Posts Tagged ‘Songwriting’

OMFG! Download the new record, FREE

August 11, 2010 3 comments

Hello Freepers! I know you’re Freeping excited about the new record, You’re Still You in Camouflage.

The good news is, you don’t have to wait any longer. Go to my new bandcamp Website and download the entire thing now in the format of your choice! OMFG!!

For future reference, you can always use the FREEP MUSIC DOWNLOADS hyperlink at the right.

For you email subscribers, the website is: You’ll definitely want to bookmark it or add it to your favorites!

From the site, you can stream every song on 2009’s This Island Life and the just-released You’re Still You in Camouflage. There are several free downloads between both records. If you want whole albums, YSYIC is free – at least for right now. This Island Life can be purchased in its entirety for $8. It’s worth it, just ask my Mom!

Rock on!


A Freeway View: What is truth?

July 18, 2010 8 comments


The next record: You're still you in camouflage


Hello Freep Nation. Long time, no post. But fear not – or LESS! The new record is done except for some mixing. More info on that later.

Meantime, below is a new tune called A Freeway View. I’ve found as I’m writing more that things tend to get less autobiographical, or that the autobiographical stuff gets jumbled all up with other material. That’s the case here. I’ve added “true” and “false” statements below so you can see what I mean.

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A Freeway View

I’m pulling full-time duty for a part-time job (false)

My apartment’s a mess (true, but not too bad)

My ma’ raised a slob (not really)

I got an empty fish tank (nope)

And couple guitars, but no food (true on both counts)

And I know the remote’s around here somewhere (i know where it is)

But there’s nothing on the tube (true. tv sucks)

So I don’t effin’ care

I crank the amp (true)

Until the lady upstairs calls the super (false. she’s never complained)

Honey, can we take it slow?

Cause I’m a long, long way from home (true)

And there’s so much I don’t know (true, but i’d never admit it)

Be my family tonight

There’s some Chinese take-out at the back of the fridge (false. there’s some tuna salad and tomato that i gotta throw out though)

I got a view of the freeway and the railroad bridge (false)

If I could make her come back

Just by flicking a switch then I would (false. hehe)

I got a couple good friends, we drink a couple of pints (true. i have great friends!)

Our motto’s ‘Fake it ‘til we make it’ (false. but it’s good motto.)

That’s the secret to life

There’s no rhyme or no reason

No way to ask why

Cause it’s useless

Honey, can we take it slow?

Cause I’m a long, long way from home

And there’s so much I don’t know

Be my family tonight

We can talk in circles

We all got something to prove

We’re all terrible liars

They can see our lips move (i don’t know what any of that means. i stole the main rhyme from a paul westerberg song)

It’s a sign, we can run, but not hide

From our youth

Yeah, what do they say about pride, before the fall?

It doesn’t matter to me (not exactly up on my Bible reading)

Cause I got none at all (false)

I’m go stay out late maybe

Find me a tall brunette (nope, cause it’s a work night)

It’s a Cinderella story, sad but true

You can take it or exchange it

For an IOU

But in the end it don’t matter

Cause you never pay for what you get (just making up rhymes, here)

Honey, let’s just take it slow

Cause I’m a long, long way from home

And there’s so much I don’t know

Be my family tonight

That’s right

Be my family tonight …

Letters: Simplify, Simply, Simplify

June 21, 2010 5 comments


After a few rather complicated (for me) tunes, I decided to do one that I didn’t have to think about and didn’t require a lot of tricky math (going from full speed to 3/4 requires a bit of thinking to program drums, especially if you’re changing time signature as well).

Peace. Bring 'em home.


This song’s simple and steady from beginning to end. It’s steady, but I think it has a nice build throughout. It’s a slow burner – I always like those. I dashed the main structure and lyrics off in a few hours yesterday, and went back today for the finishing touches – drum fills, synths, etc. The solo, too – I wish it were better. If anyone out there wants to guest solo, lemme know! We’ll figure out a way to do it.

One further note, this is the second song of this most recent batch that deals with the war(s) and the hardships caused at home. I don’t want to get political here. Suffice to say, I hope the sacrifices we’re making in Iraq and Afghanistan will in the end be worth it. I have my doubts. Meantime, may everyone over there get home safe and soon.

Here is Letters:

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76 miles to an oldie-but-a-goody

June 20, 2010 5 comments

I have a lot of songs about driving.


Here’s an oldie-but-a-goody. It’s the second time I’ve recorded this song: 76 Miles (Fife)

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I was thinking about this tune the other day after a friend made a comment about my last song – that it had “two parts that didn’t go together.” She was talking about the bridge, which I re-did. In that case, she was right. The two parts didn’t belong. (See previous posts.)

