Thursday, January 11, 2007

The album discussed from a lyrical & musical standpoint.

Closer
We live in a world where we constantly walk away from love, but at the same time we live in a world of medication. We all have some way of medicating ourselves, whether it's alcohol or porn or religion or (name your drug of choice). For me, every time I medicate, I find myself frustrated with my failures. So, the medicating does the opposite for me than the desired effect. Call it guilt or whatever you may call it...medicating just makes me hate my position all the more. The ultimate cure for our disease is to be loved as if we never failed the love of One whose love never fails. So, in the dark, I cry out, "I'm here! Are you here?" even though I know the answer. And then I am pulled closer to him.

From a musical standpoint, this song was an attempt to simply melt faces off. It's definitely the most rocking I've ever written, and we used some effects to make my voice sound even more harsh than it did originally. We also did some cool stuff with some very normal sounds. For instance, we took a string part and ran it through my Line 6 Delay pedal on the sweep echo setting, then I just messed with the knobs till we got this wierd sweeping, distorted string sound that doesn't even sound like a string patch. I think the genius move on this song, however, was the reggea bridge with a slightly out of key solo. Adam killed it on this solo...it's very Tom Morello-ish.

Know
Too often, we find ourselves awash in the reverberations of our lives. We make choices that then reverberate until, often years later, we hear echoes of ourselves. However, it's these choices that make us who we are. Do we make mistakes? Yes. But the mistakes we make are ultimately what forms our psyche and the personalities that we become. This lyric is simple. We make choices, and those choices have repercussions. However, I'm the one who deals with my choices. So, when my world is ending and my dreams are caving in, I'll let you know. Otherwise, deal with your own choices.

Musically, this is one of those songs where I wear my influences on my sleeve. With a band called needtobreathe, the singer often goes into this cool falsetto thing that I love. For years, I have used my falsetto in live situations but not a ton on recordings. So, with this song, I wrote a soaring melody - one that I think is the best "hook" I've ever written - that takes me into falsetto, then back down to my full voice. The chord progression on the verses is very Coldplay-ish, but we tried to change up the instrumentation to make it seem more original. This is one of those songs that a lot of people have said seems familiar from the first listen...to me that's what makes a great pop song.

In a Moment
Love is a two-sided beast. For every positive reaction we feel "in love", there are equal reactions of negative feelings. However, it is within a short time that things can turn around with love. The lyric is simple. I am in love, good or bad. Specifically, I want to hold her till sunrise comes along and the dark times pass.

This song was a blatant attempt at writing a hit song. To my ears, it sounds like Chris Sligh is trying to write a Edwin McCain song and ended up rocking out a little more than Edwin does. I don't think I consciously tried to emulate Edwin - I actually don't really like Edwin's music very much - but that's what it ended up sounding like to me. But on the other hand I don't think Edwin wrote a better hook than this one. One special thing about this one, though, I think is the bridge. The melody soars, the chords go to places the ear doesn't expect and it ends with a very Beatle-esque chord progression. Perhaps that is my strength: being able to take all these vast musical influences and put them together in a way that makes something somewhat original.

Naive
I return to the idea of medication. One distinct form of medication is religion. One can rely on religion as one can rely on alcohol or any drug. Religion makes life easier to live and can act as a salve for what ails us. However, in my grapple with religion, I find myself with distinct feelings of naivety while at the same time hating my own naivety. We use all these phrases in religion that give us peace and hope, all the while ignoring the pain that the world around us is in. Ultimately however, part of faith is being able to allow oneself a bit of naivety. Logic should definitely enter the equation, and religion is a drug to be avoided, but ultimately if we believe that the Bible is true, then we grasp some semblance of naivety. And I must be okay with that.

Musically, this song is very intense without necessarily being pure rock and roll. It's an atmospheric kind of rock that really turns me on. Anyone can turn up an amp to 11 and riff till someone's ears bleed...it's a lot harder to take a wurly and make it rock with some semi-clean guitars. The song is reminscent of MuteMath, but I hope it isn't a complete rip-off...I don't think it is. I would put this in the top few songs I've ever written.

