Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love And The Borg

I think it's a supreme discipline to know that you have three to four minutes to get together all your lost emotions and find words of one syllable or less to put forward all your ideas.  It's a discipline of form that I don't think is cheap or shoddy.   

- Robert Fripp

I think non-musicians often have an overly romanticized idea of what is involved.  They see someone play and attribute too much to talent, forgetting, if they ever knew, that playing an instrument is a skill like any other, and the main ingredient is not talent but practice.

My beautiful, amazing, superlative-in-every-way wife is like that.  One day, she asked me what I think about when I'm performing.  I think she was hoping that, as I play some love song, I'm thinking of her.  She was quite disappointed by my answer:  when I'm performing, I'm thinking about getting the song right

That's it.

There are other considerations:  Is my gear working?  Can I hear?  Can I get the bass player to stop watching that cute girl on the dance floor for one second so there won't be a train wreck at the bridge?  Even so, these all reduce to the same thing:  getting the song right.

Songwriting is the same way.  People who have never done that see it as a product of inspiration.  That's part of it, but a very small one.  Mostly, you sit down and work.  You take some idea and go with it, editing, tweaking, and refining until you have something like a presentable song.

Anyway, my honey has always wanted me to write a song "for her," under the illusion that that is how love songs come to be.  In most cases, I don't think that is true.  Even a luminary like George Harrison said repeatedly that he didn't write Something for his then-wife, but for Ray Charles.  You get an idea and go with it.  It is usually a general thing, not a specific one.

The myth persists, though, because that is what the audience wants to believe.

Even so, I hate to deny my honey anything. And I recently decided I would unromantically set to work and give her her song.  Again, it's not that I don't feel the romance, but that is not really part of the process.  You get an idea and go with it.  Basically, you sit down and work.  That's it.

It is an added difficulty if you know that your lyrics will be evaluated, not only as a song, but also on the truth of their content.  But we do what we need to do. 

I found the extra push I needed here.  Meet my Telecaster, whom I affectionately call The Borg:

Borg because of the glowing red eye on the little black gadget screwed to the front, which lets me control the guitar synth in that unassuming little blue box on the floor.

The recording itself was a strange mix of high and low tech.  On the one hand, I used a brand new guitar synth and recorded to a computer.  On the other, I only have the facility to record straight into the room in almost mono.  I can record a single, uninterrupted track, and either live with it or do it again.  Period.  To adjust the level of my vocal, I can either take a big step toward the computer to turn it up, or step away to turn it down.

We do what we need to do.

But anyway, the recording is essentially live, using just the synth and its internal looper.  And it really is a lot of fun to play drums on a guitar, though the experience takes some getting used to.  But enough about The Borg.  Let's return to love.

It's You

You don't need no fancy dresses
You don't need no high-heel shoes
You've got everything a man could want
You've got a love I can't refuse
You don't need to wear no makeup
You don't need to paint your face
You're everything I dreamed of
You've got a love I can't replace

'Cos I still love looking in your eyes so blue and I
Still love to watch you from across the room and I
Love your smile and your sexy laugh
I still catch myself staring at your photograph
When you're dancing to the rhythm with the radio on
The way you shake your hips just turning me on
And there's only one thing that I want in the world
A little good loving from a blue-eyed girl

'Cos it's you that I wanted
It's you that I need
You're the only girl I dream of
At night when I fall asleep
And I still feel a chill when you're calling my name and I
Need your loving and you're feeling the same and I'm
Trying to find a way to get you to see
It's you, you're the one for me.

You don't need no satin ribbons
You don't need to style your hair
When you wake up in the morning
That's all it takes to get me there
You don't need Victoria's Secret
No lace or all the rest
Because the way the good Lord made you
Is the way I love you best

And I'm feeling like a schoolboy falling in love
When I'm looking at you I can't get enough
You don't need tips from fashion magazines
With your hair pulled back and your cutoff jeans
You don't need to wear a lot of fancy French perfume
To take my breath away when you walk in the room
You don't need diamonds, you don't need any pearls
Your smile is all it takes to be my cover girl

'Cos it's you that I wanted
It's you that I need
Whenever we're together it's the only way to be
And I still feel a chill when you're calling my name and I
Need your loving and you're feeling the same and I'm
Trying to find a way to get you to see
It's you, you're the one for me.

