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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...? 

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:

Book Quotes - A Moveable Feast 

Sub-heading: Books I've read. 

This installment of "Book Quotes" is brought to you by "A Moveable Feast"  by Ernest Hemingway

This book made a great souvenir as I was walking the streets of Paris in May/June of 2017. I purchased it at the infamous "Shakespeare and Company" book store in the City of Lights.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On writing in Paris...

Sadness of Fall, but there's always Spring...

This was basically our same path we walked every day down to the city sights...

"...I could never be lonely along the river [Seine]"

Hey, Louie! Can I Get A Photo With You? 

Here's a selfie with cameraman/artiste', Luis Fuerte. He spent 19 years as camera operator for PBS TV host, Huell Howser, who I previously posted about HERE.

 

 

His book signing event at Galleano Winery near my home brought plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to share with those of us in attendance. 

 

 

 

 

We had a nice one-on-one chat about another rewarding time he had, outside of working with Huell, when he was asked to travel with and film an orchestra. He may have said the LA Phil, but I can't remember. He spoke about working the camera as if it was an art form, not just "filming" an event. 

Check out his book!

New CD Album Released! 

All written, recorded, and produced between 2008-2017 by Steve Probst 
All vocals, instruments, and drum programming by Steve Probst 
Cover photo by Ann Conibear Roberts

I was inspired to write a ukulele song when it was popular, so bought a decent uke, wrote a song, and recorded it! (Your welcome) 
Get my “Randy Newman” on? No problem 
If there’s a song written in 2011 that you need to sound like the 80’s, I’m your guy! 
Like Blues Rock? Got some of that, too. 
And what’s not to love about a couple of Jazz/Rock guitar instrumentals complete with guitar solos? 
A song for a documentary about water? Got shoulder deep with this one. 

Click over to my STORE PAGE to get yours!


Hope you enjoy the music! 
~ Steve

The Road Is Full Of Surprises 

The road is full of surprises. 

What was once a nice peacefully whimsical night time city view of downtown Wilmington, NC from the 5th floor, which I really was enjoying, turned into the majestic Jurassic Period outside my window the next morning. Started after 7am, mainly with a reverberating, earth-trembling, mega-thud. From my horizontal position on dreamy king-size sheets, I felt the Hilton, the whole building, actually bounce a second or two.

Bulldozers resembling the skeletons of menacing T-rex's commenced to munching on demolition-size, concrete parking structure tidbits. Was probably going to go on the whole day, too. No use trying to sleep. No, that's okay, I only got to bed by 2am. 

1.... hour... later.... [Say with fake French accent ala Sponge Bob Square Pants]

Okay, they delightfully change my room to across the hall. And how fitting since it was now gazing upon the Cape Fear River on Halloween day!!

Moral of the story, I guess: Do not be afraid of change or...clean your room when you have company (readers) over.

Book Quotes - The Monuments Men 

Sub-heading: Books I've read. 

This installment of "Book Quotes" is brought to you by "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History"  by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

Ever since reading that George Patton book, I suddenly find myself with somewhat of an interest in WW2 history. The basic gist of this book: soldiers on a mission to save the great works of art stolen by the Nazis.

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"It is amazing how the world can change, he thought, during the life span of a fruitcake."

"I believe that all this loveliness showing through the rubble and wreck are just foreshadowings of the joys we were made for.”

Baseball:

"During the Bulge, Posey told him, the Germans had parachuted troops behind Allied lines dressed in American uniforms. The only way to find them out was to ask questions on strictly American topics, like baseball. The Germans were always clueless."

New York City:

"To see a painting of this quality leaning against the wall of a command post amid the bullets and the grime was to understand that great works of art were part of the world. They were objects. They were fragile. They were lonely, small, unprotected. A child on a playground looks strong, but a child wandering alone down Madison Avenue in New York City—that’s terrifying."

It was so cool reading this book and THEN taking a trip to Paris, staying in the Latin Quarter! :

"First Lieutenant James Rorimer rode his bicycle to Rose Valland’s apartment in the fifth arrondissement, an ancient section of Paris known as the Latin Quarter. The quarter had been popular with tourists before the war, but few tourists, Rorimer suspected, had ever visited Valland’s middle-class residential area, a lonely and secluded stretch just beyond the site of a massive fire started by German bombardment in August 1944."

 

"Sometimes, Rose Valland thought as the snows of December 1944 floated down around her, your destiny is thrust upon you." (Photo on left - Translation: "Hero of the Arts")

 

"Destiny is not one push, she thought as she waited to cross a quiet street on that cold Paris evening years later, but a thousand small moments that through insight and hard work you line up in the right direction, like a magnet does with metal shavings."

The 70's Rock and Romance of a Paying Gig and Unlimited Baked Fish 

I did some work this past March with a band some of you may have heard of (Hotel California - A Salute to the Eagles). And wouldn't you know, it was on a cruise ship!

Dang. I hate warm tropical winds and an unlimited supply of bright blue seas.

All kidding aside, and i do mean "kidding", there were some other guest musicians performing on the Celebrity Summit you may have heard of as well; Peter Frampton, The Orchestra (former ELO members), Stephen Bishop, Christopher Cross, Chuck Negron (3 Dog Night); and a couple other talented tribute bands channeling (like the water reference?) Elton John and the Bee Gees.

Fun! And no one in our entourage got seasick in the making of this little side work event to Cozumel and Key West. I'm sure there's room on the 2018 edition of this rocking time on the high sea, but unfortunately, Hotel California won't be on this particular journey to sandy shores and salad bar dreams.

We're on this one instead! CLICK HERE

Wait don't go! Here are some home slides (Just a few):


Rock & Romance Cruise 2017