Until then, I wanted to look back at my first album, Mr. Mustache (streaming on your favorite music store) released last fall. While I believe every song should speak for itself, as a writer I’m also big on context, if not over explaining things until they are crystal clear.
To that end, here is why I wrote each of these songs, how they came to life, and what the recording process was like:
- Under Quarantine. This was the first song a wrote for the album. I did so the week after the world under lockdown. The sudden experience felt suffocating, disorienting, and especially cruel to a social butterfly like me. This song captions some of those feelings while also taking an optimistic view on getting to the other side.
- Turn A Corner. One of the last songs I wrote for the album and also one of the strongest and most popular. The single if you will. Like the first but with a much more uptempo vibe, I take a very optimistic view about getting through difficult situations, pandemic very much included.
- Shrug. Before pandemic, I was always trying to fix things, correct misinformation, and argue. While I still do all three, I learned to just shrug a lot of the nonsense off last year. This song captures that change in perspective. It’s also my favorite song on the album. I especially like the nightingales singing at the beginning and the radical synthesizer at the end.
- Show Me. The best songs almost always come from strong emotions. And while I certainly felt more emotion last year than any other time of my adult life, it’s impossible to channel strong emotion every time you write a song. But I learned a trick. You can borrow strong emotions from other people, walk a mile in their shoes, and then write a song about their feelings as of ups were them! This was the first time I ever did that. After talking to a friend that wasn’t feeling close to his wife last year, I wrote this song from his perspective as a plea for love and intimacy.
- Control What You Can. Recorded halfway into my album, this song was a plea to myself to focus on what I can controls as the world evolves. It’s also the most magical recording experience of the entire album. I recorded it late at night while the world slept. I normally don’t stay up late but did for this one and the music just poured out of me. After I finished the mix, I went to my truck and listened to it a dozen times—proud of both the message, complex bridge solo, and production. My mother said it best: “Haunting.”
- Mr. Mustache. Probably the funnest song on the record. It also took me the least amount of time to record. Less than 2 hours in fact, while others required 12-16 hours on average. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most popular albums on the record, vying with “Turn A Corner” for most streamed song.
- No Longer The Same. Recorded late in the album, this song also deals with navigating change. Noticing a trend? Anyways, my niece loves it and I love her for that. But it took on many different forms before taking its current shape of lots of synthesizers. I threw as many at it as I could. I’m also proud that it’s the first song I’ve ever written to feature a key change. It’s one of my least favorite songs on the album, but I’m still proud of it and the feelings it helped me process at the time. I also like the horns at the end — the first time I’ve ever featured horns in one of my songs.
- Victim. Like Show Me, this song is from another person’s perspectives, specially the people in our lives that sadly play he victim card whenever they can instead of empowering themselves and taking control of the reigns. Not easy to do, but important nonetheless. I like the gentle nature and mellotrons used in the song, but the bridge didn’t turnout as poetic as I wanted it to. I really like listening to it, however. Also one of the least popular songs on the album.
- Bad Friends. This song was also written from the perspective of a long-distant friend who was having a hard time ditching some toxic local friends. I like the message and the song, but the recording sounds more like a demo than full production. I still got to sing “LET’S GO!!” really loud and that turned out nice. I dream of re-recording this someday.
- Time Isn’t Money. I write this simple little ditty about the popular but misguided belief that “time is money.” It’s not. This song explains why.
- G0ing Up. In addition to starting an album last spring, I also started a cover band at the exact same time. This song bottles some of my excitement about that experience and the hope that would could become something more than a forgettable garage band. It has a bit of a Weezer vibe to it, which I like. The production isn’t as strong as some of the other songs, but still redemptive I think.
- Minuteman. I’m actually not going to explain this gentle song. You’re just going to have to interpret it for yourself. 😉