You don't need no complications
I won't give you no distress
'Cos the things you've got to give me
Are the things I love the best
You don't need no invitation
If you want to get with me
'Cos whenever we're together
It's the only way to be

And I still feel a chill when you're calling my name and I
Need your loving and you're feeling the same and I'm
Feeling like a schoolboy falling in love
With my blue-eyed girl, I can't get enough
When you're dancing to the rhythm with the radio on
The way you shake your hips got it going on and I'm
Trying to find a way to get you to see
That it's you, you're the one

And every time I look into your blue-blue eyes and I
Feel my temperature is starting to rise
When I'm lying next to you and feel your body so warm
My ears start ringing like a fire alarm
And when I'm watching you dancing and you're shaking your hips
Thinking about the magic in your fingertips and I
Feel a chill running down my spine
It's you, you're the one....

And there it is.  After sixteen years, she and I both can cross that one off the list.  And, technical details aside,  love is, after all, what it is all about.  Some of it may be specific to us, some of it is more general, but I will say this:  If you do not feel similarly about your own beloved, no matter how much time has passed, you probably aren't doing it right.

Respectfully Yours,



Suldog said...

That is truly a superb piece of pop.

One of the great tests for any song of this type is whether or not you'd like to hear more of it than there is, if you come to the fade and say, "Oh, shoot, I want it to keep going." This passed that test with flying colors. Also, it was an instant earworm for me. I've got the combo of rhythm guitar and vocal running through my brain and I think I may not shake it for the rest of the day. Extremely well done.

Cricket said...

Thanks, my swell pal.

silly rabbit said...

I think its wonderful and very romantic! There... a chick's view.
But let me add, that process... the sitting down and getting to work... that is the labor behind the love that makes it romantic, more than words.
I don't have to tell you how blessed you and the wife are. Thank you for sharing this. Did my heart some good to share in your joy.

Buck said...

I'm not a musician, but... what Jim said. Very well done, Cricket. Your wife MUST be pleased.

Craig said...

Gee, thanks! You wrote a song for our 32nd anniversary!

See, 'cuz that's the way a good love song works. Paul may have written 'My Love' for Linda, but it works just fine for Jen and me, too. . .

And, "Don't need to wear no makeup. . ."

I always tell that to Jen, too. . . but I don't think she believes me. . .

stephen Hayes said...

I visited at Suldog's suggestion and I'm glad I did. Nice blog. I'm your newest following. Visit me sometime at Chubby Chatterbox. Take care.

Hilary said...

I knew it sounded familiar. :) You sent this to me a while back and I remember thinking how sweet it was of you.. Don't underestimate the romantic in you. I recall you telling me how you introduced the song to her... :)

Daryl said...

Over from Suldog's and I thank you for explaining how this process is done, I, too, always wondered what singer/musicians (oh yeah and Ron who gives me the best massage evah) think about as they perform. Being completely w/o musical talent (and being tone deaf to boot) I am envious of those to whom the music muse whispers .. so thanks!!

Jackie said...

I came here from Jim's blog. This is a wonderful and romantic way to musically share the love you have for your wife. You are both blessed.

Matt Conlon said...

Wow, that's going to be stuck in my head for a while... Well done sir!

Michelle H. said...

Love it. I'm not sure I would call it pop. Maybe puck rock with pop elements. But I'm not a musician.

lime said...

i've said it before and i'll say it again. that you are willing to engage in the work to display love in a way that is meaningful to your wife shows that you know how to love well. and being witness to that is a joy. wonderful.

suz said...

Very well done indeed. - Karen

Craig said...

Thanks for sending the .mp3 my way. I really like it. It's bouncy and fun, but the lyrics give it a deceptive depth. Thanks. It's going into my Love Song Archives. . .


CiCi said...

Bravo. Sweet, fun, sentimental music. I know this means so much to your wife. What a tribute to your love, music is something that can be passed down to generations.
I am applauding your work, your big heart, and your belief in love.

Suldog said...

Just retracing some steps taken long ago and came across this piece of great stuff. Whatever became of you? Love, my swell pal.