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SSG Year 12 Week 14


(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
Topic starter  

I should simply be thrilled to have something this close to complete instead of being mystified at the (very) circuitous route the writing took. Obviously, the title started out as "Dancing with Ghosts" and then changed somewhere to "Dance the Ghosts Away" but it still may end up being something completely different.

With a little luck (and a new Soundclick account dedicated strictly for what I'm calling "SSG Sketches") I should have a recording up tomorrow or Monday.

She walks through Veracruz late in the afternoon
Watching the vendors setting out their cheap souvenirs
A single guitarist plays outside at a small café
She takes a seat and waits for Jose to join in the danzón

Here at the Zocalo the old men play dominoes
Singing their Cuban songs of love gone wrong so long ago
He strolls up the avenue in his spotless guayabera
Sits down in the chair next to Maria and she takes his hand

You mean the world to me
That’s what he says
Although Maria’s world is such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away

They met at Carnaval twenty some years ago
She wore a long white dress
He had the kindest eyes
She danced just to pass the time
She stayed when he made her smile
He never asked her any questions so she never lied

I give my heart to you
That’s what she says
But Maria’s heart is such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away

You mean the world to me
That’s what he says
But this old world’s become such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away

Down at the Zocalo the old men play dominoes
Singing their Cuban songs of love gone wrong so long ago

© 2014 - D. Hodge

Peace


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(@jamestoffee)
Famed Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 2855
 

Hi David,

Nice start. :D A lot of great details here and I like the repetition of theme and clever idea of "such a small sad place"

The only part that sits a bit off with me is the meeting 20 years ago....b/c it sounds like the couple has been together 20 years but they are unhappy in the present; implying unhappiness with the relationship but still together dancing?....

.....but I like the rest of the information in that verse....in fact, it seems key to the idea of why she loves him....He never asked her any questions so she never lied....it implies dancing with him is a safe place in the present from the ghosts in her past.

....so part of the read I am getting is they find solace in each other from pains/ghosts in their pasts.....which I prefer

....but then the other vibe I get is two unhappy people using each other to forget the past but adding on new pain to each other....he's saying what he wants to get what he wants....she is believing him to get what she wants.... which seems odd

also......consider changing "cheap" souvenirs....I think building up the romance, charm or intimacy of the setting would tug at the heart strings more than the idea "we found love in a hopeless place"

I look forward to the listen.

Thanks for sharing.

James


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
Topic starter  

Hi James

If I did this correctly, you can hear the "Take 1" here:

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=1332441

When I get more of the lyrical mess sorted out, I'll do a more interesting production, hopefully complete with percussion and some Spanish guitar. Or at least as much Spanish guitar as I am capable of!

Thanks for the critique. I think a lot of it boils down to the big issue I had when writing it, which, quite simply, was "what is this about?" And when I started it out, my idea was the same as yours:
they find solace in each other from pains/ghosts in their pasts

Initially the current first verse didn't exist and the second verse, all from Jose's view, led to a chorus which was also all in his view:
You mean the world to me
That’s what he says
But Jose's world is such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
He holds Maria close and dances his ghosts away

The song would then go on with Maria's side as it does now but with the first line changed:
They met at Carnaval not all that long ago

which, hopefully, would have taken care of that issue. But I kept thinking that starting with the second verse didn't leave any room for a set up and I didn't want a third verse that would be essentially a rehash of the others. So I came up with the idea of Maria walking through town to go to the nightly dance. When I did that I tried switching everything to Maria's viewpoint, even Jose's entrance and that made me think for a moment, what if Jose's the ghost in question and what if she's just going to the dance and dancing with him in her mind? Hence the meeting twenty years ago, which in one draft was actually "a half=century ago."

As you'll hear, the song's already longer than I think it should be, so there's definitely trimming and editing to be done. I think if I go back to the original idea, but still keep it more from Maria's viewpoint that it may work out better. We'll see.

As always, thanks for the advice. Hopefully this one will be worth the extra work as I've already become a bit attached to it!

Peace


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 pbee
(@pbee)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2097
 

Hi David,
but still keep it more from Maria's viewpoint
absolutely, for my money something like this might work:
so this:
Although Maria’s world is such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away to this:
Although Maria’s world is such a small sad place these days
when the sun goes down and the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away

this:
But Maria’s heart is such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away to this:
Although Maria’s heart is such a small sad place these days
when the sun goes down and the charanga plays
She holds her Jose close and dances her ghosts away

this:
But this old world’s become such a small sad place these days
And when the sun goes down as the charanga plays to this:
Although this old world’s become such a small sad place these days
when the sun goes down and the charanga plays
toss or keep as you see fit.
Looking and sounding good thus far

cheers
Paul


Check out my Reverbnation page here


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(@barnabus-rox)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2976
 

Hi David

Before I give a reply to your song , I have a small request , :) Can you cut your hands off and send them to me ? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to play a guitar like you :D :D

Once again I prefer to listen to how you guys an girls meld music and words together , something I struggle with .
The tone of your voice and the chords really painted the picture of such a great story written in your words . As it played it I had visions of what was being told to me in this wonderful story -

I would leave it the way it is word wise personally , and if your not happy with how it ended up , go back and do it again and again until your happy . Sometimes we are our own worst critics and can not hear the good in things we do , we only hear what we don't like :)

I think it is lovely the way it is .

