Looking for the beginning?

Looking for somewhere to start? Check out Song 1 here!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Song Number 8: End Of The World

For those of you about to drill, here's a song about Bruce Willis in Outer Space;



Special thanks to Alex Creese for providing the solo.

You like it?  You don't like it?  Either way, thanks for listening - but please drop a couple of quid in the Parkinson's UK tin, either by clicking on the widget on the top right, or by visiting Justgiving.com/songaweek.

Local stoner rock band Earthtide are well worth a look.  A trio of excellent musicians, playing music somewhere between Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, in amongst the set is a song about Jaws called Bigger Boat.  Superb song, and it was suggested by some fool that they do a song about Armageddon next.  Despite never having seen the damn film, I volunteered to write it for them.  This meant watching it.  Hell's teeth.  I'm a fan of Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi's never played a bad role as far as I know... but this ye-har, gung-ho, slack-jawed, GO AMERICA! nonsense peddled by Jerry Bruckheimer gets right on my tit ends.  I really am suffering for my art here, guys.  Just hope nobody asks me to write a song about Gigli or Catwoman.  Still, it passed a couple of hours.

In writing the song itself, I had to come up with a riff that sounded Earthtide-ish, but at the same time different enough to warrant a place in their set.  If it sounded exactly like another one of their songs, why would they bother playing it?  I think the verse and solo riffs sound pretty authentic, but the change comes in the chorus, which is much more American and Foo Fightersy than the rest of their set - which kind of fits in with the All American Action Movie premise, I guess.  The words are made up almost entirely from lines in the film, though I couldn't quite get the line "I have repeatedly asked you to call me dad" in there.  And the line "My daughter can't act" might have been my own...

Anyways, the band themselves seem to be pleased with it - let me know what youse think, and SPREAD THE WORD!  The donations have stalled again, and we need to get this site passed around widely as possible if we're going to meet this target. 

I'll be shouting it from the rooftops at the gig on Weds 9th March at The Water Rats, King's Cross (get there for 7.45!) 

Saturday, 26 February 2011

26/2 Update

First of all, thank you for all your kind comments about songs 6 & 7!  Here at Falconer Towers we're over the moon with the response generated by Jess's performance... but that's only part of what I'm doing this for.  I'm killing myself here trying to get a song a week recorded, so please make sure it's not all in vain, and DONATE TO PARKINSON'S UK by clicking on the widget on the top right!

Just finished writing this week's song - it's kind of a commission for brilliant stoner rock band Earthtide*. Amongst their riff-based Deep Purple/Sabbath type music is a fantastic song about Jaws called "Bigger Boat"; the idea came up about doing a similar song about the Jerry Bruckheimer monstrosity Armageddon, and I volunteered to come up with a suitable ditty.  I'll explain more about the writing of the song when I post it in the next couple of days.

Also, rehearsal on Thursday evening with the Peter Falconer Band was very exciting - looking forward to an electrifying set on 9th March at the Water Rats, King's Cross. We're on at 8pm - drop me a line if you want to get on the Early Bird discount list!

Finally, exciting new purchase - Korg X50 keyboard (the little one on the top)


It's basically all the sounds of my old Triton ProX, except where the former weighs about four ton and is the size of a sofa, this is a teeny little thing that weighs - get this - 4.5kg!  Which means, of course, that while I'll still be using the Yamaha piano (big one on the bottom) for most gigs, the X50 will do just fine for any depping in bands that want a keyboard player rather than a piano player.

Anyway, that's me for now.  Stay tuned - song 8 on the way soon!


* Featuring Andrew "Randy" Nicholls, star photographer, whose latest shoot with me will be online soon; and Steve "Steve" McGuigan, who drums with the Peter Falconer band an' all.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Song Number 7: Waste Of My Time

That's me finally caught up - seven songs in seven weeks!


PLEASE DONATE DONATE DONATE TO PARKINSON'S UK BY CLICKING ON THE JUSTGIVING WIDGET UP THERE!

Exciting stuff this week: you've been spared my voice, as all vocals were done by my wife Jess!

