Concrete Chrysalis Songwriting Session 04.26.20

four first takes, a couple of winners, and a new song for my daughter

Pretty good little session, with my songwriting ‘method’ on full display. It works thisaway: I’ll find a backing groove that seems interesting, figure out the key it’s in, record the first time through, and there you go. He-our Father-handles the rest, and has for over a year. Most of the time, more than half, if I take more than ten seconds to make sure the cut is inspiring enough to engage with, I’ll get a legit new song, breaks and hooks and all, not a jam track. On the very first take. Up to around fifty of them or so now, all styles. Crazy, huh? Then I go back and learn them from the recording, as best as I can.

The challenge of songwriting is to play something you’ve never heard before, or at least not in the same context. A new melody, the most elusive and prized thing there is.

These first four songsare coming from the youtube app, one after the other, really kind of random for me. But it paid off.

00.00 First take. Jazzy minor key meanderings. Amusing, playful, fun to play. This one is not quite in my wheelhouse. A jamtrack, not a song.

05:22 First take. Leaning more toward a gentler, jazzier mood. This is where I have to try really hard to not be derivative of my other songs. How much does the pervasiveness of one’s own style affect the search for originality? A lot, I think. A work in progress, maybe. Not a song.

11:25 First take. I knew this one might be pretty good when I came out of the first break on the right note. Always a welcome surprise! I love this backing track so much, even with my backtalk to Benjamin Harrison, the maestro. This could be a song, I think. Unnamed, as of the moment.

18:31 First take. Listo, which means ‘ready’ en Espanol. Home run, unless someone else has already done it. The key melody is SO simple that it may have been done before. Hard to believe Santana or someone didn’t find it at some point, but my conscience is clear. I didn’t swipe it, because I don’t know any songs besides my own. If it’s been done before, I’ll put a bullet in its head. Perfect example of how these songs come out, more or less complete. It’s humbling beyond all understanding.

24:21 The Grind An ‘oldie’ from relatively early in my homeless experience. Feels like life on the streets of Vegas in the summer, for good reason.

28:22 Catherine Grace Brand new from earlier in the week, a birthday song for my amazing daughter. Not as good as the first take, they never are, and now my job is to get it back to that point. Love those songs with turnarounds that lead to other turnarounds that lead to other…

34:28 Unhoused An ‘oldie’ about the experience of homelessness, the overwhelming evidence of your aloneness that is everywhere you look and in all your thoughts.

38:30 Limping Toward Paradise My personal theme song and set opener.. We’ll get there, all of us. Together.

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