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Wk 47 Home To Me

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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

Hi all,

I'm sure that you've spotted that the market has been crying out for a 'Romantic Ballad based on a Traffic Flow Theme'... so this is my attempt to fill the vacancy... :P

The singer is looking forward to their partner coming home from work in the city. It begins with the image of looking down on the lights of the city traffic as it streams homeward, and tries to create a feeling of anticipation and preparation for their return.

HOME TO ME

There's a river of light, flowing out from the city
Flowing out from the city tonight.
It's a stream of steel, of noise and wheels,
But from here it's a beautiful sight.
There's a river of light flowing out from the city..

..And it's bringing you home to me
Bringing you home, bringing you home, bringing you home, bringing you home …. to me.

When the sun goes down, I look to the west
At the blazing colours in the sky
I think of the journey that you're making back to me
And I wait as the minutes tick by
When the sun goes down, I look to the west...

..And dream you back to me
Dream you back, dream you back, dream you back, dream you back ….. to me.

Back to the hills where the magpies call
And the jarrah leaves rustle in the breeze
There's food on the table and wine in your glass
And a moon coming up through the trees
Back to the hills where the magpies call..

..And they're calling you back to me
Calling you back, calling you back, calling you back, calling you back …. to me.

The crunch of the gravel and the engine's hum
And the sound of your feet on the stair
The click of the latch and the creak of the hinge
And the smell of the evening air
The crunch of the gravel and the engine's hum..

..Are saying that you're home to me
Saying you're home, saying you're home, saying you're home, saying you're home… to me

There's a river of light, flowing out from the city
Flowing out from the city tonight.
It's a river of steel, of noise and wheels,
But from here it's a beautiful sight.
There's a river of light, flowing out from the city..

..And it brought you back home to me
Brought you home, brought you home, brought you home, brought you home … to me.

I'm reasonably happy with the lyrics, but I'm still having difficulties with the music. I have the basic melody sorted, but I'm having to modify the general arrangement a lot to suit my many limitations as a player/singer. For instance, the last line of the chorus is supposed to be sort of a punch line, with the voice going up an octave (??? maybe less, but swooping up anyway..) with a 'catch in the throat' feel. Sounded great the one time I almost managed it, but terrible all the others... :( So I may have to settle for doing a plain chorus, and leaving the 'up' part as instrumental. I'm also having trouble settling on the right choices for tempo, rhythm, sound, etc. But those are the major thing I'm trying to learn and make progress with - so it's all good experience. :) I'll try and get a ‘working' mp3 up in the next day or two.

Any ideas for arrangements or improvements?

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

Chris, WOW!
Amazing lyrics!

Took one last look around before bed, and I'm glad I did.

LOVED LOVED LOVED the magpie verse especially.

Great work Mate :D

Can't wait to hear the Mp3.

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

LOVED LOVED LOVED the magpie verse especially.

Thanks for the generous and supportive comments Ken. :)

By special request - all the way from West Australia - part of The Magpie Choir, taking a snack break from vocal duties

and

TIP: HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY BEFORE CLICKING ON LINKS. It will open them in a separate window.

"Wassup Myrtle - forget your umbrella? Or is the punk look hip this month?"

I've made a very rough mp3 of a one verse practice attempt. I've stuck what I think is the basic melody line on the front. There was half of the second verse as well, but I edited it off. It consisted mostly of swearing when I got the chords wrong... :roll:
Amazing, I can't get near the higher part of the chorus without sounding like a strangled chicken, but blow the playing and my voice immediately goes into an outraged squeak about two octaves higher than normal! :?

MP3. Rough attempt at verse 1. When I say ROUGH - I'm not kidding.

Maybe somebody with some musical ability would like to have a bash at it? Any tune you fancy. A Bruce Springsteen feel would be nice... that's just the odd squillion mile or two out of my reach at the moment.... :roll:
In the meantime I'm back to slaving over a hot recorder....

