This is another song that I wrote in my early twenties but it’s only now getting a proper recording.
I played this tune with various bands over the years but we never got a usable recording, because they were usually done in dive bars with poor acoustics. There was no separation of the instruments, only the chaotic din of drunken idiots in the background.
I do still have the original, cassette demo that I recorded on a reel to reel tape machine. I no longer have that machine [insert sadness and woe, here] but I have the recording. It’s ok but it’s just guitar and vocals and covered in that old school, analog tape hiss.
This is a full treatment, with rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals, bass, all of which I’m doing. The lead guitar part is a first take improvisation. I’ve never played lead over this song before, because I was always busy playing the rhythm and singing the lead part.
Actually, I’d never even thought about what I’d want the lead guitar part to sound like, because keeping a band together was trouble enough to keep my mind thoroughly occupied. So, I just hit record and rolled with it. I’m pretty pleased with the result.
It’s also got drums and hand percussion, performed by Stinky the Robot drummer. I’ve got him trained pretty well at this point. He eats a small amount of electricity, sleeps in his little box and he only bites occasionally, now; I’ve even removed the shock collar.
It’s really one of the most simple, straightforward songs that I’ve ever written. There’s a main riff and a slight variation on it, toward the middle. Then, there’s the verse part, a two-measure figure that repeats, over and over.
There’s three, short verses, no chorus and no bridge. That’s because it was originally a poem and I had no desire to adapt the words, just to flesh out the musical bits.
The rhythm guitar part really emphasizes the drums and bass anyway, thus making it more of a groove tune than a standard, pop formula type of song. The lyrics take up only about the first third of it and the rest is just an excuse to do what musicians love to do… jam.
Pilgrimage to the mountain, On through a hurricane Going to pray for my family, And for those who lay in the clay I don’t know who will hear me But I will cry on the wind Grant me strength and compassion Give me self-discipline
Oh, the pressure and the pride, now They can split your skull When your best ain’t enough, now All you can do is let go A thousand years’ wisdom Will set it all straight A fool’s minute will erase it Ah, but that is the Way
I was tied to a tree And whipped like a dog It’s where I learned to be free And to trust in God In the center of the mountain You will find a ring When you wear that piece/peace No man’s words will sting
It’s only a string section, not an entire orchestra. But what sets this apart from anything that I’ve ever done before is that, in addition to writing the chord progression, the guitar and bass parts and the lyrics, I also wrote the string part. That’s a new one for me.
And I didn’t just write something on guitar and then transpose it for strings. Instead, I wrote it the way a classical composer would.
To do this, I had to draw on the part writing rules that we learned in music theory class in college, something that I thought I’d never actually use. It was a long time ago, so I feel sure that I broke some of those rules in various places but remembering the basics (no parallel 4ths or 5ths, etc) got me through it.
SomethingLike A Rainbow
Lost and alone and wandering Finding a true friend there, in the rain Hold fast, together Warmth in a lover’s arms Loving each other heals the pain
A soft and gentle light, to lead the way Something like a rainbow
So many things we were told we’d see Most of them never came to be But no one can explain the redeeming grace That shines from the light in your face
A soft and gentle light, it leads the way Something like a rainbow
And it shines into forever Walk in its light, into forever
So many things we were told we’d see Most of them never came to be Still, no one can explain the redeeming grace That shines when a smile is upon your face
A soft and gentle light, it leads the way Something like a rainbow Soft and gentle light, it leads the way Something like a rainbow
And its light goes into forever Ride the light into forever