Every Song Tells A Story: This May Be Something

The Story

This song is a very important one for me, but not because of its content or its meaning. It’s important to me because of what it represents, or represented at the time it was written. Let me explain.

I can’t say I’ve had too many regrets in life thus far. On a side note, I also think that people who say they have “no regrets” are pretty much full of shit. It’s a device that makes people feel good about themselves or helps them rationalize things, which is cool I guess…but I still think they’re full of shit. You mean to tell me you wouldn’t call for just ONE do-over for that one thing that happened that time…?

Anyway, like I said. I haven’t had too many regrets in life, but the one that always came back and bothered me, and the one I always feel guilty about is the one where I retreated from music for many years. The last band I was in before my little hiatus broke up in the mid 1990’s. After that, I wandered a little bit, did some acoustic gigs, and wrote the occasional song. Nothing felt right or complete.

It was around this time in the mid-late 1990’s that things started to move into high gear as far as life went. Work was not going well, I was training for a new career, I was in the middle of getting married and all that goes along with that, I lost my father and grandfather in the space of two years, I relocated from New Jersey to the Boston area for two years, had a son, moved back to Jersey, bought a house, landed a new job, and so on. In the blink of an eye, more than ten years flew past me before I could even realize what had happened.

Many good things happened during that period but one thing was for certain. I had drifted away from music almost completely. In 2004, I found myself looking for jobs again and having another child; a daughter this time. I contracted here and there and finally landed a solid job in 2006 (where I am presently).

Now, I won’t kid you. I had the bug in my ear every now and then. I kept telling myself I’d fall into a band or do something musical when it came along. Trouble is, nothing ever came along. I was so far removed from the circuit that no one even thought to call me. So at some point in 2006, I looked around and realized that while I was still pretty busy, things had at least settled down a bit. My daughter was two and my son was around seven. I could probably do something musical. The question was: what?

I had always been involved in original music. I thought, however, that putting a cover band together would be pretty easy. I mean, all the songs are written. How hard could it be? It would be a good way for me to ease back into things. Long story short, while there were gigs and many line up changes, the band didn’t last. I did, however, make a few very good friends along the way and had some fun. I got more confident in my abilities and got re-adjusted to performing once again.

During those few years, I also decided to start playing drums again in another local cover band to see if I had any chops left. I found I could still play and I’m still moonlighting in a few bands on drums, which is fun. All those years away from playing did affect my ability, however. That I regret. I can still play well but I can tell that I’m not as good as I used to be. Time and practice…

Back to the song. I had written a few songs in the past with various bands and I had been in a few bands that released material now and then. It occurred to me one day, however, that I had never released my own album: a collection of songs written by me. I guess you’d call it a solo effort? So, while doing my cover band stints, I decided it was high time to just suck it up and start writing songs again. I would noodle here and there on the guitar and see what happened.

One particular night, I remember being quite depressed for some reason that escapes me now. I was on the couch watching something on TV and I looked across the room to where my computer is. Next to it, I keep my old Yamaha acoustic on a stand for noodling purposes. It looked tempting so I went with the vibe and picked it up. I sat in front of the computer and just started strumming a progression that suited my mood. A few minutes later, it dawned on me that I had just written a song. This is something I hadn’t done in years. I opened up a text file and jotted down the chords. At the same time, words started to pop into my head. Ideas were forming. I just rode the wave until it stopped. When it did, I had almost a full song. I just needed a bridge.

I don’t remember the exact inspiration for the song and the lyrics. I remember a friend of mine had recently opened up to me about some personal things she was going through. I remember that I was down in the dumps the night it was written. There’s a reason I’m connecting these two things but other than a subconscious awareness of that connection, I can’t recall the specific inspiration, if there was one. Sometimes when you’re writing, you write a line and then you write a second line which takes you to a third and the next thing you know, you’re a mile away from your original story. These lyrics were something like a stream of consciousness. They just came out. I changed tense or person here and there but that’s about it. The lines just sounded good when I placed them in the chord progression.

So to sum things up, that one night of writing represented my “return” to original music and from there, I just kept going. So that song really means a lot to me. It was the first real song I had written in years and it served as the watershed for what came next, which was a year full of writing and recording. I get a lot of compliments on the song and I’m quite happy with it. It’ll always be a fond memory for me.

The Recording

The song was written fairly quickly, but recording it was quite the ordeal. I was at a disadvantage at the time, because the last time I had ever recorded a song there was no computer involvement. The Internet was still pretty young, actually. I use a PC mostly. It’s a family PC that I usually dominate but we all can use it. I did not have any recording software or input devices, however. I used some gig money (from the drumming I still do on the side) to pick up a Presonus Firebox, which allowed me to plug instruments and/or microphones directly into it. This box carries the signal from the instrument or voice from its source to the computer. I tried using a PC based software package for a while. In the end, I was able to get a version of the song recorded but only after many failed attempts. There were level issues and I lost the entire song (multiple tracks) more than once.

This, of course, drove me to drink…and to the Apple store. I didn’t replace my home PC, but I knew I needed a dedicated media machine. I grabbed a refurbished MacBook Pro and an external drive. I’m using Garageband now, basically because I can’t afford Logic Pro or something better. However, Garageband is surprisingly versatile and suits my needs just fine. Within a few hours of taking it out of the box, I had just about recorded the whole song again.

By the time I got to recording the song on the Mac, I had already played these parts many times so recording it was a breeze. I recorded the drum track first, as I usually try to do. Then I laid down the bass and the other guitar parts. After recording the vocals, I toyed with the notion of adding some backing vocals but I wasn’t feeling it. I was enjoying the visual of a guy singing alone.

The bridge was a funny thing. When I originally penned the lyrics, I had three verses and no bridge. I told myself I’d write something later. While trying to record the PC demo, I realized I had nothing to play for the bridge and just sort of winged it. After a couple of tries, I came up with what’s on the song now. I didn’t have lyrics though. I took the third verse and adapted it to the bridge. Simple.

The mellow guitar solo was nice but I felt it needed to do something other than repeat the phrase so I harmonized it the second time around. That was another first for me, simple as it was. I thought it sounded nice.

So as my first foray into digital recording, I ran into a few bumps but in the end came out with a decent song that put me on a path to many others. The process is so much simpler now than it was 10 or 20 years ago. That, plus the ease of using the Mac have been key for me over the past year. I’ve learned a lot and hope to learn more as time goes on.

The Lyrics

I  swore I wouldn’t let it eat me up inside
I said I wouldn’t let it win
But here I am right back where I started
Here I am… again

It’s times like these you’ll tell me it’s gonna be all right
And I might believe you too
But if I did would it just be a lie
Would I be a fool

I’ve been here too many times
I think I know my way around by now

It’s times like these where the darkness seems to break
With a light inside your soul
It’s time like these I run the other way
I make you let me go

I don’t expect you to try and understand
I don’t expect you to try to make me see

This may be something – This may be something, good
This may be something – This may be something, something good

I got all this stuff now
Not sure what to do
I need someone to kick me in the right direction
Kick me right to you

I know you weren’t trying to scare me
You just tried to be a friend

And maybe that’s something – Maybe that’s something, good
Maybe that’s something – Maybe that’s something, something good

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