Monday, August 31, 2009

Song062_Scheduled Collapse

For the entire month I have been sending FREE music to those that requested it (via email). The month has flown by, and today is already the final day of August. It was nice having frequent feedback. It was also interesting to see each of the voting results for 'song-of-the-week.'

Matt Coleman ( filmed a video for this music project today. It should be online sometime next week.

I got a later start on today's song than the song uploaded at 11:47pm (CST). I hope you enjoy this instrumental. Another album, Alluring Catastrophes, will be available for sale tomorrow.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Song061_Discarded Inventions

This song is in honor of failed inventions, and the ingredients that make great inventors...creativity, persistence, perseverance.

LYRICS: "Human hydro hamster wheels, JATO rocket on a classic car, bird wings fixed with suspenders and glue, drive-thru money-machines for the blind, riding vacuums and dogs with wheels, candle-lit coal mines, robot policemen, meatless meatloaf casserole mixtures, scuba suit laced with hooks and bait, cell phone tazer with defibrillator, pirate cruise-ships, ice fly-fishing, chocolate covered bacon, and aerosol cheeses. Lazer-beam bombs, deep sea jeeps, vegan-friendly cattle, bottles made of leeks, crust-less loaves of uncooked toast, and space ships fueled by jumping beans. You might've failed, but it was fun to watch. You gave it lots of thought, but it wasn't meant to be."

Some of these things I made up, and some of them actually happened. I recently sketched out the plans for a cell phone that has a built-in tazer as well as a heart-rhythm analyzer and defibrillator. I thought that was a practical idea. Chocolate covered bacon actually exists, and I love it. Also, I thought it would be nice if someone invented "vegan-friendly cattle" so our friends, Tim and Kristen, could enjoy meat that isn't tofu.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Song060_Defining Moments

We left town this morning at 3am and rode the 'Hotter Than Hell' (100k) cycling race in Wichita Falls, TX (3hrs 35min 48sec). We didn't get back until late afternoon, and (although I had given it lots of thought) I didn't have a specific plan for today's song. I decided to record an instrumental that mirrors my feelings about the day's events.

The ride was great...great scenery, great company, fast track, no crashes, etc. I rode without any music today, and I enjoyed the time to think. I kept recalling "defining moments" that I've witnessed...some great and some catastrophes, but all of them truly "defining." It's hard, if not impossible, to anticipate defining moments...just have to always be ready.

The primary track in this song is an acoustic guitar which I recorded through direct input (using GuitarRig 3). It's layered with a few delay effects and large-room reverbs. The analog bass was recorded next. There are two electric guitar tracks that have dueling E-bow parts. (An "E-bow" is an electronic device that you hold against a guitar string. The magnet in the E-bow reacts to the magnet in the guitar pick-ups...creating a sound that emulates a violin bow). The "icing" on the song was: a computerized vocal section, a french horn, and a few other random sounds.

I hope you enjoy the song.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Song059_Flames Eat Forest

The key tracks in this song are electric distorted and two picking different melodies. (The opening sounds like the band Luna during an aggressive moment). The three drum tracks are interesting to me. Two of these tracks start the song, and the third track enters before the vocals. The drums that play during the first vocal section were programmed using a new (well, new for me) software program.

The message of the song is vague, but it does apply to this week's theme. "Be aware of uncertainty (when it comes to our general safety each day), but don't let it consume you." Awareness can inspire prevention, but consumption can lead to implosion. We like thinking we have control, but in moments of weakness we're all the same. (I like Ben Stiller's character in The Royal Tannenbaum's. His fear of the unknown turned into a humorous way that only he could've portrayed).

LYRICS: "Here we stand. This ground beneath us (is) like loose-packed sand. I sense the shifting. I promise you. I'm yours forever. Hold my hand. Let's go down together. You slow way down so you can stare. Then the visuals haunt you. You try to act like you don't care, but the bitterness gets you. Cars will crash (and) flames (will) eat the forest. We might burn out, but love can carry us."


