ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG

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ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG

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In the last blog I just posted, I talked about one way to write a song, being in the spirit right after the Key West Songwriters Festival concluded. I mentioned that was one way I write a song, however there were others. Regardless of where I’m coming from when writing a song, I will always have a pen and paper ready. As I play and lyrics come to mind, I’ll flip the guitar over and write the line down that I come up with. I’ll do that immediately. If not, I’ll forget it. Likewise, if I’m out doing things and an idea comes to mind, be it a melody, lyric, or song idea, I’ll note it in my phone as either a note, or a voice memo. If I don’t, again, I’ll forget it. A LOT of songwriters tell me they do the same.

 As I’m in the muse as far as writing goes and I’m on a roll, here’s another way that I write a song.

Two songs here I’ll extrapolate on, “Dildo Key” and “Island Blue”.

In both of these cases, unlike the first songwriting post on “The Beach!!!!”, which was based on spontaneity, these two songs were projects to be done before any music or lyrics were established.
In the case of “Dildo Key”, what had happened was I was looking at a soundings chart of the upper Keys, which includes everything from Key Largo and Islemorada on the east, to the west coast of the tip of Florida. For those who don’t know what a soundings chart is, it’s basically a road map for boaters listing the depths of the water. It’s also called a depth chart.

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Well, while looking at the chart my eyes almost popped out! There was an island named “Dildo Key”! I rubbed my eyes to make sure there wasn’t an error, however it remained the same!
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This is not something that could be by-passed by a songwriter! How could you pass this up? No, here was a song that was being handed to me on a silver platter! In this case it was different than “The Beach!!!”. As I said, “The Beach!!!!” was spontaneous. “Dildo Key” became a project in the making before any of it was ever looked at musically, or lyrically.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I write the music first. With that in mind, I needed a proper foundation to build on. For myself, it’s like building a house. You don’t start with the roof, or the first floor, you start with the foundation and build up from there. The way I look at it, the music is the most important part of the song. I’ve heard people who wrote the most prolific lyrics, but the music they applied to it, is a complete and utter sleeping pill, or mediocre. For others it works however, but not for me.

Therefore, I had the opportunity to set the stage for the song!
Now, with a name like “Dildo Key”, it has to be something with a comic, fun feel. That goes without saying! I figured something along a barrel house blues could work. Me being me, the progression would have to have a traditional feel, yet be unique at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, it needed to also have a humorous twist! The end result is a progression that stands on it’s own, related to virtually nothing else, yet at the same time, it sounds familiar.
What I came up with for the basic progression was:

E  C#7  F#7  B7    E C#7 F#7 B7   E  E7  A  A7     E  C#7  F#7 B7   and a turn around of E C#7 F#7 B7 E B7 E B7

That worked! It’s it’s own progression.

Now that that was established, I had a very original format to work lyrically within. this was exactly what my quest was. A solid, original foundation was ready to be built on. The lyrics would easily fit in this wheelhouse! Mind you, it doesn’t happen all the time! This can bite you in the ass quite often, when you least expect it.

As an example of this, the title song of the album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West – Things could be worse”, never materialized. The song just never cut it for my standards. However that happens no matter how one writes.

With “Dildo Key”, we were cooking with oil!

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The lyrics were naturally peppered with suggestive innuendos, as one would expect from a song named after a island called Dildo Key. How could it not be? It likewise didn’t hurt that the key next to Dildo Key is Johnson Key… seriously, how did this happen?   

Lyrically “Dildo Key” turned out to be one of my longer songs, with six verses. The first verse was designed to set the stage of a guy singing happily and just heading out fishing in the Florida Keys. The next verse, he gets there, all is quite normal until he arrives at the destinaltion, Dildo Key, which immediately after it is named comes the “horror chord” hit suddenly and abruptly. It’s EC#FGC#E… OUCH!!!!

As I say, the rest of the song is peppered with inuendos designed to crack a smile and hopefully some laughter!

I wanted Barry Cuda to play piano on the track. ‘Cuda has been a Key West icon for thirty years and while being a great cut up, he’s seriously a blues authority. I sent him a demo of the song and a lyric/chord chart to learn. Like almost all of the guys who played on the album, he arrived and when it came to playing the song he suddenly stopped and said “Hey! What’s going on here?”. This is an issue I always ran into as my songs aren’t your basic chord progressions. It can be a pain in the ass, as a writer. It’s also expensive when musicians realize there’s a lot more to the song than they assumed and they wind up learning it in the studio. On the entire album, only Richard Crooks went over every song and charted it as well, before arriving in the studio.

‘Cuda learned it very quickly however and did a superb job on the song as well! There are several people out there who tell me Dildo Key is my best work. I don’t agree with them, however it is surely my most humorous! Tuba and all!!!

Dildo Key can be found on CD Baby, CD Universe and iTunes. Search “Key West Chris”
Here’s the CDBaby link:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris


ISLAND BLUE

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Another song written with a subject in mind was “Island Blue”. My friend Misty Loggins called me from Nashville to say she was coming down to play for a week at Smokin Tuna. I said “Hey! Why don’t we cut a song while you’re here?” she thought it was a great idea. It was after I hung up that I realized I didn’t have a song for her and it was only two weeks before she would be here. Uh Oh!

I went a week walking into walls. Nothing worked. Then, I was on my satee one morning trying to come up with something and went from an E to a B7 and it rung! Suddenly I was off to the races! I came up with an original progression that would fit the Patsy Cline/Willy Nelson genre of Country. The progression and song is entirely different, but you could easily put it in the same category as “Crazy”. The progression went:

E, E7, B7, C#m7, F#m7, B7, E E7 A A7 E C9 B9 E Bdim
For the bridge:
A Maj 7, E Maj 7, A Maj7, E Maj7, E7, A E Maj7, E7, F#m7, G#m7 C#m7 Cm7 Bm7, A Maj7, F#m7, B7, E, C9, B9, E, Bdim

So, here I ended up with a very original progression with a foundation that was as solid as a rock, which invited lyrics to build off of.

The story would be of a person who visits the tropics from afar and decides to move and stay.

When we cut the song Misty asked if we could move the song a half step up, to accommodate her voice. No problem! So when we recorded it, we did it in F and it’s been that way ever since, be it if Misty, myself, or Dani were singing it.

Here’s the song. It will be on my next album “Jump Into De Fi-Ya!”, although it will not be this particular cut. The one we’ll use is a different mix altogether and with Dani on background vocals.


                                                              ISLAND BLUE
I
ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA TAKE ME
BACK THROUGH THE WINDS OF TIME
OH ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA CHANGE THIS HEART OF MINE
II
WHEN I CAME TO THIS ISLAND
FOR SUNSHINE AND MARITIME AIR
OH ISLAND BLUE, YOUR SANDY BEACHES, SEEM SO UNFAIR
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE
III
SO ISLAND BLUE, NO I’M NOT CRYING
NO MISURY, NO PAIN
OH ISLAND BLUE IT JUST ISN’T FAIR
TO FEEL THIS WAY
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE

IV
SO I SAID GOOD BY TO MY CITY
AU REVOIR TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
©2011 Christopher R. Rehm, BMI


While there is no right way or a wrong way to write a song, in both this blog and the last you’ll have read that I always set the foundation first and foremost. This works well for me. Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Garcia/Hunter, and Jobim/Moraes among others, use(d) this method as well.


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All the Best From Key West!

Thank you for reading my Blog!!!!

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Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/05/another-way-of-writing-song.html