Hurt – Trent Resnor (Cover)

 

“I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure”

Trent Resnor

That ‘Hurt’ was covered by the legend that is Johnny Cash in such as way as to render all who heard it spellbound is perhaps not as surprising as Trent Resnor makes out.

The song is the ultimate bittersweet tune and was recognised as such when it was first released in the Nine Inch Nails album The Downward Spiral, receiving a grammy award nomination in 1996 for best rock song.

When covered by an ailing Johnny Cash in 2002, as you probably know, Cash’s version and the accompanying video won a spate of awards and accolades.

The Economy Of Song

The KinksOne of the fundamental laws of good writing is ‘omit needless words’. The same law, I am beginning to find, applies to structuring a song, only with songs the law is perhaps better expressed as ‘omit needles bits’.

Don’t get me wrong good songs come in all varieties. There are many great songs that just sit on a tasty groove and quality melody for a long time, but most I am finding have a tightly structured craftsmanship to them.

A good example is ‘Leaps and Bounds’, a Paul Kelly song I was analysing recently.

Here’s the structure:

  • Intro: 21 seconds (21 seconds)
  • Verse 1: 15 seconds (36 seconds)
  • Chorus: 9 seconds (45 seconds)
  • Verse 2: 15 seconds (1 minute)
  • Chorus: (extended): 15 second  (1 minute, 15 seconds)
  • Bridge:15 second bridge (1 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Chorus: (extended): 15 seconds (1 minutes, 45 seconds)
  • Guitar solo:17 seconds (2 minutes, 2 seconds)
  • Verse 3 (repeated 1st verse): 15 seconds (2 minutes, 17 seconds)
  • Chorus: (extended/outro): 45 seconds (3 minutes, 2 seconds)
  • Intrumental Outro: 20 seconds (3 minutes, 22 seconds)

Have a listen:

 

Notice that by 1 minute and 15 seconds, we’ve already had an intro, two verses and two choruses, at which time the bridge kicks in before heading back into another chorus.

Kelly doesn’t stuff around.

Notably, the guitar solo starting at 1 minute and 45 seconds goes for only 15 seconds but still managers to make a tasty contribution to the song.

By 2 minutes and 17 seconds the song has divulged all its secrets. We’ve already heard the chorus three times, gotten familiar with it and want to hear it more. And our wish is granted. The last chorus repeats for 45 seconds before leading into a chilled-out 20-second instrumental outro.

I’ve decided it’s time for me to write a tight little tune like this one.

If you enjoyed this post, it would be great if you could ‘like’ it and my facebook page in the sidebar, and better still if you could take the time to listen to my song ‘Full Moon Rising’ (also in the sidebar). If you like it, sign up to my mailing list for 4 free songs and updates on my gigs and activities.

photo by: forayinto35mm

The Delicate Art Of Song Morphing

DSC_2400‘I found a song that people liked, that radio liked… I found this basic concept and all I did was change the lyrics and the melody a little bit… changed the song and the chord progression a little bit and I sold it to them over and over again.’

Buck Owens

A few weeks ago I wrote, I will admit with a degree of indignation, about Bob Dylan’s plagiarism. A longtime song-writing hero of mine had, over the time it takes to listen to a few YouTube videos, dramatically lost his mystique, only to be revealed as a clever craftsman of other people’s musical and lyrical material.

Well, the blows just keep coming.

I’m also a big fan of Paul Kelly, and it was in his memoir ‘How To Make Gravy’ that I recently read the above quote.

Buck Owens was an incredibly successful songwriter and music businessman so, according to Kelly, ‘when Buck talks it’s worth listening’.

And listen he did.

In the same passage, Kelly speaks of a time when Christine Anu asked him to write her a song like ‘Beat Of Your Heart’, a song he wrote in the early 90s, which lyrically he had significantly derived from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.

‘Sitting in my dreary hotel room, I ‘bucked’ ‘Beat Of Your Heart’ into ‘Jump To Love’ in the space of an hour or two and took it to Christine the next morning. A week later she recorded it with an insistent dance beat that her producer ‘borrowed’ from a Kylie Minogue record’.

So it seems that it is only fools like me get bogged down with the idea of originality and that morphing a song like this is so common that it’s even acquired a special term: ‘bucking’.

Earlier on in his book, Kelly also writes about a time when he was living with the great Don Walker (keyboardist and hit songwriter for Cold Chisel). This was 1984 -85, a year or so before the release of his fist really successful album Gossip (1986), which peaked at No.15, and featured the chart topping ‘Before Too Long’, which hit No.15, and ‘Darling It Hurts’ which made it to No.25.

“Don had a white grand piano in the front room of his double-storey house. I wrote a few songs on it, including ‘Adelaide’, inspired by the tune of John Cale’s ‘Chorale’. I also had some lyrics from a Robert Johnson song in my head – ‘From Memphis To Norfolk Is A 36-hour Ride’ – which I’d adapted some. I was planning to write a blues. But that beautiful white piano took me somewhere else, took me to The lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Never Going Back’, a gorgeous tune which mutated into something else via Don’s piano. The mutation was pretty infectious. The day it came I couldn’t stop humming it and by sunset a set of words was attached. When Don came home I said, ‘Can I play you something?’ He listened and said, ‘You’ve got your own thing now.”

So while Kelly does talk about other song writing techniques, including the recording improves approach that I employ, it seems that many of his songs have their origins in other people’s tunes.  And crazily enough, despite their derivation, such tunes moved the great Don to speak appreciatively of Kelly acquiring his own sound!

And to wipe away any uncertainly on this, in a section entitled ‘Advice To Young Singer-Songwriters’ Kelly writes, among other things, ‘Take what you want from old songwriters, and leave the rest”.

So put that in ya pipe n spoke it!

If you enjoyed this post, it would be great if you could ‘like’ it and my facebook page in the sidebar, and better still if you could take the time to listen to my song (also in the sidebar). If you like it, sign up to my mailing list for 4 free songs and updates on my gigs and activities.

photo by: qwrrty

Interview on INSPIRE at 2BACR 100.9FM

 

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FEATURE SONG – Wish You Were Here

IMG_5748This is a new version of one of my old songs, written a year or so into a world trip that took in North, Central and South America, Europe and Asia.

I was getting a little homesick and a bit over being on the move all the time, so the songs about that I suppose.

I wrote it when my ex-girlfriend, Amy, and I were living it up it a luxury cabin (pictured) in the foothills of the Andeas, in Northern Patagonia, Argentina .

The cabin was outside an artsy, hippie town called El Bolson – kinda like Argentina’s version of Bellingen in Australia.

We were surrounded by lush farms and forests, and it was only a short walk into town for awesomely delicious local delicacies and markets, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends, full of buskers and spectacular arts and crafts.

I actually wrote a travel article about El Bolson if you’re interested (click here to read).

Anyhow, while I’ve always liked the tune, the chorus never worked for me, so I’ve written a new one for this version.

Hope you like it.

 

If you enjoyed this post, it would be great if you could ‘like’ it and my facebook page in the sidebar, and better still if you could take the time to listen to my song (also in the sidebar). If you like it, sign up to my mailing list for 4 free songs and updates on my gigs and activities.