Thursday, August 27, 2009


It was raining outside when I created this instrumental. There are 3-4 main guitars that started the idea (two pick single strings and are panned opposite, one is a wash of reverb and delay, and the other is a heavy distortion). After adding analog bass it was a matter of placing rhythm where it was needed. (I like the way it opens and ends without drums). I experimented with additional rhythms in the center of the song, but the single/simple drum line seemed to work best.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Song057_Anchors and Hosts

I've grown somewhat desensitized to the sensationalized "news" on TV, but my life has still been less stressful since I got rid of my TV over a year ago. (We still have a TV, but only to watch movies...we didn't get the new digital black-box gadget, no satellites, not cables, no Tivos) I listen to NPR radio and read the newspaper to stay current. I don't miss network television.

This song started with a guitar track that didn't even make it into the final mix. After recording a few guitars, drums, and analog bass I took an hour break and wrote these words...

LYRICS: "You can say words with a smile that would make others stutter. (You can) deliver grief with such passion (and) embrace death like a lover. But where would you be if not for tragedy? Open your windows and unplug your TV's. You can look good in a storm, and (you) bring your make-up when you go to war zones. You make news seem more like fashion than something I really need to know."


Album Artwork

There are a lot of peripheral-type tasks associated with this music project, such as creating the concept and artwork for each week's album. This is not really a "task"'s as much of a fun/creative challenge as the actual recording. Over the years I have stockpiled an original list of "Names and Titles" that contains over 1,200 entries. I thought these titles might come in handy someday for: short story titles, movie titles, song titles, character names, etc. It's also just plain amusing for me (I once created a compilation of fake album covers and titled the collection "History's Greatest Fictional Bands"). I also have an extensive collection of photography, illustrations, and random concepts (which I started in 1996). Still, there are some weeks (like this past one) where the final art concept and design didn't happen until hours before the deadline.

In the past I've done these design projects alone, but it's been great having Carly's help lately (my wife). Carly is also a photographer, and she has great post-production editing skills too. I explained a few concepts for this design, but she's mostly responsible for how this one looks. The original idea was to use two kids talking through a homemade phone (two cans attached with string). We used Brandon and Allison's kids as models (Parker and Ethan), but the idea didn't come across as well as we'd hoped. The final design for "Life According to Others" (now available online) is a combination of photos. Several individual people/photographs were combined and then silhouetted, and then she altered and inserted a photo that she took during a trip to Honduras. The final look has the exact "feel" that I was hoping for. Thanks, Carly!

This next week's concept/design is still being decided. I have a few title ideas ("Alluring Catastrophes" and "Simple Days of Jousting"), but I need to hone in on the overall message and musical style first. I'd better do that now.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Song056_Night is Over

This instrumental completes another week of recording. Hope you enjoy it.

The newest album, Life According to Others, will be available online later tonight.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Song055_Busted Speakers

I recorded the distorted guitar track for this song around 1pm, and then I thought about themes and lyrics while eating a late lunch. This is "communications" week, so I wanted to write a song about input and output malfunctions. Technical issues with the input/output process can ruin intent, and it made me think of an old stereo that I had during 7th-9th grades. One of the speakers got a tear in the plastic part of the sound-cone. Any amount of volume beyond "2" made that particular speaker rattle and distort the sounds coming from my favorite cassette tapes. I liked this portable player, so much so that I kept it even when the other speaker contracted a similar condition. My favorite bands didn't sound as matter how hard they tried. Sometimes I wonder if my mixes sound good on the 1" tweeter phone-speaker that you use to listen to my music.

In addition to writing lyrics about this situation I thought it would be creative if I mixed the song to sound like it was coming out of busted speakers. The drum sounds were chosen (and edited) to appear sharp like they're whipping frayed plastic back and forth. The vocals were doubled (and tripled) with various individual effects that mimic extreme speaker malfunctions. Of course, this song might only seem creative if you read the blog first. Otherwise, you might just think I need more practice in the studio.

