I was talking with Eric the other night about music and singing and writing and all that kind of stuff. He’s always been my biggest fan, in terms of my singing. During our conversation, he said that after hearing me sing “No More Drama” at karaoke, he really wanted to work on writing on songs for me.
A little bit of backstory: Eric has been a lead singer of 2 bands here in San Diego; he has since started writing stuff on his own using a craptastic music program that I got him a few years ago. He has written about 30 songs since then. He has a lot more patience than I do. He’s also an accomplished poet, playwright, director, actor, blah blah blah…you see where I’m going with this…
Let it be said off the bat that I cannot act my way out of a paper bag. Memorizing lines is just…impossible for me. Writing…that’s debatable. I’ve written some emo, lousy poetry over the years, and have tried to form them (somewhat) into songs. 2 years ago, I managed to piece something together on Eric’s previously mentioned music program, and even performed it at a local show – a combo of one-act plays and live music performances. Well, semi-live. The 2 other performers did their acoustic guitar thing, I sang along to my backing track. Granted, it’s a backing track that I arranged myself, but…you get what I’m saying.
If you happen to want to HEAR the track, it’s on my music myspace that hasn’t been updated in forever and a day. The song is called “Smothered” – the rest of the tunes are just low-quality stuff I recorded at karaoke night.
Eric has always told me that he was impressed by the song – he thought it was honest while also being witty at times. I guess the song is okay. Most of the writing I’ve done in the past is a lot less coherent and more stream-of-consciousness, so I feel that in “Smothered” I was able to create something that makes a little sense.
What I don’t like about the song, is that I feel like anyone could sing it. Put any generic singer-songwriter up on stage, give them the lyrics and a few chords (um, if I actually KNEW the chords, that is) and they could go to town on it. And for whatever reason, I didn’t feel completely comfortable singing that song. My style and comfort zone is more in the pop/R&B realm.
Very frustrating – wanting to write like Tori Amos and trying to sound like Mary J. Blige. It doesn’t fit. I also can’t play any instruments that well at all, so I’m kinda up a creek without a paddle.
I guess that’s why I like karaoke, because I can play up my strengths, but every so often, try something out of my usual zone, or do something just for fun. I mean, c’mon – last night I sang “Catch Me I’m Falling” by Pretty Poison and then Mama Cass’s rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (there are videos on YouTube, but WordPress is being cranky and not letting me link it for some reason).
My goal is to save some money up so that I can purchase a MacBook. Having Garage Band, I think, would make Eric’s writing process easier. I think it would also be a good influence on me to actually write again. Possibly collaborate musically with the person who I collaborate with all the time in everyday life.
Also, since my computer appears to be continuing to die a slow, painful death, I am probably due for a new one in my life. I’ve always been a PC person, but a Mac is probably going to be my next computer purchase. Unless Garage Band is ever released in a PC version – as far as I know, it has not, and there is no reasonable facsimile.
I will say that I’m (still) very conflicted right now about pop music. I cannot STAND the Black Eyed Peas newest singles. One of my friends sang “Boom Boom Pow” the other night at karaoke and rocked it; but if I hear that song on the radio, I automatically flip the station. Also – Lady Gaga. WTF? I’ll admit, “Just Dance” was a catchy tune. But then I listened to the rest of her CD and was like WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CRAP? She can’t even sing that well *cringes* and yet she is charting hit after hit and singing cameos on other people’s tracks. She has tons of success with crap like “I want to take a ride on your disco stick” (ewwww), and yet she’s flat broke. Good going, Gaga.
However, I am not dismissing all pop fluff that’s out right now. Not that one can really call Beyonce’ pop fluff, but her new single “Sweet Dreams” is AWESOME. It’s rad in that it sounds futuristic, yet there’s something retro about it…in an 80s dance/pop/funk way. I’m also digging Jordin Spark’s track “Battlefield” . Both of these songs are very synth heavy, which seems to be a trend right now. But these 2 chicks do it RIGHT. A well-crafted, catchy song can really benefit from lots of synth and electronic blips and beeps. But if it’s crap writing, and crap singing, then I’m sorry…not Timbaland, nor Palow Da Don, nor Kanye nor any SuperProducer using autotune can fix it.
Speaking of autotune, I’m very conflicted. Sometimes, it’s a fun little effect to insert here and there into a song. But I don’t always love when a song is completely taken over by it. When I can’t tell if the singer can actually sing, that just annoys me. Exception: Lil’ Wayne. He’s grown on me. I remember hearing him on some tracks a long long time ago (like 2000, maybe?). I find him to be kind of a fascinating individual. And a great performer. Autotune or not.
Also speaking of autotune: DOA by Jay-Z. I have been a Jay-Z fan for YEARS. The man delivers. Another great track. Hm…speaking of Jay-Z…let’s take it back a few years: Hawaiian Sophie by Jaz. Jay-Z is more of the sidekick in this song. Ahhh the good old days of hip hop.
And I’m SO excited that Annie Lennox has recorded a cover of “Shining Light” by Ash. I saw Ash perform live in Philadelphia back in 2001 or 2002, maybe. They opened for…Ben Folds Five? Howie Day? I’m not sure, I was going to a lot of concerts back then. And I just remember hearing this song and falling in love. I never really got into anything else by them, but this song is AMAZING. Both versions, actually.
Someday, I’d love to do a cover of “Smile” by Jonah Matranga. Eric, boyfriend extraordinaire is a huge fan, and I just adore this song so much.