Every Song Tells A Story: Hello Blue Sky

The Story

Genre-smashing is something I like to do. I don’t like being put into a box. I like many styles of music. I like diversity. When writing a song, this concept is always floating around in the back of my mind. I try not to sit down and say, “I’m going to write a ________ song today.” That usually leads me nowhere and what does come out of me sounds very forced. When I “genre-smash” it has to come naturally. This song is a good example of how that can happen.

“Hello Blue Sky” was inspired by positivity, plain and simple. I was in a good mood after being in a bad one the day before and wanted to reflect that positive vibe by mirroring it in a song. Many positive images started to dance around in my head as I started getting my thoughts together but the whole notion of a clear blue sky took over. There’s nothing like a good sleep and a brand new day to get you motivated sometimes. I liked the idea and ran with it.

I suppose this is when the genre-smashing thing reared its head. Lyrics started to flow almost immediately, starting with the title and chorus. As soon as that first group of words stuck, I heard the song in my head. It sounded a lot like a 1960’s song by someone like Herman’s Hermits (“I’m Into Something Good”) or maybe The Turtles (“Happy Together”) or something like that. It was most definitely sounding a lot like The Beatles (“Getting Better”) in my head, though, and so that took precedence. I was writing some heavier guitar rock around this time so it was a nice change of direction.

The lyrics came quite quickly after that and I was able to hear the whole song in my head, pretty much. They’re simple and don’t say much moreĀ  than, “Hey, yesterday sucked but now it’s gone. Make the most of today.” I also employed a little “days of the week” nonsense in there. As the song progresses, so do the days of the week.

There’s not much else to the story, really. It’s one of those songs that just came out of nowhere after the words “hello blue sky” popped into my head. It’s not about a particular person, place or thing. It’s just about not letting things get you down. Is it the antithesis to Pink Floyd’s “Goodbye Blue Sky”? Maybe it is! The thought had crossed my mind, but only after I wrote it.

The Recording

As I often do, I recorded the drum track for this song first. By this time, I was wholly aware of the Beatles/McCartney influence and I knew what I wanted it to sound like. I did my best Ringo Starr imitation. There was little trouble.

So I then went through that little process I find myself going through at this stage of recording where I sing the notes out loud and try to match them on the instrument to see if they sound good. I had already worked out that the opening “hits” on guitar would consist of a chord up the neck somewhere, very similar to The Beatles’ “Getting Better” as I mentioned. Everything in the opening and chorus parts is fairly staccato.

Bass is always fun for me, especially right after I record a drum track. I don’t give the key of a song much thought until this point. When you record drums, you’re not really committed to a key yet. Once that bass is laid down, however, you’re all in unless you decide you want to re-record the whole song in another key. I’m referring to live bass and not taking into account all the ways you can do these things technologically. I’m a recording simpleton that way.

So, like I said, bass is really important to me while recording. It may sound strange but sometimes, with the way I write songs, this is where a lot of the “incidental” writing happens. By this, I mean I may have the song in my head but I may also be missing bits and pieces, connecting parts, or even entire bridges. I’ll say to myself, “I’ll fill in the blanks later on.” Later on usually ends up being while I’m recording bass. This song was no different.

As you can hear, the beginning is just those staccato hits but the real change is when the verse kicks in. Now we’re doing a walking, bluesy sort of thing that has a little walk down at the end (D-C-B-A) which leads nicely back down to the G, which ended up being the key. I found the key by simply trying different chord variations up the neck until I found something I liked.

The bridge was actually created during recording of both the drum and bass tracks. The drums provided the framework and the bass provided the notes. I had no lyrics for a bridge. Nothing came to me that I thought sounded good. I toyed with putting AAAHHHH’s in there or something but in the end, I kept it simple with some horn builds. In essence, I just reversed the little walk-down from the end of the verses. I slowed it down a little and used the horns to build it up a bit. It reminds me of the little pre-chorus in the song “Heat Wave” from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: simple, yet effective.

A little electric piano helped fill out the sound nicely. I didn’t want to over-do things too much. Sometimes too much layering of instruments can muddle the sound (especially if they’re all playing the same thing). After keys, I found a nice guitar sound with some vibrato that sounded a little 60’s to me and used that for a guitar solo that basically just repeats the verse melody and is harmonized on the second pass.

The builds at the end are just horn hits following the thumping quarter notes. I would just add more notes (lower or higher) to the hits as the build progressed. The vocal “hellos” and “yeah yeahs” assisted, as did completing the “days of the week” thing.

It was an easy one to record. I enjoy the positive vibe.

The Lyrics

Hello blue sky
Fresh start, another try
Maybe I can get it right today

Hello big sun
Telling me the day’s begun
Monday’s gone and Tuesday’s looking great

Went to bed with a tear in my eye and a sandbag on my heart
Woke up this morning and I’m ready to make a new start

Hello blue sky
Fresh start, another try
Maybe I can get it right today

Hello big sun
Telling me the day’s begun
Tuesday’s gone and Wednesday’s looking great

My sister told me that her man done her wrong and she can’t get no relief
I told her, “Baby – you just need a good night’s sleep.” (then you’ll say…)

Hello blue sky
Fresh start, another try
Maybe I can get it right today

Hello big sun
Telling me the day’s begun
Wednesday’s gone and Thursday’s looking great

Hello blue sky
Fresh start, another try
Maybe I can get it right today

Hello big sun
Telling me the day’s begun
Thursday’s gone and Friday’s looking great

Hello Hello Hello Hello
Friday’s gone and Saturday’s looking great
Yea yea
Saturday’s gone and Sunday’s looking great
Yea yea yea yea yea yea
Yea yea yea

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