I hadn't set out to write a song for a female singer.  The song developed from a drum beat inspired by The Meters, then a bass line to go with drum beat.  Around the same time, I was twiddling with a marimba sound on the keyboard, and just stuck the one on top of the other. After that, it was a case of simplifying the drum beat to make the track drive forward a little more, then layer up the instruments like they were going out of fashion.  Sometimes I know exactly what I want to put into a production (the harp/strings in the chorus, for example); but other times I'll listen back to a track and hear some harmonics or an accidental emphasis on a particular note I like, then go back and record an extra instrument to highlight these natural accidents.  The creepy harp glissandos in the second bridge section are a nod to The Sixth Door from Bartok's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle, because it's one of my favourite operas and I'm a pretentious bore.

Arrangement-wise, we've been working through a box set of James Bond films lately, and I wonder if that's had some influence on things!  Have you ever heard a-ha's version of The Living Daylights and then listened to the record after John Barry got his hands on it?  Totally different songs, and the bombastic orchestration really lifts it above being an otherwise unremarkable production. 

The first vocal line to pop into my head was the basic hook of the chorus.  Writing the words for the fast verse at the beginning was the toughest part - sometimes the words you want to use initially don't roll off the tongue particularly nicely, so you have to find a way of getting the meaning across while keeping it pleasing to the ear.  When I started to write the fast section, I thought it would be cool to hear a female voice performing it, and that gave me a clearer idea of what the character of the singer would be, and that the 'story' of the song would be: boy sees girl; boy likes girl; girl likes boy; boy too scared to do anything about it; girl gets bored.  We've all been there, chaps!

I had great fun recording with Jess (thank you!) - please leave your feedback on the song, the production, the singer... but most importantly PLEASE DONATE TO PARKINSON'S UK by clicking on the JustGiving widget up there on the top right!  Tell your friends and family - shout it from the rooftops!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Song 6a: Boiling Strings For Jesus (Big Balls Version)

I thought it might be worth re-recording this one with the vocals an octave lower.  I rather like it like this, and on a personal note I'm rather chuffed that I've now got on record - with no studio trickery involved - a bottom B here, and a top B in Long Long Way.


So which version do you prefer?  Do you love them both equally?  Or do you think they're both bloody awful?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Song Number 6: Boiling Strings For Jesus

Ok, there's a story behind this one - bear with me.



I actually planned to put a totally different song up tonight, but at the last minute I decided I wanted to do a completely different vocal arrangement.  However, my resident female vocalist (Mrs F) is out tonight, which has left me unable to carry on with that song at present.

So I thought I'd see what I could do in an evening.  I hadn't done anything major with the acoustic guitar due to a) the guitar having five manky strings; and b) my guitar playing being generally awful.

I grabbed a set of strings off the shelf, and made a start on re-stringing the guitar.  Two strings in, I realised the set was (for some reason) short of a G string, so I had to take the G string off the set I was replacing and boil it.  For those of you who don't know, the life of an old guitar string can sometimes be extended slightly by boiling the string in water (and a bit of vinegar, if you like), which removes a lot of the build-up of dead skin, dust and sweaty mush. 

While watching over the stove, the phrase "Boiling Strings For Jesus" popped into my head.  Which of course left me wondering who would do such a thing.  The answer, of course, was an old Pastor, nearing the end of his life, wanting to dust off his old guitar and play just one last song for the man upstairs.  I don't believe in God, myself, but I thought it was quite a sweet image.

Despite the comedy accent, I'm not taking the mickey out of anybody, nor am I trying to make any kind of a point - it's just a song*.  And writing it was quite interesting:  straightforward chords; simple structure and rhyme scheme...  It's nothing clever, but it was good to just pound out a song in a couple of hours.  The question is - how simple can I make my songs from here on without them sounding too formulaic.

AND NOW, FOLKS - it's time to chuck a bob in the ol' JustGiving account up there on the top right!  Tell your friends and family, too - who knows what the next song's going to be like!  Songaweek2011 - it's a riot!


* Great tradition of comedy songs in Country music, though with as with a lot of comedy numbers the titles are often funnier in isolation:

"How can I miss you when you won't go away?"
"If the phone doesn't ring, you'll know it's me"
"I’m sorry I made you cry, but at least your face is cleaner"
"If my nose was running money, I’d blow it all on you"

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Song Number 5: Finding My Feet

Latest effort is here!  Comments and criticism welcome as always.