LYRICS: "These standard issue sonic cones resonate the plastic where it frayed, but it's not just a cone. It's a gateway to hearing clearer notes and tones."


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Song054_Open Waters

This song started with an acoustic guitar idea, but it really started taking shape/meaning after the vocals were in place. I recorded the acoustic guitar, drums, and bass before sitting down to think about topical ideas. This week is about communication (album title: "Life According to Others"), so I wanted to write a song about the complexities of communicating well with those that matter most to you. In addition to all of the normal difficulties involved with regular communication (i.e. language barriers, emotions, "speak-before-you-think" syndrome, etc) you can add additional problems when you know them well (i.e. being too casual in your language, knowing how to love them and hurt them more effectively than strangers, etc). I wanted to deliver this message indirectly, so I thought of a few bleak situation that related to a troubled relationship.

Imagine being on a sailboat in open waters, you fall overboard during the night (while you were sleeping), and you wake up 20 feet under water. You're cold, disoriented and it's completely dark, but you have enough strength to swim to the surface...then you realize that the tumbling (and darkness) keeps you from knowing which way is up. The other (similar) situation that I thought of dealt with a scuba diver...navigating by compass during the night, getting disoriented after being tossed around by currents, then running out of air. Either situation would be a nightmare, however, I had to give the song a "lifeboat" because love and forgiveness are light-weight, inflatable, and good for most emergencies.

LYRICS: "Deep in unknown waters. Light source flickered out. Unexpected currents come, and twist us in the dark. Both too tired to argue about which one's worth blaming more. But I can see shadows of the lifeboat that waits to take us home. As the sun breaches the horizon. Over these open waters. It rakes light across the surface. Reveals the depths of our miscalculations. But I can see the drifting lifeboat that waits to take us home. You think you're moving up, but you started upside down. It's not too late for love to turn things back around."

PS: SnoCap (the online jukebox that I use to sell individual song downloads) has been slow about updating the last few days. Be sure to send me an email if you aren't currently getting the "FREE song every day" email (lasting throughout August).


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Song053_Fleeting Feelings

This instrumental is centered around a single guitar...a simple picking melody (G,E) with a slight distortion. There's also analog bass, a few drum rhythms, plus 4-6 tracks of random noises and synth sounds that fade in and out. I focused a lot of my effort on editing...doing my best to keep this 2-chord song interesting by placing and fading the contents of each track in the right pockets. The final EQ was close on the first try, but it improved drastically after re-adjusting the mastering plug-ins (Joe Meek is a standard lately).


Friday, August 21, 2009

Song052_Miles Apart

Brandon and I started recording this song around 3pm. We agreed to expand on a previous session idea (mainly the lead guitar track), but after an hour of problems we decided to take a new direction. We created an entirely new session file, and we started a new idea from scratch. This idea began with an acoustic guitar (strumming) track. We added some drums, analog bass, 2 electric guitars, 3 horns (trombone, french horn, and trumpet), a string section (on the chorus only), some cymbal swells, and....maybe something else. The song took shape quickly (we weren't too sure about the idea until we were 5-6 tracks into it). I created a theme and some lyrics earlier in the day, but I had trouble getting them to fit the music. I settled for singing the chorus lines only...probably better than nothing.

The idea for the lyrics came earlier this morning. There's lots of talk (and evidence) of the world getting smaller...becoming "one." It would not be surprising if the entire world ends up with one currency, one central human-data-base system, one leader, etc....but how about one language? Are there people working on that issue? I'd be surprised if there weren't. It would have to be a technological breakthrough that didn't require a learning curve or have to cycle through generations in order to gain momentum. Maybe an implanted smart-chip that analyzes your speech on the way out and alters it based on your personal language. I bet the expensive chips will have the option to change your voice quality and tone. All the wealthy will sound sexy.

LYRICS: "We pass in silence, but not from lack of interest. We just have different languages. The world is getting smaller, but our speech still keeps us miles apart."