Trev :D

Here is to you as good as you are
And here is to me as bad as I am
As good as you are and as bad as I am
I'm as good as you are as bad as I am


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
Topic starter  

Paul - Thanks for the suggestions. That particular part of the song is one I'm finding myself singing differently every time I play it, whether I'm looking directly at a lyric sheet or not. Your version seems to be staying in my mind a lot more so hopefully it will take!

Trev - You might end up with the worse end of the bargain as I've got pretty small hands. Also, you will have to learn to be left-handed! Seriously, though, if you listen (and not even all that carefully) you can hear lots of mistakes. But I truly appreciate your kind words concerning my playing.

As far as the melding of the music and the lyrics, part of what helped here is that I'd come up with the chords and much of the melody before even starting on the lyrics. Essentially I had the chords and the rhythm down to the point where I could play it without thinking about it too much and then started singing "la LA la LA la la" and other nonsense syllables until I came up with most of the melody that you hear in the recording. The rhythm of the melody and even the stresses of certain syllables over the other helped me to find words that would fit in. This method isn't everyone's preferred way of writing but I find it helps me a lot. Of course, it also usually takes me longer than I'd like when it comes to writing lyrics.

As I mentioned at the start of the post, just getting to this point is a huge goal for me. Now the tweaking of lines and ideas takes over and that, too, can take a long time sometimes! It's not that I'm not happy with what I've got so far, it's more that I simply feel there are little things I can do to make it better than it is. Kind of like tinkering with a recipe, I guess, even to the point where I just want to be careful not to overcook it.

Keep an eye on the post. If I can figure out a way to send you a pair of hands after I cut mine off (a task in and of itself), then we have to figure out how to get them through overseas customs.

Peace


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(@jamestoffee)
Famed Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 2855
 

Hi David,

Great job on the music and delivery. Great prosody!

Suggestion:

Consider going higher on the melody line for the lines:

You mean the world to me

and

I give my heart to you

maybe like
eecdgg or eecdef or efgaaa

and really hold out each word as if it is the song itself to kick up the intensity of the emotion of the characters.

Thanks for sharing.


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
Topic starter  

Hi James

Thanks for the listen. I was definitely thinking about going higher in the chorus, if only for extra harmony lines. And while I understand the idea behind holding out the notes, my voice doesn't always hold up for that. The longer I hold a note (especially as out of practice as I am in the singing area) the sooner I tend to lose it and go flat. When I get around to making a "better than scratch" demo of this, I'll certainly give it my best!

And thank you again for all the suggestions! I truly appreciate it.

Peace


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(@hobson)
Prominent Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 794
 

David, I've read your lyrics several times now. I love the richness of detail, but I'm still left wondering what the story is. Why is Maria's world sad and small? The only hint I see is in the repeated line "Singing their Cuban songs of love gone wrong so long ago." Maybe the mystery is intentional, since she has never told Jose what happened.

The music is a great fit.

Renee


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
Topic starter  

Hi Renee

Thank you for your kind words.

As I mentioned, this song went through a lot of changes to get to where it is now and a lot of that did involve the backstory of both Jose and Maria. Originally I intended for Jose to be a Cuban refugee from the "10 Years War" (1868 - 1878), the first of many fights for Cuban independence from Spain. Maria would be someone he met and who helped him learn to live in the here and now and not obsess about the life he left behind. She, too (as with any person, really), would also have had her past and choices that she might regret.

The trouble with all the backstory was that it took away from the "here and now" of the moment of the song, which was simply the two of them getting together every night to dance the Danzón, which is a kind of cross between European ballroom dancing and Cuban folk dancing that is still very popular today in Veracruz. The more I wrote about the past the further away from the moment the music got.

Also (as I mentioned to James), I began to think maybe Jose was the ghost that Maria was "dancing away." But the more I toy with that idea the more it seems a little too contrived.

I tend to think of songs as snapshots instead of movies, meaning that there is always a story behind a photo, but it's incredibly rare for a photo to tell you exactly and specifically what it is.

And I'm more than okay with a lot of any song being somewhat mysterious. As a songwriter, I rely an incredible amount on my audience to be active participants when it comes to filling in detail. Their listening (which, hopefully, leads to their enjoyment) is more important than whatever I write. And, more often than not, they have better stories and ideas than I do!

Thank you again for the listen and the critique.

Peace


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