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Deconstructing “Punch Drunk And Naked”

January 15, 2013

naked-guitar-heroMoving on to track three on my album “Other People’s Hats”Punch Drunk And Naked” was borne from many open mic nights and gigs in pubs. Why do we put ourselves out there only to be talked over and largely ignored? Why do we bare our soul to complete strangers?  With help from Dan Prendiville these lyrics came to be:

I’m lost in the room conversation buzz I can’t hear a word
I’ve waited all day to stand up on a stage and say what I want to say
Punch drunk and naked backed against the ropes holding on to hope
Punch drunk and naked spirit on the floor but I’m coming back for more

I’ve stood on stages and played songs written from a very personal perspective: the death of my mother, the love for my children, the black dog that creeps up on me and so on. While playing I can hear the buzz in the bar, the clinking of glasses and mobile phones ringing.  You feel naked and vulnerable it feels as if every shout in the bar strikes to your very soul.

I have a greater appreciation for the craft of songwriting now that I’ve got this album under my belt. Hours are spent writing and re-writing before you even record a demo version of the song never mind a production master. Some of my songs I recall writing at 7:00am because that was the only way to guarantee time alone for 30 minutes. It also goes with the ‘morning papers’ routine and yields interesting results: your brain isn’t so cluttered with work and other stuff at that hour of the day.   I don’t think I could hazard a guess at the hours I’ve spent in my studio learning how to record songs and the long nights trying to play like a proper musician.

This labour of love something I must do I can’t explain to you

The hours and the days I will give away just to get to play

The song was written on both guitar and piano. I can play simple piano parts and fell back on the “Lennon” style and moved the bass note around in my left hand – something that’s not so easy to do on guitar.  The chorus chords use a G# diminished to A major progression (a “Partridge” chord says Dan).

The middle8 section uses a similar idea: moving the bass note under an A minor chord.

I’m reeling from the blows now everybody knows I’m guilty of wanting to appeal
I’m standing for the count you just knocked me out
I wonder if it’s easier to quit

The recorded version on the album uses stacked up multitracked voices (all me) singing harmony which gets a natural reverbed sound because there’s around 16 or 24 of me on there. Doing a simple part like that is a lot of fun because you can hear the rich sound building as you work on the track and you can experiment with the harmonies without too much pressure. I find this easier than doing seemingly simple harmony lines for a lead vocal.

The theme of the song makes it an easy choice to open shows with.

I’m playing for you
so put down the phone
and listen to the show

Chris Welch did a really great cover version of this – it appears on the accompanying disc “Other People’s Covers” which you can download here using the “name your price” model (in other words you can have it for free if you like).

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