It’s 7:30pm on October 18, 2017 and Tom and I are back at the song that we are calling August 3rd. It’s interesting that we’re calling this one August 3rd because the first track that we wrote on our EP was called August 31st until we named it All We Are. This isn’t a trend yet, I don’t think.
I think you need three data points before it becomes a trend.
This is an important session because a verse starts to emerge. It’s a verse that really draws on Tom’s melody skills. He gets me to experiment with digging for a slight variation from what I’d normally write at :23 seconds. I can’t find the note in this recording, but I know what we’re going for. I also struggle with the pre-chorus at :38 and :44 but you get the idea.
We also start to play with a couple of little verse lyric ideas.
Staying up nights, roaming the halls where nothing’s wrong
When I write lyrics, I often start off by mumble-singing whatever pops into my mind that has the appropriate number of syllables to fit the melody. In this case I was guided by our chorus concept, which, in my head is set in a residence room at a university. This first draft of a first line for a verse wasn’t planned, but it seems like an attempt to reference the halls outside of the four walls of a tiny room. I think that I’m trying to explore how the four walls of the room (or the walls of your mind and body) are equally good at keeping you safe and trapped in fear.
I remember, as the session progressed, experimenting with taking the scene out of a university residence and placing it inside of a home where two lovers are living together. That’s where the other somewhat audible line comes in.
In my hands one ring, keeps spinning round, keeps spinning round
This is what I’d call an “on the nose” lyric. The word ring kind of makes me squirm. It feels like the song could quickly tip into cliché because of the strong associations that the ring provokes. We left it in because it has the potential to be powerful but only if we make a really clear decision about what the song is about. We threw around ideas about someone agonizing about a proposal, but thankfully (in my opinion) we didn’t fall completely down this rabbit hole.
And that brings us back to the chorus which in my opinion still sounds, “bitchin’.” However, I’m still not confident that the lyrics say enough. This song is important to me because of the source material in my head. The inspiration for the scene came from a story told by someone very close to me and I’m feeling quite responsible for communicating the depth of feeling that they expressed to me. It’s like I’m caught between communicating how it felt to be trusted with the story and describing what it felt like to experience the situation.
In particular, I’m not totally pumped about the last two lines, “footsteps on the road to almost home/I’m happy leaving now” They’re not far off, but they lose some of the specificity of the original story in favour of something more singable and more generic. They also just seem to lack direction. I’m also wondering if there should be a second set of lyrics for the second time through the chorus. The benefit to doing that is that I get to communicate more of a story, but the downside is that it’s less singable and more likely to feel wordy.
At any rate, we finish off the session with a decent concept for a verse and without messing with the chorus. That’s a win in my books.
As I wrote this post I listened to the clip on repeat and didn’t hate it by the end. I enjoy listening to it because the guitar and piano end up balancing out nicely (especially the texture of the guitar strumming), Tom sings some nice harmonies, and the base notes in the piano start to really sync up with the guitar towards the end of the chorus.
We haven’t made a decision about what the song is trying to say yet and as you’ll find out next time, that proves to be a fairly significant hurdle.