Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Song Bio for Spintunes 5 Round 1

I wrote another song for the Spintunes competition. The challenge this round was to write a song about the last day of work.

Here's mine:


It's called Leaving Lyman's Liquor Store and it's set in the wild west. But that doesn't mean it's country or anything. It's very much my typical experimental synth-pop sound. And it's written in a through-composed structure, as are every one of my songs. If you don't know what that is, it's when the song doesn't repeat (or at least repeats minimally). The song has multiple sections or movements. Which, to me, is the most fun way to write a song.

So if the song seems to be schizophrenic to you, that's why. :) Anyway, let's get into it.

I wanted to make a fun-sounding song about corny wild western subject matter that would otherwise seem serious in a film setting, but is more so entertaining in a musical setting. So it's upbeat and often a little cheesy (especially the up tempo jangly banjo break toward the end.)

The story followed Lyman Boone, an alcoholic self-made liquor store owner who hates his life. He decides he's sick of selling spirits in the same old cruddy town and wants to become an outlaw. The first verse is inspired by the first verse of this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTdtR3u-5NM, with a steady acoustic rhythm piano in the background and loud, abrasive hits joining the vocals in startling places. If you listen there are gun shot sounds accompanying the hits to coincide with the western theme. Cheesy, right? :D

The light-hearted piano chorus was supposed to sound mildly honky-tonk, but you can't hear it super well over the loud lyrics. I always have to crank my vocal waaaay up and the bg music waaaay down to appease the spintunes people. I prefer the vocals not to dominate, but everyone ALWAYS tells me the vocals are too quiet in my submissions. If you can't beat em join em, I guess.

The second chorus is much louder and more pounding, and is supposed to imitate the sound of a train. There are triplet rhythmic sounds in the background that are made to sound like a train chugging along. Once again it got a little buried with the vocals being up so loud. You tell me if it actually works :P This chorus is Lyman's mantra, "Gonna be an outlaw, bandit of the sand land sun band. Gonna loot the mineshafts and swipe the whiskey from the saloons." So this particular thief is more interested in jewels and acquiring more booze than anything else (you'd have thought he'd had his fill of liquor, right?).

Okay, the bridge. The glossy piano break in the middle. Another moment inspired by the aforemention artist Bryan Scary (he did an entire concept album set in the wild west... so my influences are pretty obvious, aren't they?). Here's a performance of a song about an outlaw not unlike Lyman Boone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RobtDRz1AH0

If you skip to the 3:50 mark you'll see some of the most impossibly talented piano playing in modern music. Now, I'm no where near that good. But the piano bridge was supposed to give that same overload of piano noise, except more cut and paste and less bar-fight sounding. Keep in mind I wasn't trying to accomplish Bryan Scary's sound, I was only inspired by it. I wanted a mess of piano in the middle and that's all that mattered to me.

The final section is full of affected guitar and features the part of the story where Lyman is on the run from his hometown Sheriff who has a vendetta against him. Lyman steals a bunch of rare gems but has to smash them up in order to destroy the evidence of his crimes. It's not stated explicitly in the lyrics, but he covers them with boulders, which ends up revealing his hiding place and the song ends with Lyman in prison. The ending half is more moody and quiet because Lyman's slowing down and realizing the inevitable consequences of a life of crime. He's also growing tired and hungry, which is shown in the lyrics a little.

Finally, the added twinkling instrument in the second verse of the final guitar-filled section is meant to accompany the mention of the gems acquired in the diamond mine. It may not be totally obvious, but if you listen to the part when the drums come in and I'm singing "Gotta load of gems from a diamond mine," there's a bell-synth melody playing along with me. Yeah. It's a little self-aware, I know. Forgive me :P

And lastly, the bridge of the second section is the chase scene, complete with gun shot effects and horse clopping sounds. I plan to make a follow up song to this one wherein Lyman escapes, so stay tuned. If the Spintunes second round challenge isn't too specific, I may even make my second submission be the sequel to this song.

But for that I would have to survive the first round, which is unlikely. All those thoughtful guitar songs versus my wacko synth song? I probably don't stand much of a chance! But I hope you enjoyed the song anyway! Thanks for reading and listening.

Felix Frost.

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