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468
 

i like this song a lot, too but i have to say that i think that the third verse doesn't go with the rest of it and it probably doesn't need a third verse anyway.


   
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(@barnabus-rox)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2957
 

Chris

I would only alter one thing myself , just as suggestion though

You use the flowing twice in the first 2 lines , might I suggest changing the second one to Glowing ?

There's a river of light, flowing out from the city
Glowing out from the city tonight.

It might just be me ...

Once again terrific effort mate , I'm still struggling to write a whole song but I know if I don't force it something will come soon ...

Trev..

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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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

i like this song a lot, too but i have to say that i think that the third verse doesn't go with the rest of it and it probably doesn't need a third verse anyway.

Thanks for passing that on. :) It's hard to know what comes across and what doesn't when you write about something you're close to, so honest 'first impression' feedback is always very good to get.

This is a very autobiographical song - my wife is currently the 'breadwinner' and I look after the home. So the image of the birds calling as the moon starts to come up through the trees, while I prepare the meal and pour a glass of wine ready for her return has a very strong meaning for me. That probably makes it harder for me to tell if I've 'sold' it well in the song context. We also get quite magical 'large moon seen through the trees' effects here. The whole song is pretty much an everyday event for me. Even the sound of the gravel, her footfall on the wooden steps up to the verandah, and that moment when the door opens and a breath of cool evening air wafts into the house as she enters, springs vividly to life for me. But of course it would - because I live it! With a song it's vital that the listener gets a message from what they hear, and what the writer feels doesn't mean much if it doesn't come across properly. But I guess, it doesn't have to be exact, so long as some reasonable imagery is conveyed and it feels OK in some fashion. Valuable to know when it doesn't quite 'click' for somebody though, because others may feel the same too. :)
You use the flowing twice in the first 2 lines , might I suggest changing the second one to Glowing ?

Yes, I use all five words in the phrase "flowing out from the city" twice. I did it deliberately, as it's relatively usual to do that for emphasis in lyrics. But now that you point it out it is a bit similar to another song - Hot in the City (Billy Idol??). Chorus goes:

Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight
Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight

So maybe a change would be worthwhile. They were actually the first words that came to me, before I had anything else of the song, so it's always hard to throw out your first 'key phrase'. But I'll stick it on the 'maybe' list and see how it feels in a day or two when I've put some distance away from the initial writing.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@corlenya)
Active Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 12
 

No comments on the song: just my compliments for your work!! You know you wrote this pretty fast, right?! Already gettin' better then (or being more confident to post...)! Great to see!

Good job :)


   
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(@pearlthekat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 1468
 

the reason i don't think the third verse fits is because it too much like "reality!" the feel of the song is dreamy and i don't want real life interrupting my dreams!! i just wanna daydream....

if you said the same thing in a more romantic way it could work, though.


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

the reason i don't think the third verse fits is because it too much like "reality!" the feel of the song is dreamy and i don't want real life interrupting my dreams!! i just wanna daydream....

Interesting call. :) There was a particular line that I was unsure about how it would come across, and that was the chorus immediately before verse 3:

Dream you back, dream you back... to me.

What I had in mind wasn't so much a daydream as in "Dream that you are back to me" but more "urge you back to me" or "draw you back by an effort of willpower" kind of thing. But maybe the use of the 'dream' image there made the shift closer to reality too abrupt? The original idea was to start with a more dreamlike image of anticipation and take it closer to the reality of the destination and return as it moved forward. Both 3 and 4 were intended to be the reality end of the deal. V3 - general picture of what she's coming back to, but not here yet (like a 'location shot' in a movie). V4 - more specific picture with her now in it (In movie terms, more like a tracking close-up as she gets to the door and walks in).

I may have made the shift too clunky at that spot. Or maybe it was just an overambitious goal. I'll experiment with some alternative ways of phrasing the chorus after verse 2 and see how it looks.