But sometimes I like songs that jam seemingly incongruous parts together, as this one does. The main part of the song is 4/4 time. But the chorus is in 3/4 time AND at three-quarter speed. It makes for a drastic change – and it makes it tough to record the transition. But the effect is neat.

The song is about the four-hour drive from K-zoo to Petoskey when I used to live up north. There was a place where the divided highway ended around a little town called Fife Lake (shout out!) and there was a highway mileage sign indicating Petoskey was still 76 miles away. Hence – “the end of the highway, but not the end of the road …”

The few folks out there familiar with version one will note a few changes. The first two verses are re-phrased to stretch out over twice as many measures, and are minor lyrical changes. The bridge is entirely different.

Like a bridge over oiled water

June 15, 2010 5 comments

I changed the bridge around. The old one was too grating.

The words to the bridge are similar to the old one, but it’s not in double time.

“You said out of sight would be out of mind/ that’s what you led us to believe / but we’ve come to find that what comes in with the tide – it doesn’t wash back out to sea”

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Playing with time signature: Rainbows

June 13, 2010 2 comments

Finished another one. I wanted to write something in a non-4/4 (or 3/4) signature. So here is Rainbows. It switches back and forth between 10/4 in the verses and 4/4 in the chorus.

The bridge is … different. I can’t decide if I like it. Here it is. Enjoy!

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The beach is empty. Come on down – you’ll love it.

We can’t swim baby, but we can make the most of it.

We’ll watch them cleanup from the hotel window

There’s no reason to call on ahead …

And I hope you like your summers hot

‘cause down here, love, it’s all we got

I hope you like it humid, too

‘cause it rains every afternoon

The rainbows float and ripple on the surface

Did you think none of us would ever notice?

The wind will tell you who to write checks to

Go ahead and cancel your plans

I hope you like your summers hot

‘cause down here, love, that’s all we got

I hope you like it humid, too

‘cause it rains every afternoon

Out of sight and out of mind … that’s how you said it would be

Until it washes up with the tide

And ends up there on the beach

Will you clean this up or go back to making profit?

Put on a show now before you walk away from it

Dig someplace else – I’m sure we’re gonna let you

After all, we gotta fill up

I hope you like your summers hot

‘cause round here, babe, it’s all we got

I hope you like it humid, too

‘cause it rains every afternoon

I hope you like your summers hot

‘cause right now, doll, here, it’s all we got

I hope you like it humid, too

‘cause it rains every afternoon

Small Cuts: Stacking up layers


This guy is amazing. I am not amazing, but it doesn't stop me from trying!


Man, this tune was a struggle from the get-go. Sometimes it’s the seemingly simple ones that are the hardest. That was certainly the case here.

The inspiration for this one was actually a couple of different U2 songs. I’d just watched It Might Get Loud, the guitar documentary that features Jimmy Paige, Jack White and The Edge. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out; it’s not to be missed.

I find The Edge’s guitar playing really inspiring. His playing is extremely efficient. He uses effects to great (cough) effect. Simple ideas, polished to perfection. He makes look and sound really, really easy. It isn’t.

The two U2 songs I was thinking of were So Cruel, from the Achtung Baby record, and All I Want Is You, from Rattle and Hum. Both are simple progressions, primarily built on two chords, with extremely in-depth layers and arrangements.

As a songwriter, it’s tough to hang in there for more than a few bars with only two chords – soon it starts to sound repetitive. The trick keeping it interesting is two-fold. One, your melody over the foundational chord changes has to be catchy and varied. That’s true in every tune, but it’s especially true over extremely simple changes. Second, you’ve got to dress your simple progression in some snazzy, complimentary layers. Edge makes that seem easy. If only it were so …

I have no idea how many tracks were used to record All I Want Is You. Probably a lot more 28, which is how many total tracks my song has. Not all of those tracks are on at once of course, but in some places there are as many as 15 or 16 tracks going simultaneously, include 7 or 8 guitar parts.

Keeping track of all of those tracks is a logistical challenge. It’s tough on the processor, too. The computer kept bogging down when I was trying to record the vocal (generally the last thing), which has never happened before.

Those difficulties aside, the hardest part about having that many guitars is just … well … having that many guitars. There’s a reason most bands don’t have more than two or three guitars on stage at once; things get muddy really quickly. When you start stacking stuff on a simple riff, parts that sound great on their own sound terrible together. It’s easy to get swamped in the sound, or to wander so far into the sonic landscape you’re building that you lose sight of the way out …

I nearly didn’t get out of this tune – at least not out of the finished side. I was ready to throw in the towel after spending several fruitless hours only to come back the next day and realize some of what I had was okay. Pretty good, in fact. Like any journey, once I was past the mid-point and saw the way out, it got easier.

