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Story Behind The Song - THE WORLD SMILES WITH YOU 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"   

 Episode 11 : THE WORLD SMILES WITH YOU

This song signifies my adventurous attempt at bringing electronic beats and instruments into the mix. I wrote it very organically on an acoustic guitar with four simple chords. It's still there, but there's so many things happening in this song, you have to listen really closely to hear it! 

All vocals and instruments performed by me. Recorded and mixed with Logic Pro on a MacBook Pro.

 

Get the album "III" HERE

To see past song stories, CLICK HERE

Story Behind The Song - NORDSTRANTANA 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"   

 Episode 7 : NORDSTRANTANA

Unlike a most of the instrumental tracks I write which are meant to be just background music for a TV show, this is a true instrumental consisting of a lot of guitar as the feature instrument. It was mean to be listened to! 

The name is a bit strange, but I had to come up with something!. It reminded of a hipster "beat" I would hear while roaming the aisles of certain sections of Nordstrom. Also, there was something about it that reminded me of Carlos Santana. I had fun experimenting with pre-recorded instrument and drum loops.

Anyway, it was sitting around inside the "vault" for a while so I finally released it officially. It has been playing in businesses around the world through an online publisher, but now it's on CD and Spotify and all the rest of the streaming locations.

All instruments performed by me. Recorded and mixed with Logic Pro on an MacBook Pro.

Get the album "III" HERE

To see past song stories, CLICK HERE

Story Behind The Song - CAN'T STAY HERE 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"   

 Episode 6 : CAN'T STAY HERE

I set out from the start to write a moody song. Mission accomplished, I think! Ha ha.

This character hopefully is right on the edge of changing his ways and turning his life around. In my younger days, or wait..... or as a working musician, you are at the gig till the end - closing time. I guess I've heard this phrase more than once- "Don't gotta go home, but you can't stay here!!"

Probably been written before, but silly me said, "Hey, let's write another!" 

On the technical side, the "virtual" drums inside the Logic software gave me a realistic palette of drum kits and fills for me to work with. This is the first song I've put out with the new "gear".

A professional critique i got on this was "classic rock". I suppose the electric guitar lent itself to this. I loved the "Brian May" (Queen) guitar tone I discovered and I couldn't resist not using it!. There was no guitar amp in the room. It's all computer software doing it's magic. My Elton John roots did cross my mind as well as I was working on this one.

All vocals and instruments performed by me. Recorded and mixed with Logic X on an iMac.

Get the album "III" HERE

To see past song stories, CLICK HERE


***** LYRICS *****

CAN'T STAY HERE

The spark of a tongue
Saying you're done
Then you slam the door

Look at you now
Closing it down
Watching the whiskey pour

The barmaid's barking like a buccaneer
Don't gotta go home
But you can't stay here

A flood of regret
Muddles your head
Like an empty glass

Love on the line
Losing your mind
Used to hurt so bad

All you wanted was to disappear
Don't gotta go home
But you can't stay here

And as you're spilling off that barstool
Empty hand around your phone
You reach out for some blonde to break your fall

Hit with the lights
Nothing to hide
Nothing to feel at all

Except for the hole
Shaking your soul
Like an altar call

The spirit's willing, but the flesh can't steer
Don't gotta go home, but you can't stay here

© 2018 Steve Probst

Story Behind The Song - A GIRL AND HER DOG 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"   

 Episode 5 : A GIRL AND HER DOG

One summer day at a New Jersey park for load-in and soundcheck, I spied, across a wide open green expanse, a girl and her....dog...interacting under a tree.

Purely on thinking it was a good title, I went from there with any kind of story line this song might take. At the time of writing this I remember thinking this one as breaking out of the normal type of song I would write. It was fun coming up with the soft brass and woodwind lines in the chorus. (All sampled instruments -  meaning, not played by real players, at my house, in front of a microphone - all from the computer). I'm really happy with the outcome.

All vocals and instruments performed by me. Recorded and mixed with Logic Pro on a MacBookPro.

Get the album "III" HERE

***** LYRICS *****

A GIRL AND HER DOG

Looking out across the green
Not a soul to be seen
Just a girl and her dog

Just like any other day
Till my thoughts began to stray
Toward the girl and her dog

We spend our lives tugging on the leash
Whatever's out of reach looks so inviting
We wag our tails until the bitter end
Every now and then we think get our way

I turned away to watch the clouds
Dancing shadows all around
The girl and her dog

CHORUS

Like a bulldog with a bone
I can't leave well enough alone
And so this song
About a girl and her dog

© 2012 Steve Probst

Story Behind The Song - MAMA GONNA WHOOP YOU 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"   

Episode 4 : MAMA GONNA WHOOP YOU

There isn't any long, inspirational story to this song. My good friend and one-time traveling buddy, Kevin, with Hotel California, told me how his mom used to say "Mama's gonna whoop you" or something to that effect. Naturally, heard a song title right off the bat, wrote it down for later. 

Later arrived and so did the song in all it's uncomplicated blues/rock mischievousness.

Anyway, MAMA GONNA WHOOP YOU has been released to the masses! 

Get the album "III" HERE

Story Behind The Song - PHOENIX HOTEL 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III"  

Episode 3 : PHOENIX HOTEL

I believe this tune of mine is the oldest on the album, as far as the writing part is concerned. It's from my personal experience of staying at an actual hotel in San Francisco called the Phoenix Hotel. Hotel California was in town for a corporate show and they put us up in this "boutique" establishment. 

