Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Song Bio #2

So I wrote another song for the SpinTunes songwriting competition. Listen to it here:

Felix Frost - Amber Avalance

The challenge for this round was to write a musical Valentine to someone other than your significant other.

I felt it would be a little silly for me to write a song to someone else I love, like a family member or friend, just because this is eventually going on an album and I'd like to keep things a little more interesting. Also, the album I'm working on is full of songs featuring fictional stories, with made-up characters. So, after an email to the contest runner asking if I could, I wrote it to a fictional woman. An airplane racing pilot named Amber Avalanche. From the point of view of a wealthy gambler who won a lot of money by betting on her and inevitably fell in love with her because of his gratitude.

The airplane races, in the story, are set somewhere in the deep arctic. I guess I did that to coincide with the cold of February, but mostly I just like to put stories in icy settings. The races take place among a mountain range too, so I guess that's naturally snowy. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, and I'll put them at the end of the post so you can see for yourself. Basically the man in the song, Wellington Wright, is a descendant of the Wright Brothers so he's already a super fan of all things aerial, right? Well, you'd think. And you'd be right. The song is just him professing his love--nothing too complex or ironic.

The first section is in a poppy love-song style, wherein Wellington explains where he first won money off of Amber's excellent flying, navigating her plane through a narrow frozen cavern. This section has a lot of repetition, and the use of verses and choruses which I almost never do. I prefer things to be through-composed because it's a lot more rewarding to listen to, and it keeps your attention for longer because after you write the verse and chorus of a traditional song you're already basically done. So I did throw in some ending sections to keep myself happy; but it wasn't arbitrary. The ending sections reflect a shift in mood. The first section is a very down-to-earth story of how Wellington came to love Amber, and how he's sending a letter on Valentine's day, the anniversary of her first win. But the second section is more of a fantasy sequence. The music slows down and becomes sort of dreamy and ethereal, the drums drop out, and Wellington sings about his dreams with Amber--the abstract fantasy of their love, flying through clouds and whatnot. Then, after a pretty harp interlude, we're into the final section of the song. This shows another shift in Wellington's mood. This is the moment where he decides to stop fawning over her and tell her how he feels. "I've been grounded long enough, I'll take flight and action." The music becomes stranger, heavier, and louder to show his ambition, I guess, and his drive to make Amber love him back.

The song ends suddenly as it does for three reasons. One: all the songs on my album do so that they lead directly into one another like one piece of music. Two: the sagging noise at the end of the song is supposed to resemble an airplane engine cutting out. Three: the noise is a little sad and droopy, which kind of puts a pessimistic twist at the end--like Wellington realizes he'll never gain the affections of such a celebrity as Amber. It's kind of like an "Aw..too bad..." sound.

Also, that reminds me of some of the cheesy sound effects in the song. At the beginning you can hear real audio of planes flying over head, and during some of the choruses you can hear the following: an airplane trying start up, the engine eventually kicking in, the cheering crowd at the arctic races, and distorted radio signals.

I hope you enjoy the song, thanks for reading!

Lyrics:

Dear Amber, you don't know me.
I'm a gambler and your biggest fan.
You can call me Wellington Wright.
And oh, Ms. Avalanche, I'd love to be your man.

I'm a descendant of the airplane pioneers.
That's how I came to find your line of work, my dear;
the famous contest: the Arctic Races,
and the champion polar pilot the aerial angel, Amber Avalanche.

I bet a lot of money on your crimson-colored aircraft
on this winter day last year, a frigid rigid Valentine's Day.

You whistled through a frozen cave,
a missile through my chest would save
a bitten heart to thaw and bleed
smitten as you take the lead.

Ever since then, that February,
you know I've been proudly wearing,
that white feather badge upon my chest
that fell to the ground from your leather vest.

I forever follow the flights
of the beautiful Amber Avalanche,
and just like your winning record
my love for you is undefeated.

Ever since then, that February,
you know I've been proudly wearing,
that white feather badge upon my chest
that fell to the ground from your leather vest.

You whistled through a frozen cave,
a missile through my chest would save
a bitten heart to thaw and bleed
smitten as you take the lead.

I dream of us flying by turbines,
riding on mountain wakes
and taming the waves
of crowded blizzard clouds.

I've been grounded long enough.
I'll take flight and action.
The other racers can't seem to catch you
but planes aren't fueled by passion.

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