In the spirit of collaboration, the songs that I originate generally change hands numerous times before they even approach anything resembling done. Posted here is a series of correspondence between myself and two of my co-writers on a song entitled “Gaining No Speed”. This song underwent a complete re-write of the lyrics during this time and is still in process. The original version of this song was commented on previously in both of the past sets of comments, as the original acoustic version was included on the “Recorded Wavs” disc. The co-writers here are a singer/songwriter in Tennessee (referred to here as Gossamer) and a drummer in the Maryland/DC Metro area (referred to here as Selkie), and the exchanges take place entirely through e-mail. The purpose of this is just to look at the evolution of a song, and to see where the influences on a particular song come from, and to see the evolution of a song from being an individual creation to a collaborative effort.
From Cuvintu November 25th, 2008:
K, so I’ve recorded two versions of one of my songs that I’m in the process of getting bass and drums recorded on. This song was a long time acoustic song and has traditionally been played as such. When I recorded the new version (the electric version) I realized that the chorus lyrics don’t work. They worked when the song was a little slower and sounded more thoughtful, but when I up the tempo the chorus loses the momentum of the song. I really want to re-write the chorus lyrics, and even take a look at the rest of the song while I’m at it. Since you’re the best lyricist I know, I’d love if you’d take a listen and tell me what you think and/or any lyrical ideas you have. Feel free to do a complete re-write if you see fit! Hoping things are well man…
From Gossamer November 26th, 2008:
Great to hear from you, I like the new song! Guitar reminds me a little of “LIVE”. the chorus lyrics do seem a little short for the space. I can’t make out all the words, if you’ve got typed lyrics send them, I’ll listen to your song several times in the next few days and if I get any ideas I’ll send them to you. I think the chorus also needs more intensity, it sounds maybe too much like the verse. Maybe if you can hit the octave up with some scratch in your voice, you could also change speed, add some harmony, etc. I like the bridge thing (somewhere around the end of the song, 3:40?). Overall I dig it and wouldn’t change much.
From Cuvintu November 26th, 2008
Sorry, I was gonna include the lyrics with the e-mail, but totally forgot to add them before I clicked the fatal send button. I’m hoping to inject more into the chorus by re-writing the lyrics into something more emotional with a melody that really fits the chord structure well that will allow me to put more into it. I’ll also talk to [Selkie] about what the drums should sound like there, and write a specific bass line, to emphasize that part. I think the chorus works better as it is in the acoustic version, even with the scratch vocal track (gotta get in there and finalize the vocals). Anyway, let me know what comes to mind as you listen again…with the actual lyrics this time! Thanks for your help man… (lyrics included in e-mail)
From Gossamer December 3rd, 2008:
I’ve listened to your song many times now. I don’t think I have a clear idea about what’s happening, I know the lyrics are intentionally vague but I think I could be more helpful, especially with the chorus, if I knew who/what you were thinking as you wrote. At first glance, it seems you are speaking about a stagnant relationship. In the first verse what are you waiting on and what is the “rain”? Only a few words in the first verse bother me, “lived everything” and “this air”.
Second verse sounds more like relationship problems, “we” could be humanity but it rings of a personal relationship, only words that kind-of trip me up are “this direction here”.
Chorus-ultimately, I want to know what the character is going to fight for? How is it about foresight? In verse 3, it seems you’re speaking about the masses of some kind, the character kind of separates himself from them (“to protect themselves from pain”). The last 2 lines of verse 3 kind of bugs me, “I can’t see our future, but we’re gaining no speed at all.” maybe b/c your character somehow seems to know what’s coming, or what he’s about to do…I can’t quite put my finger on it.
The second part of your second chorus still has me wondering what way will he not walk again, and what is the fight that has begun. Your character seems to have learned something and made some life altering decisions but I just want a little more information so I can paint my own image over your sketch.
I have some ideas for altered lyrics but I don’t what to add words/images that don’t connect with what’s working in your head. If you tell me a little more about the story behind the song I think I’ll be better able to help you with specific lyrics. I’ll give you a call this evening, yeah I know I’ve said that before! Take care
From Cuvintu January 13th, 2009
So here’s the scratch vocal track set against the acoustic track…just so you can get a feel of the melody. I’ll probably kick out a more final version against the “wall of guitars” track this weekend as we have 3 days off.
From Selkie January 13th, 2009
Yes!! Yes yes yes! So I listened to both and definitely like the new one more, though the “foresight” hook of the original is really catchy. but the new one is very awesome and I can’t wait to hear it with the electric version.
From Gossamer January 18th, 2009
I think it’s a great improvement. I like the new lyrics a lot better, I like the music and the sound is tight. I think there are a few pitch problems with vocals in the first version, especially in the first verse. I think the lower ranges are better for the beginning, the vocals in your acoustic version were almost dead on. You have a better tone with the low range and a better control of pitch, acoustic version vocals with music from the electric version would be perfect.
In the electric version your vocals at around 2:18, 3:05, 4:15 are the strongest. Sometimes when you drop to a low pitch at the end of a line it seems to go flat. also noticed “never again” was occasionally off pitch. When I identify pitchy areas in songs I find each note on the piano and match pitch one note at a time.
The acoustic take was definitely the best because your voice was near perfect. I think you should try changing tempo in a place or two, maybe speed it up from 2:00-2:30 and around 3:30, or or keep it slow there and speed it up before/after.
Your making great progress and I like the song, I hope I don’t sound too critical.
Keep it coming!
From Selkie January 18th, 2009
Okay, so I re-listened to everything and I really, really like the new vocal part. There’s much more range, intensity, and passion. The only part that I mentioned before that I’d be interested to hear something different attempted is the last time you say “Never Again” at about 4:13 into the song (acoustic version) right before the last chorus (I think). You’re going up a scale and the last note is back down the scale, and I’m just curious how it would sound if you hit the next note up. Or maybe harmonized with the note that’s there. Just a thought. Otherwise, bang up job, my friend.
While this song is by no means done, we have placed it aside for the moment, happy with it’s current evolution, in order to get some distance before picking it back up again. The current acoustic demo version of this song (and it’s accompanying lyrics) can be found at http://www.myspace.com/mobiusprojectband.