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Song051_Digital Voices

I was on my way to bed when these lyrics came to mind. The general theme of the song is 'digital communications' (referring to: the internet, interactive robots, embedded chips that can send/receive messages, etc). All of these things have a huge impact in current society, and it's influence is (obviously) only getting bigger.

LYRICS: "All of everything the world has known...inserted as a chip into a clone. The savior of a robotic generation. The final chapter in the book of evolution. It's gonna grow as long as you keep feeding it. It's getting faster, and big enough to eat you. Just like a roach multiplying in it's sleep. A friendly foe that you keep around to hate."

I don't have any ideas or direction for the music yet. Tomorrow will be a busy day, so I thought I'd write about this song now (1:04am CST). I will be meeting with Matt Coleman in the morning to begin creating a video for Matt ( is a friend from church, and a creative writer, director, editor.


Song050_Selective Hearing

Today completes 50 consecutive new songs. I don't want to celebrate too much because I need to focus on a new song tomorrow (and tomorrow begins in 12 minutes), but...50 songs! Hooray!

If you're on the mailing list, then please note that I've updated last week's album design (Life Lines). The design sent out in the weekly email was too dark for the message/theme that I had in mind. I think the new design (viewable at is more contemplative and hopeful.

I didn't start today's song until 2pm. I was having trouble deciding on a direction for this new week (Week 08). I try to get an overall perspective of what the album should be before I start recording individual songs. It's more fun (and challenging and creative) to try and make each album seem like one piece of art. My favorite albums are like that such as: Neil Young (Harvest Moon), Spiritualized (Lazer Guided Melodies), and many others. Other considerations when creating a new album include: an overall theme, daily topics, an album title, song titles, album artwork, genre/style of music. Anyway, I honed in on all of these things during lunch. This week's album will be titled, 'Life According to Others.' The main theme of the album will be "communication." This is a broad topic, but I chose to make today's lyrics about selective hearing.

This song started with a distorted electric guitar track (playing C, G, then F, C, G, then Am, F, E). I found a distortion pre-set within GuitarRig that I was able to adjust (only slightly) to get a new sound that I like. The analog bass track was recorded next, and then I added a scratch drum track (to assist with timing while recording the vocals). The lyrics, melody idea, and vocal recording all happened within 1-2 hours. This song also has: 2 pianos, a solo electric guitar (with delay/reverb), a string section, etc. I noticed that this sound has hints of influence from Tears for Fears.

LYRICS: "Words went back and forth, but no messages were received. We talked for at least an hour before I realized you weren't there. The cautions came from everyone you knew, but you tend to only hear what you want to. Take time to hear what they're saying. Ten to one, selective hearing prevents understanding. One in hundreds hears the depth of your meanings."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Song049_Life Lines

Today's song (instrumental) completes another album, Life Lines. I started this song with an acoustic guitar track. The guitar (capot'ed on the second fret) followed the progression: G, C, Am, C and D...with the chorus playing: Em, F#, Bm and A. I liked the contrast between the choppy drum lines and the sliding analog bass guitar, so I accented the verses with light synth sounds. The chorus section (with distorted guitars) helps break up the song...some good minor chords partnered with sliding octave notes (and a fuzzy synth). I also like how the drums cut in and out abruptly in certain places...keeps it interesting, and that's always a challenge when creating an instrumental.

The newest album will be available later tonight.


Monday, August 17, 2009


This instrumental began with an organ track which I used to structure the song. Next, I recorded the foundational percussion tracks and the fast strumming electric guitar. The analog bass line was fun to play...recorded it twice all the way through (used the second take). The electric guitar solo in the center section is my favorite track...great effect (auto-pan plus delayed reverb). There are also about 5-6 tracks of keyboard sounds and effects which add great filling.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Song047_Servants in Kings Quarters

This song revolves around a string section and some other keys, but the (sparse) electric guitar is favorite track in this song. I started this song with a distorted guitar progression (G, Bm, C, D), but I removed this track completely after adding keys. I also deleted the analog bass and opted for synth bass (which I haven't used for a while). The smooth strings and vocal pads made me rethink the original direction of the song. I wrote the lyrics just after recording the first guitar track. The theme is: servant hood, putting others needs above your own, etc. EMS work will remind you of that daily, so will marriage and other things. Most things just work better when approached with humility and a willingness to help others. Most of us understand that perfectly, but we execute it poorly...myself included. "Servants in Kings Quarters" refers to the privileges of life that we didn't earn.

