SAC Songwriting & Blogging Challenge 2015: Week 4

LYRICS

Where is the place, where I’m supposed to be?
When is the day, when I will feel complete?
‘cos I’ve been stuck in limbo, since the day I set a goal:
To finally be successful, to have a job and a house to show.

So why am I stressed, now that I got the job?
5 days a week, I constantly check the clock.
And the new high-rise condo, filled with stuff from designer shows
Doesn’t feel like home. I lie awake on my bed alone.

(Chorus)
How’d I get here from where I was dreaming?
I remember my goals when I started.
I check off every item when I’ve achieved it,
Yet it still leaves me with something missing.

I did it all, to get to where I am.
Now that I’m here, I think I wanna start again.
I’m done with all these people, connections and stepping stones.
I’m done with titles and labels, with status in upper circles.

And through it all, I thoroughly changed myself.
Modelled my life on magazines on the shelves.
Til slowly, one by one, my friends stopped calling my phone.
All dressed up tonight, but I have nowhere to go.

(Chorus)

Me, me, me
I ignored invitations and birthdays and get-togethers.
Me, me, me
I was always too busy. But now I
See, see, see
I was careless with I wished for me.
Racing ladders, ruthless climbers, not for me.

(Chorus)

Life Has a Funny Way

Alanis called it! Back in Week 1, I wrote that I didn’t know enough about country music to write a country song…

And then I read the brief for Week 4.

#*%*!

Yes, yes, it’s good for me to stretch outside my comfort zone, and try something I haven’t done before. And the one thing I never mind doing is research, so I got down to studying some country!

The first artist who jumped out at me was Kacey Musgraves, and it all comes down to her performance of « Follow Your Arrow » at the Grammys in 2014. I clearly remember the moment when she sang, « Make lots of noise/Kiss lots of boys/Or kiss lots of girls/If that’s something you’re into. » I was like:

  • These lyrics are actually happening in a country song?!
  • OMG where has Kacey been all my life?!

I bought her album right after that Grammys performance, and it reminded me that amazing country music can just really immerse you into a detailed world with memorable characters and stories.

I also listened to Dolly Parton and music from the TV show « Nashville » to prep for this week’s challenge, but mainly my song references this time around were Kacey’s « It Is What It Is » and « Silver Lining ».

Blast From the Past

This week’s song, « Missing », is a repurposed tune I started writing four years ago. It was a difficult time career-wise: I’d just finished studying professional writing in college, and landed a writing job with a major telecommunications company. From the outside, it looked like I got it made, getting a prestigious job straight after school.

I quit the job within a month.

I was having panic attacks at work, and at the time I didn’t know why. I just thought that I wasn’t cut out for an office job, and I felt a crushing sense of failure when two weeks in, I handed in my notice because I just couldn’t bear getting up in the morning to go to work anymore.

Around the time I left the company, I wrote four songs about life not going to plan, losing purpose and direction, and asking, « What’s next? » « Missing » was one of them.

I’ve since learned that I’m the kind of person who’s deeply influenced by his environment, and the extremely corporate culture of that company was a really bad fit for me. Nowadays, at a job filled with coworkers whom I look forward to hang out with, I count my blessings often.

Anyway, my mission this week was to country-fy « Missing », and I studied Kacey’s songs closely for arrangement ideas. I knew I wanted to keep things simple, and I knew I wasn’t a banjo or slide guitar player, so my work focused on acoustic guitar picking and strumming (which was a challenge!), adjusting the rhythm of the vocal melody from my original idea four years ago, vocal harmony, and a touch of tremolo guitar.

I dunno if « Missing » ended up being totally country, but it’s about as far as I could take it without hiring country musicians! I’m quite happy with it.

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