Need
The Beatles once said, "love is all you need" and in reality, love is all we need...it just isn't the love that we all are thinking of. We get so busy with our lives and with our freedom that it's easy to forget that the love that's been given to us forever is everything that we need.

I'm not a very good co-writer. I'm very shy when it comes to sharing my ideas for songs...I guess I just get a rush from seeing one's reaction to a completed song that never quite happens while trading ideas in co-writing. Anyway, my former guitarist Chad Boyd brought this riff into practice and we jammed until we had a song. And this might be one of my better chorus hooks. Adam's lead riffs are perfect and the choice of using wurly on the chordal riff at the beginning was an inspired choice, I think.

Rise
The lyric is pretty self-explanatory. Love changes us all when we allow it in. When we give up the pieces of our hearts, then love will change us and redemption turns us around.

This song is the one that took the longest to come to fruition. I can remember writing this one and thinking that if we did it right it that this one could be a hit. However, the band I had at the time just couldn't seem to put it together. So, I worked on my own with this one for a long time and finally came up with the arrangement you hear now. This one is a joy to do live and see everyone screaming out the "Whoas" at the beginning and the end of song.

Somewhere
When I look at the world around me, I can't understand how pain and suffering are compatible with a loving God. I don't think that this struggle is on that has a pat answer that makes it all better. So, I ask myself and I ask God a lot where we can go to make the idyllic situation of life without pain work. Unfortunately, the question is returned to me with an answer I don't want to hear. Eden was the place where life without pain worked, and humans screwed it up with sin. The afterlife is the next answer. In heaven, we'll be in a place without pain. Sometimes I wish we didn't have to wait so long.

Writing a 6/8 song that rocks is - to me - one of the hardest to do. I love to write a 6/8 ballad, but had never succeeded at writing an upbeat 6/8 song. Originally, this lyric had been put to the music that turned into "Know". But it just didn't work. So, in about 15 minutes, I laid down a 6/8 drum loop and wrote the music for this song. The demo rocked and when Adam laid down the opening, brooding riff, I knew we had something special. The bridge is a piece of music that I have been trying to put into something for about 3 years now and had never succeeded in fitting it into anything - it was originally a 4/4 riff - but it just worked here. And the solo at the end of this song is simply blazing.

Cry Tonight
Everything that we believe in is us taking a chance on something beautiful. Love is taking a chance that our lover will never leave us or forsake us; religion is taking a chance that the skeptics aren't correct and that God is real...really, life is about taking a chance on something beautiful. If the divine wasn't always just around the corner, then we would have nothing to live for. We never quite reach it, but we feel it, and we know its beauty.

I originally wrote this song for my wife 3 weeks after we met (she wasn't my wife yet). Back then it was a love song. We had never been able to find a place to record the song and I always thought it had the workings of a strong song. So, as we worked on this album, I decided to try to re-arrange and re-write the song. It ended up being a strong Brit-rock kind of track. The guitar hook on the choruses is a nice counterpoint to the vocals.

Hero
All of us are sick and hurting, not matter who we are or what we've done in life. We have a disease that requires healing. In life, we constantly look for heroes...we are fascinated with comic books, superhumans in television and movies, and the common heart desire is that we long for something bigger and better than us. We need a hero. We need a Savior.

I would put Closer, Somewhere and Hero in the same class I think, musically. All of them are just balls to the wall kind of rockers. They are somewhat self-indulgent (i.e., all have lengthy guitar solos), all of them are a little down and dirty, and all of them are easy audience sing-alongs when we play them live. With this one, we attempted to add in some more interesting elements but this one just needed to be plain and simple, down and dirty rock and roll. The drums provided the intersting thing here, I think, and Adam's solo is really great.

Convenience
The toughest thing about relationships is when the relationship becomes real. When a relationship is new and energetic, it's easy to become, for a short time, a better version of ourselves. Then, when the relationship becomes comfortable, when it becomes convenient, we find ourselves taking the easy way out. Easy come, easy go is all that we know in our relationships and it's hard to break down the walls that form over months and years...ultimately, comfort and convenience can be the wedge that drives us apart.

