Week 4 – The rubber hits the fan

Well, well, week four was a swear-fest, but it’s oooooverrrrr.

I decided to stick it out with my lyrics from week 3. I write in a rut and the fretboard of my guitar has wear-marks where the blues runs go. I would never have written a chorus with 5 lines instead of 4 unless forced to by the assignment.

Clearly, this would be a good stretch and a learning experience for me, right?

Anyway, how can one pass up the chance to sing a lyric with the phrase “booster cable” in it? (It sounded like a good idea at the time I wrote it…).

My week 3 lyric was created with heavy assistance from MasterWriter II http://www.masterwriter.com (I’ve included the worksheet below, in case anyone is inspired by crap – the license for creation of which was personally bestowed upon me by Pope Pat).

Having played “lead guitar” for just about all of my life, I have a god-given license (signed!) for not-keeping-time. Drummers hate me. That, and a decade or two of transcribing acoustic sections of Thick as a Brick in 6/8 time along with some other Tull ditties…

Procrastinating until Friday, before the assignment was due, would surely have given me enough time to come up with a melody, or, at worst, speaking the lyric over a loop. No?

Dang, it was harder than I’d planned for. It turned out that, due to my son’s wedding and other personal stuff, I hadn’t touched a guitar for almost two months.

The guitar was still tuned to A=432 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVATlX4XKMk), which I find to be a lot more forgiving on my fingers (kinda like Hendrix’ 1-step down tuning).

After only some 10 minutes of struggling to find a fitting tune, my fingers turned into throbbing white corpuscles and the guitar strings felt like razor blades. This matched the state of my sinuses – I had travelled to Seattle for three days a week ago, and witnessed the barren trees break into flowering mode. Guess what I’m allergic to!

So, I stepped away from the piano-water-torture-guitar bench and wandered around aimlessly, thinking WWPD?

To the best of my recollection, there is but one songwriter who has never, ever, ever made a setting mistake in Pat’s opinion. Leonard Cohen. I immediately found the first 3 notes of my tune – Everybody Knows! Soon afterward, the ending notes were stolen from Mad Magazine’s only hit record “It’s a Gas!”.

Well! That was easy. Now I could easily procrastinate until the last minute – Sunday night before the due date.

I mean, I have a DAW (Cubase SX2, ‘slightly’ older than the current version 7) sitting on a Dell computer (circa 2000 – what, I haven’t upgraded it in 13 years?) sitting downstairs. What could possibly go wrong???

I guess I should be thankful that the thing didn’t light itself on fire when I hit the power button. It actually worked and I could run Cubase.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Cubase has the 2nd-worse user interface (“UX” in modern terminology – User eXperience) on the planet, 2nd only to eMagic (il)Logic.

I couldn’t get the VST’s to run – there’s some occult ritual that I had forgotten how to invoke. After a few hours (!) I managed to lay down a whole snare track (4 beats, one on each quarter-note of a bar – quite an accomplishment :-).

Then, I recorded a voice-over. Yep, that’s a whole 2 tracks. On playback, though, the voice-over wouldn’t play back. Another freemasonic feature meant to thwart the uninitiated…

OK, into the trash-can and started a fresh project. With severely lowered expectations – I’d just read the damn lyrics “properly set” over a click track and hand that in. I finished just before dinner. Phew. Only, the machine didn’t recognize any other machine on my home network nor the internet. Oh yeah, Windows XP wasn’t very good with networking and involved workgroups and strange stuff like that.

Obvious answer: just copy the .MP3 onto a flash drive and carry it to a more modern machine, like in the days of floppy disks. Oh wait, flash drives weren’t common 13 years ago. “Loading driver”…

After dinner and some calming-down, I listened to the result and – wait for it – Cubase didn’t allow a midi click-track and an audio track to be mixed-down together, without RTFM’ing another 1,000 pages of manuals (which, incidently, were supposed to be online, but the pages were pulled a decade ago). All there was was a vocal track reading lyrics in a (very) forced manner.

Then, I LISTENED to the result. It was awful. So bad, that even Pat would revoke his “go out and write crap” license for this one instance.

