Saturday, January 20, 2018

Day 20: A Free Man With A Free Verse

This one dips into avant garde comedy. I wrote it with my old comedy buddy, Eric Farwell, and is by far the artiest piece in my song-a-day project so far. It took us about two hours to put together. Prepare yourself to be challenged and amused!

Boring Details: I've known Eric since the early nineties when I met him as part of a sketch comedy show I was involved in. Over the years, we've done a variety of projects together, including improv comedy, short films, and some audio projects. I decided to invite Eric to be part of this project because the last thing we did was a comedic musical number called "Turkey Ghosts of Longmont" (which you can check out here: )

When we got together today, Eric was interested in working with random phrases and seeing what that inspired. We ended up putting a bunch of incomplete phrases in a bowl, then picked them out two or three at a time at random to see what it would inspire. My number one interest was doing something with percussion, so I pulled out my bells and chimes and what-not to see what would happen.

I don't think we were necessarily going in an avant garde direction, but once we got our random phrase clusters together, it seemed to lean that way. The second part, which has a more standard rhythm and melody, was created specifically to break the tension of the first part. We dabbled with the idea of a beatnik who was using his poems to get laid, but we ended up with more non sequiturs.

This was a fun project, and a nice break from the rigid format of pop songs. It cleanses the creative palette...

Day 19: Farewell To New Orleans

I wanted to write my friend James Griffin an Irish drinking song about New Orleans, and that's what this is supposed to be. It took only about 4 hours to write it, but recording it... *ugh*. Comments and constructive criticism is encouraged.

Boring Details: I went for a walk and the first thing that hit my brain was Irish music. I tried to fight it for a bit, but eventually decided to go with the flow. I wanted to do a goodbye song of some sort, and once I thought about my friend James (who loves Irish folk and punk-rock), I thought it should be about New Orleans, because he was living there back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit.

I'll admit, I'm not remotely confident about this song. I've never been to New Orleans, so I did a bunch of online research as I was writing the lyrics. I suspect it doesn't sound remotely authentic, and I'm somewhat worried that it may irritate my friend instead of providing him with a heartfelt lament. The solution to that may be to revise the song with him in order to get more real-ness in the song (what do you think, James?).

The most aggravating thing about this song was the process of recording it. I just couldn't get through it. If it wasn't the French lyrics, it was the chord progression in the chorus. But I finally got it recorded with "acceptable" mistakes. Like I keep saying, this is a songwriting project, not a performance project-- I can craft a better performance later.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 18: How Come No One Gets Lost Anymore

This is for all those bickering tourists out there, with a little bit of a punk groove. It took about 4 hours to write. Comments and constructive criticism are encouraged.

Boring Details: I've been wanting to write a punk song this whole month, and it still eludes me. I started out with a punky guitar riff (the two-chord verse groove is a Velvet Underground kind of thing), but the melody and storytelling definitely isn't very punk. Still, it's fairly propulsive, so I figured I need lyrics that involved movement.

It used to be a cliche that guys never stopped and asked for directions, but we live in the world of GPS on your cell phones, so I was wondering how that kind of stubbornness plays out these days. I also got to thinking about the tension between people who plan every detail of a trip and those who like to travel free-form. The main character in the song is very free-form, but I didn't want to necessarily endorse that method of travel, so I decided to have them get mugged in the end.

Anyway, this was fun to write, but I'm not sure it really came together. There's not as much detail or bickering, and I don't think I quite got the phone thing right. It needs work, but it's not a bad start...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 17: You Told A Lie

After four days of collaborating, tonight I wrote a solo song. This is a pretty simple song about lying, but built around a guitar drone to make it sound epic! It took about four hours to write. Comments and constructive criticism are encouraged.

Boring Details: Co-writing over the long weekend was super fun and rather quick-- I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with my friends and colleagues. But collaboration is always a compromise, so it's nice to write something that's purely my own.