It’s called Small Cuts. I’m happy with it, which is good considering the amount of time involved. Here it is:

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You can also watch a video of me singing an early demo of the vocal on my FB page. It’s five minutes of your life you won’t get back. : )

Small Cuts demo vid

One last word about the bridge – I really like it. I wanted it to have a spontaneous, unexpected feel. Because the rest of the song is so simple (read “predictable”), I thought it was important to break the middle up, lest a listener become complacent. In addition to changing up the chord progression rather suddenly, I did a solo which I only loosely mapped out, in terms of the notes. Then, I didn’t practice it at all. I just hit record and played. The take in the song is take number two – the fasted solo I’ve ever done. I think it sounds pretty good (keep in mind that I can’t really play guitar that well!)

Lyrics below:

Small Cuts

You’re too far gone

You gave up too many chances, to the point of fault

All that’s left is to blame – Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

We circle endlessly

We make small cuts

We find bitter pleasure in our lack of trust

But sooner or later there’s one of us

That’s gonna go too far and cut too deep

chorus: You know when you’re gone

I’ll be here holdin’ on

Through the night

At the dawn

To watch you stray

You kneel on the floor

You make the sign of the cross before going to war

But the only thing of which I’m really sure of

Is that He ain’t gonna take your side

There’ll be no surrender

No white flag to raise, just stupid pride to defend

We fill in the trenches just to dig ‘em up again

We’re running out of places to hide


I may miss you now

But I got the common sense it takes to keep my head down

Maybe climb in a foxhole deep underground

And wait ‘til the coast is clear

And I might get lost

But this time I won’t follow you girl, whatever the cost

Who was it called it over? – Yeah, you always were the boss

So go find yourself a new volunteer

(chorus x2)

The (whole) Wave

May 15, 2010 4 comments

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You can see the high-water mark.


The Wave

I got two damn cars

Both need baths

One don’t start

I like to wait until dark, drop the top down and look up at the stars

The highway wind

The highway sounds

I could keep on driving, get the hell out of town

But I know there’s no escape from this place

It’s optimistic, it’s down in flames


You know love it’s hard to say

We search the city for a complicated truth:

the water mark from the receding wave

that left the wreckage that we all sift through


The years fly by, it’s true

You climb in a cannon

You light up the fuse

And right before the big boom

We realize just how much we stand lose

The highway winds

The highway sounds

We could keep on driving, get the hell out of town

But we know it’s just another mirage

‘Cause you’re still you in camouflage



Strange memories on this nervous evening

Seems like an era since we left San Francisco

And as we watch the great wave receding

We realize history is hard to know

We realize history is hard to know …


So less than five years on

We climb up the hillside and look beyond

To see the high-water line

Where the wave rolled back and left us behind

The highway calls

The pull of the road

You could redline the needle

Set a course for home

But you know that could never go back

Just comb the desert for artifacts


The Wave

May 15, 2010 2 comments

I relied heavily on Hunter Thompson's notion of Vegas for of this song.


I know … I know …

It’s not that I haven’t been playing music, it’s just that I haven’t been writing about playing music.

But fear not, friends, fans and followers! Here is a taste of my newest song, tentatively titled The Wave.

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I got two damn cars

Both need baths

One don’t start

I like to wait until dark, drop the top down and look up at the stars

The highway winds

The highway sounds

I could keep on driving, get the hell out of town

But I know there’s no escaping this place

It’s optimistic, it’s down in flames

You know love it’s hard to say

We search the city for a complicated truth:

the water mark from the receding wave

that left the wreckage that we all sift through

Copyright: What’s Mine is (Officially) Mine!

April 12, 2010 2 comments


You know what this means - HANDS OFF!


Exciting news on digital front! My songs are now protected by the U.S. Copyright Office. Over the weekend, I submitted all of the recordings from the last two albums (plus a handful of others) for official protection.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but have been putting off; it seemed daunting, what with federal forms, fees, etc. But I finally started doing some research and it turned out to be pretty simple.

Musicians can copyright many works under a single copyright. A handy electronic upload feature at the federal copyright office Web site,, expedites the process. Cost? For $35, I now have the legal copyright on almost 30 tunes. When I get another group of ten or so, I’ll file again and so on.

Chances are I’ll never need the copyright. But $35 is pretty cheap insurance, just in case. Because it is the federal government, the Web site warns that it “can take as long as 22 months” for them to respond and mail you your official paperwork. (Apparently, the U.S. Senate can pass a health care reform bill in the time it takes for the Copyright office to acknowledge that, yes, I wrote some songs.) But the copyright is effective from the date the office receives the application and processing fee.

So my songs are officially my songs, now. Yeah! To celebrate, why not listen to Fossils, the title track from my summer, 2009 release?

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Rock on!