I'll probably run out of time to do as much work as I'd like on the music, as we're only two days away from the school holidays. So I'm running around doing a few things while I still have a few hours free time left. :D If the school holiday runs true to form I'll be tied up with family stuff for the next couple of weeks. So if I don't post another song for 3 weeks it won't mean that I've quit or lost interest. Just doing young kid stuff for a while, instead of my usual 'old kid' stuff ... :shock:

Thanks very much to everybody for the feedback. I'm looking forward to reading more of others' songs too.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

Hey Chris, good to see you're turning your undoubted writing skills to songwriting at last! Three songs in three weeks....pretty good going.

First impressions - love the imagery, phrasing seems to work fine although I had a little trouble fitting this line into the rhythm I had going...."I think of the journey that you're making back to me."

I do have a suggestion though - instead of beginning the song with the "Rivers of Light" verse, it may work better if you save it till later on.

If you started the song with the "When the sun goes down" verse, then carried on with the "Magpies" verse, THEN brought in the "Rivers of light" verse, and finished with the "Crunch of Gravel" verse, it might seem a little more natural - think of those four verses as setting the scene, whimsical dreaming, anticipation, then realisation - a nice logical order.

I know, songwriting's not supposed to be about cold logic - it's about expressing an emotion, setting a mood, whatever. But there's no rule that says one can't apply a little cold logical reasoning to the end product!

For me, you've captured the mood perfectly - I just feel you need to be a little ruthless with the paring down. That's my opinion, anyway, for what it's worth - feel perfectly free to agree or disagree!

A pleasure to read, anyway - looking forward to more!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

Three songs in three weeks....pretty good going.

After reading of your project to re-record 80 songs :shock: I'm aiming at doing around ten and then taking a break for a while and re-working maybe half of them.
I do have a suggestion though - instead of beginning the song with the "Rivers of Light" verse, it may work better if you save it till later on.

If you started the song with the "When the sun goes down" verse, then carried on with the "Magpies" verse, THEN brought in the "Rivers of light" verse, and finished with the "Crunch of Gravel" verse, it might seem a little more natural - think of those four verses as setting the scene, whimsical dreaming, anticipation, then realisation - a nice logical order.

Now I hadn't thought of that. Will try some more juggling. I actually got the "river of light" thought first, and the song was originally going to be titled "River of Light", so it didn't occur to me to experiment with moving it. The magpie verse was written second, then the sun goes down, then the crunchy gravel arrival. The swap between what had been V2 and V3 was done just before I started trying to rehearse it.
I just feel you need to be a little ruthless with the paring down. That's my opinion, anyway, for what it's worth - feel perfectly free to agree or disagree!

I think that paring is always going to be a necessary goal for me. I'm a natural waffler. At this stage I'm going for longer lyrical content because I don't feel I've got the musical clout yet to support the gaps. Learning balance seems crucial though. I remember listening to a local amateur 'battle of the bands' events and all the kids were going full throttle trying to fill every single beat with their sound. They had almost no idea of how to leave any space, either for the rest of the band, or for the listener. It felt like having a bucket of noise emptied on your head. :shock:

I'm still probably wanting to empty a bucket of words over the listener, but I'm having a lot of fun with the learning experience. :wink: Thanks for the input and suggestions.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@katreich)
Prominent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 686
 

Chris, I wish I could add some pearl of wisdom here, but I have nothing to add. I love the song as is.
Nice writing. Seems you must have sucked all the inspiration down your way, as I'm dry as dirt!

Falling in love is like learning to play the guitar; first you learn to follow the rules, then you learn to play with your heart.

www.soundclick.com/kathyreichert


   
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(@raystrack)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 123
 

I love the theme and the imagery. The assignment to make the first and last lines identical is a real hurdle and I feel this song is good enough to dispense with that and work it again.

I'm not keen on the tune and feel it deserves better.

I love the third verse which would be better as a bridge.

I have a couple of ideas to work on this but have not done anything of my own due to being bed-ridden and flying on pain-killers - this is my first time out of bed for 48 hours so sorry of this is a bit blunt - I love your ideas.

best wishes

http://www.raystroud.com
http://www.myspace.com/raystroud


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

PROGRESS :D

Hi all,

I've made a few changes.

