the wind machine will blow your hair.

i have a real piano, at long last. well, i don’t technically have it yet…it’ll probably be a week or two before it’s over here in the flesh. but the legwork is there. rejoice!

in celebration of the impending piano goodness (and finally being able to give some attention to the ridiculous amount of piano-based songs i’ve been itching to record for quite some time), here’s a little look at a piano song that was digitally endowed, and a good example of how strangely some songs come together.

back in october or november of 2006, at the old house, i came up with this little “catch him in the act of cheating” bit of music while playing acoustic guitar and sitting on my bed. night of the hunter was on tv but i didn’t really watch it because i had it on dvd and wanted to wait until i could watch the whole thing. i’m not a big fan of watching movies that are already in-progress…but that’s another subject entirely. this little song fragment was sort of a remake of what was supposed to originally become a song called “another pawn” back around the time of OH YOU THIS, and a year or so before that it had been another different song about breaking things and insomnia, none of which i ever quite finished or recorded. i thought i would just record this new variation as a tiny song, maybe a minute long, complete with a little supplemental guitar riff retained from when it was crawling toward being a proper song.

then, while taking a bath in january of 2007, i started singing some lyrics to myself for fun. i kept changing them a tiny bit until, after three or four times through, i had almost all of the lyrics that would eventually comprise this song. i kept singing them over and over again for the next hour or so while in the bath, so i wouldn’t forget the words or how they were sung. i figured i’d throw in the “catch him in the act” bit later on, and as i was singing through the thing i figured out a good bass line, a vocal/piano line, and a few other bits…basically the whole song, musically and lyrically, was right there in my head. i just needed to dry off, put some clothes on, and get it down on paper.

when i came downstairs i added another little bit, and thought i’d call the thing backwards hiccup, since i had experienced one of those in the tub shortly before i started singing. it was a strange sensation. i didn’t think “this song rhymes & i don’t care” was quite the right song title, though that was my initial idea. i went on to record two quick working versions of the song, just to get the ideas down. one was nothing more than a few tracks of a capella singing and leg slaps, with pretty much all of the melodies i would eventually use already there, and the second was piano and double-tracked vocals.

after the second working version was recorded, i decided the piano should replace the acoustic guitar as the main instrument. of course, as the song came together in the bathtub, i had envisioned it as sort of a synth-based thing, like fefe dobson’s “boys & girls” on drugs (what can i say? the brain works in strange ways), but i quickly came to prefer it in a more organic form. it took me a few months before i took a stab at recording the whole thing properly, and i got the piano and most of the vocals down, but it just didn’t seem quite right. so i left it.

fast forward to 2008, almost a year to the day i had last worked on the song. i was still fumbling around trying to figure out what to work on, and it would still be a few months before THE CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN WITH A TRIANGLE came pouring out. i thought i would listen to what there was of backwards hiccup just for kicks. then i thought i would add a few missing vocal bits. then i ended up finishing the whole thing. all along the plan had been to add bass, drums and guitar, and maybe some synth, but i ended up nixing that and singing what was supposed to be the guitar part, similar to what happened with “easy as thigh” (another tiny song that has yet to find a home). i’m not sure what possessed me to do that, but it seemed to work better than the guitar would have. i also couldn’t resist throwing in a little wizard of oz melodic quote at the end, with a few seconds of the theme song of the headmen. that’s a fun tune to play on the piano and sing…it’s catchy stuff.

thus ended the journey of backwards hiccup, one of many tiny songs that i haven’t figured out what to do with yet. i would re-record it once i have a real acoustic piano at my disposal, and it would doubtless sound much better, but i’d rather tackle unrecorded songs and new things instead of revising things that have already been finished. so here it is in both the a capella “demo” version and the final version, which is still pretty skeletal.

a bit of an odd and lengthy gestation period for such a simple little song…

Backwards Hiccup (a capella sketch)

Backwards Hiccup

6 comments

  1. it’s great to hear two different forms of a song, I love the end of the instrument-employing version, it reminds me of something but I can’t put my finger on it. for now let’s just recall the scene in Peggy Sue Got Married where she’s at the men’s club and they’re trying to warp her out of time.

    gotta say the a capella sketch is probably my favorite of the two. LEG SLAPS ARE UNDERRATED.

  2. it’s true…there aren’t enough bands around with dedicated leg-slappers. i think it’s a lost musical art.

    what i find really interesting is when a song completely changes shape…it doesn’t really happen with this one, but there are some songs that seem to keep rewriting themselves until they figure out exactly what they want to be.

  3. yes, i keep listening and lisping to the al capone version of the hiccup
    one of the best singles
    stands as an album on its own
    it makes me want to publish my email address

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