Every Song Tells A Story: One Step Closer

The Story

“One Step Closer” is another one of those songs that was written back in the mid-1990’s. I don’t remember much about where it came from but I do remember it was a quick write that all stemmed from one lyric: “One step closer to what love can be.” The phrase popped into my head and I just kept going with it, creating a little love story.

I presented it to the band I was in at the time but it never really made it past me playing it at rehearsal one night. It was unfinished, I was the drummer, and I was needed on the drums. They told me to bring back a demo. While making that demo at home, the band dissolved so I just kept it around.

The story of the song is not all that complicated. For the most part, it’s a generic love song performed in an upbeat, folky, acoustic way. It’s about getting to know someone, falling in love, and wanting to be with that person until the end. It’s about a growing relationship and what that might feel like.

Let’s face it. It’s so hard to find someone with half a brain out there. The message here is that when you find someone good, hold on tight and just enjoy the ride. It might not be a perfect ride, but with a little time and some hard work, you can make it.

Another point I was trying to make here was that love isn’t something you get to the end of, like a race. You can always get one step closer to what you think love can be. Love can always get better.

Some of the lyrics are a little hokey but I was in my early days of songwriting and sometimes you go through those phases early on where you just want to make the rhymes work. You say you’ll change it later but in the end, it works just fine so you leave it alone.

The Recording

As I said, this song is an old one so there are a few older recordings sitting around in my house somewhere. The first time I recorded it was at home, playing all the instruments myself. Around that time, I played a few acoustic gigs and featured this song. I wanted to have a better recording of it, so I went into a friend’s basement studio and we recorded it again with me playing all the instruments except for the guitar solo, which my friend performed. Then the song sat in waiting for something like 15 years.

When it came time for me to start recording again, I had a choice to make. I could seek out the original demos and just use them or I could re-record this song again. It’s not a hard song to play, so I opted to just play it again on drums and build on that.

So one day while I was set up for drum recording, I laid down the track from memory on drums. Within a week or so, I had finished re-recording the song. I made a few changes because even though the song was written and had existed in another form, I was approaching it as a new song. I wanted it to sound the same, but different.

One unintentional change I made was the omission of a short breakdown toward the end. I simply forgot about it when I was recording the drum track. I admit, I do miss it when I listen to the song now so I’ll probably add it in when I play it live.

I made some subtle changes to the bass line which I feel were improvements. They’re not all that noticeable but they’re there and they sound nice. The two acoustic parts are all pretty much verbatim. I’m quite happy with the guitar solo also. I got some really nice tone out of the Telecaster.

Vocally, there were a few small changes. Now, I know I mentioned that I had these songs around a while and in various forms but when I was re-recording them, I didn’t have all the lyrics or the old tapes with me. I had to try and remember the lyrics. I recalled most of them pretty quickly except for the second half of the last verse. I could not, for the life of me, remember those words, so I wrote some new ones which are actually better than the original ones.

Of course, I eventually found the lyrics. The original lines were, “Step by step we climbed that ladder of love, and girl you’ve given me more than I could ever dream of.” Pretty hokey, I know. I replaced those lines with, “We’ll brave the storms and we’ll walk the miles, and the smile on your face will make it worthwhile.” Still a little hokey but definitely better. 🙂

I tried to add a little vocal harmony here and there. You’ll hear some in the bridge and during the ending. They’re not bad but I think we’ll do something better when we play it live.

One other change I added was some organ. There are no keys in the original versions of that song. I added some organ to the pre-chorus parts and at the end. They’re back in the mix but help fill out the sound a bit.

So, on the whole, it was a joy to re-record. It’s a fun little song and one of the few that I feel comfortable just sitting home and strumming on an acoustic without accompaniment. It’s pretty basic but it works for me.

The Lyrics

In this crazy old world where love can rule your life
You gotta search the world over for someone who’s right
Cuz when you find somebody who will love you so
It’s the greatest feeling you will ever know

So if I seem to like you and you seem to like me
Then we’ll be one step closer to what love can be
One step closer to what love can be

With every day that goes by I seem to like you more
Just a little bit better than the day before
When we’re together girl there is no past
It’s the only way to make this friendship last

And if it feels a little strange then that’s ok with me
Cuz we’ll be one step closer to what love can be
One step closer to what love can be

Driving down that lonely road
Where destiny controls your soul
It can’t be wrong if it feels this right
Stay with me baby – let’s run away tonight

And now we’re happy together, yes I knew we’d be
Words will never explain just what you do to me
We’ll brave the storm and we’ll walk the miles
And the smile on your face will make it worthwhile

And when youth fades away and there’s just you and me
Then we’ll be one step closer to what love can be
One step closer to what love can be

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