Ah, March at last! It's been a wild and crazy February. I've spent half the month at conferences, launched a major upgrade to Peakware.com, and still somehow managed—for the fourth consecutive year—to write, record, and upload 14.5 songs for February Album Writing Month (fawm.org). My breakneck sleep-free pace was evident in the quality of some of my songs - 8 of the 14.5 tunes were very rough sketches improvised into my iPhone, and 6 of those were recorded while driving.
That said, a few of the songs really turned out well. Here are my favorites:
- It's Too Late (To Take Back Watergate)
- The Forecast
- Down South In Seattle Town
- Five Minutes At C
- She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain
- Ain't Got No (Ain't No) Got No
It's Too Late (To Take Back Watergate)
Try as I may, It's hard to avoid letting politics influence my songwriting, especially when we Americans are bombarded so relentlessly with it in the media. Interestingly though, this wasn't originally going to be a political tune. The first three lines of the chorus came to me when I was late taking my kids to school. I sang just those lines repeatedly for a while, searching for a fourth, and finally landed on the Watergate line. A song was born!
This was inspired by another challenge: Write a song about the weather. I decided to sample clips from Cliff Mass (cliffmass.blogspot.com), whose forecasts are featured on KPLU ("NPR and all that jazz") in Seattle. Cliff's forecasts are always incredibly informative, plus he makes the most mundane rainy day seem like an exciting weather event. I got permission from both Cliff and KPLU to sample his forecasts, played along with my jazz trio (Terrill on guitar, Terrill on bass, and Terrill on drums), and added a jazzy vocal refrain. The end result is pretty tasty I think.
Down South In Seattle Town
There aren't many people in the United States for whom Seattle is South, but I'm one! I thought of the opening line for this tune during FAWM last year while driving south to Seattle, but I got stuck on that one line and couldn't come up with anything else. I thought I'd revisit it again this year, and for some reason that's beyond my understanding, I found myself to be overflowing with both country and Seattle clichés. Songwriting can be so mysterious.
Five Minutes At C
The FAWM community keeps February interesting by issuing challenges and playing various songwriting games. The challenge that inspired this one was to write a song using only one note. I chose to approach this as a meditative exercise, just to sit for five minutes with one note and see what happened.
She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain
OK, so I didn't actually write this tune, but I gave it a unique spin, and added a verse or two.
Ain't Got No (Ain't No) Got No
This is my zen blues singalong tune. It all started with the first lyric: "I ain't got no time", which was very true, and I was feeling that in a big way. That one phrase led to another, and before I knew it I had worked myself into a rockin' blues frenzy. It was the first song I posted to the FAWM site this year, and I invited others to singalong, and they did! Fawmers @skullcrush, @max, @brownium, @downburst, and @errol all sent me recordings of themselves singing to my tune, so I created a remix that included their voices. This really turned out awesome. I love the huge sound at the end, plus collaborating with others is really what FAWM is all about.
With February over, what now? Now I sleep.