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Songwriting Challenge 18 - Character Songs - The Reveal


rsadasiv

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This character writing thing is infectious. I just wrote another one (Sally, Edward, and Joe are the characters). I'll try to lay it down this week. I think it's a keeper. A medium tempo alt/country rocker called, "Fate."

 

Damn, I could have had 3 tunes in the challenge this month!

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This character writing thing is infectious. I just wrote another one (Sally, Edward, and Joe are the characters). I'll try to lay it down this week. I think it's a keeper. A medium tempo alt/country rocker called, "Fate."


Damn, I could have had 3 tunes in the challenge this month!

 

I know what you mean. I've got sketches for tunes about microwaves, pressure cookers and blenders (:mad:) already in the works! ;)

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Write a song from the point of view of a character in the song.


tbryson -
Willows Weeping


Stackabones -
Toaster Too Short, Bread Too Tall


tspit74 -
Give Me a Chance


tspit74 -
Taxi-Cab Confessions


rsadasiv -
The Knowledge of Engines and Cars


Thanks to everyone who participated, and if I missed anyone send me a PM and I will update this post.



And although it wasn't written this month, everyone should check out the character song
Buzz Roo Ann
off of eeglug's new album
Finger Food
.

Ted... "Willows" is a nice classic little forbidden love song. I think your plainspoken delivery is disarming and effective.

 

 

Chris "Toaster" -- almost seems more of a Calypso sort of song, lyrically. And the backbeat and vocal add to that sense of Caribbean paradise more than Pacific. I think you could try to sell this tune to the folks who make "Monk." It's a natural. (If you saw the episode with the square tomatoes, you know what I mean.)

 

Dan -- "Give Me a Chance" -- any song with a '56 bird is OK with me. One of my oldest pals got to drive his mom's '57 hard top during high school -- the one catch was that it was champagne pink. As soon as he earned enough money cleaning the hulls of boats (he was a scuba diver), he bought himself a beat up old black Chevy pickup. Where was I? Ah yes... this has little echoes of a lot of things for me, a fair bit of Lou Reed, maybe some Mott doing Lou, more than a little Ricky Derringer. My main complaint: this guy has it too easy. She just comes on to him... twice! How is that fair? :confused:

 

:D

 

"Taxi Cab" I think this is pretty well glued together lyrically. The music is intentionally backed off and that fits a kind of 70s easy-rolling profile. If I had a complaint it would be that the pivot point of this song is that the cab driver is a passive listener and, ultimately, wishes that someone would listen to him... but I think the line about 'sharing glee,' in addition to sounding a tad awkward, undercuts the notion of him as the sphynx like driver everyone is telling their confessions to...

 

 

Ram -- "Knowledge of Engines and Cars" -- this one still feels pretty kaleidoscopic and a bit scattered. The Civil War references, the local birds... they help contextualize the somewhat obscured fish-out-of-water dynamic... hinting at the path of survival of an older relative in a new land... but I'm not sure that we've really got everything we need to put the big picture together. Maybe we do.

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Chris "Toaster" -- almost seems more of a Calypso sort of song, lyrically. And the backbeat and vocal add to that sense of Caribbean paradise more than
Pacific
. I think you could try to sell this tune to the folks who make "Monk." It's a natural. (If you saw the episode with the square tomatoes, you know what I mean.)

 

I haven't seen Monk. Have you some connections you'd like to share? :D

 

As far as this being more Caribbean than Pacific, I agree. But I don't think I was going for a Pacific vibe ... probably more of a suburban mento one. ;)

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Stack -- I was racking my brain for "mento" but elected not to look it up. Yeah. "Suburban mento..." Is that anything like this? http://www.last.fm/music/Sparks/_/Suburban+Homeboy

 

 

Ram -- Too late at night? You can catch full episodes (with less adverts) on Hulu.com. (They have five episodes in rotation at any one time.)

 

Ted -- I enjoy the show a lot but it's REALLY unrealistic with regards to the portrayal of OCD. Ask the man who's walked in those mocasins.

 

I remember the day, contemplating my many obsessive compulsive tics, that I said to myself, Well, at least I don't have a thing about not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. Next day... walking down the street... I had to try to force myself to walk normally but found myself just sort of casually shortening my gait to match the layout of sidewalk squares. Anyhow, I've mostly suppressed the worst of the behaviors... but the OCD seems to re-emerge/flare up every once in a while.

 

Flare up is probably an apt descritptive. When some future scientist finds that it's some herpes-like chronic disease affecting some part of the brain, I won't be surprised.

 

In fact, right after I wrote that last paragraph, I went to the Wikipedia page for OCD and found this:

"The
Stanford University School of Medicine
OCD webpage states, "Although the causes of the disorder still elude us, the recent identification of children with OCD caused by an autoimmune response to
Group A streptococcal infection
promises to bring increased understanding of the disorder's pathogenesis."
[25]

Doesn't surprise me at all.

 

That said, there are about 25 or 30 possible causes listed... that's what happens when you let OCD sufferers edit their own Wiki page... :D

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Sorry bout that...I know all to well...I have someone close with it...tough to overcome especially for the person with it...not to fun for those around either.