LYRICS: "Objectives change as the view takes focus, but it's never too late to change. We are just servants in kings quarters...just here for others. We have everything though all of it was borrowed. I am focusing on keeping pace, but you've captured my heart, and you hold it in place."


Saturday, August 15, 2009


This song was fairly easy to record, but it was difficult to mix. I started with a simple guitar progression that I wrote today. There wasn't a clear plan, but I found a BPM and a guitar effect that worked with that progression. After that, I added some percussion, analog bass, then a few additional guitars. The final EQ was tricky. I had an overload of frequency in a certain range. Instead of reducing that frequency in the final EQ (and possibly masking other instruments that share that frequency range). I chose to find the tracks that needed better individual attention. Once I corrected a few of the electric guitars it seemed to work.

The lyrics/melody were spontaneous, but it fit the "Emergency" theme for this week's album. I've been trying to create lyrics based on my experiences in Emergency Medical Services. As a Paramedic student I had to work a certain number of shifts in the Intensive Care Unit at the county hospital...great learning experiences. The lyrics of this song were inspired by a few of those experiences.

LYRICS: "Your condition has no remedies at this time. A broken heart is more than we can mend. Oh, say it ain't so. The mess I'm in...I'm in alone. I knew you when you weren't in pieces. You cussed much less, but who is blameless."

I like the opening statement. Working in hospitals and on ambulances I got to hear (and deliver) bad news to others. The worst kinds of news. Anyway, I think the opening statement would be the worst statement to hear as a patient. However, it was meant to be a reference to 'the human condition.' The alternate lyrics for the first verse were: "Your condition has no remedies at this time. A severed head is more than we can mend. Our test results revealed that you are human. Take a moment to let the news soak in."


Friday, August 14, 2009

Song045_Default Settings

Here's another song that didn't exist in any form until today. This session was a blank slate that I started with a bass line. The main 2-chord progression is not typical, but I liked the flow...especially the transition into the Chorus, which is not as edgy. The single electric guitar that picks the main chords is predominant, but the 2nd (of two) guitars makes an obvious entrance half way into the song. The keys are a combination of strings, a solo violin (on the Bridge section), and an accordion. The vocals were written as they were sung...making small revisions after each take. The lyrics are vague, but the original idea was to talk about control (or lack of it) as well as being careful not to enter "default mode" while living...reverting back to safe settings when difficult things appear, etc.

LYRICS: "How could something so big be so hard to see? No options now, 'Control/Alt/Delete.' As one wall falls another one's built. They close us in. They keep them out. But I'm moving this pen, and I'm pulling these strings."


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Song044_Backup Plan

This song was completely written today. I started with a title, a few lines of lyrics and 3 guitar chords. Once I started adding keyboards I split the song into two sections and focused on each individually...tying them together with horns and cymbals. It didn't take shape as a song until the last few tracks, but I like the final product.

The lyrical theme is's better to prepare for bad times during good times. I was a whitewater rafting guide in Tennessee for a summer (Nolichucky River). We had a few incidents on the river, and it was interesting to see who panicked and who reacted. It inspired me to train later as an Emergency Medical Technician. Some people have better dispositions for this type of work/training than others, but (generally speaking) everyone reacts better to adverse situations when they've been educated on what to do. It also helps to rehearse possible scenarios until your responses become instinctive. When an actual emergency happens you can rely on that repetition and muscle memory to help balance the adrenalin and chaos.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Song043_Smooth is Fast

The lyrics for this song were written this morning while thinking about some experiences I had during EMT/Paramedic training.