After dinner, I steeled my courage and tried to play & sing the lyric into a pair of microphones. After only 10 takes, I got what I got.

http://soundcloud.com/guitarvydas-1/get-lost-sung

I guess I won’t be signing any recording deals in the near future :-).

As I type this, I have to wonder maybe I should hack-saw my finger-tips off so that they’d stop hurting…

And here’s the worksheet for that week 3 “lyric”, copy/pasted from MasterWriter. When I brainstorm a song, I don’t erase, I simply keep adding stuff to the end of the file, copy/pasting the “good” bits.

A reminder of the lyric (a few excess words were dropped from week 3):

[verse]
/Wear your /poker /face
/Win, /place, or /show
You /think you’ve /played your /ace
/Who’re you /trying to /snow?

[chorus]
/Crossed, /boxed, who’s out/foxed?
/Lay your /cards on the /table
Your /horse is /sleeping in its /stable
Your /NASCAR /auto needs a /booster /cable
/Loser, /loser, /get /lost

The rhymes that I selected from MasterWriter – you get pages of rhymes and then just click on them to pull them into your lyric brainstorming session:

================= rhymes:

cost
bossed
crossed
boxed
outfoxed
brainwashed
whitewashed
waft
fast-talked
Microsoft
sweet-talked
outtalked
deadlocked

dice
price
twice
vice
sticker price
merchandise
Miami Vice

face
ace
case
pace
race
space
briefcase
disgrace
misplace
horse race
show place
foot race
outpace
outrace
erase
clubface
third base
harness race
cyberspace
fireplace
trophy case

game
lame
frame
flame
shell game
waiting game
parlor game
numbers game
zero-sum game
confidence game

ivory
ivy
knightly
rightly
almighty
icy
dicey
spicy

license
guidance
fire hydrants

soul
asshole
hellhole
parole
console
control
punch bowl
dust bowl
casserole
shore patrol
rigamarole
Chicken Soup For The Soul

stable
jumper cable

thorns
horms
mourns
warns
storms
swarms
hailstorms
reforms

word
absurd
blurred
curd
turd
jailbird
unheard
sugar-cured

================== Brainstorming:

You gambled, you lost
Do you like the cost?

Can you afford the cost
You thought you had me outfoxed

Crossed, boxed, am I outfoxed
Crossed, boxed, who’s outfoxed?
Lay your cards on the table
Your horse is still in its stable
Your car needs a jumper cable
You gambled, you lost
You gambled, you’re toast, get lost

Crossed, boxed, who’s outfoxed?
Lay your cards on the table
Your horse is still in its stable
Your car needs a jumper cable
You gambled, you’re toast, get lost

years ago I gave you my word
held your hand
while you figured out the world
you pulled out your knife
and stuck it my back
cucumber becomes a pickle and never returns
a rose smells sweet but has blood-drawing thorns

sweet smelling rose
you had my word
sharp bloody thorns

sweet bloody rose
switchblade thorns
I gave you my word
You played me like a game

perfumed bloody rose
switchblade flame
I gave you my word
zero-sum game

flower bloody rose
switchblade flame
I gave you my word
zero-sum game

Ivory diced tossed
Black icycles hanging off the dots

Black icycles

Perfect black dots
On ivory cubes

Perfect black dots
Carved in ivory
Throw the dice

Perfect round dots
Carved black in ivory
Throw the dice

Toss the ivory
I gave you my word
Black dot ivy

Toss the ivory
I gave you license

Toss the ivory
Toss your soul
Play your odds

Dig your whole

roll the bones
caress the ivory

roll the stones
toss your bones

wear a poker face
win, place, show
sleight of hand
who are you trying to snow?

wear a poker face
win, place, show
shut your trophy case
who are you trying to snow?

wear a poker face
win, place, show
lock your trophy case
who are you trying to snow?

loaded dice
play your ace
you think you’ve played your ace

pacecar
Your indy racer needs a jumper cable
Your stock car needs a jumper cable
Your F1 needs a jumper cable

wear your poker face
win, place, show
you think you’ve played your ace
who are you trying to snow?

Crossed, boxed, who’s outfoxed?
Lay your cards out on the table
Your horse is sleeping in its stable
Your NASCAR auto needs a booster cable
Be a good loser, get lost

 

 

 

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