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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

My Spotify "Starred" Song List 

Starting in 2012, I began collecting songs in a custom Spotify playlist I simply called "Starred". Currently there are 392 tunes, and I continue to add to it. When I don't know what I want to listen to, I just put on the Starred list. 

The qualifications for making this list of all genres - enough to make your head spin - are many.

1. Something I have on an old album in my vinyl collection collecting dust that were favorites.
2. Some sort of "new release" that has a production quality or lyric or melody or all of the above that I wanted to hear again more than once. 
3. If a song makes me laugh or go "What?!" - ie: some of the Rolling Stones stuff. (Not necessarily a fan, I can appreciate the spontaneity and humor) 
4. Numerous songs from the same artist that stem from my exploration of artist like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, etc. I'll start from the beginning of their catalog, give each album a listen, and find some cool stuff I've never heard before.

Here we go!

#1 (In order of addition to list): Helen Austin is an independent songwriter/artist from Canada who has seen lots of success with her songs being licensed on TV shows. I just loved the simplicity of her recordings as something I wanted to take note of for some of my own projects. Her voice is very unique. 

Taxi Music Forward - 70s Love-Themed Pop Song 

....Which means: “Hey cool track, I'm going to pass this on. It may be usable to the TV/Film person that will hear it next."

70s?

Bingo, that's the music I grew up on. I don't necessarily write in this style nowadays, but maybe it'll find a home in a film or something.

CLICK HERE to hear "And We're Dancing"
 
1970’s Style LOVE-THEMED POP SONGS with Male or Female Vocals are needed for (up to) $500, Direct-to-Supervisor NON-Exclusive Placements in an Independent Film. They’re looking for classic-sounding, well-structured, Down-to-Mid-Tempo Songs that could be found on the same playlist as artists/bands like (but not limited to) Brian Hyland, Bread, Carpenters, Todd Rundgren, etc., etc., etc. Take a listen to the following songs to get in the stylistic wheelhouse of what they need: “Gypsy Woman” by Brian Hyland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StC5lwA2snM “Make It With You” by Bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0KXV0gB0dw “(They Long To Be) Close To You” by Carpenters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFx-5PGLgb4 “Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u3VEoxQLPE Please submit emotionally touching Songs that capture the easy listening vibe of the references above, with a timeless approach in terms of melody, lyrics, vocals, and overall sound. Lyric themes should revolve around the positive aspects of love and relationships. Universal lyrics will work best, so please avoid references to specific names, dates, times, brands, and profanity. 

Taxi Music Forward - Classic Rock Instrumental 

....Which means: “Hey cool track, I'm going to pass this on. It may be usable to the TV/Film person that will hear it next”. I was aiming for something like Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean".

"1960's to 1970's-Style CLASSIC ROCK INSTRUMENTAL CUES are needed by a NON-Exclusive Music Library that has lots of great TV placements, especially in Reality TV. They're looking for timeless-sounding, Mid-to-Up-Tempo Classic Rock Instrumental Cues in the general stylistic wheelhouse of legendary bands like: Led Zepplin--Rolling Stones-Deep Purple. Give them well-crafted Instrumental Cues that capture the spirit of the Classic Rock era, with typical Rock instrumentation...."

Let's rock!: