The challenge for Week 1 was to create a “Two Chord Song.” Here is what I came up with! I recorded this live into GarageBand through a Blue Snowball USB mic while video taping on my iPhone. I then added some reverb and compression. After that, I overdubbed the HQ audio onto the iPhone Video in iMovie.
Well I don’t know just where I’m going
Hardly Know From Where I came
But there’s a wind blowin’ my way
And it’s calling out my name
Well I was told about the right way
I learned the rules and won the game
But when my home became the ball park
A dream so real came back again
Hello, do you remember me,
Wake up, it’s time to go now
Go Down, to the admission gate
Walk on, and you will see how
ABOUT THIS WEEK’S PROCESS:
The Biggest Challenge Was Perfectionism
So, it took me two and a half weeks to post this first song. I’m off to a terrible start! However, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Habits take time to develop. Changing your ways does not happen overnight. You try your best, you fail, you make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes, you try again, and it gets easier each time.
The exact reason why I decided to create this 52 week challenge is the very thing that made me a week and a half late to post this! I am a perfectionist and I am not ok with things not being the best that they can be. The night of the due date, I decided my song sketch wasn’t good enough, so I started a new one, and then I realized that there I was stuck in my ways – never finishing anything because none of it is ever good enough while other creative people are moving forward by not letting “perfect become the enemy of the good.” They are allowing themselves to grow by accepting that growth requires mistakes and experience. Duh, that’s the whole point of this blog, Gary! You don’t have to love it. Just post something already and move on!
Going Full Circle
So the somewhat predictable irony this week is that my first idea that I abandoned, is the one I ended up running with. At first, I thought it sounded too cliche and overly romantic. How many songs have been written about the wind and travel? Endless amounts, and some of the best – but, there are good reasons. Those metaphors resonate with people – including myself – growth and change is something that we are always going through, and if we aren’t, there’s a problem (which is why I wrote the song).
Cherishing All of Your Ideas
Knowing that I had to create something quick meant I had to cherish every idea as the potential “IT” idea, and not let anything get lost. Until starting this blog I’ve put random ideas in any old place. I’d record them on my Voice Memos app and not label them. I’d write lyrics on any random piece of paper and never look at them again. Most ideas I wouldn’t even record or write down. What a mistake all that was!
So this week, I changed my ways. I upgraded my system of recording my ideas and that meant switching from Voice Memos to Evernote on my phone and computer and keeping audio and lyric ideas together in the same place, and as well labeled as possible. The great thing about Evernote is that it syncs between the phone and computer! I will go more in depth on this in a separate blog post solely about Evernote for Songwriters.
Other Two Chord Idea 1:
I think the hardest part this week, was choosing which of my many ideas to run with! I listened to some other two chord songs and fell in love with the simplicity of so many examples. One example I loved was Citizen Cope’s “Holdin’ On.”
I used the same two chords as “Holdin On” but in a different key, and came up with this short idea:
I liked it, but it just felt awkward and I couldn’t seem to find the right key. I might revisit this in the future. I like melodies that use only two notes for a bit. That’s what I was doing with this lyric: “Soundtrack playing through my head…every little thing that… 1,1,1,2,1,2,1 1,2,1,2,1…”
Soundtrack playing through my head
every little thing that you said
shut the lights and hit the bed
Pitch black but I see red
I really want to call you on the telephone
baby with you i want to make a home
Other Two Chord Idea 2:
For another idea, I used a similar progression as the final one – I – IVadd9 in the key of C. I like all the space in this one but the two ideas you’ll here are too close together. It’s kind of like a verse and chorus all in 30 seconds. I like the space but this was another one that I forgot about the next day and didn’t really feel a connection to:
I fear that I might miss out on you
So I think I will wait around for you
When the sun comes out and the sky is blue, for you
I’ll be here, for you
When your fight is done and you’ve found the truth, for you,
I’ll be here, for you
Other Two Chord Idea 3:
For another idea, I was messing around with a Major 6 chord that I was using in a jazz guitar lesson a few weeks ago going down to the relative minor chord. It just has such a friendly and warm sound to me, and it made me think about a situation at a party with my girlfriend, how I was feeling anxiety until I looked her in the eyes. Those are the lyrics up above in the Evernote screenshot. I rather not share how it sounded. 🙂
The Ear Worm Test
Another reason why I went back to my first idea is that I found myself humming it in my head every day while none of the others really stuck with me. I’d be cooking eggs, and in my head singing “I don’t know where I’m going, Hardly know from where I came.”
Looking back over the past two weeks, I got a lot accomplished outside of writing a bunch of song ideas! I learned how to use both Ableton and GarageBand for multi-tracking instruments and adding compression, reverb, etc.