Talk about serious writers block! The music came to me first with this song – as it usually happens – and when I wanted to put words to it, thinking that I wanted to make a political statement, they just wouldn’t come. Then as I was driving to a company dinner event this evening, I started daydreaming about sipping some suds in my backyard, sitting next to my wife, with the kids playing in the yard, then the words to the chorus just popped into my head! When I got home, I wrote the verses and bridge in 10 minutes. Here’s the song:
For guitars, I just used “Katie May,” my brand new guitar hand-built by Perry Riggs, owner and luthier of Slash L Guitars. Man, that guitar is such a dream to play. Even with humbuckers (Lollar Imperials), I love the single-coil-like tones I can get with this with the maple/mahogany neck. The guitar was plugged directly into my Aracom VRX18 amp. The guitar tracks are not processed nor EQ’d at all other than adding a touch of reverb. It’s a heavenly tone, if I may say so myself.
Sipping’ on a cold one
on a Sunday afternoon
Thinkin’ ’bout my children
oh they grew up way too soon
looking at all I’ve had to sacrifice
There is no way that I would compromise
My family love,
it’s a faithful love
It’s the only thing
that helps me rise above
My family love
it’s a faithful love
It’s the only thing
that helps me rise above
rise above the world…
People said I’m crazy
there was so much I could be
no point in explaining
of how my family defines me
No words can tell of all the joy they bring
they fill my life and my heart sing
So much could bring me down
There’s a world full of problems all around
enough to bring me to my knees
But I don’t care because I have my family!
I’ve spent many years writing about Christian ideals. They’re the roots to my entire life. However, I’ve also had a strong sense of political justice and the increasing polarization of the parties and the divisive rhetoric that the politicians have been spewing has started to bother me; enough that I wanted to write a song about it.
To be clear and transparent, I’m a registered Republican – have been since I registered to vote 38 years ago – and have a conservative stance in that I believe in small government and personal freedoms. I believe that no one should get a free ride. But I’m much more centrist than many who have gone towards the far right. I believe in assisting those who are less fortunate by helping them help themselves (not to be confused with giving out handouts). I believe that in a true free market, EVERYONE should have the opportunity for financial success and not be enslaved by a select few whose greed prevents others to succeed. I believe that regulations should exist to prevent those few from abusing and gaming the system. I’m also willing to speak to the “other side” to come to a middle ground; not Boehner’s idea of a middle ground which really means that the Republicans win; but where there is discussion and agreement and a recognition that even though values differ, we’re all patriots.
You see, I love my country, and I’m sick of how both the left and right have divided our country. The hardliners on both sides speak in words that cause fear and anger. Haven’t they learned from the past? Hardline left = communism; hardline right = fascism. What’s next? Villify and imprison those that don’t agree? We’ve seen that already, and look at what it got us: Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. We need to come together as a country – and fast!
Funny how you hear a riff that triggers your creativity. I was watching a video last week at church, and there was this really cool acoustic riff that was played underneath that inspired me. There was something about the chord pattern I really dug: 6-5-1 with a minor root. So I started playing around with that pattern, and came up with this song called, “You Raise Me Up.”
This is a song about being called by God, something like how God called on Daniel and Ezekiel in the old testament, and how they couldn’t believe that He’d call on them because they didn’t feel they were anything special. But because they had such a deep love and trust, they just let go.
Here it is:
I played all the instruments except for the drum loop. For the electric guitar, I used my trusty Les Paul ’58 Reissue through my Aracom VRX18 running into my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator. No EQ on the guitar – it was recorded raw, then I added a bit of reverb in the mix.
No, it’s not a Beatles cover… This is a song about getting over ourselves and listening to God’s voice and feeling His presence in our lives; putting ourselves together with His help.
I got a little inspirational kick while I was recording with my little VHT Special 6 which I used for the electric guitar parts. I had it totally cranked up, ran it through my Aracom PRX150-Pro and out to my 1 X 12 that has a Jensen Jet Falcon in it. Man! That amp sounds A LOT bigger than it’s diminutive 6 Watts. For the left channel guitar, I used my Strat in the bridge position, then used the neck position for the right channel to get a ballsier sound.
