The challenge for SpinTunes 4, Round 2 was to "write a musical Valentine's Day card to someone OTHER than your significant other."
I started thinking about ideas that have been kicking around in my head for a while -- about how hard it is for adult men, maybe with wives and families -- to maintain supportive friendships and creative partnerships with other men. There's the context of competition, of course - in sports, even playing on the same team, but what sort of role models are there for support and creative collaboration? Even talking about it seems suspicious, and immediately brings up the idea that such a desire is something only a closeted gay man would express.
If there seems to be homophobic anger in the song I hope the listener will understand that it is not intended towards gay men, but towards the society that has made connecting with men platonically taboo. I hope that comes through.
On paper this song was a mess, and I wasn't making much progress. It filled several pages in my notebook with ranty paragraphs of text that weren't really rappable verses. I could sort of read it and it was funny and made some sense, but it was much too long and didn't have a workably rhyme scheme. Only after going into the studio and recording the first verse did it start to come into shape. I recorded the chorus very roughly following a melody I laid down with my guitar synth, and screwed around with the pitch using some plug-ins, and that's where it pretty much stayed. At the end of a couple of hours the Friday night before it was due I had the first verse and a chorus and that was what I had to build on. It was weird, but I kind of liked it.
I was much more pressed for time on this track than I was on the last one; this one represents a total of about eight hours of work in the studio. There is much that is sloppy and that I might have liked to do better, but I'm also trying to just complete more tracks, imperfections and all. While I was recording rap sections today my three middle kids were down the hall in the bathtub having some sort of screaming contest, as kids do. I kept hearing the screaming in my headphones and finally just took my digital recorder in there and captured them screaming, and worked that into the lyrics and the audio. Lemons and lemonade... it was freezing cold in the studio today -- layers, chattering teeth, and stiff hands. The heat was on constantly so no chance to get audio takes without the heating system in the background; no time left for extra takes anyway. Oh, well!
I intended to record this one at 24/96 like the last one, but somehow my Logic project got set back to 24/44.1. If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it. I had to master myself this time using Ozone 5. It's not like having a real mastering engineer but it can still do some pretty cool things.
This one is for all you special gentlemen out there, who are looking for someone you just can't get from the ladies. No, that's not exactly what I mean. SpinTunes, represent! Sometimes songwriting contests -- they get a bad rap.
I'm speaking in verse since I've been told I can't sing
First off, let's establish this isn't a gay thing
And though I am sensitive and sometimes sing show tunes
There ain't no Santorum on the sheets in my bedroom
I'm pensive and anxious; not so good socializing
Bad at eye contact; find friendship quite trying
It always gets competitive; I feel disrespected
So though I need contact I remain disconnected
If you like, we could do this right in front of my wife
She and the kids would probably join in; that's my life
I get slobbered on, clobbered, watch boogers get eaten
Get wet on and sat on, but I can't be beaten
Real life is messy; babysitters cost money
Kids are drippy and messy; they think chaos is funny
If I manage to get out for a moment of quiet
When I get home the whole place looks like there was a riot
When I was a child
You had to bring each boy and girl a cutesie card
Bring enough for the class
Or you can fold them up and stuff them up your ass
Now that I am grown
I kind of miss those days and often feel alone
Please don't be shocked
This is not about your goddamn cock
Brother can you spare the time
To be my man-crush bromance Valentine?
So friendship gets difficult, especially past 40
But what really frustrates is all those who can't see
The value of contact not whatever's on cable
Of human conversation around a dinner table
You could bring along your own girlfriend or spouse
Throw in some wine or whisky, not to get soused
But for social lubrication; get the words flowing
Talk politics or culture, until our eyes are glowing
Ideas and philosophies, pedantic or not
Libertarian, contrarian, agrarian or fraught with
Conservatism, idealism, concepts good or bad
Try listening respectfully, although it makes you mad
We're not Limbaugh or Maddow; we're not in it for the ratings
We don't need to practice hate or engage in race-baiting
The art of debate was once taught in every school
What passes for it now is depressingly uncool
So friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter
When everything is virtual, real life goes in the shitter
Social media is corporate and the product is us
Now this is what it's come to, imagine my disgust
Hanging out IRL* seems increasingly unlikely
We've transcended friendship; it's messy and unsightly
I age and rage against the dying of the light
Maybe I'll catch you on the other side; I bid you good night
I've got just one special Valentine's Day wish for you, my brother -- only connect.
*"In Real Life"
from Foo Bar Baz
released February 2, 2010
Paul R. Potts: lyrics, all vocals, Godin LGX-SA guitar and Roland GR-30 guitar synthesizer; Steinberger XP bass. Vocal mic: Oktava MK-319; Radial J+4 and JDV direct boxes; Apogee Ensemble audio interface. Additional screaming by Veronica, Sam, and Joshua. Recorded and mixed with Apple Logic and mastered with Izotope Ozone 5.