So, herewith: the first of my efforts in my intended “write/record one song a month throughout 2011” project. OK, it’s a couple of weeks later than the end of January, but I hope you’ll forgive that in the circumstances 🙂
Returning (first demo) by TA Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
“Returning” is an apt title in quite a few ways; amongst other things, it marks the first actual song (i.e. with lyrics) I can remember penning in a year or two. The name has other resonances for me, some of which you may be able to infer from the words.
I feel this song features one of the stronger “choruses” I’ve written in some time, which may have something to do with the fact that the chorus’ chords and melody have been sloshing around in my head for what must be a couple of years. Oddly, I never got around to writing or recording the sequence in any form, but thankfully it slotted perfectly into the basic song I was working out over January and early February (2011).
The “spark” for “Returning”, was probably Glen Campbell’s 2008 “modern-ish covers” album “Meet Glen Campbell”, which I picked up for the princely sum of £2 in an HMV sale around Christmas 2010. In particular, I was very taken by Campbell’s cover of Tom Petty’s “Walls” (which gives the song the full-on “Galveston” treatment, sweeping strings and all), and if you get to hear that particular recording, you might imagine the direction that “Returning” could take when I get around to arranging it completely.
I wanted the basis of the demo to be a nice “fat” layer of acoustic guitars, along the lines of what I’ve heard on some of Paul McCartney’s more recent work (e.g. “Flaming Pie” (1997)). In the end, I overdubbed three acoustic guitar parts:
- two almost identical tracks—one with my Faith Saturn 6-string, and the other using my Seagull S12 12-string—panned left and right; and
- a further part played on the Saturn, capo-ed at the third fret with different chord voicings—this is mostly heard during the choruses.
I also played three electric guitars on the track (yes, I was really stacking them up here), all produced by my Steinberger Sceptre (S-series) through a Roland VG-8EX V-Guitar System:
- a slightly “crunchy”, humbucker-type sound (fairly low in the mix);
- a compressed, “Rickenbacker 12-string”-type patch; and
- a twangy, tremelo-ed “baritone electric”, for the Glen Campbell-type solo parts in the instrumental break and last chorus.
The bass guitar, as usual, was my Squier Precision Special 5-string, recorded directly into the multitrack via a Behringer BDI21 bass pre-amp (still an absolute bargain box for the price). Finally, I played the drum part into Logic using my Yamaha DTXplorer electronic/MIDI drum kit, and then spent some time quantising, tidying and moving “hits” around to make it sound a bit more competent 🙂
And for the moment, that’s how I’ve left the song. I must say I think of it as “in the works”—I reckon I could work more on the lyrics, and I’m not sure I’m completely satisfied with the melody in one or two places, but I thought that as I’ve been talking about this song here and there for a good few weeks, it was about time I let you hear the results!
Constructive criticism welcome—this track is free to download under a Creative Commons licence (see below), so if you like it and wouldn’t object to me producing a few more songs, please feel free to comment below 🙂