LYRICS: "When you're hurt you find a phone. You call my number because I'm always home. We'll drop you off somewhere that cares. They sell burgers in the lobby. Lap-band surgeons are just upstairs. You might wake up and can't quite tell if you've gone to the 'ER' or a casino. Each has one way in and one way out, no outside view, and people that need help. But slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. This box on wheels can move, but it's up to us. The tone rings, come what may, let's check some pulses. Don't forget your mask, your gloves, your glasses."

JPS Hospital in Ft. Worth actually has a McDonald's in the lobby of the Emergency Room. That shows how much they care for their patients, right? Maybe it's just job security. ER's do give me the same feeling as casinos, but at least at the ER I can be productive. "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" is a phrase that a firefighter taught me when I was learning how to Intubate. That's the process of inserting a tube into the trachea to gain complete control of respirations. This is done when the airway is compromised, level-of-conciousness is decreased, or on such planned occasions as surgery. This is an advanced invasive skill, and there is a limited amount of time to perform the skill without hurting the patient. But, it can't just be done has to be done right. During this 20-30 seconds the patient is not breathing. Relaxing actually helps you move quicker.

The music to this song started with a drum loop, and then I added an electric guitar part (written earlier today). The guitar progression is simple (G, C, Em, D, C...then D, G repeated), but the contrast of the only two guitar parts (one picking and one strumming) makes it full. Analog bass was next, and then I added a series of keyboard and piano tracks (mostly soft noises). This song mixed well considering the spectrum of noise. I always test each song on a different system after the first mix, but I've only re-mixed about 10% of the songs since I've started...even though it seems like every mix could always be improved upon.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Today's song is like other love songs that have been written for a rabbit and sung in Spanish. I started with a single drum loop...pretty standard 'up-and-down' rhythm. Then I added an electric guitar. I recorded the fast electric strumming twice, and then I added a talk-box effect to one of them (and panned them opposite). The song was built around this track. I even recorded all the parts for the chorus before cutting these two tracks out. Then, I switched out the drums on the chorus and it started taking on a completely different sound from the rest of the song. I'm not sure how you'd classify this has many elements that don't usually appear together. It contains: analog bass guitar, violins, a dirty synthesizer sound, a trumpet, congas, a flute, etc. Carly wrote the lyrics for me. She was inspired by our rabbit (or "conejita"), Rita. I don't know how to properly speak the language, so I apologize to any Spanish-speakers if I've ruined your passion for rabbit love-songs.

This song completes another album, and it will be available online later tonight.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Song041_Senorita Carlita

I'd like to be in a traditional Mariachi band someday. I'd also like to create an experimental Mariachi band that uses traditional instruments plus electronic rhythms, electric guitars, banjos and keyboards. Trust would sound great.

This song started with about 5 different rhythms. I know Carly likes Latino rhythms, congas, etc, and I threw in some dance beats to drive the changes. I added a 4 chord progression with a distorted guitar (muffled strums for extra percussive effect), then analog bass. The song took shape nicely, although I still struggle with knowing when to stop adding tracks. It sounded pretty good with 8-10 tracks, but I added an additional 5-6 tracks that seemed to improve the overall sound. Would 5-6 more tracks have helped just as much? Maybe...especially if I had access to 5-6 real Mariachi singers.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Song040_As Close As We Are

I recorded a rougher version of this song about 5 years ago (?), and Carly has always liked it. Brandon and I never formally recorded or published the song, so I tried to re-make it. I actually used the old (recording) session file, and then I systematically deleted tracks as they were replaced with better takes, better sounds, and better equipment than before. Some parts of the song are completely restructured...better editing to accent certain measures or instruments. I think it worked...she said she likes it better than the original version.

LYRICS: "The first one in, and you're the last one out. You feel the pressure build, and wonder 'where's the better part of this life?' But you wouldn't know if from that look in your eyes. It's bad, but still it's good to be alive. As close as we are we should be holding each other. Too much on your own, but together it's lighter by far. You're guilty as sin, and without excuse. But pure blood and forgiveness have bought us something that we'd never thought to buy. But you wouldn't know it from that look in your eyes."


