Monday, November 04, 2013

Sing It Out

Another week, more progress with Good News for Love.  More college radio stations have added the record to their playlists and play is building.

The song that we're pushing as the "single" is Sing It Out, which is track 2 (unedited) and track 7 (radio edit).

It's the first song I've ever recorded that has a swearword in it.  For whatever that's worth.  I guess I can check that box.

Actually, I do keep a semi-formal list of words I'd like to use in songs... some curbed from other songs, some I come across in reading... some that come up organically in the process of writing.

Sing It Out has one such word: buckshot.

On September 6, 2012, I made a list of the songs that might be a part of Good News for Love...

Noticeably present are Almost Maybe, Love and Light, and Forever, which were all subsequently jettisoned.

Noticeably absent are The Counting Song and Sing It Out.

On the facing page, I started a stream of consciousness burst of writing that lasts about 45 lines and contains the seeds of what became Sing It Out, including:

"beneath my skin"
"this song is for me and you and her and him and every single voice that whispers or shouts"
"every mouth, every face, every body"

It was like an explosion of ideas with no shape.

The week of September 10, 2012, I decided I would try to write one song a day for the whole week.

And on September 10, I started to play around with these words and phrases from my September 6 burst.  By the end of that day of writing I had the first two verses of  Sing It Out in exactly the form they appear on the record.

The chorus at that point was simply me singing the phrases "Say it now" over and over, and that was what the song was called.

On September 11, I wrote a song called Let It In.

On September 12, I wrote The Counting Song.

On September 13, I made another list of the songs for Good News for Love:

So that one week of writing more or less defined the final shape of Good News for Love.

In December, as I revised the songs in advance of our recording session, I took a good portion of the words from Let It In and put them in Sing It Out as a third verse and also shaped the chorus a little bit better.

This whole development, the way a group of songs grows and shrinks, is pretty typical of how I write.  When I'm writing for a new record, I write a handful of songs without even really considering how they fit together... just to get something out.  At some point, when that handful becomes two handfuls, I look at what I've written and try to ascertain what it is I'm writing about... and then I take those themes, which I hope have bubbled up somewhat organically, and try to write the rest of the record around them.

I think of it as writing my way into a project and then trying to write my way out... and this particular week I've chronicled above seems like the nexus of these two approaches for Good News for Love.

When it came time to record it, Darren had a couple really cool ideas for vocal harmonies and arrangement and we hammered out the band tracks of it pretty quickly.  The song only has three chords so attention to detail and dynamics are really, really important.  The chorus turns on a shortened version of the verse progression, and we did some really neat and subtle things with the accent patterns in the drums and bass throughout and added a couple small but important variations in the form.  I played acoustic guitar and Dan destroyed the guitar solos.  Just wonderful playing.  We rehearsed the background vocals all together live but I think we wound up individually tracking them... some tough stuff there, very very rangy.

All in all it seems to be the track people are most responding to from a radio and commercial standpoint...

(A personal note and plea regarding the economics of the music industry: I'm going to post a stream of the final version of each song in each blog post.  I feel like if you make the effort to come to my blog and read it, you should get to listen to the song and I hope it enhances the experience and meaning.  That being said, if you like the song, I would highly highly highly encourage you to go download it from iTunes/Amazon/CDBaby.  It means a ton to me and has real and lasting impacts on my music career.  And I would extend that to ANY song/artist you enjoy: buy the music if you want to support them.  Recorded music is now nearly virtual in its existence thanks to the digitalization of the business so it's becoming easier to forget that each recording is a THING that people worked on.  A lot of people spent a lot of time and money on making and releasing this album (as is true of almost every recording you hear) so I hope if you like it you'll support it and me by purchasing it like you would any other product that brings you value.  Of the $.99 you pay per track on iTunes/Amazon/CDBaby, a minimum of $.65 comes back directly to the artist, and (I cannot overstate) means so much to me. /rant)

So about the lyrics: I like that they retained some of the features of that first bit of stream of consciousness writing... the words just kind of pour out, the ideas and syntax are connected but sometimes only loosely... I think it gives it a feel of urgency and investment.

I also know that when I started these words I thought it was going to be a song about anger but by the time I got to the end of it, I was writing about love.

And I like the hopefulness in that.

It's not an accident that every song on this record has some variation of the word "love" in it.

Love is a much, much better word than buckshot... although Good News for Buckshot... hmmmm...


Words beneath the skin like buckshot
Sinking deeper in 'cause they're not
Ready to begin, ready to come out in the light
This is for me and you and him and her
And all the voices whisper
Shout into the dark from any mouth on any face
Of any body without grace

Sing it out, sing it out
Sing it loud, sing it loud
If you fail if you fall sing it out
Sing it out for love

I'm not scared to sing this song
To close my eyes and soldier on
until All of this shit is gone except the pale bones
And if I go before my time in simple chords and simpler rhymes
I'll leave an open code behind
To tell you who I was


The waters rise in city streets
The buildings fall we can't believe
How silence fills an empty heart until it cannot beat
I will light a light for you
And pull you close and see you through
And fight until I'm black and blue



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