A blorg about brewing beer and writing songs

29 Oct. 2009

This is not a love song

Writing songs isn't all that hard. You can slap out some 12 bar blues in a few minutes. You can write some lyrics about the first thing you see "Gotta lotta chickens in my underpants". There you go, that's one song right there.

I'm a big fan of this kind of songwriting, but sometimes I want to do a little bit more. Every since I met my wife I've wanted to write a song for her, but what I have found is that writing a song for and about something I really care about is hard. Once I have a topic that really matters, I want the song to be listenable, meaningful and express what I actually want to express. Since my wife is the best person I've ever met, I feel that a song made for her is pretty important to get right so I have put a bit of thought into this one. I know I'm doomed from the start because I can't write the best song in the world, but I'm all about embracing my imperfections so it was time to just do it.

I put together a list of things that I know she likes in a song, and came up with:
  • my wife loves pop music
  • she likes songs with counting in them
  • she likes a song with a catchy hook
None of these elements really sum up anything that Meat Pig have previously made, so this song was going to be a bit different, and yet, as it turns out, it seems that Meat Pig are not capable of making a non Meat Piggy song.

Song Form

I wanted to try something a little unusual for the song form. My original idea was a through-composed song, but that's hardly pop. I then got excited about the idea of a song with the form ABAB, where A and B are both verses and there is no chorus. I ended up with something more complicated, an ABCAD format.

A is an instrumental into
B is the verse
C is a one bar chorus, very minimal!
D is a divergence, a second verse format with a change in style but keeping the key and tempo.

The whole thing is repeated twice and comes in around the 2 minute mark. This is my preferred length for a pop/rock song, as it forces you to be concise. Say what you want then get the fuck out. I'm reminded of Frank Black; in my vague memory of an interview he was talking about the song length of many of the songs on doolittle. Arguing over the length with his producer he claimed that if you look back on all the old delta blues masters you'd see that most of their songs last about 2 minutes. This is important to me cause the tendancy to get self indulgent is always there, waiting to leap out and ferociously bore your audience.

Scales, keys, rhythms

We went for a rock song in F for no other reason than we haven't done many songs in F. We started with a guitar riff that I'd worked out and since I'm a crap guitarist I tuned the guitar up a note to make it easier the play in F. Luke came up with some pretty solid bottoms for this track. We drew heavily from the Jimi Hendrix experience, mainly a combination of Machine Gun and Fire. This is most evident in the drums where Luke slips into a Mitch Mitchel style without even trying, as if he had eaten with the same cutlery as Mitch and been infected with a salivatorily transmitted groove virus.

I added some accordion, trying very hard to reign myself in. I'm really not very good at doing that, since my fingers get bored. I basically improvised over a minor blues scale and an aeolian mode in F, which is my standard thing. Note to self: expand your repertoire.

Background lyrics were just Luke and I, yelling together about 2 metres from our mic. I had to postpone the main vocals cause a cold had left my throat a little ragged and I didn't have it in my to sing any more. I came back to it a week later having written some vocals in my head. I distractedly finished them off in front of an episode of Monkey Magic and then when it came to singing them found my heart beating a little too fast and they came out garbled and broken. More than usual, I'd say. A strange thing, singing this song made me nervous and reminded me of the first time I met my wife. I was coming down a set of escalators and she was standing there alone in a big, empty stone room and I just walked up to her and kissed her while my travel-sick body swiftly caught fire. I was almost that nervous all over again.

Finishing it off


Luke finished off the song , selecting a delightfully cheesy guitar fuzz to cover up the acousticness of our electric guitar-with-broken-pickups. Then he cleaned up some of the more startling errors I made in the lead vocals and finally he uploaded it to last.fm so the world can sing along with us.

If you've managed to read all of this, it would be very remiss of you to not go ahead and download the song, put it your MP3 player and upload a torrent to the pirate bay. Here it is:

Download Meat Pig - Rockin'

I love, love feedback. If you want to tell me anything, good or bad about this song then please use those commenty features down there. If you want to call me an arsehole, then do that too!

4 comments:

  1. i really like the guitar fuzz. it never occurred to me that it's cheesy. it does really underline how much not a pop band meat pig are. :)

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  2. yes, this is what happens when I try to make a pop song. Don't get me wrong. I love the guitar fuz. But is very ... you know, fuzzy. Overly so perhaps. In a check out my wicked fuzz way.

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  3. Love it! And the hook IS catchy!

    It also qualifies as the sweetest thing I've seen or read this morning. (And that includes having seen this: http://dailysquee.com/2009/10/30/i-submit-to-sleepz ) :-)

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