I’m singing real life here: hearing happy couples, sipping free coffee in one of those always-too-small throwaway cups; slippers from home; cozy wall heater, lonely heart…. I think caffeine refills were at the breakfast bar outside under an overhang overlooking the pool. 

Oh, and this is song 1 of 2 set in picturesque San Francisco. 

[“Let’s Take The Stairs” from my album “Window Seat” is also a "San Francisco song" thanks to the “City by the Bay”. Which brings a thought that I haven’t done song stories about the previous album.] Hmmm...

Get the album "III" HERE

Story Behind The Song - MY HAPPY PLACE 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III" 

Episode 2 : MY HAPPY PLACE

The seed of this tune came firstly not from artistic inspiration - "Oh, I must capture this song immediately while the muse flows freely through my ever-sensitive creative soul!!" - Oh no, my friends.

There's a song that I really like by Christ Stapleton called, "Whisky and Me". I decided one day to take the form of the song, rhyme scheme, etc and just write something in the same pattern. As an exercise and a way to "jump start" the writing process. First thing I did was search for a title with the same syllables as "whisky and me" from list of title ideas I'm constantly adding to. I decided on "My Happy Place". I then flipped the sentiment - the former song was sad, mine would be happy.

Click play:

I just started my usual "just writing anything until something sticks" (if anything even would that day). I remember sitting on the floor, "reaching" for the possible song that might be floating around "in the room". Stuff started appearing on my yellow pad:

"Fridge is humming" ?- We have an older fridge thta keeps chuggin along!
 "Browning onions smell like heaven in a pan"? True story. Love it.
"Pillow laying on the floor" - There it was to my left, the couch throw pillow
"That Christmas present that never made it out the door"? There it was, over to my right. 
"Puppy paws" - 2 dogs, 8 paws in the household!

The "tie comes off" bit is a bit of a fabrication. I don't wear a tie and come home from the office every day. (Although I've been know to wear one onstage)

In many songs, the "hook" comes right at the beginning of the chorus. I let "My Happy Place" close out every verse.

The stuff about Disney and New York City in the bridge? That's me. My happy places. But the bridge closes out with very best kind of "happy place"

And of course, the ultimate "happy place" in Verse 3.

-----

It was suggested in a songwriting critique session to rewrite the bridge. But I left it as is to move to another song. Someone else may not want to recorded it, but it has a whole not of "me" in it, so I figured I'd keep it for myself.

-----

There you have it! A song that might never have been born that day if I hadn't practiced a little pro-writer discipline and shown up to the solo "writing session"! 

Check out the photo below. I was surprised to be reminded in my scribblings that "My Happy Place" started at the beach but ended up in the living room! 

I love songwriting! How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the song pattern inspiration for "My Happy Place":

Get the album "III" HERE

What Are You Doing...? 

Going back to my previous post about my morning routine when I'm home. Sort of my public declaration of professional and artistic progress, I guess. Ha ha.

I opened up a song early this morning that I'm currently writing with a new friend and co-writer. There was a line that I thought could just be stronger; like it was there just to rhyme.

Just spending a short time on it and coming up with something usable, or at least a new direction we can take the lyric, sets up the rest of the day. Even if it's filled with some non-musical tasks. I wrote today! I made progress today! Hallelujah! 

Can't wait to share it.

What Are You Doing...? 

I’ve changed home my morning routine a bit (at least at home) that has been a little more fruitful in the songwriting department. It’s real easy to sit back, sipping coffee, relax, and read whatever in the early hours, then get to the real work. 

After opening my Bible app to the living words therein for a spiritual realignment, instead of letting emails and social media fill my head with all kinds of stuff (not all bad but still “stuff”) during my second cup of coffee, I get out my yellow legal pad and just start writing – anything. Without an expectation of how good it’s going to be. 

(I use the Masterwriter app as well for writing. But by using a yellow legal pad first, I feel sort of like a painter on a canvas. Good old pencil and paper!) 

I’ve got a assorted lists on paper and on just about every electronic device I own full of song titles, one line descriptions of “life scenes”, paragraphs, newspaper articles, the list goes on. I just pick one idea and start writing something underneath it, even if it’s bad. And most times I get something I can build upon in the coming mornings or whenever it’s lyric writing time. 
(In the photo on the right, Duff has no idea how brilliant I am!)

After my morning idea brainstorming, I continue on to a physical workout of some sort.

I guess you could describe my "workout" routine as follows:
1. Spiritual
2. Mental
3. Physical

A recent example that got me all excited and I felt like a songwriter again. It started with something I wrote down, at least a year ago if not more, “Came home to the Santa Anas, whipping up a tune”. True story. (Around where I live, we can get some strong winds - the Santa Anas.)

That’s it! 

As an embryo of a lyric formed, when I got to scribblings for the second part of the verse – What rhymes with Santa Anas? Well…Pollyanna. Okay, this is getting interesting I think to myself. 

What ends up happening, a place, a story, etc appears, and then it seems I have a lyric slowly being wrapped inside a melody. 

Then the second part of the verse with the word “Pollyanna” in it develops a life all it’s own and seems better now as the chorus; the hook of the song. And there’s my song title: “Pollyanna”. And off I go to Wikipedia for "Pollyanna" references.

The thing about these songwriting exercises as I’ve described above is, for me, building the discipline to sit down and just write without expectations opens up my eyes, my ears, and my heart to life around me as I go about my day. I feel I could write a song of just about anything or at the very least, write down one line to use later. 

It almost becomes a welcome “sickness”. I’m a words hoarder! 

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Here are some "awesome" highlights from this past week: