I came back from Austin City Limits fest late one night and put down a bassline1 and it all eventually led to this pretty off-brand song for me.
I wanted to do something more electronic for funsies, and started playing with the bleep bloop machine just because it felt so out of left field to my naturally folky/singer-songwriter style, but then I got attached to it and ran with it. And here we are! Bleep bloop bloop.
I also got to put one of my favorite quotes from Mad Men in here (2:20), and I’m real glad I could turn rewatching seven seasons of that show into something good.
It’s not even the one on this track, it’s just how it started. ↩
I came across a letter that John Steinbeck wrote to his son Thom in 1958 on the subject of love, and thought it was pretty great.
I loved the sentiment and the wording of the last line of the letter, which inspired this song.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
I’m pretty happy with the song, overall, because it feels like it can stand alone as a folky number that doesn’t need much else. I didn’t spend a ton of time on this recording—all I did was set up a couple of mics, strap on the ol’ guitar and harmonica, and get to sangin’ for a few takes. This was the best one.
This is easy compared to something like Take What You Need, where the song didn’t feel right without bass, drums and other guitars, and I spent forever messing with it until it felt right. That can be fun to do and fulfilling in its own right, but it’s also pretty nice to have the roots of a song present itself one day, and have it feel pretty complete not too long later.
This is a departure from the my usual songwriting subjects, and instead it’s about life, man. I’ve been kicking this one around for a while, but it arrived mostly complete late last summer.
I can imagine how I want to work it up and where some killer harmonies/ooooohhhs are going to live when/if I properly record it, but right now this is me after midnight some night just putting it down straight up1.
with speakers feeding back a bit, unfortunately. ↩
Beginnings and ends of relationships are creative boons for my songwriting. Overall, I’m happy with how this turned out, and it has a couple of lines I really like, even though I stole one from Emily Dickinson and paraphrased it. Great artists steal, amirite?
Man, I like this one a lot. I’d say it’s the catchiest thing I’ve recorded thus far, but some friends disagree. This one has been around since 2012 or so, and I’d tinker with it on the piano from time to time but it wasn’t until last weekend that I decided to put it down.
The act of taking a song from a rough sketch to a fleshed out work is without a doubt my favorite creative hobby. I completely lost track of time working on this, and spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday in my home studio putting it down, improving it, trying different things, and overall just having the best time. That’s where I’m happiest.
If other people enjoy the end result, that’s a nice bonus. And getting recognition for something that came from you is always nice. But I’m thankful that this isn’t my livelihood right now, and I can write and record for me. If it pays someday, even better.
But even if it doesn’t, it’s not going to make me stop.
They say that you can’t hold to the past
They say that time moves so fast
They say I’m fool, for dreaming of you
But sometimes, you wish fleeting would last
I’ve been working on this song forever. I started it in 2013, and it just wouldn’t come together. I went through a variety of recordings, got my good friend Mark to record the bassline which got it real close to feeling done, and then I just let it sit there.
I recently rerecorded some parts, and I’m finally feeling good enough about it existing to let it out. Yeah!
Let’s not obsess over the details, but several years ago, I somehow ended up with a folder full of voicemails on my computer. Most of them were from my brother (Roger) and skimming through them, I thought it was pretty funny that they all sounded so similar: “Jeff, It’s Roger, [message]”
If there’s one person’s voice in the world who I know, it’s my own brother’s. So the fact that he always announced who was calling cracked me up.
I had these voicemails for years, and always thought I should do something with them. When his 39th birthday came around I felt a little inspiration, and started with the simple idea of just joining them together.
But that wasn’t enough, so I thought I’d just put a simple repetitive backing part behind it. That seemed better, but I felt like it could be more.
A few days later, using all the time allowed (up to a few minutes before his birthday dinner), I ended up with what you heard above.
His reaction? Unbelievable. On the floor, gasping for air, especially at 1:00, and at 1:30 when the guitar came in and it was clear that these messages were not stopping.
I posted it a couple of other places, too. On MetaFilter music, it ended up getting featured on their monthly podcast, which was awesome. Here’s the clip where they talk about it:
And then, it blew up on reddit, and ended up getting 14,000 plays.
I don’t know if I can ever top this as a birthday gift.
This melody popped into my head one afternoon and I didn’t have any lyrics for it, so I started paging through my Evernote for lyrical scraps, where I came across the first verse, which I’d written a couple of years back.
Like a pine tree trying to hide its needles,
Like a ginger pretending he’s blonde
Well that Saturday, when I slipped and told you how I feel
Ever since then the feeling’s been gone
I also found another completely separate lyrical scrap:
Well you say you’re classy
but it’s just a veneer
as long as I buy all your beer