 

Stack --
I was racking my brain for "mento" but elected not to look it up.
Yeah.
"Suburban mento..."
Is that anything like this?
http://www.last.fm/music/Sparks/_/Suburban+Homeboy



Ram -- Too late at night? You can catch full episodes (with less adverts) on Hulu.com. (They have five episodes in rotation at any one time.)


Ted -- I enjoy the show a lot but it's REALLY unrealistic with regards to the portrayal of OCD. Ask the man who's walked in those mocasins.


I remember the day, contemplating my many obsessive compulsive tics, that I said to myself,
Well, at least I don't have a thing about not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk.
Next day... walking down the street... I had to try to force myself to walk normally but found myself just sort of casually shortening my gait to match the layout of sidewalk squares. Anyhow, I've
mostly
suppressed the worst of the behaviors... but the OCD seems to re-emerge/flare up every once in a while.


Flare up is probably an apt descritptive. When some future scientist finds that it's some herpes-like chronic disease affecting some part of the brain, I won't be surprised.


In fact, right after I wrote that last paragraph, I went to the Wikipedia page for OCD and found this:

Doesn't surprise me at all.


That said, there are about 25 or 30 possible causes listed... that's what happens when you let OCD sufferers edit their own Wiki page...
:D

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Sorry bout that...I know all to well...I have someone close with it...tough to overcome especially for the person with it...not to fun for those around either.

I've been pretty lucky, consider that I was a full on basket case in junior high; but I managed to get the upper hand over my compulsions around the end of junior high school... it took a while to go from being an utter pariah (and I mean that without exaggeration -- even a lot of EMR kids wouldn't talk to me, I was such an outcaste -- I was in fights -- seldom getting the best of them -- all the time) to a self-possessed hipster... It was my senior year before girls started giving me a tumble.

 

I'd been pretty grossly overweight in jr high and slimmed way down... for some reason my self-reinvention intrigued more than a few cute girls... though it was spotty and I really didn't know quite how to proceed from their overtures. I blew my big chance with the homecoming queen... which still kind of bugs me. Not that I was hot for her; unlike everyone else, I really wasn't. But she was actually a very nice person and no girl had ever volunteered that she "liked me" before. Sadly, I was so flummoxed that I blurted out, "Uh... I like you, too." And put my head back down on the study hall desk and pretended to be asleep. Not my slickest move. When I finally asked her out, like, six weeks later, she was friendly but otherwise engaged. (I played that back past one of my platonic girl friends and she said, and I quote, "Well, what do you expect? You shut her down just like that." "No, I didn't." "Yes, you did. You just were too stupid to realize it.")

 

Happy to say I hit my stride in college. A great time to hit your stride, actually, a big college campus at the end of the 60s... so many possibilities... so many I didn't throw away. ;)

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TBryson - Willows Weeping - Very good writing. I like all the various chord patterns you've used in the song (Verse/Chorus/Bridge). They bring nice flavors to the song.


Stackabones - Toaster Too Short, Bread Too Tall. A video is always a nice changeup from audio.... Funny theme - it's oh so true damn short toasters...

Good job...


tspit74 - Give Me a Chance - Super story on this... I liked the feel for the verses which are kinds spoken and then the uplifting musical melodic chorus.

Reminds me a bit if of Steely Dan. Very nice arrangement...


tspit74 - Cool - two songs from the same guy! Another good tune... More cool melody and vocal arrangements. This one also has some Steely Dan vibe with some BeeGees BGV feel... But you didn't just hear that.....keep it under your hat....


rsadasiv - The Knowledge of Engines and Cars - Another good one RS - diggin your signature sound.... Grooved along with the story. Being a bird fan I was taken away to days of yore watching them at the feeder. Nice keys/guitars in this... Kinda cut off abruptly though....

 

 

+1. Just wanted to chime in and say great job to everyone this month. Excellent entries.

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Sentry...did you not hear...there is a full two paragraph engaging critique of each song in the program...you have til midnight Sunday to complete the assignment.;) Good Luck

 

 

+1. Just wanted to chime in and say great job to everyone this month. Excellent entries.

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btw, I mentioned
mento
in the last FIT.

Oh... I know... that was the only reason I was aware that it was in my brain to rack for...

 

Not to say I hadn't read about mento before, but, like the professor of ichthyology who forgets a fish every time he meets a student, I find that each new musical datum shoves some preexisting elements of musical knowledge ever deeper into the archives relegated to the low performance/low reliability sections of my aging brain.

 

Harry Belafonte was an icon in my household in the fifties. And, of course, archetypal folk singer that he was, he drew from a number of periods and regions. (I always liked his take on Cockney, myself. "With one eye on the pot and the t'other up the chimney..." Oh yeah.) We had tiki torches and limbo parties by the Sears Roebuck swimming pool in our backyard, Belafonte blaring out of the home made hi fi my dad and one of his work buddies rigged up. Wasn't exactly Trenchtown... but it was pretty soulful for Orange County in the 50s. :D (Actually, exotica in general was big... Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman were both crucial parts of the family record collection. Bird calls and guiros. Yeah.)

