviously. In New England there’s not much we don’t get weather-wise, so it wasn’t like it was so shocking; but I’d never really stopped to think about it before. Rain does come from clouds usually—right? Not in this case. Unless they were crazy, super-high-above-the-atmosphere, totally out of sight clouds.

And so the title of this song popped into my head and I thought it was such an apt analogy for those situations in life that creep up on you when you think everything is totally okay, and then… WHAM. You get kicked in the head by the Universe. And it seemed like a good time to try to incorporate some stuff I’ve been tucking away for the past couple years, which is relationship stuff that has really surprised me.

God knows I had my eyes opened when my last boyfriend left me, and I never saw it coming. It was such a complete blind-side, and such a devastating, unnecessary thing to have happen to me. I still don’t quite understand how the Universe thought I’d earned that. What’s happened since then is that I’ve really started to see that I had it all wrong. What is the exception to the rule is the crazy notion that there are real, good, reciprocal relationships out there that last. I’m not saying this from a bitter place. I’m saying I’ve been observing some really unexpected stuff the past couple years and it’s starting to turn into the majority. I’ve seen the most unlikely of relationships go completely postal, and I’ve learned that even the ones that are called “good” by the people participating in them are kind of being graded on a curve. It’s been sobering, to say the least. Needless to say, I have not rushed to renew my Yahoo Personals subscription. And it seems like more and more when things DO happen, they happen completely out of nowhere. “Everything was good, and now this…” Rain from a cloudless sky. How could I NOT write a song about that?

Week Twenty (TWENTY!)

May 21, 2010

DOUBLE AGENT
By Kim Davidson
(c) 2010

I’m standing over you, and I can see my reflection in the blood pooling quickly round your head
Cold steel in my hand, and I warned you this was coming, but then you’ve never listened to a single word I’ve ever said
Let’s go back to the beginning

Spring, two years ago, at a café on a Paris street I see you for the first time from afar
And I hope against all hope that you are not my target, even though I know exactly who you are
And it’s ill-advised at best, but the work lends an intensity, and Fate every now and then will intervene
So there’s nothing to be done, but to put the ball in motion and hope that I can stick to the routine

CHORUS: And it’s hard to keep my story straight
They tell you not to get your heart involved, well sorry it’s too late
I know everything you’ve ever done
But I understand it all too well, and suddenly it’s fun
Imagining that it could work, and I am on your side
Playing Double Agent on the run

Winter of this year, and I’m so deep under cover that I hardly can remember what is real
I try to focus on the mission, and what I’m here to do, but all that I can think of is how you make me feel
And it’s dangerous for all concerned if I forget myself, thank God for years of training finally kicking in
One dark and deadly night I’m reminded who you are, and I vow that you will hang for every sin

CHORUS: And it’s hard to keep my story straight
They tell you not to get your heart involved, well sorry it’s too late
I know everything you’ve ever done
But I understand it all too well, and suddenly it’s fun
Imagining that it could work, and I am on your side
Playing Double Agent on the run

BRIDGE: We’re approaching zero hour
Every detail is in place, and so is my will-power
I believe that nothing can go wrong
Til you turn and say you’ve known who I was all along

Guns are raised and hammers cocked, we stare across the room into eyes that are fin’ly open wide
And I do not back down when you tell me you will do it, so will I and there’s no place left to hide
And it feels like a movie in slow motion as the past two years flash through my mind just as you draw a breath
Instinct does the work, as I somehow dodge your bullet in the moment that mine sends you to your death

And I’m standing over you…

I love it when I have a song complete (or close to complete) and then I suddenly come up with another song idea. It’s happened to me a couple times this year. For the first time, however, it happened and I didn’t need to coordinate schedules with a duet partner or video cast, so for the first time since Week Four I am AHEAD a week. Yay! Took long enough!

I don’t exactly know how or why this song idea jumped into my head. Maybe because I’ve been watching a lot of “NCIS” lately (LOVE that show!) I can tell you that it was the first line that first appeared in my twisted little brain. It made me want to rub my hands together and make evil laughing noises. “Mwahahahahahah…” I wrote it down and immediately thought, “Okay, now what kind of spin can I put on this so it isn’t just a typical ‘dark Kim’ song?” I mean, let’s face it: dark and twisted and sad and tragic is kinda my wheelhouse. I am kind of proud of myself this year for not having twenty weeks and counting of sad and depressing songs. There’ve been a few, but it could EASILY have been ALL. You have no idea. Anyway, as soon as the idea came to me I started thinking outside the box and it was pretty quickly decided that making the situation involve some kind of secret agent was going to get me out of trouble and into far more creative territory.

It was fun writing this one. I have a friend who always tells me I’d make a great double agent. I’m not quite sure how to take that. I’m as loyal as the day is long, so I think I’d have a hard time with the playing-both-sides-of-the-fence part. But whatever. It’s not like it’s ever going to happen, so the best I can do is write a song about it. And because it wasn’t a poor-Kim-dark-depressing-love-is-horrible kind of song, I could say whatever I wanted to say and it was okay. So that made it even more fun.

Of course, rhythmically it’s a nightmare. I mean, it’s like the strum-part from hell, at least with my limited guitar prowess. I hope to someday fully produce this one. I can’t even imagine what kind of instrumentation we’d use… but it would be fun, I have no doubt.

This is an impressive song for me for one simple reason: there are only three chords in the song. I don’t think I’ve EVER written a song with this few chords in my life. I’ve tried to simplify over the past couple years, after being teased by both my former band-mates and my studio engineer about using too many chords in my songs. I’ve gotten better, but this is by far the most simplistic chord progression. And I don’t think it’s really lacking anything musically because of it. I mean, sometimes less really is more. And sometimes you just don’t NEED a whole bunch of extra chords to get the arrangement across. So yay for me. Growth!

I’ll tell you a secret: this chord progression was actually going to be for another song that I started at the end of 2009, as I was gearing up to start this project. It’s a song that has yet to be finished, and may or may not ever make this blog. I didn’t actually realize at first that I was using the same chords. Once I did… well, it wasn’t like I needed to “save” them for the other song. Trust me. Besides, if that other song ever gets done, it’s not like I can’t reuse the same chords again. God knows I’ve done it before, as we talked about last week. At least they’d be different “same” chords than I typically use!


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