Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day After Day

SpinTunes, Summer of '15. The challenge: "Write a song about building something." Our only restriction: we can't write a song about writing a song.

Part of the difficulty with a challenge like this is that it's so wide open. It's very much like saying "write a song". Of course we wanted it to be metaphorical, so whatever we chose to build represented something More Important, but that could be practically everything. In any case, "building a relationship" seems to have won out. While discussing the possibilities, William wanted to know if rebuilding something was allowed. I didn't see why not, and that let him to this.

Day After Day

Deep in my heart where your memory lies
There's a handful of dreams of a summer gone by
And we're a long, long way away from that warm night in July
It's like yesterday is pulling me back to your side

Day after day we build castles in the sand
Night after night the tide comes rushing in
Flags that flew on high are knocked down by the wind
Until we pick them up and build it all again

Often things we love become things we revile
So despite our love we split for a while
My heart was standing still as my soul was standing trial
Hoping to recall -- why did we walk down the aisle?


Here on the strand, years drifted away
Now here we stand with nothing to say
You hold out your hand... who needs talk anyway?
And we pretend it was all just a long midsummer day


...We'll build it all again.


Obviously it's about building relationships. In this case, a rather fragile one that's constantly repaired. This is in several stages:
  • verse 1 sets the stage in the present; 
  • verse 2 is a flashback to a breakup; 
  • verse 3 returns to the present and reconciliation.
We actually had to think hard about using sandcastles, because we were pretty certain that this and the underlying theme of building relationships would be pretty widely used. So I did a few Google searches and sure enough, it is. It's been done by Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, the Booth Brothers, and The Philosopher Kings among others. However, they all seem to be focused on how temporary such a structure is. At least none of the famous songwriters seem to have contemplated a couple who were just resolute about sticking to the relationship despite periodic setbacks. Nobody considered a stubborn love. So that's something.

Of course the content owes a nod to Rupert Holmes' Escape, about the couple who tries to cheat, only to find one another anew, though this one lacks Escape's surprise and playfulness. This is more about two people who decide they're just "too" comfortable with each other, but after some separation they decide that's what they want. In the end they don't even have to discuss it.

Update: One of the judges (Edric Haleen) asked whether the "morphing" rhyme scheme was intentional. My answer: yes, it was.

If you look at how they're written out, there are two opportunities for rhyme: at the pause and at the end of each line. We're rhyming vowels at the end, and these are near-rhymes, because this is pop; and we get to rhyme more than those Yankees, because we're exercising Southern Privilege, and a southern accent to go with it.

It's the rhymes at the pauses that are more interesting. Remember our narrative structure:

  • In the first verse, their relationship is broken apart. No rhyme. 
  • In the second, he's reminiscing in flashback. Why did they get together in the first place? The answer is in the verse Love, love. Still don't care about the rhyme, but hitting the love hard. We thought thought twice before keeping that.
  • In the third they're re-joined in unity, so perfect rhymes. 

Edric also asked what's up with syllables being added or dropped. We don't care, is the basic answer here. The tune is subordinate to the message, and also... pop. I've been known to write a completely different tune for each verse when William's driving. But honestly, I put those extra syllables in on purpose to relax the meter. So what came to me as "far away" became "long long way away". I think perfect meter is too robotic for our style. I think of certain "imperfections" as "beauty marks"


I conceived it as having a sort of Jimmy Buffett sound, to go with the beach theme. Also, with the style of it, it throws back to the style of some of our earlier work, represented by Summer Rain.

The recording isn't terribly close to what I'd like it to be. With a damaged rotator cuff, it's not comfortable to hold a guitar, and there was one chord I simply couldn't do. So it quickly to the piano. The entirety of the instrumentation is the piano, drum loop, and the strings. I resurrected the dolphins that I'd previously used in Carbon Footprint because... beach. Given more time (and I may go back and "fix" it) I would have guitars, steel drums, and a decent instrumental solo in the spot reserved for same.

When recording, I have no idea it would wind up at five and a half minutes, but that's what it is, and I don't really care. For competition purposes it's long, but it's intended to be a song for slow dancing, it's nice when those last a bit.

PS: At the listening party I was asked if the drums were slightly behind to give it a "lazy feel". Considering that the drums are pretty much where I intended them to be (i.e. I don't see them as being "behind" at all, and it took a bit of fiddling to get them where I wanted them), I'd say YES. This is a Carolina beach, where life is easy. It ain't Beach Blanket Bingo.

1 comment:

BoffoYuxDudes said...

I liked it. Nice, easy going song, that fit into the theme quite well. I didn't really notice it being too long, and was surprised it topped off over 5 minutes.

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