Archive for July, 2010

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

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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?