How Songs Happen

Where does a song come from? How does it come to be? Well, I don’t know for sure how songs happen so I’m not gonna try. There are plenty of books explaining the technical side of things.

I am going to relate a cool story about my most recent song, though…

I had a seed of an idea for a song over Christmas holidays.

So I fired up my recording gear and laid down some basic tracks.

Rhythm guitar with a drum loop and some vocals.

After having some fun jamming, I promptly went on with whatever other things I had going on that day.

Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

Soon after — perhaps even that same evening — while brushing my teeth before bed of course — I had a melodic motif pop into my head. The words were “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

This became the title and hook of the song. People tell me they can’t stop singing it! An idea that popped into my head from the nonlinear quantum “womb” fully formed. All I had to do was nurture it along until it grew, cut the umbilical cord and send it out into the world.

Over the next several weeks I spent up to about 80 hours (perhaps more) refining the idea and my musical arrangement.

When I had what I thought was a pretty decent mix, I sent it to my man Gary Gray in LA. He got back to me with some constructive criticism. Not always easy to accept at face value — but it can be helpful to have outside opinions.

At times, Gary challenges me to dig even more out of myself than I thought possible.

He said it was reminiscent of the soul music from Philly and Motown in the 70’s.

Over the next few days as I proceeded to make some of the changes and tweaks he had suggested, I pondered where indeed had the song come from.

It hit me the other day. Brushing my teeth… after breakfast this time 🙂

Black Magic Woman By Fleetwood Mac?

The other influences were “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac. Yep. Some cool trivia for you. I absolutely love Peter Green’s guitar playing and songwriting!

I also love the later version by Santana with the latin vibe. I researched and found out that the intro to Santana’s version was featured on a song called “Gypsy Queen” by an artist named Gabor Szabo.

Very cool! There just so happens to be a character in my song who is a Gypsy Crone. You’ll hear it in the song when you listen 🙂

Some other influences became apparent to me as well. As a guitar nerd, I’ve studied many masters over the years.

There’s definitely some “soul jazz” flavour on this song. Guitar masters like Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, etc. come to mind.

Note: from this point on I’ll simply refer to it as NVNG (Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained)

The song itself is based on a 12 bar minor blues structure — guys like Albert King with his great song “As The Years Go Passing By” is an example.

There’s one more important musical influence. I have a strong connection to the Roma culture through family. And I love their music. So I put a few touches of gypsy flavoured notes in the song. You can hear it mostly in the intro, the guitar solo and the outro.

Besides the gypsy character in the lyrics, there is a definite philosophy being addressed in the storyline.

It essentially suggests to open to receive inspiration, and then take action on that inspiration without being attached to the results.

In the east this is outlined in texts such as the Bagavad Gita, and is also quite apparent in the teachings of Jesus.

Here in the west, some call it the Law of the Farm.

Wow! It’s really cool to analyze one of my songs like that. I never would’ve consciously realized a lot of these points had Gary not mentioned to me about the Philly soul vibe.

I was conscious of a few of the points of course — I ain’t just thrown’ sh&t against the wall here and hoping it’ll stick! Lol

Take a listen and see for yourself. If you enjoy it, please feel free to share with friends.

Thanks for sticking around 🙂

 

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Black Magic Woman by Fleetwood Mac