June 1, 2013 12:29 PM

Summer bubblegum pop-rock-schlock with the merest hint of Huey Lewis & The News - like the faint but unmistakable whiff of blocked drains on a hot day. I mean.....c'mon....what's not to like? Don't answer that.

I want to stop doing these pub-rock/pop knock-offs but they just sort of seep out inadvertently - like automatic writing or speaking in tongues. Is there some kind of Betty Ford clinic I can attend?


Meticulous in evidence
never leave any scent.
I am discrete
an accomplished cheat
incapable of self-deceit.

I'm most surprised therefore
to find my clothes strewn outside
and my wife engaged with a Stanley knife...

So I said why did you do me like that?
She said bye bye to your lies
you can kiss my arse goodbye.

In my defence
at safe distance
I bargained for lenience.
It cut no ice.
Refusing pleas to empathise,
as I caught fire...she slashed my tyres.

So I said etc

(I'm as innocent as driven snow)

music, lyric and sound recording p & c DMH 2013

posted by Hoops McCann (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If a track is uploaded to metafilter and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Ahh yes, the vexed question of unperceived existence. On the basis of the obvious lack of response to uploads I'm not at all sure about mefimu...
posted by Hoops McCann at 12:30 PM on June 3, 2013

Was about to write this off as kinda well executed but schlocky until the vocals came in. It's like Ween doing the Dire Straits. IOW: hell yeah!
posted by es_de_bah at 5:00 PM on June 3, 2013

Glorious guitars, Hoops, and I love the chorus but to be honest the flip lyrics didn't really do it for me... made it seem more throwaway than it needed to be.
posted by unSane at 5:14 PM on June 3, 2013

Never heard of Ween - but thanks for that ("was about to write this off" Cue Lou Reed barbed snarl: oh really sonny?? Care to step outside for a moment??).

Glorious guitars butter no parsnips, as the saying doesn't quite go. You're dead right about the lyric unSane - it's contrived shite. You can tell from the blurb with the upload that I wasn't over the moon about this one. "So why upload it then?" you may reasonably ask. I guess I thought that the chorus was pretty strong musically (as I think you've picked up on) and I'd invested quite a lot of effort in putting the backing track together - too much to just dump it. But then I had to try to write a lyric, and.........oh dear...

Don't know about you but I find it incredibly difficult to rewrite lyrics in a chorus once the thing "sets" as it were. The lyrics are almost always off-the-cuff written-in-the-moment things that somehow seem to work with the melody. They very rapidly become one and the same thing. Once the very narrow window of opportunity to change them closes - I'm pretty well fucked creatively. And then I have to try to write the rest of the lyric to somehow make sense with the chorus words. It really didn't work this time! I had that awful sinking feeling pretty much as soon as I started recording the verses (I did the choruses first) - turd polishing.

Whatever - onto the next one!
posted by Hoops McCann at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2013

I agree it's staggeringly difficult to rewrite a chorus but sometimes you can nudge it around a bit.

I think your chorus is good in this... the only thing that jars is 'kiss your arse/ass goodbye' and I'm pretty sure you could tweak that into something else. Just replace 'my arse' with something else with two syllables. Then rework the verses maybe.

I think your process is very similar to mine. I usually get the hook first and then try and work the rest of the song around it. I've had to learn to not rush it. I often end up grinding out the lyric line by line, word by word, sometimes syllable by syllable.

My friend Patrick years ago pointed out that when I wrote something that I meant, rather than something that I kind of just threw out there, it made a huge difference. It's not always easy or possible to do that, but it's never left me.
posted by unSane at 8:34 PM on June 4, 2013

I didn't think there was much wrong with the "kiss my a" lyric - I quite liked the earthiness of that. I tried to make the lyric into something where the protagonist was a sort of self-obsessed pompous idiot who simply couldn't conceive that he'd be found out, and then contrasted his self-important language with that of his more salty spouse. That was the theory. Didn't work. Hey ho. I can't be bothered to rewrite it - you know what I'm like by now regarding reheats - I'd rather work on something new.

I think your friend's advice is sound btw. Something else that I'm really trying to hang on to is the fact that a strong chorus ain't enough. The whole melody line has to be strong - in fact everything needs to be strong if you want to elevate something above run-of-the-mill. It's a huge mistake to write everything round a chorus, or a guitar figure or what have you. It's a sort of delusion caused by the fact that you think everyone is going to just focus on that strong bit of the song and make allowances for the rest of it, when in fact they won't hear it that way. They'll hear a lot of so-so stuff and then the bit you think is the killer which they'll maybe just think is "quite good" because the rest of the track is mediocre. Perception and perspective are fascinating things! Only my opinion of course, but I think there's something in that somewhere.
posted by Hoops McCann at 1:12 AM on June 5, 2013

I agree with all of that. One of the things I do, and I think it helps, is when come up with a catchy riff or hook, that could be a chorus, I turn that into the verse part and keep looking, because for me it's much easier to work forwards from a verse to a chorus than it is to work backwards from a chorus to a verse. And also the chorus is usually harmonically simpler than the verse.

At any rate, if I've got a verse I can usually get to a chorus and bridge pretty quickly.

On the other hand, I went to a house concert last night which featured a (very good) singer songwriter (this fellow, excuse the hokey video) and this morning the only thing I can remember of his originals are the hooks, but they really stuck with me, so sometimes that's really all you need... an atmosphere, a build and a hook.
posted by unSane at 5:27 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

But......some of that may be to do with the atmosphere etc at the gig. If you'd heard the songs "cold" would they have had the same impact?

For my part I'm going to try to stop forcing songs. When I get good ideas it's not often that a song will come out whole as it were. It's usually a chorus or verse etc. But just because I can generally come up with something pretty quickly to tag onto that good idea doesn't mean that that's what I should do. Instead I should park the idea when it's run out of gas and be patient. Wait until another good idea emerges that might just fit with it. In fact, this has happened only in the last day or two with a riff idea I had (that I think you've heard) called "Let the Fire Burn Low". I had a vocal for that (which you've not heard) that I thought was a hook. But no, it's a verse. I now have the hook/chorus. And the track will be called "Michelangelo". And that's an example of what I was banging on about upthread in terms of the words/melodies becoming indivisible:

C'mon make it glow
Paint it on the ceiling.

Where that came from is quite beyond me (it's not even in standard time), and how I'll fashion a coherent lyric around it beats the hell out of me right now. But that's part of the fun!
posted by Hoops McCann at 12:39 PM on June 5, 2013

Right on. For at least a couple of years now I've been recording anything that sounded promising and stuffing it in a metaphorical shoebox. It's very rare that it all comes at once. But the stuff simmers away and I keep working at it, and it means there's always something there ready to go when I'm in the mood. I've got a mass of stuff now, at least a hundred bits and pieces, and whenever I go through it there's always stuff that I'd forgotten about that makes me go 'oh, that's cool'.

I hate it when a song takes a wrong direction as it's SO freakin' hard to get it back where it needs to go and it can be a real waste of a good part.
posted by unSane at 6:04 PM on June 5, 2013

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