The quest to write, record, produce and release a brand new song each and every week.
It's best if you listen to the song whilst you're reading, (which you'll get sent directly to you before it's released if you become one of my patrons!) but you can also listen on...
It's also available on all major streaming and music stores worldwide, so just search for 'Tom B. Cooper DEAR REVELRY' and it'll show up!
Anyway, welcome to Week 11 of the A Song A Week blog. I'm going to dive straight in with how 'DEAR REVELRY' came to be...
It’s All About The Bass
Before I’m anything else, I’m a bassist. When people ask me what instrument I play, 9.9 times out of 10 say “I’m a bassist” even if they’ve just seen me playing live for 2 hours on anything but the bass guitar.
So, I’m sure you’ll be very surprised to hear that this is only the 2nd time I’ve ever written a song that’s started with a bass line (The other being my song ‘Modern Day Jesus’ which you can listen to on Spotify HERE or iTunes HERE)
So what I did for this weeks song was I set myself not 1, not 2, but 3 criteria I had to fulfil…
- Start the song with a bass riff
- It had to be upbeat (nobody likes a moan bass heavy song… do they?!)
- Absolutely no backing vocals (say whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!)
Excellent. Parameters in place, here we go…
So what did I do? Well, I got my trusty Warwick Streamer LX out. My baby. I’ve now officially had this bass guitar half my life (for those that were paying attention last week, it was my 30th birthday… for those paying attention this week, that makes the guitar 15 years old.)
I started playing some ideas. Some grooving grooves.
After a wee while I landed on the line that you hear on the song (except I changed it to a synth bass later down the line… more on that later.)
Then I played some drums in. Some disco-y, funky kinda drums. The kind that make you want to get up and dance.
So I had my rhythm section down. I was dancing along (that’s always a good thing, right) and at this stage I decided I wanted to keep it un-synthesized and funky, so I grabbed my guitar (Fender Telecaster for those that are interested!) and started playing along. Nothing ground-breaking here. Just some typically funky guitar. I doubled it in parts and there and I had a song on my hands.
Apart from a few additional synths, a honky sort of piano and some percussive elements, there’s really not an awful lot to this song, musically. All the years I’ve played in wedding bands I know how much you can achieve getting people to dance with just the drums, guitar and bass, so I didn’t want to overkill it, but the additions definitely help the song along.
Originally I had a middle 8 breakdown part, but whenever it got to that part it just lost all momentum, so I cut it right down and followed it with a synth lead break instead.
I think the arrangement of the song is good and right and every element is doing it’s thing well. I’ve not written many funky songs for myself, so I had to take my hands off instruments and just sit and listen quite a bit, realising I didn’t need to chuck the kitchen sink at it. The parts were doing all the hard work for me.
No Backing Vocals
Apart from my song from week 8 ‘Korvatunturi’ (which you can read about HERE) in which it’s just a very simple acoustic and vocal, then all of my songs for A Song A Week so far (in fact, all of my songs as either Tom B. Cooper or Kuqi) use backing vocals a lot.
I love them.
Just listening to songs like Because by The Beatles or Fix You by Coldplay, or in a completely different ilk, Mykonos by Fleet Foxes inspire me probably more than anything else.
In my opinion, well constructed and performed backing vocals can propel a production from good to great.
I grew up listening to the likes of The Beatles, Queen, ABBA and even musicals (thanks Mum!) and I was always picking out harmonies over the lead vocal, so it’s no wonder that I use and rely on them so heavily.
“So why no backing vocals then, Tom?!”
Well, that’s just the thing, I feel like I rely on them and that’s not a good thing.
There are some things I have to rely on, like my arrangement instinct, or the fact that I can play guitar and bass to a good standard, or that (apart from singing the Kanye part in American Boy for a wedding band) I can’t rap.
All of these things are things that I know and so I use some things over others.
But backing vocals are a definite choice and I know that oftentimes when I’m thinking up melodies, before I’ve even constructed the full lead melody, I’m thinking of the other backing vocal parts, possibly (probably) to the detriment of the song.
So I made the very conscious decision to use no backing vocals at all.
That meant I absolutely 100% had to make the melody as catchy as possible for this particular song.
Now the way I like to do it is take my dog Star Pig for a walk and sing. See what comes out and see what sticks.
Some lyrics come along that way too, which is great.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I walked. I sang. I walked. I sang. I walked. I sang.
By the time I got, I had the melody down and hit record.
This was a worthy exercise to do and I’m really pleased with the melodies throughout.
The lyrics to Dear Revelry are something I’ve been wanting to write for quite a while.
It’s basically someone embracing recklessness and actually talking to it (recklessness)
A bit of a strange concept, sure, but quite an interesting one to me.
I don’t think I’m much good at the folk-y story telling type of lyrics, so they’re always either a tad or massively open to interpretation. This one falls somewhere in the middle I reckon.
I don’t particularly like talking about lyrics, because as far as I’m concerned, a song might mean one thing to me and something completely different to you. Even me as the writer, my interpretation of the lyrics aren’t necessarily right.
As soon as the song is written and released, all ownership of the words belong to the listener.
So, that’s why you’ll rarely hear me talking about lyrics, but in this case, I’ve at least told you what my starting block was.
When I set out to write Dear Revelry, I had 3 things in mind and I achieved all those things.
- I started writing it on the bass guitar (which changed to a synth bass for production reasons… basically it just sounded cooler)
- It was upbeat (and fuuuuuuunky!)
- I didn’t use a single backing vocal (which meant the melody and lyric had to be strong enough)
I think Dear Revelry is fun. Lots of fun. I certainly had fun writing and recording it.
Listening back to it now I’m a bit annoyed that I’d lost my voice a bit, so I’m straining to reach some of the notes with the power I wanted to, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing necessarily, I just have a different character to my voice in this one.
I’m going to keep writing, keep setting myself challenges and most importantly, keep enjoying what I do with A Song A Week.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Dear Revelry and the process I took to making it.
Thank you so much for reading. The absolute best way you can support me and this blog is by listening to and sharing 'DEAR REVELRY' (which you'll get sent directly to you before it's released if you become one of my patrons!) but you can also listen on...
And it's available on all major streaming and music stores across the internet, just search for 'Tom B. Cooper 'DEAR REVELRY' and it'll show up!
I'd also love it if we connected via social media, so hit me up on...
Peace and happy music making.