New song: Spark!

Spark (July 2017)

It doesn’t take much to set me off these days
Everywhere I look I see a storm cloud
Can’t stop myself from wondering if it’s all just gonna wash out
And if so then how do I explain
The distance in between the world you know
And the altogether different place you have to go

The spark in your eyes is the light of a star
Bringing whole new worlds to life
The words that you say are treasures from afar
With magic burning deep inside

So maybe it’s not time tonight
To cast that shadow on your sight
Do I even have the right (no)
Keep your fire burning bright

There’s really not much that we can do from here
Padlock on the door to the control room
The hands that hold the keys are the last ones you would want to
As we walk together through the years
I try to show you how to be a good man
But I don’t know how to break the news that usually we don’t win

Whack Attack

I was rummaging through some old recordings the other day and dug up this long-forgotten piece I did for my friend Andre Monserrat (who did all of my album covers). It was a theme song for his board game “House of Whack.”

Whack Attack

Recorded on my old Roland DAW. I kinda miss that thing.

Two new song demos

Trying to keep the gears turning. This one’s brand new:

And this one’s a straight-up love song:

Centrifuge

What is the explanation
How did we get to this place
There’s been a complication
The road is gone without a trace
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh (4x)
You say you got a theory
I got a couple of my own
Nobody’s really sure but clearly
Somebody somewhere should have known
We’re trapped inside a centrifuge
Slowly being flung apart
By accident or did we choose
This separation into parts
I don’t know… oh oh oh
Don’t need an explanation
To see the shadow on the land
We can’t continue on this way
Divided houses cannot stand
The center did not hold
And I don’t wanna grow old
In this centrifuge

The Heart of It

When the day has run aground
And troubles try to drag me down
I just want to fall down on the floor
But you lay your head upon my chest
And put my weary mind to rest
I find my peace inside a love so sure
You’re at the heart of it for me
You’re at the heart of it for me
Every road it leads to you
All the rivers too
Because I know you’re at the heart of it for me
In these times full of dismay
Sometimes it’s hard to make my way
So many lies and so much suffering around
But in one thing I have no doubt
One truth that I just have to shout
Ring the bells and make a joyful sound
I dreamed of a mountain rising from the sea
So strong and yet so wild and free
That’s what you are to me
No place I’d rather be

Grand Canyon

2/7/17

I am not a man who picks fights
I try to see the view from both sides
But you and I are miles apart
I can’t seem to reach you
If I did you got no space in your heart
We both think we’re right
I beg you to see reason
And you tell me ’bout the truth and the light
How deep is this canyon
If we climb down could we reach the bottom
Stand in the same river
Or does this rift go all the way down
You can’t keep your hands to yourself
You’ve got a book and a gun
And not much else on your shelf
You and I are totally mired
We don’t agree on facts or even
Whether facts at all are required
We both think we’re good
I say love your neighbor
And you tell me ’bout the can’t and the should
How deep is this canyon
If we climb down could we reach the bottom
Stand in the same river
Or does this rift go all the way down
Does this rift go all the way down
Does this rift go all the way down

Songwriting as Search

At some point during the songwriting process I usually find myself stuck on a particular line. Maybe I’m having trouble with the rhyme, maybe it’s the meter, or maybe it’s just that the tone is a little off. I try a different word here, which in turn causes me to change a word there, and that in turn makes me rethink of an entirely different image for the line. That in turn triggers a cascade of other possible changes, and before long I find myself paralyzed by possibilities.

It’s occurred to me more than once that this is really songwriting as a search problem. You’re trying to put together a stanza that conveys a particular image or story. That stanza in turn is made up of lines that have a certain meter and rhyme (i.e. constraints), and those lines are made up of words that each have a certain number of syllables, particular combinations of letter sounds, and specific nuances of meaning. There are almost always multiple choices that might work for a particular word. The challenge is thus in finding the best choice in the context of all of the other words you’ve selected that satisfies those constraints. The combinatorics are overwhelming, so you can’t be exhaustive in your search. You have to use heuristics, instinct, and experience to guide you. Otherwise you can easily get bogged down to the point where you never finish a song.

RPM Challenge 2012

RPM Challenge, if you’ve never heard of it, is an annual event where musicians from all over the world try to record an entire album in the month of February. I participated this year and not only finished my album but had a couple of keepers.

Here are the RPM versions of the two good tracks:
http://soundcloud.com/houlette-1/arabesque-demo-rpm-challenge
http://soundcloud.com/houlette-1/pyramids-demo-rpm-challenge