This came up again on the almost exactly 10-year anniversary of the original demo, when I found myself planning for a song to contribute to the American Idol Songwriter’s competition.
The only two parameters I gave myself for the piece were that it would have to be finish in exactly one week, and that it must be a new, or otherwise unfinished song that I could imagine being performed by another (probably, though not necessarily) male vocalist. That season I had my money on Blake Nelson, the beatboxing virtuoso, so I left the possibilities open to interpretation, choosing a more homogeneous arrangement than I might otherwise decide upon, featuring my vocal for the demo over acoustic guitars, synth bass and beats, and piano.
I’d written the “I want to feel love” chorus on a dictaphone exactly 10 years ago and it was sitting around getting moldy on my hard drive. The melody went through about three dozen subtle variations to get it right, which made it hard for me to remember perfectly when I performed it live during the Artist’s Way Open Mic night, much as I’d given myself but a week to do it all. And the final words for the verses didn’t come until I’d plugged in all the vowel sounds first…
Basically most of my tunes these days (including the Walking Against The Wind “lullabye”) came about phonetically first, formed around the “oo” and “ee” and “ah” sounds, then the words arrived like a special delivery at the end via automatic writing. And very last, I have to make perfect sense of them and understand what they mean, so that I can even begin to interpret them. Perhaps it’s a vaguely suspicious way to work, especially when I listen to brilliant lyricists like Andy Partridge and imagine he does the words and music all at once, they click so well.
I put in the guitar solo in the middle 8, at the very end when everything else was completely done… (partly an homage to Seven Seas by Echo and The Bunnymen perhaps?) Originally there was a mellotron playing a flute solo, replaced by a distorted guitar bit playing about 2 notes over and over, then a piano banging out chords, then eventually a trumpet bit like the one at the very end, which sounded more like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. None of these approaches worked until I chose to embellish further upon the song’s already “jangly” acoustics.