I wrote this song several years ago as a fun, foot-stompin’, rockin’ blues crowd-pleaser to close out church services, and like my previous song, The Way The Truth The Life, finally got around to recording it – actually I attempted to record it a lot over the years, but just couldn’t get a good vibe with it. Most of it had to do with how I was singing it, which was kind of straight up. But last year, I decided to have some fun with it, and do kind of an “Elvis” voice, and that’s when it changed the whole song and got me over the hump. Here’s the song:
I just used my Fender American Deluxe Strat in this one for all guitar parts, and ran it through my Roland Cube 30 set to “Classic British Stack” so I could get that mid-rangy Marshall tone. I cheated a little with the lead and added a software overdrive plug-in to give the lead even more bite and sustain. Ahhh! The wonders of software!
I’ve written about this with respect to gear before, but that also applies to lots of things in life. For instance, I just put the finishing touches on a new contemporary christian song demo this morning. I was thinking about adding all sorts of percussion, another guitar, perhaps some keys. But in the end, all I did was replace my original click track, and added another guitar. I just found that the simple, straight-forward sound just worked better. Here’s the finished demo:
After I finished the production, I thought to myself that this arrangement can stand on its own. Besides, it’s what I’d have available at Mass, as I’m the only keyboard player and also the lead guitarist – but I default to guitar. In any case, we played this song at Mass yesterday, and I was very pleased to see people nodding to the song. We put it in a place in the service where singing is typically optional, though encouraged, and it was great to see people singing a song they never heard before!
But back to the original topic, to me, sometimes the most beautiful things are really simple; no frills, no bling, nothing extra.
My older sons have gotten a lot into Reggae over the past couple of years, and it has sort of rubbed off on me. So while I was jammin’ to a song in the car a few days ago, I got an idea for a praise and worship song with a Reggae theme. Here’s the initial sketch of the song (I have to add the rest of instrumentation, but here it is with just a three-piece combo arrangement):
Never Trade is about a working mother whose life is busy and chaotic, and she just wants to get away, but her devotion to her family overrides her sense of breaking free; thus, as I say in the song: She’ll never trade in her life…
It’s also the first song that I’ve written and recorded in a LONG, LONG time, and this time, I finally figured out how to properly master in Logic Express. Really satisfied with this recording. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t use any electric guitars in this. I wanted to kind of leave Alt-Poppish. Give it a listen let me know what you think.
My church bandmates were a bit tired of this bluegrass-style “Joy to the World” that we’ve done for the past few years at Christmas Mass, and they asked if we could do a new song. Well… in keeping with our much more straight-ahead rock style, I came up with an 80′s punk version of Angels We Have Heard On High. That’ll wake everyone up!
By the way, the guitar (my R8 Les Paul) was recorded in the bridge position through the AWESOME VHT Special 6. I used a 1 X 12 external speaker cab loaded with a Jensen Jet Falcon. The amp was cranked, in the high input, high output, with the booster engaged! HA! It has a much bigger sound than its 6 Watts! It was actually pretty loud in my studio!
Wow! Been a long time since I’ve written a song – worship or otherwise – so I’m pretty jazzed about getting the inspiration to be able to get something down. I was getting a bit worried about not coming up with any ideas, but this one just came to me yesterday, so I worked out a simple arrangement. My band performed it at Mass this evening, and it went over real well. Can’t wait until we get the full compliment of instrumentation together to do this number again. In any case, give it a listen and let me know what you think.
As far as guitars are concerned, there’s a single one in this initial recording, and that’s my Squier CV Tele. For my amp, I’m using my ’58 Fender Champ that Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps fixed for me and put into a gorgeous tweed cabinet with a Weber 10″ speaker. We’re talking about actually making a head cabinet for the amp so I can hook it up to any cabinet.
While it’s just a single guitar, I recorded the amp off-axis with the microphone placed at the edge of the speaker along the line of speaker cone so I’d pick up more lows. And unlike most of my recordings, I EQ’d the guitar to bring out the bass a little more (not much bass with a single 10″ speaker).
Mind you, this is purely spec right now. I just wanted to get the idea and basic arrangement down so I wouldn’t lose it, so excuse the little mistakes I made; they’ll be fixed in the final version of the song.