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Song039_Something Special

Brandon and I wrote and recorded this song after an early (long) bike ride. Brandon is fluent on the drums, so we were able to work out the idea for today's song by playing through it together (a luxury I don't have when recording solo). This helped the song to take shape quickly. I recorded the acoustic guitars and the electric guitar, then Brandon recorded the analog bass. I wrote the lyrics while Brandon pieced together the rhythm section. The distorted guitar and horns gave this song a fullness that it didn't have previously (they were the last tracks to be added). We intended for this song to be simple (i.e. low track count), but it ended up having about 20 separate ingredients.

LYRICS: "There's something special tucked deep inside you. So easy to see, but hard to get to. Most of the time it's hard to believe. That you took the bet, and you gambled on me. My eyes opened wide, your smile too big to hide. Your heart, like my own. My arms will be your home."

Carly just heard this song, and she says it's her favorite one so far for this week. Success.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Song038_Portraits of Nature

This instrumental is a combination of loops, samples and real instruments. The bass and guitars were done live, the drums are 4 tracks of rhythms that I 'bussed' to a reverb channel (for fullness and smoothness), the keyboards are the remaining 6-8 tracks (accordion, violin, organ, etc).

Carly likes photographing flowers, and her parents have willing subjects in their gardens. The photos are great, but her abilities with post-production editing give them a surreal quality (some look painted, some are color-altered, etc), and they have a lot of emotion. I'll quit bragging and let you look for yourself ( The goal of today's song was to make an instrumental with similar qualities to the ones she likes to listen to when editing photos. We'll see if she adds this one to the "Photoshoping" playlist.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Song037_Battling Question Marks

I spent an hour or so experimenting with different ideas before coming up with an actual plan, but I'm pretty sure Carly will like this song. She likes other songs with this 'ska' (syncopated) guitar strumming. That was the entire plan I came up with after an hour..."use a 'ska' rhythm guitar." This one is upbeat and it has a horn section. I took a 30 minute break after lunch and wrote the lyrics. The vocals were tracked in a few takes, but there were 5-6 additional "icing" tracks that were added at the end.

LYRICS: "Life has unknowns, those frightening question marks, rogue tornadoes, earthquakes off the charts. Let's find a train to carry us far from here. A place we don't know, a place to disappear. Let's have some fun while we're still alive. We're safe as long as we stay by each other's side. I'll be your pulse. I'll be your shield."


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


A few people have asked questions about the 'Low Hum' album artwork. Although I don't think it needs an explanation, I did want to say that I was particularly pleased with this design. I gave Carly a few photos and the general idea and she was able to make it work perfectly. You'd never have known that it wasn't a real photo if I hadn't told you, right? Anyway, I thought it was great...dark, surreal, and humorous.

This week's album will be titled, "Carly." I knew a few days ago that I wanted to dedicate an album to my wife, but until this morning I didn't have any music prepared. Fortunately she's an easy subject for me to write about, but that's still a lot of pressure. To ease the pressure of trying to write her the perfect song every day (for 7 days) I decided to start with this song, Song036_Houseboat.

LYRICS: "When I first met you I was already old. I was saving for dentures. You were too young to vote. Everyone said we were crazy at best, but we'll outlast them all. Yes, our love will attest. Darlin', you should know we're gonna make it just fine. We'll rent us a houseboat and just drift for a while. If the current is strong we're sure to be alone. Eating candle-light dinners from a propane stove. When I first met you it felt like I'd struck gold. You're worth more than China, but I was poorer than broke. True love can't be bought, not at any price, so I don't want to be rich...just wanna drift for a while. Don't need a camera to remember these times. Leave the TV at home, and just talk for a while. We can go anywhere that you want to, as long as you drift there with me too."

I like to think that somewhere in the world there's a country music songwriter that will hear today's song and say, "It's like he read my mind."

