wait just start

Blueprint for recording a song - part 3 - lyrics and solo

If you got here first, check out the introduction, part 1, and part 2 of this series.

In part 2 I recorded a guitar only scratch track of the full song. Since that time I've written the lyrics, played around with a few alternative versions of the chorus, and also added a guitar solo section to the song.

Throughout my music career I've spent very little time on lyrics. When I listen to music, I rarely focus on lyrics or look to interpret the deeper meaning behind them. Great lyricists are considered poets, and I don't read or write much poetry. All this to explain that when it comes to writing lyrics, I struggle. When I wrote the lyrics for the Forward Shapes album, I hit major "writers block" midway through the process. I then heard this quote from Corey Taylor (vocalist for Slipknot, Stone Sour):

When it comes to lyrics, I write about what I know...

My problem was I was trying to write epic lyrics with symbolism and deeper meaning. Therefore I ended up writing about things I had no idea about. So ever since I heard that quote from Corey, I've tried to write about what I know.

The challenge with this song was I had no idea what, out of the things I knew, to write about. I needed a theme but was struggling to find the right one. So after many crumpled papers I found inspiration from a quote by Chris Sacca in this podcast episode:

Whenever things get really hard, I just tell myself, at the end today I'll be home in my bed.

I loved the I'll be home part. And that became my theme. But I felt I didn't have  enough. So I decided to bring in another source for inspiration. One of my favorite books that I read last year was Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. I re-read all of my Kindle highlights (all 186 of them) and decided to use the theme of "inviting Mara to tea". Essentially whenever you experience frustration/anger/solitude/etc., think of those feelings as Mara. And instead of trying to block those feelings, welcome them to tea. Accept them. So I decided to combine that theme with I'll be home.

Here are  the lyrics:

Verse 1

Hello my friend, you've joined me again

I've blocked you, many times before

But this time please, be my guest


The urge to resist is strong

Stands between my right and wrong


Hey, let me pause here

Tonight I'll, be home

Verse 2

My friend, you disturb me so

Caught in your trance, I just want to let it go

I will try to enjoy our time

Welcome the emotions, I want to leave behind


The urge to resist is strong

Stands between my right and wrong


Hey, let me pause here

Tonight I'll, be home


The vocal melody you'll  have to wait for until the final recording is done. Need to keep some element of surprise. 

Originally I was going to keep this song basic and not include a guitar solo (or distortion). But as I was jamming on a chord progression a few weeks ago I noted it would be a great fit for this song. So I decided  to add it in.

I now had the task of figuring out my solo. Unfortunately I don't play as much guitar as I used to, so I wasn't comfortable with improvising a solo. I also wanted to spend a little time playing around with a few different ideas until I got something I was happy with. So after many trials and tribulations this is what I came up with.

During the writing process there was a section early in the solo where I struggled figuring out what to play. I had a cool moment where inspiration struck just as I was leaving for work. I didn't know if the idea would fit, so using Apple's Music Memosapp, I recorded this idea. That idea turned into what you hear between 00:15 and 00:20 in the guitar solo demo. Sometimes inspiration does strike randomly.

It took a few evenings to piece  together the solo, but I'm excited with what I came up with. I think it will be a fun section in the song.

So what's next? The part I dread most in this process. Recording.

All the recordings you've heard so far have been raw/demo takes. I paid 0 attention to the quality of the recording because I was in song-writing mode. But now in recording mode I'll be very conscious of the quality of the recording. For the final version I'll need to finalize my guitar tones, put on some new strings, allocate 6-8 hours, and just record. It's a dreadful process, but it's part of the job. And there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when all your parts have been recorded and sound awesome.

Wish me luck!