Today I begin a new series of occasional posts about my upcoming album. I don’t have a title for it yet, but Kevin (my producer) and I have started work on it, I’ve written and polished most of the songs for it already, and as I turn out “scratch” demos for him to work on, I want to share a few of those.
First, a word about “scratch” demos: A scratch demo is a preliminary version of a song used in this case to give my producer something to build the production of the song around. Sometimes it’s a fair idea of what the final song might sound like; sometimes not. It’s like the first draft of a novel, or the pre-colored version of a comic panel.
I’m currently making scratch demos in GarageBand; I used to make them in ProTools. I might do a post about that process, as it might be interesting or enlightening to someone at some point. But that’s neither here nor there right now.
Today’s demo is of a song titled “Looking at You.” It consists of one guitar, one vocal, and canned Apple Loop drums. Other than a little reverb and EQ (equalization/tone shaping), not much has been done to it.
The story behind this song is interesting. As many of my friends know, I’m a big fan of the movie Casablanca. I can quote large sections of it, and occasionally annoy whomever I’m watching the movie with. It occurred to me a couple of months ago that the stories of Casablanca and “Margaritaville” have a lot in common: Narrator loses girl; narrator goes someplace tropical and starts drinking heavily. The settings, subplots, and outcomes differ significantly, but both seem to start from roughly the same place.
I thought, “Well, what if Rick got to Casablanca and discovered it was perfect for him? What if he met a new lady, made lots of friends, and got over that faithless Ilsa? What if, when she shows up on scene with her husband, he tells her, “Y’know kid…you dumping me in the Paris train station was the best thing that ever happened to me.” What would that look like? Would it make an interesting song?
I thought it would. So I started work on a song that I call a cross between “Margaritaville” and “How Do You Like Me Now?” And the title, and a few of the lyrics, pay tribute to Casablanca, as they should.
I’m hoping that the final version will end with a steel pan playing a few notes from “As Time Goes By.”
Check it out here: Looking At You
Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think.