From a musical standpoint, this would my greatest homage to bands like Radiohead, Starsailor and Muse. It's wierd, rife with stange sound effects and white noise. It could also be an homage to the synth dance/rock stuff of the Killers or the Bravery. Melodically, the song soars into that falsetto on the chorus, and it seems to work. This is one of my favorites, also.

Waiting
Waiting sucks. Recently in my life I've had to do a lot of waiting, and it sucks. Sometimes it seems like Love takes its time on coming back to us. I don't want to be impatient, because love is well-worth the wait. But waiting sucks.

From a musical standpoint, the song is a simple pop song with some punk elements. We originally recorded this song for our debut album, but it never quite met my expectations...I always thought it could be a great rock song. When we started to record this album, I thought it would be cool to rework this one, so I took it up 4 keys and sped it up a great deal, then added the intro to it. Also, on the choruses, the drummer had the idea to go into half-time and it just opened the song up like crazy.

Tunnel Vision
The lyric is pretty simple. I've got tunnel vision for love. It's that simple.

This song was originally just a throw away song that I wrote to have enough demos to choose from. It's a simple chord progression, but it actually ended up being a favorite of fans live. So we added it to the album. The little Steely Dan guitar solo on the bridge was a last minute idea that is a lot of fun...it definitely takes the song to another place.


Gone
Sometimes, when I'm at my darkest, I feel very Ecclesiastical; I feel like everything is meaningless, everything is vanity, everything is just a soap bubble blown away with the wind. I ask myself, as I look around me, if this is the place that the human race - or more specifically where I - want to be.

I wrote the basic structure of this song (verse & chorus) and laid it down for Adam. I went out of town for a while and told Adam to make magic with the song. He took it and fleshed it out into an entire song, and it sounds pretty good, I think. His bridge/solo section is very nice, and the ending takes off and explodes. When we went into production, we knew we had to take the demo and step it up a little bit. So, Adam did that crazy guitar part on the 2nd chorus and I came up with the idea for a reverse piano on the verses.

How Long
I have this longing in me for the great beyond. I wake up every day with a longing for what's next. I daydream about it. I dream about it, and as I get older, I realize maybe every moment I get a little closer to Love. But I still ask "how long?"

Musically, this is the perfect conclusion to the album. It starts and ends low energy, and explodes in the middle. I love a song whose melody I can sing in a lower octave then take it up an octave. This is probably my favorite song on the album.

5 comments:

Cheryl Childers said...

Dude! Your going to Hollywood!!! Hey, where can we get the latest and greatest album... and where can we get old stuff of yours? I have nothing on my ipod right now and need some fro-music. Point me in the right direction for all your stuff man! Good luck to you!!

~*~ Jennifer ~*~ said...

"With a band called needtobreathe, the singer often goes into this cool falsetto thing that I love. For years, I have used my falsetto in live situations but not a ton on recordings."

We've never met -- I don't even watch AI :/ -- but I heard about you from a message board of MOMS called HearthKeepers. Apparently one of the MOMS used to attend your Dad's church -- or something like that. Anyway... subscribed to your blog.

Wondered if you have heard of CHANTICLEER... http://www.chanticleer.org/ Awesome use of falsetto... AMAZING. I got to hear them in concert this fall. AWESOME!

So -- I'll be praying for you and that you will be the influence in Hollywood and not be influenced! °Ü° Yep -- that's the mother coming out in me.

claritarejoice said...

Hey friend,

Wow, thanks so much for sharing your meanings for your songs - I've never known anyone to do that, and it's something I always wonder - "what did this song mean to the writer?" Thanks for your thoughts!

bmorebamma said...

GONE , my favorite but i thought , it was about the end of a relationship, that was too way pass it's expireation date . but it's not as you explained so equlantly , with ALL THAT IS GONING on in this messed up world , i wounder about the human race and my place in it , and why we seem to want to hurt each other seemlingly on a regular bases and HOW much longer before god comes here and says ENOUGH ALREADY . :(

Cathy Storms said...

All's I can say is WOW!!