1. Vegetable Cart
I was on vacation with a group of my best friends. One of them brought some recording equipment so that he and I could put some songs together. I recorded one and got self-conscious about it. Maybe it was too busy. Maybe I should write stuff that has fewer chords. Maybe I go for lots of chords because I’m trying to prove I’m worthy of calling myself a musician. I wrote this song to prove I could write something without a lot of chords. (The verse is nothing but C.)
This is the song I recorded during that vacation. (This is a different recording of it, though.) It doesn’t have a ton of chords. Just enough for me to wonder what my deal is. Every now and then these days I’ll get the itch to write a groovy kind of stomping bad-attitude song, and within a few seconds I’ll realize I’m basically writing this one again.
I was always skeptical about personal episodes and emotions as inspiration for art. Like, really? You got your heart broke and you sat down and wrote a song? Does the heartbreak really fuel the songwriting? Really? Isn’t that like too convenient? Like it only works that way in movies? No. It works that way in real life too.
4. Run for Office
I wanted to build a phrase around chords that were only a half step apart. That relationship sounds subversive to me, because Western pop almost never goes there. So I wrote the verse, which mostly hops between Eb and D. The second half is almost like a different song. One of my favorite chord progressions and melodies I’ve ever made. And lyrics: “I never knew what it was like until you breathed / life into me, my love. It all comes down to this.”
The keyboard riff and drum pattern in the beginning of this one popped into my head as I was walking to the optometrist to have my glasses adjusted. Luckily I remembered them the next time I was near a guitar. Lots of phrases pop into your head but can’t be found when you try to look for them later. Often in your search to recreate them, you’ll end up writing something close that also sounds good. But you can’t help wondering if the original was better.