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Story Behind The Song - MAMA GONNA WHOOP YOU 

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

Episode 3 : 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.

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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.

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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! 

3 Tweets (Say 5 Times Fast!) 

If you're a "tweeter", feel free to follow me  HERE     

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

The Humble & "Amazing" Legacy of Huell Howser 

PBS TV host, Huell Howser was known and loved by many Californians as well as myself. You could watch his slow-paced, down-home, totally family-friendly program and suddenly all was right with the world. He passed away sadly in 2013, so this past Summer I went to visit his archives all donated by Huell himself to Chapman University in Orange, California. Loved it. Many of the quotes about his creative process, how he found his stories to present - spoke to me about songwriting as well. 

Huell Howser Archives - Orange, California
Feel free to scroll through the photos.

Along with many musical types, he's right up there on the creative inspiration scale for me personally. 

One-liners, Life Skills From Baseball 

One thing I picked up from the beginning of summer is watching NY Mets baseball. 
 
Do to my reminder from songwriter bootcamp to "Think Like A Writer" - lots of one-liners written down from this new past time, that either relate to the "game" of songwriting, life, or could be actual song content down the road, such as:

"They've had coffee, room service, they're ready to go."

"It's a funny game. You can be gangbusters one day and then suddenly be on the skids."

"It doesn't matter what happened the day before, we come out ready to play." [Phillies quote]

"Powered that ball over the head of God."

"Anytime you get the barrel on the ball, good things can happen." [Branden Nimmo, Mets rookie]

Terry Collins on Harvey's (starting pitcher) struggles: "There are two kinds of players in this league - ones who have been humbled and ones who will be. When it's your turn, it's tough to take sometimes. You got to adjust and got to learn how to bounce back from it."

"This game will get you talking to yourself."

"You're judged at rock bottom and how you pull yourself up from your bootstraps."

"Right where he likes to put his pots and pans."

With special thanks mostly to Mets announcers: Gary Collins, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling.

Songs In Progress - Episode 4 

After completing a songwriting bootcamp with a #1 songwriter and coach it was like, ...drop everything and start writing more new songs! [What? Me focus?!] lol

Here's one with a simple demo I put together to see how I like it later - maybe get some feedback on it.

How it came about:

1. During our group songwriting coaching call, a now-award-winning artist named Chris Stapleton was mentioned. So I went and listened to his latest album.
2. One day, I took his song "Whiskey And You", set the lyrics in front of me, and decided to use it as template for a new song. At this point, it was just about "practice" songwriting.
3. I look through my list of title ideas and simply matched syllables with Chris' song title. I decided on "My Happy Place". (Counted on my fingers 1-2-3-4 - THAT I can do!)
4. Lo and behold, because I "showed up" for work, inspiration starting showing up as well, and the song lyric was on it's way!

Ps. Those that know me at all are probably not surprised in the least that I wrote this particular song!

Songs In Progress - Episode 1 

Remember the song progress clips I spoke about? Well, here's one! (Okay, it's like this. If I was painter and you came to my house, you'd see a bunch of unfinished canvases in different stages of ....finished-ness... set up and begging for more attention... or maybe crying to be taken down and stowed away!)

With "Live On", I was going for inspirational acoustic based contemp. singer/songwriter songs with pop appeal. But at this tempo it seems more "Folk" to me, and maybe it got away from the direction I was originally planning on. I think some sort of latent "Neil Diamond" in me took over. No worries though. This is as far as I got (lyrics, melody and all) on the deadline day.
Want to know how I came to settle on this tempo (speed of song)? I just repeated "Live On' to myself while tapping on my knee. Seemed to fit best, this tempo, so off I went.

Vocals, lyrics, instruments, you name it, subject to change! :)

Hear "Live On (work mix)"
 

If there's life on other planets I can't say I care
When there's a part of me you can't see that's lighter than air
I'm not trying to go way over your head
It's just something on my heart that just needs to be said

Thought about my days, the ebb and the flow
Took a walk on the beach and kicked at the foam
Saw the children live it up, another sunset lay it down
And then a still small voice washed over me like the roar of a crowd

Let your life be more than just a message in the sand
Waiting for the tide to come crashing down again
Every second counts
Take the higher ground
And Live On

What if every word we speak has a lifetime unseen?
It could tear through a soul or help it spread it's wings?
Are we a seabird on the wind, just born to fade away?
Or will we make a better life right here and now and for forever and a day?