Sunday, April 27, 2008

Empty Me

4. Empty Me

Words by Chris Sligh, Tony Wood & Clint Lagerberg

Music by Chris Sligh & Clint Lagerberg

Produced by Brown Bannister

The Writing:

We were supposed to start recording in September originally. We were going to try to have a single out in October to move it up the charts before Christmas time. But Brown didn’t think we had the first single yet. So, for about 6 weeks I wrote and wrote and co-wrote and co-wrote trying to find one that everyone agreed was the first single. 

Tony Wood and I wrote the original version of this song in a couple of hours. We had music (that is actually pretty darn cool, so I’m keeping it to write a new song later) and everything. I brought it into Brown and he loved the lyric but didn’t think the music was right yet. I was, of course, a little frustrated, but I went back and tried to rewrite...but it’s tough when you’re as close to something as I was with that song...I just couldn’t rework it.
 A week or so later, I wrote with a guy named Clint Lagerberg and as we were trying to figure out what to write, I asked if he’d be okay trying to rewrite some music and in about an hour, we wrote the music for what is now Empty Me. We changed the lyrics on the pre-chorus, too, so Clint got some credit for the lyrics, too.

The Meaning:
The meaning on this one is pretty self-evident. It starts off talking about what I’ve been through in the last few years and ends with a simple prayer to be filled with God.

The Recording:

As with the rest of Brown’s songs, Jerry, Jimmy, Dan & Blair played on the initial tracking. Most of the guitar work and all of the keyboard work was done in the overdub stage at Brown’s studio. 
 All of the acoustic guitars and electric rhythm guitars were done by me. The lead guitar part on the intro and bridge, as well as the solo was done by George Cocchinni while he was there helping me as tone chaperone. 
 All the keyboards were done by Blair in overdubs. 

Though it’s hard to tell, there are actually something like 12 different keyboard tracks going on. Blair is an incredible musician and would come up with these little parts that I never would’ve thought of and they just worked great. He also programmed the loop on the verses, covering it with a distortion and giving it an industrial feel.

On bgv’s Chris Rodriguez did some of them and I did the rest.

I’ve had just enough * 
Of the spotlight when it burns bright  *  To see how it gets in the blood  *  I’ve tasted my share  *  Of the sweet life and the wild ride
 *  And found a little is not quite enough  * *  I know how I can stray  *  And how fast my heart could change  * *  Empty me of the selfishness inside
 *  Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
 *  And any foolish thing my heart holds onto
 *  Lord, empty me of me so I can be filled with you

* *  I’ve seen just enough
 *  Of the quick buys of the best lies
 *  To know how prodigals can be drawn away
 * * pre-chorus  * *  chorus

* *  ‘Cause everything is a lesser thing
 *  Compared to you, compared to you
 *  ‘Cause everything is a lesser thing
 *  Compared to you, so I surrender all  * *  solo  * *   chorus


rosalee said...

As long as we’re back on the album topic again, I have a question. When I listen to the recorded version of “Empty Me” it seems to be 1/2 step higher than your live version. If so, why is it performed 1/2 step lower?

Also, “Are You Pleased” has also been performed live either in key with the recording, 1/2 step below, or a full step below the recording. Eight of the other songs that I have heard, all seem to be performed live in the same key as the recorded version.

Why the special adjustments for those two songs? To make it easier to play? For less vocal straining? Inquiring minds want to know! (LOL)

ChrisSligh said...

Haha...Empty Me was recorded in Eb which takes me pretty regularly to a Bb. For some reason, I can hit B's really well and I can hit A's really well, but Bb's kill me. Every voice has a break where it goes from chest voice to full voice: for mine it's a Bb. So, I just lower it.

Also on "Are You Pleased" (and "Empty Me") I've been performing it at 6am...sometimes I just need to lower it, you know!


GirlyGirl45 said...

Impressive question, Rosalee! and answer, Chris!
I'm really enjoying these stories behind the songs; these deluxe "liner notes" are an excellent use of your blog. It's interesting that this song has had a complicated path, but it was all worth it. I will tell you that this one has a way of sticking in my head, and I've only listened to it casually here and there when you put it on your Myspace. I finally listened to the "acoustic" version you did at the wedding, and it's just lovely. All of the collaborative efforts put the best shine on this song.

risalea said...

Rosalee must have better ears than I do, cause I hadn't noticed that, though I have been amazed at how good you sound in the early AM. I'm always an octave lower in the shower! LOL

This is a favorite....took me a bit to get used to the new version when you changed it, but I dearly love it now.

DJ in AL said...

You know when I first heard that this was going to be the first single you released I was like, why not IAM or Know, bc at that time those were my favorites. But the lyrics to this song really pulled me in and I just love them. They are so applicable to everyone's life, not just yours.

It is not my all time favorit and I listen to it more than once on the drive into work every morning and the same on the drive home. It has a very calming, peaceful effect on me.

Sorry I don't have any astuted musical questions, it's all about the feeling for me!


DJ in AL said...

Ooops, I meant to say it IS now my all time favorite.

nannie said...

I'm with dj in atlanta on this song. I don't know ANYTHING about music and my bucket IS a hole, but I love how this song sounds and makes me feel. I have been feeling out of touch with God, and hearing this song (and a few others that I heard on the same radio show), made me feel closer to him. I felt like they gave me a tiny taste of peace at a time when I needed it desperately! I think I cling to my wishes sometimes and forget that God might have a better plan. I still have the same problems, but thanks for reminding me that if I empty my silly worries out that God will have room to fill up my mind with peace.

Susan said...

I heard Empty Me on the radio! on Smile FM in Michigan! I change channels a lot when I drive (which is the only time I listen to the radio), and landed on Smile FM. The voice caught me immediately. I thought, hey, this guy's a good singer! Maybe I'll listen to this song .... and ... wait a second, I know that voice! That's Chris Sligh! Woooo hooooo! I'm so glad they're playing his song!