I had way too easy a time coming up with melodies tonight, but the first couple were way too pop for the mood I wanted. I was thinking about politics a bit, and I'm still not willing to write a political song in such a rushed manner. However, lying was on my mind, and I starting tossing around lyrics about that.

Last week I had left my guitar tuner over at Jay's place after recording Day 9's song, so I went to retrieve that and talked to Jay a bit, which cleared my mind of the poppy melodies. On the walk back, that's when the guitar drone came into my head, and I worked on that while heading home.

Lyrics are the toughest thing about writing solo, and since this weekend's collaborations, I've been thinking about doing fewer or simpler lyrics. This song tells about a moment, but doesn't really tell a story-- it's not clear what the lie was about, though it certainly seems like it was a game changer.

I like the guitar drone, but it may be a bit too much... if I end up revising this, I may try to make the guitar part more interesting as it progresses. Though, it would be a perfect song to gradually add more instruments in accompaniment during a performance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 16: Waking Bliss:Commuter Blues

Today I got to collaborate with my good friend, Emily Bond. We've worked before on some film projects that she's helped me score, so we decided to compose an instrumental piece for a non-existent movie. It took about 3 hours to write. If you enjoy this piece, you can check out more of Emily's music at 

Boring Details: Emily and I have been meeting weekly for over a decade as part of a musical goal-setting group, and we've worked together on a number of projects. She's either scored some short films that I directed or helped me with additional music for short films I was charged with scoring. She has a very unique cinematic style, and this piece just barely touches on what she does.

Years ago, we put together some movie-less film music (an couple pieces about an alien abduction), so we decided to give that another go. She had recently had a discussion with someone who'd had a bad experience with a former boss, so we were going to do a piece that expressed the dread of leaving your safe place at home to go to a job environment you hate. It didn't seem like we'd get to the office with this piece, so instead we concentrated on waking up, drinking coffee, taking a shower, then the stark transition once you leave the house and drive to work.

This was a really fun collaboration. If you all like it, maybe we'll compose a sequel that takes place in the office.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 15: Eldorado

My pal John Bunzli and I teamed up today to crank out a rockin' tune about someone running away from a horrible event. We wrote this in about 3 hours, and it went super smoothly. If you're interested in hearing more from John, check out his webpage at

Boring Details: The weather was awful this morning-- well below freezing and snow coming down at a reasonable clip. Since I had to drive to Loveland to do the co-write, I considered canceling. However, I was out of food, so I had no choice but to dig out the car and go to the supermarket; figured I'd just head out to see John in the process... 

John and I are both argumentative sons-of-bitches, and I was really worried that we were going to be butting heads quite a bit during the writing process. But it really worked out well; neither of us hesitated to speak our mind and accept or reject ideas, but we were able to keep moving forward and formulating new ideas. I feel like we got a pretty good balance out of the process, and ended up with a nice little song that blends both of our styles.

The collaborations have been a wonderful break from the grind of writing songs solo. I think the co-writes have lasted between 3 and 4 hours, whereas the solo songs have been averaging about 5-and-a-half hours to write.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dy 14: Everything or Nothing

Today I got to co-write a song with another talented local singer-songwriter, Valerie Bhat. We put together this ballad with a mellow groove in about 3 hours. I have to give special credit to Valerie for coming up with the lovely melody for the chorus. If you enjoy the song, you can find more of Valerie's music at
Boring Details:
This the first time Valerie and I have tried writing together, though we did record a Bruce Springsteen cover together last summer (which I still haven't edited... look for it in February).
We developed the verse chord progression first, then started working on words. Valerie is pretty good at whipping out lines, whereas my method of lyric writing with co-writers seems to involve mumbling until the sounds I make start to resemble real words.
I tend to over-intellectualize the songwriting process, but Valerie is all about directness and feeling. My instincts were create a lot of contrasts between sections, but Valerie kept it close to the heart of the piece, and we ended up with a lovely song. It all came together very quickly, too.
The great thing about collaborating with other songwriters is getting to learn their methods, and I hope to try writing some songs the Valerie Bhat way in the future...