Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cat's Eye Song Bio

The song I submitted for the Spintunes songwriting contest is a little different than my past entries. Usually, I write through-composed songs that don't repeat and generally have some experimental/avant garde qualities. Cat's Eye definitely has some strange sounds and some subtle experimentation, but for the most part it's a much more standard song than I usually write.

The challenge was to write a song about someone you miss who you can't be with anymore. As usual, I made up a fictional story. I've only written one non-fiction song for my wife, and although I'm proud of the song, I didn't really enjoy writing something sincere. I'm an aspiring novelist and fiction is all I'm really interested in :)

The song is sung from the point of view of a guy who meets a new age girl at a nutrition store called the "Spirit Vitamin Shop." She's one of those eerie gals with bizarre tattoos and a fake fur scarf. Immediately, the narrator falls in love with her (as narrators often do), but that's before he learns an even stranger detail about her. She has a cat's eye hiding behind her bangs. Like, her eye looks like it belongs on a cat.

You can choose to take that literally, or metaphorically (for the sort of feline cunning that the woman has). But my impulse is to think of it as a literal and supernatural anomaly. The song features a lot of occultism and mysterious magic anyway, as the narrator learns that the girl with the cat's eye dabbles in some dark rituals. This is the reason why he can't be with her anymore, he's afraid of the "hexes" she claims to put on people and the possibly sinister supernatural forces she tries to contact. That's where the line in the bridge comes in, "Can't see her again, can't risk the hitch of witchcraft." He doesn't want to get sucked into whatever she's gotten herself into, despite how much he misses her.

Again, you don't have to take this magic stuff literally. Maybe he just suspects she's an evil person. I wanted it to be open to interpretation, wherein the listener can take the words "hexes" and "witchcraft" more, you know, poetically or whatever and assume the narrator is referring to her as an enchanting temptress who puts men under her spell.

The lyrics can be vague, I know, but my inclination is always to write poetry before lyrics--so the images are skewed and strange to make for interesting sounds and images that might not be initially easy to understand. Namely the line "we touched tips to knuckles" which just means they sat in a tent hand-in-hand, fingertips fitted inside the dips in each other's knuckles. It fit the line rhythmically and I liked the way it sounded so I went with it. :P

I put a lot of work into making the music itself express the mood of missing someone--and writing melodies that suit the overall theme is not something I'm good at. I scrapped a few ideas and started the song over about twice, because I wanted it to sound just right: mournful and dreamy--but I also wanted the chorus to be upbeat and catchy. I'm decently happy with the final result. The instruments ARE a bit quiet and buried in spots because I know how much people like the hear the vocal part over anything else. :)

Anyway, I hope that shed some light on the song. I wouldn't have written a song bio if the lyrics weren't so peculiar in spots. But I don't think it's right to spoon feed the listener and write a straightforward love song where the metaphors are obvious and the stories don't have concrete nouns and specific details. I was taught not to write "I went to the store" but rather "I went to Jimmy's Grocery," and not to write "she was a girl" but rather "she was a girl with mint leaf tattoos." Not EXACTLY those, but you get what I mean. Details make the story come alive, and actually make it MORE relate-able than writing about two blank, colorless characters who could be ANYbody on earth. I don't know, I'm still an amateur :P

Either way, I hope you like the song. Listen here:

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