Archive for June, 2010

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…