1. Swap verses

I've taken Vic's suggested and swapped verses 1 and 2. It now seems to flow OK as:

V1 - Dreaming of her return
V2 - Taking the next step by looking at her starting point
V3 - Showing what's waiting for her
V4 - Happy ending - she arrives back

2. Change words

I've taken BarnabusRox's suggestion and changed the repeated phrase. It took a while to let go of, as it was the first thing I got. I also like the general effect of the repeat. But as it doesn't happen in any other verse it seemed sensible to drop it, and use the space to set the scene slightly more. So it's probably going to end up something like:

There's a river of light, in the valley below
Flowing out from the city tonight

or

In the valley below, there's a river of light
Flowing out from the city tonight

The second one (or something similar) looks better on the page, but the first one seemed to fit the music more comfortably when I sang it. Not that big a deal - I expect there's lots of possibilities there.

3. Shortened it.

Agreeing with Vic and Pearlthekat's comments on length I ditched the last verse (first verse repeat). The 4 verses currently run a second or two over three minutes, including a short intro and outro. Leaving room for a bit more instrumental decoration perhaps.

Thank you all very much for your support and assistance. The comments have all been helpful - and I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised that I was able to listen to them! It's not always easy to let go of something you've worked on - or accept that it might need improving - so to get good feedback, and feel able to use it has been a valuable exercise. I'm sure it's all too easy to be overprotective about one's creations or just think "It's great as it is - they missed the point...." :roll:

I'm learning a lot here...

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
Topic starter  

I love the theme and the imagery. The assignment to make the first and last lines identical is a real hurdle and I feel this song is good enough to dispense with that and work it again.

You have a very good eye Ray. 8) This was a song that I had already part written a few weeks ago, and never completed. So I dusted it off, nailed on an extra last line, and wrote a couple more verses...
I'm not keen on the tune and feel it deserves better.

Musically I'm still a real newb. I can often hear a better arrangment in my head (and sometimes a better melody) but I'm still well short of having the skills to play it. I'm also looking forward to learning more about arranging in general. I think that I could probably develop moderate skills as a lyric writer, but my playing is probably always going to be a weakness. Maybe I need to find Elton John's phone number and see if he could use a discounted wheelbarrow-load of assorted words... :wink: :P Joking of course, but I looked through a songbook from one of our most successful local country artists yesterday and many of the lyrics would have been shot down in flames if he'd submitted theme here. Corny can be OK, and you rather expect it, but some of them seemed really quite clumsy as well. But no doubt he knew exactly how to 'sell' them to his intended audience when he sang. He also appeared to know only 6 chords, used three per song. But it worked very successfully for him. Gave me hope!
I have a couple of ideas to work on this but have not done anything of my own due to being bed-ridden and flying on pain-killers - this is my first time out of bed for 48 hours so sorry of this is a bit blunt - I love your ideas.

Ouch! :cry: I've been wondering how you were travelling. Good to hear that you are still with us, even if it is in a rather battered condition.

I've been working on your suggestion about trying to sing and play on separate tracks (and thanks to Ken - CitizenNoir - for help there too). This is something I'm really pleased about, as I have been WAY of the mark until now.

It required a lot of much needed work on timing (a very good point that Wes Inman often makes here). To begin with I found that I had no idea when to come in with the vocals, and quickly lost track of where I was in the song. The answer was to play against a click track (wearing headphones) and then sing alongside the playing and the click track together. And Practice , Practice, Practice at counting the bars and beats until it started to become ingrained. Of course, there are many other tendencies to overcome (like coming in off key, and at one quarter the required volume...) but the more you do it the better it gets. 8)

A long way to go yet, but I have now been able to sing a complete verse in time with the backing track, and pretty much how I wanted it to sound. It may not sound much but it felt like a MAJOR step forward! :D

Cheers, and get better soon!

Chris


   
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