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Sentry...did you not hear...there is a full two paragraph engaging critique of each song in the program...you have til midnight Sunday to complete the assignment. Good Luck

 

DAMMIT! BUSTED! How do others get away with that whole '+1' thing??? OK you're right, you guys all put in a lot of work in on your songs, it's only fair that I critique each one and not cop someone else's (although I do mostly agree with ido....) It's just been such a BUSAY week....

 

OK then, you asked for it, here it comes....

Willows Weeping - tbryson

This song is structured highly around the chorus, which is fantastic. The line, 'People say, brown ain't white' is the major developing line here, and is the only reference via backstory (or foreshadowing, however you want to take it) for what is going on. It's the hinge-pin and you wouldn't have much song without it, which is fine. Generally, it's too repetitious though- you need to get a bridge or break in there somewhere. Excellent juxtaposition with the willows and the lovers, the trees become their saviors to an extent. (Is that deep enough :) ?) Good job tbryson.

And forbidden is spelled with 2 'd's'. (sorry, grammar cop on the premesis).

 

Toaster Too Short, Bread Too Tall - Stackabones

From what I know, you are generally a musical genius... to question why you basically used 2 chords throughout a whole song would likely end up with me looking like a fool (and I would probably agree entirely). Still, to the unwashed masses that I am a part of, it feels a little simple for what I would expect. Now to put expectations aside, I really enjoy this song. The lyrics are largely funny and erudite, even though I feel a few gaps, and a few clumsy lines. As was mentioned earler, a good sex metaphor would work with this :) .

 

Give Me a Chance - tspit74

Really nice '80's vibe, great descriptive lyrics. Probably the best wordset this time around. Some of the best lyrical song structure I've heard in a while, and some fantastic lyrics in general. Overall though, the recording is not realized as well as it could be. It's weak in the mix and there's some disconnect and time issues among the tracks. Bring that crunchy guitar up, don't be afraid of the dynamics. I LOVE how the music supports the lyrics faithfully, but it's a bit anemic overall.

 

Taxi Cab Confessions - tspit74

Damn, this is the music I LIVED off of a long time ago. The first verse of this song feels like the impetus for it all. It's fantastic. I'm only comparing here, but it's a Michael McDonald/Starland Vocal Band late 70's vibe that is inescapable somehow. Structure is superb, instrumentalization is great. You are undeniably hitting a nerve in me that loved ABBA, M, and Steve Miller. There's something very New York about this that is so good it hurts. Great eff'ing job in this.

 

The Knowledge of Engines and Cars - rsadasiv

By far the most difficult to critique, musically and lyrically. It's almost too coy about what it means to say. I love your style and how graceful it can be, but this one feels like an unfinished cut. I typically expect a more lush layered effort, and this one feels undone, if only because of your previous works. Lyrically, you have the most fantastic imagery I've seen in a long time, but as much as I WANT to absorb it, I feel left out. It's a great song to listen to, but I feel mostly lost.

 

I stayed up FAR too late in order to contribute, I hope it helps. Great songs overall this time everyone.

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Having just spent a day and a half listening to all the
old
70s Sparks albums as well as the last few Sparks albums (I didn't like their new wave period at all and grew tired of the Moroder stuff -- but in the last few albums they seem to have got their edge back) I'd have to say that there are
few
concepts Sparks hasn't at one time or another stolen from everyone including
themselves.
"Suburban Homeboy" is not by any means one of their best works but there
is
something kind of irresistible about their approach to the inevitable and obvious.
;)

 

I love Sparks! I agree that the earlier, pre-Introducing Sparks stuff is best. I haven't picked up Suburban Homeboy yet. Is it still in that repetitious, Lil Beethoven style? I liked elements of Beethoven, it's just it got a little tedious with all the repeating. Obviously, they're very deliberately going for a certain effect. I just haven't figured out if it's compatible with me. I want them to write more songs like, "Here Comes Bob."

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Toaster Too Short, Bread Too Tall - Stackabones

From what I know, you are generally a musical genius... to question why you basically used 2 chords throughout a whole song would likely end up with me looking like a fool (and I would probably agree entirely). Still, to the unwashed masses that I am a part of, it feels a little simple for what I would expect. Now to put expectations aside, I really enjoy this song. The lyrics are largely funny and erudite, even though I feel a few gaps, and a few clumsy lines. As was mentioned earler, a good sex metaphor would work with this
:)
.

 

To a Freudian, the whole world is a sexual metaphor. ;)

 

Not to sure about the musical genius aspect, for I feel like I'm always learning and never knowing, but as far as two chords ... well, it just wrote itself that way! Probably has to do with some of my listening habits rubbing off on my writing?

 

I'm not entirely sure what the unwashed masses would expect from a song about a toaster. More counterpoint, perhaps?

 

The gaps and clumsy lines are all part of the vibe.;)

 

Though singing bread instead of bed is just a mistake -- and I comment on it with an improvised line right afterwards. Sometimes the quest for recorded/compositional perfection gets in the way of the immediate feel. I go with groove. :D

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