This is my first recorded song ever (at least with me singing). I have written about a half-dozen songs, most of which have a humorous aspect, but this one is pretty personal, and it’s the first one I was able to put a (very amateurish) guitar part to. I was lying awake one night unable to sleep, thinking about times past, and I felt I had to get up and write this song. So at 2AM, I’m at the computer, typing away until daylight. It took me a long time to write the guitar part for it (which I really don’t like and would welcome some constructive feedback on). It doesn’t sound that great, and the part I really flubbed was something I changed today, because I thought I needed some variety in the tune. It occurs twice in the song (2nd time was played almost correctly).
If you can stick through the whole song, I’ll be surprised but grateful. I know it’s long, but I had a story to tell.
you definitely have a story to tell here and I enjoyed to listen to it despite being a quite sad one. The song and the way you wrote and performed it reminded me a lot of the German “Liedermacher”-Genre. Unfortunately, I don’t know any proper translation for it. Balladeer might come closest, but not sure. It’s like a story that’s sung rather than told and I like this kind of music.
The guitar-part is a solid base you can build on, I think. I liked the fingerstyle, it really fits the story and I know the challenge of playing like this and singing at the same time all too well.
Maybe you can try incorporating different picking patterns or some pick-strumming thing to add a little more dynamics and depth, but also to keep it flowing and interesting to follow. The linking between chords was nice and I bet, it will get even smoother the more you play it. So there is a lot of good things already there and probably it only needs some time to develop and grow. As mentioned, there is some nice solid base you can build on here!
Thanks for sharing this very personal story with us, Kevin! Stick on it, it’s a grower and a story that should be told.
Cheers - Lisa
Thank you for the kind words, Rogier!
It took about 50 takes before I could sing it without breaking out into tears. I just kept at it, knowing that my nephews would have appreciated the effort I made. It’s very crude and amateurish in the guitar part, but the lyrics are mainly what I wanted to get out.
This is the only place I felt safe publishing this song, and it’s the only site I have shared it with. I feel like this community is a family of sorts, and I thank Justin (God bless you) for providing it.
P.S. I know I’m wearing a Shut Up and Play t-shirt when I recorded this, but I also have great respect for Andy, and I know he’s been going through some terrible health issues, so I hope we all can pray for his continued recovery. He is definitely one of the good guys.
Thank you so much for listening and commenting, Lisa! I truly do appreciate your advice on how to make the guitar part better, which I know is lacking in depth and emotion, but I feel like I just don’t yet have the knowledge in music composition to improve it much. I guess that’s why I have a half-dozen other songs I’ve written that are lacking guitar parts!
I’ll keep at it, and hopefully some day it will be worthy of my two beautiful nephews.
We all start out somewhere, Kevin! My first attempts on songs were really bad. Compared to yours I actually should be ashamed, but on the other hand it was reflecting my guitar skills at that time back.
I think you’re being a little too harsh with your self here. You have some solid foundation to build on and it’s far from crude to my ears.
You will see, as you continue on your learning journey the song will grow along with you. We’re all here for learning and not because we’re accomplished musicians.
Good you want to keep on it, the song is worth it and the story of your nephews is worth being told, even though our maybe also because it is heartbreaking at points. I’m looking forward to hear another version in some time and see, how it has developed over time!
I agree with Lisa. You have a foundation to build upon. To me it’s a nice picking pattern and chord progressions. Something I would be very happy to have come up with Kevin.
I thought you played really well. It is very difficult to sing and fingerpick at the same time. Beyond my play grade to give any meaningful feedback. Though I would suggest double checking your picking hand position as it looked like your thumb was behind your fingers which could cause clashes picking certain patterns etc. It might just be the camera angle but thought I would mention it just in case.
As for constructive feedback on the guitar part which has been playing on your mind. It’s difficult to give feedback on originals as they are so personal. All I could suggest is have a think about using dynamics for emotional impact e.g. at certain points bring the volume down or even stop playing to deliver certain lines. If your exploring varieties in the tune think about how it makes the listener feel in relation to the lyrics you singing. It’s a well written song telling a powerful story that is important to you that you want to share. You’ll know yourself when you’ve got it just the way you want it.
Well done Kevin and thanks for sharing what is obviously a very personal song for you. I could feel the emotion in your playing which only added to the performance.