Other points of interest: I bet I'm the only country music songwriter from Texas that has used the word "China" in a love song. Also, this doesn't happen often, the vocals for this song all happened during the first take. I thought about recording more, but the first take just felt right. Also, the neighbor's dog barked for an hour during this recording. I could hear it in the background of individual tracks, but I think it's hidden in the final mix.

Those of you that know Carly and I probably know that the lyrics of this song don't accurately represent our story. I have good teeth, and we actually met in Euless (2003). I was playing poker with some buddies at the VFW, and Carly (who had been old enough to vote for months) was the new cigarette girl. I must've bought 3 cartons that pack at a time. And I don't even smoke.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


This instrumental completes the album, Low Hum. The acoustic strumming guitar was the foundational track (recorded to a 'click' at 160), but the electric (reverb-washed) guitar is more ear-catching. There are also 2-3 other guitar parts that slide in and out. This song almost didn't have any drums...that was the last instrument I added. It didn't sound bad without, but the drums help. I wrote a page of lyrics for this song, but it ended up working better as an instrumental...a nice way to close an album.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Song034_Deep In The Heart

LYRICS: "In a world that continues to digress, my town reeks of love and progress. Ask the owner of the Budget Caskets...just franchised the family business. Got a neighbor that's hard to love. He likes to bathe in animal blood. To move him closer to the grace of God. He says his killings are above the laws. We got a pharmacy that's never closed. They're the 'home of the hard to find drugs.' They got isles and isles of stuff. Grab a basket and fill it up."

This song was written today. I don't want to pick on any one particular town that might've inspired these lyrics, so lets just say it's a combination of experiences. Okay, it was mostly Euless. There really is a store called 'Budget Caskets.' There was someone (featured in national news) that sacrificed animals in his yard. There is a pharmacy who's sign boasts "Home of the Hard to Find Drugs." They don't have any drive-thru barber shops though. They got rid of those in the '80's.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Song033_Close To The Start

I wasn't able to start recording today until 3:30pm, and I had no ideas for this song until 4pm. I had randomly picked up an old high school annual, and I thought of some things I could teach the old Matthew (since I'm really smart now). I'm sure most people my age feel that way to some degree, so I tried to sum it up in the words below.

LYRICS: "With time, 'new' becomes 'classic,' fire turns to ashes, and rivers carve stone. With time, gathering fills the attic, lightning fades to static, and wanderers seek a home. It takes less than you'd think, though it's more than you are. It feels out of your reach, 'cause you're still close to the start."


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Song032_The Chip Generation

The lyrics to this song were inspired last night after reading an article about implantable micro-chips. Those pursuing the effort say they're doing it to improve humanity...just like those seeking globalization. The chord progression is basic, but the full distortion sound lays a nice backdrop for the 2 electric guitar picking parts. I tried to keep the song fresh with the bass line (bounces, walks and slides), and I tried to keep it moving with the multiple drum loops (built to grow with the song). The vocal melody is strange, but so is the album artwork for this week's album, Low Hum (I used an actual photo that I took in a recent dream).

LYRICS: "We know you're un-happy. We can lighten your grief with a fast, small, shiny implantable treat. We can track you in 'real-time' to follow your needs. We'll sew technology in you. Upgradable relief. Swipe it when you need some electronic heaven. We get the genie, you get his bottle to live in. Generation 'Chip,' we found your leash. Too short to run from. Too small to see."

By the way, today begins a new month. I've decided to evaluate certain aspects of this project on a monthly, if you're interested, here are a few facts. The first month of this project produced 608 unique individual visitors to the website. Also, the average song took about 6 hours to write, record, mix and post online. The live video (which I'm making plans to improve) had 168 unique viewers...anywhere from 2-8 viewers per day. It will be interesting to see if (and how) these numbers change over time. If you contributed to the numbers above, then thanks for the support.

Starting today (and lasting through August) I am giving away each song FREE. If you haven't already, send me your email address so I can add you to the list.