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A memo to me

October 24, 2010

Last week I was playing around with some simple chords with my capo up on 5th fret. I call this the ‘George’ setup because the sound of an acoustic is very ‘George Harrison’  up there. (Here Comes the Sun is actually up on 7th fret, that’s how he gets that sound).  I couldn’t come up with a reason for the song much less a lyric so I decided to quickly record a wordless melody while I played. Ignoring lyrics I figured I’d try writing purely a melody line and put a structure on the song.

I had a Police lyric in my head which  meant there was no way I would get past that earworm. I sent it to my friend Dan who mailed me back a set of lyrics.

Sometimes writing is as simple as that. We’ve to’d and fro’d with the lyrics and structure. The internet eliminated a few hundred kilometers.

I think that’s what I’ll do next time I’m blocked. I can usually lash out melody and song form. Lyrics aren’t so easy.

The song is titled ‘Memo to You’ simply because it was a ‘memo’ recorded on my phone.

Elton John & Bernie Taupin

songwriting brothers

Elton John& Bernie Taupin (stay with me folks… I’m not comparing myself to Reg!) used to collaborate across the ocean. This was before email and I suspect in the earliest days of fax. Fax: remember that?

I didn’t realise that Elton & Bernie didn’t actually sit together to co-write their material.

Reflecting on this I realise that some of the best co-writing I’ve done has been when there’s distance between myself and the co-writer. There is surely a thrill in the white heat of creating a song when sitting beside another writer. The speed at which songs form themselves is quite something but I find myself tempering the development in an effort not to tread on the creative toes of my co-writer.  Yesterday as I demo’d the new song I traded email with Dan and was able to digest his input while routining the song. (Routining – playing it over and over). Now and again I’d riff on one of the lines he provided and might even tweak the raw lyric.

We’re now polishing it. I can stand back and become an editor now – the fundamental ‘write’ is done and the core of the song is done.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 24, 2010 11:56 am

    Distance no object!




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