This is the second song for which I wrote the words away from any musical instruments.  It seemed easier this time, but that might just have been luck!  I've also been playing bass a lot more recently, so I thought it would be fun to make a bit of a feature of it.  It's a lovely Fender Precision, but by God it's ugly.  I got a heavy discount on it when I bought it because nobody else wanted it.  It had been sitting in the warehouse for ages, apparently.  Poor little devil. 

Anyways, you know what to do:  Click on the JustGiving widget up there on the right, and donate some dolla to Parkinson's UK!

Looking to get another song up in the first half of next week, as I'm really starting to slip behind.  Fortunately I've got a nice handful of ideas on the go - just need to sit down with one of them and hack it out til it's a full blown song.

Friday, 11 February 2011

11/2 Update: Radio Jackie Interview

Just been interviewed by Rob Romans for Radio Jackie (Surrey & SW London) - they'll be broadcasting the interview on their news bulletins, and I'm really pleased about the exposure songaweek2011 is starting to get.  How pleased?  Well, pleased enough to get pretty cocky - I've upped the donation target to £1,000!  I have every confidence we can hit this target and beyond - please help me to spread the word about the project so we can really make a difference. 

I notice from the "what week is it" site that I'm a couple behind on the songs, but I'm hoping to have another two songs up by the beginning of next week.  Keep checking back!

Monday, 7 February 2011

7/2 update: New Gigs!

Hallo one and all!

First of all, thank you for your continued support, kind words and donations - the JustGiving box up there is doing well - so much so I think I might actually up the target amount in a couple of months' time - but we mustn't get complacent!  PLEASE keep passing this blog around to people.  I'm working on getting some radio interviews, so I'll keep you posted about that.

Thanks go to live music champion and open mic legend Vic Cracknell of www.vicsbuskers.co.uk and also Red Admiral Records for their support, and for helping to publicise the blog - help me pay them back by visiting their websites!  

And last but not least, I'm happy to announce Two New Live Shows with the big band for 2011! 

First, I'm playing with the band at Monto Water Rats in King's Cross on Wednesday 9th March, supporting a grown-up band with a tremendous name, The Rock Of Travolta.  They've previously supported Radiohead, Snow Patrol, Doves and other bands of that nature, and are now striking out to make their own not inconsiderable mark on the world.
 
Second gig is at The Bedford, Balham on Thursday 12th May.

More details on both of these gigs to follow as they come in, but put them in your diary now and get yourselves along! 

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Song Number 4: Marty & Me

It's finally here!  Please lend your ears to Marty & Me!


I've done my bit - now it's time to do yours!  Click on the JustGiving widget up there on the right, and pledge some pennies to Parkinson's UK!
It's one of the most ridiculous things I've written in a while, but I rather like the music.  If this is what nonsense I come out with when I try to write the lyric before the music, I may try this again!  

Got to dash now, but there'll be another update soon.  Please leave your comments, share the post, and Tweet like it's going out of fashion!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Damn you, mortality! (And some good news too!)

Absolute cow of a month, and while the backing for this week's song has been done and dusted for a couple of days now, tonight's the first chance I've had to do the vocals.  However, I'm so completely exhausted I just couldn't come up with a half decent take.

I'll try again tomorrow, of course, and it'll be fine... but I'm finding it very hard to get into any kind of a routine, such is the eggs-in-several-baskets nature of my work as a musician/singing teacher.  This means, of course, that I need to be more efficient with the snatches of time I do get.

Don't mean to moan - just letting off a bit of steam.

On the plus side of things, I'm looking forward to finishing this one, I've had some more websites quote/link me (I'll post their links tomorrow or at the weekend), there are gigs on the horizon for the Peter Falconer Band, and I'm sorting out a couple of local radio spots too!  

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Frustratin'

Song 4 is written, and the backing's recorded; I just need to find half an hour in my life to record the vocals!

I need to get a shift on - it would seem, according to this site here, that I'm already a week behind on things...

I can, however, reveal that the new song is called "Marty And Me", and is about a couple of burglars who bite off more than they can chew.  It's nothing to do with Back To The Future - sorry.
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