In the previous post In this series, I shared the basic story idea behind “Blue Sunny Skies” and the song’s lyrics. Actually, I hardly ever start out writing a song with just the lyrics. Typically, my process begins with a lot of “doodling” on the guitar. That’s what I call the hours I spend just playing around with chords and notes until some type of melody stands out to me.
Sometimes that’s the verse melody and sometimes it’s more fitting for a chorus. I may only get one portion of the song and keep it in my melody library for a long time (even years) until I find a story theme that seems to fit with that melody.
I wish I were one of those songwriters that could sit down and crank out a song every day. That’s just not how it works for me. I’m working more on those types of exercises the force me to write every day, but the truth is, I typically don’t write a song until I have something I want to say or a message I want to convey. It can takes months for a song to go from that first little melody idea to completion.
Once I am happy with the basic song structure, it’s time to get it recorded and out into the world. We have a great system working with our producer, Kevin McNoldy (Cphonic Mastering). Our studio set up allows us to record the acoustic guitar and vocal tracks in house. Kevin then takes the song and adds various elements, depending on what each song is calling for. He, my wife and I have a great team chemistry together and seem to spur on each other’s creativity.
So to get the process going, we record a scratch version of the song. That means just a raw vocal and acoustic guitar track. It’s to help Kevin get the overall feel of the song. Basically it’s our outline from which we then build the musical road map of the song.
Now, I NEVER share my scratch tracks with anyone other than the producer, mostly because it’s just more of a “quick and dirty” recording. I’m not trying super hard to have the perfect vocals or the perfect guitar playing. It’s to give the general idea of the song tempo and structure.
But in the spirit of transparency, I’ll share it with you so you can get a real sense of how this song morphs into being. So here is the scratch take of the first verse and chorus to give you an idea.