Thanks for the feedback and the observation about the thumb, James. It could be that I’m so used to playing the classical guitar that my hand isn’t used to playing at that angle
I really need to put more time into my other guitar playing instead of spending so much time with the classical. And I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the thumb!
Hi Kevin and welcome to the Community
Kudos for sharing such a personal original with us. Writing a meaningful song for yourself or your loved ones is one of the most gratifying guitar experiences you can create in my opinion.
Even though it’s personal/private at the moment, the lyrics at the end suggest you might want to eventually share with the general public. Please take these suggestions with a pinch of salt or ignore completely.
7 ½ minutes is just too long for a song, especially if there is little variation going on. You will lose the attention of most listeners and they will miss much of the important story you wish to share. For those that do pay attention to the end, once they know the story they are less likely to re-listen to it.
Would you think of rewriting a ‘concise’ version?
When I wrote my first song, I remember someone pointing out, it’s a good idea to play a couple of bars before launching into the singing. I concur.
You’ve come a long way in three years. I enjoyed your fingerstyle and you have a pleasant voice to listen to. I esp. thought you handled the ‘stumbles’ very well. It adds to the performance.
Keep it up
Wow that was powerful Kevin, what an emotional ride. Kudos for keeping going it must have been hard, jeepers had me in tears towards the end and I am not embarrassed to say that here.
Nothing much to add, as I liked the chord progression, which flowed with the story. The picking pattern worked well and all of that suited your vocals.
Like Brian the only thing I would say would be the length, despite the fact that I listened all the way through. But its not easy to cut back on a story such as this or pertinent points are missed, so a bit of a Catch 22 situation. But I would say something to bear in mind for the future but don’t change this at all.
I have an ongoing project that has been running for what is likely to be several years now. It’s not from personal experience but was about homeless veterans, due things being broadcast in the UK at the time and events going on overseas. The first version was 9 minutes long and a long and repetitive progression. I edited the lyrics down to 7:30 but it still came across as a long dirge, I cut some of the content and added a chorus and got it down to around 5:30 but it lost some of the original sentiment that weaved the story together. Its been parked ever since.
After hearing your recording maybe I’ll return to it and see if I can get it going again.
Thanks for sharing and welcome to the Community.
Wow, that was very moving. I’m sorry for the loss that created your song. Thanks for sharing it though. As far as the length, I agree it is longer than most will listen to, but I don’t think you can shorten this version. It is more of a ballad and they can sometimes be long. You might be able to create a parallel version, maybe 2, that expresses the essence without as many of the details. Regardless of where you take it from here I assume, and hope, that the process was cathartic.
Mark, thank you for your comments. As someone who tends to bottle up my emotions, the many attempts at singing it gave me many opportunities to let some of that out. However, my sorrows pale in comparison to those of my sister-in-law.
This one was personal, but I agree a shorter version that expresses some of the regrets and lessons to be learned could be an alternate version.
Thank you for the comments and advice, Brian. I’ve thought about sharing the song, but I’m actually somewhat afraid to, because my sister-in-law subscribes to my channels, and I don’t know how she would react to it. It’s written more from the perspective of my feelings, and I wouldn’t want her to think that somehow I think my pain and regret is greater than hers.
I really enjoy fingerstyle, but I need to work on strumming so I can put both into my music. Once I started focusing on classical, I just kind of ignored strumming
Thanks for listening and commenting, Toby!
One of my biggest issues with songwriting is I produce way too many verses. I wrote a funny song about cats that’s probably 12 verses long (no chorus)! Of course, I had to include a verse about each of my cats so none would feel left out. That was 6 of the 12 right there!
I look forward to hearing your recording when you come back to it!
Tip my hat, Kevin, such powerful personal songs leave me somewhat without words.
I do think you were a little tough on yourself in some of your own self-assessment.
Follow your heart, express yourself with authenticity, and I don’t think you can go too wrong.
It’s not my type of music, but I thought you did a good job.
The change up at 1.28 is nice.
I’d perhaps look at another type of middle 8 as well - just to mix things up a little as it is a long song.
It felt like I was walking along a straight road with perhaps a little hill hear and there (i.e., the changes like at 1.28) - maybe throw a little detour in there?
Hats off for writing originals.
Thanks for the feedback, Digger. I totally concur. I’m not really learned about music composition - what exactly does ‘middle 8’ refer to? Usage of the fretboard higher up the neck?