Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh-uh-oh What’s A Good Friend Worth?

News: Three songs and a short story now out.

Songs are A Good Friend, Everyday and We Never Touch. We Never Touch is free - Yes! Free!! And the others are US79c. All are available at and you can check out low-grade samples (except for We Never Touch which can be downloaded in full — it’s 3MB) from my web site on the songs page.

The short story is Design Flaw. This was a quarterfinalist in The Writer’s of the Future contest. When I submitted it, I wasn’t sure if it was suitable since it had a lot of complex science to get across and there wasn’t much action until the end. There is a lesson to be learned here: don’t submit a story for sale or to a contest unless you’re absolutely certain it will sell or win because if you don’t think it is good enough then an editor or judge certainly won’t. (I wish it was a lesson I could learn!) I’ve just revised Design Flaw and resolved some things at the start. The story is basically about what the value of life is when death doesn’t mean the end of existence. Is death such a bad thing? Perhaps not if you’re an AI.

Read Design Flaw here and vote. Okay, I’m not an artist, but here’s my artist’s impression:

I haven’t written any blogs for my music side, because what do you say? I wrote some lyrics, I came up with some chords, I recorded everything and then mixed it and voila! One song to sell. Or try to. Mostly this is the case and for me, it’s a slow process.

But here, I redid two of the songs: A Good Friend and We Never Touch. With both, I didn’t like the vocals when I finished them prior to the current versions. Both are also old songs and We Never Touch was originally recorded seven years ago, but the mix was harsh, both with the guitar and my vocals. Some of that was due to my direct injection recording method for guitars and the effects I selected. The lead guitar especially sounded brittle which was due to clipping on the sharp spike at the start of each note, but I’ve managed to soften that and get a warmer and better sound without having to re-record (and that was out of the question as far as I was concerned). It was also a good time to look at the song and change its structure which turned out to be: remove a line and change a couple of words to fix the words being accented.

A Good Friend has had quite a ride on the rewrite wagon. Of all my songs this one has been through the grinder and only the title is all that’s left of the original song I wrote, oh, I guess twenty odd years ago.

It originally started out as a rock grunge ballad from a line:

Oh-uh-oh what’s a good friend worth,
You can’t value a friendship like that in terms of dollars and cents.

But while I thought it was great song, a certain mentor kept bashing on my skull until I finally saw the light and had to accept that not only wasn’t it that great a song, but it was pretty well woeful. That’s the trouble with egos, you can fool yourself, sometimes all of the time.

So I tried a different approach, music-wise. Made it a real ballad, but with a hard rock bridge.

But no.

Sometimes you just gotta let go. (Hey! Could be a good line for a song.)

And kicking and screaming I did. Little bits at first — a line, then a verse, two verses, all the verses, the chorus and the bridge. The music and the arrangement.

But it wasn’t a complete loss. The title was okay. It was a start ... okay it wasn’t much of a start. But then I had an idea, why not change what the song was about? Actually it might not have been my idea but a suggestion from someone, but let’s not quibble. All that matters is that out of nowhere I got a verse and then a chorus, and after a little grief two more verses and lo and behold, the whole lot had a different take, changing from how people valued friendship to being about losing a friendship.

The style changed too, going from a guitar feel to piano with a very sparse feel with a haunting cello, strings and some percussion. It’s also a short song, just over two minutes, but sometimes less is more.

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