March 9, 2017

February Album Writing Month, 2017 — “Search For Meaning”

Category: Music — jerry @ 11:45 am

This one is my favorite of the 14 songs I did for the February FAWM project.

You’ll recall my methodology is to pick three random songs, use the first one for chords and structure and the second one for arrangement. Then I look at the lyrics for all three for some title and theme ideas.

This time the chords and structure were taken from Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. The second song was “Bittersweet Symphony”. I didn’t really use much of it as an arrangement, but it did lead me in an “80’s” direction. The Band In A Box style that I found had a wonderful sounding drum track to it and it greatly inspired the rest of the track. BIAB has tons of “soloist” tracks and I went with a tenor sax “soloist” and generated the fantastic solos for the middle and the outro. All three songs–the third was “House of the Rising Sun”–were depressing reflections on life and I was going through some relationship challenges at the time (all-fixed, thanks for your concern) and it was Valentine’s Day so that’s the direction I went lyrically.  Just as yesterday’s source material gave me the title “Midsummer’s Night”, based on the Shakespearean play, the downer lyrics I had in front of me got me thinking of Viktor Frankel’s MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING about his life in a Nazi death camp, and I went with “Search For Meaning” for my title. Interestingly, I paid homage to the full title in the song’s refrain: “MAN, you gotta SEARCH FOR MEANING”. I think that plaintive “Man…!” helps make the song.

The day I did preproduction for this song–to be written approximately a week and a half later–I printed off the lyrics to the three songs and jotted down some phrase/rhyme ideas: “Everybody chasing gold…Everyone cut from the same mold…just when you think she’s the answer, turn around there’s nothing there…boy, you’d better keep on searching…crossed to see the other side, turned to look at where I’d come from…wanted to be one in a million…”, etc., some of which ended up being in the song. I found these early “inspirations” to be very helpful days later when actual lyric-writing was on the agenda. They gave me a starting point and, per usual, lyric writing  took only half an hour to 45 minutes for pretty much all of these songs. As I’ve discussed before, by deciding to keep things simple and not go for “Epic Lyrics” I believe things actually came out better than if I was writing to impress. I particularly like how these lyrics came out.

I ended up actually singing the upper harmony live rather than cheating with Melodyne–and I think it sounds a lot better for it. When I redo these songs, I’m going to use Melodyne very judiciously, if at all.  Miracle software that it is, there can be a certain artificiality when over-used, and which is noticeable in some of my song sketches.

Tooting my own horn as I am wont to do, I think this has good lyrics and a good arrangement–it’s an overall very good song. IT’S MY FAVORITE!! I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed composing it:

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