I'm Not So Sure It's Not a Broken Heart

March 6, 2009 2:16 AM

My recent music contributions here have maybe not really supported this statement, but: more than anything else, I like making catchy bubblegum pop songs. This is one of those. Autoharp, marimba, and a whole lot of new wave synth. See inside for tangential MetaFilter connections!

Metafilter connection #1: I wanted that choppy rhythmic sound for the autoharp (the second sound you hear, right after the synth bass starts) but I didn't know how to do it, so I asked and got an answer! It turns out that "sidechain" was the phrase I was looking for. Thanks to everyone in that thread!

MetaFilter connection #2: I was inspired by the link that piratebowling posted with the retro "I Can Read Movies" series, and so I made my own "single cover" in the same sort of mode. It works on iPods too!

Technical details: There are two autoharp tracks -- one with flange or chorus or something and the other one overdriven and run through a sidechain noise gate (see above!). There's also marimba, Alesis Micron, a tiny bit of piano, and four vocal tracks. The drums are the Boss Dr. Rhythm (except for a couple of actual cymbals); the handclaps are the Boss HC-2 clap pedal.

Finally, I can't really tell if my own songs are actually catchy, so let me know if you find yourself humming this one tomorrow or the next day.

posted by Karlos the Jackal (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Here are the lyrics, but you have to promise to listen to the song before you read 'em. Thanks!

Tell me, doctor, when you were my girlfriend, did you ever think that one day we’d meet again here at the clinic? And me with hat in hand, in need of relief -- the pain’s too much for me to stand. It started one day with a sudden pain in my chest (coincidentally, it was the same day that you left) and now you tell me it’s probably nothing to worry about. Not to second guess you, oh, but doctor, I have my doubts.

I don’t know, I don’t know, what exactly is wrong with me. Your analysis is what it is, I’m no expert but I disagree: I’m not so sure it’s not a broken heart. The signs and symptoms were all there from the start. Check the X-ray and the EKG but it won’t be on the chart. I’m not so sure it’s not a broken heart.

Tell me, doctor -- I feel like I may die -- are there any options that you think are worth a try? Try again, try again, check my heartbeat one more time; it’s irregular since you said you were moving on, no longer mine. I’m not so sure it’s not a broken heart.

posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:22 AM on March 6, 2009

I'll start with the last question, and just so that we don't have to wait for the "results" of the test, I'll use you previous songs as the cases in question. It took me days to get "Me and the pedestal" off of my head. And it also happened with "Too Late To Sleep" and "Treehouse".

And I am a big fan of your lyrics, and the lyrics for this song are just charming. I wish the usual catchy bubblegum radio pop had lyrics like this.
posted by micayetoca at 3:05 AM on March 6, 2009

I liked the unexpected fades at the end: the way the vocal went out, and so forth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:49 AM on March 6, 2009

Nice. Very catchy. Rhyming 'irregular' and 'you said you were' is truly a stroke of genius. And I really like the tinnitus part that comes right before the spare heartbeat+vocals breakdown.
posted by umbú at 6:36 AM on March 6, 2009

This is awesome--it's like Stereolab with David Byrne
posted by Hoopo at 5:48 PM on March 6, 2009

This might be my 4th or 5th They Might Be Giants comparison on MefiMu but I kinda get that vibe from this one, I was humming this one right away. I would like to hear what it sounds like sped up a little.
posted by BrnP84 at 6:58 PM on March 6, 2009

Hopping on the bandwagon, this rocks and I look forward to hearing more 'gum.
As always, I'm crazy jealous of your instrument collection.
posted by chococat at 9:05 PM on March 6, 2009

Rhyming 'irregular' and 'you said you were' is truly a stroke of genius.

Well *blush* it just popped into my head. I think it was actually the first thing I thought of after the title.

Originally I had written a couple of lines singing to a girlfriend, and a couple of lines singing to a doctor -- two separate people -- and I thought, "gee, I have to drop one or the other of these characters," and then it hit me that I could just combine 'em. Most of it kind of wrote itself after that.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words.

I would like to hear what it sounds like sped up a little.

Higher pitched and shorter. :)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:58 AM on March 8, 2009

"This sounds like to me" statements are always risky, but I just listened a second time, and it reminds me a lot of the Lucksmiths, lyrically and melodically, but with bolder and scruffier production.
posted by umbú at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2009

love the catchy lyrics! Nice and poppy vocal melody line!
posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on March 10, 2009

it has got a certain They Might be Giants feel
posted by mary8nne at 7:43 AM on March 11, 2009

"This sounds like to me" statements are always risky

I like 'em. I can't look at my stuff objectively, obviously, and this gives a handle on how other people hear the songs. For instance, "like Stereolab with David Byrne" never would have occurred to me in a hundred years, but that's pretty cool, huh?

I have never heard of the Lucksmiths, but I will totally look into them. (That's the same way I got into Magnetic Fields -- not being familiar with them until someone said I sounded like them.)

(The TMBG comparison I hear a lot, and it's fair enough -- synth, drum machines, adenoidal bleating -- early TMBG are a big influence, for sure.)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 7:48 PM on March 11, 2009

Reminds me a little of the Magnetic Fields, too.

(So glad to have finally came across this!)
posted by piratebowling at 8:00 PM on July 5, 2009

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