I'm not sure if this is the case for every local band but for ours, The Bigfellas, we are lucky enough to have a few memorable songs that people who have even only seen us once or twice will request ("I Wish That I Were Gay", "On The Green", "California King"). It's a nice feeling to have people shout out for originals.
The song of ours I'm gonna discuss right now is NOT one of those songs. But I love it anyway.
I've written about it previously but several years ago we got involved in a really fun project. My good friend Mike was making a creative documentary about suicide called Don't Change The Subject. The movie could sound like a downer but I stand by it as a really honest look at suicide which tries to make "suicide" less of a dirty, unspeakable word.
Mike had me do the score for it - I think we had something like 70 of the 90 minutes with some sort of musical bed. That's a lot.
Part of the movie was that it tasked several artists to do a new piece about suicide in some way. So, the film features a performance artist, a comedian, a cartoonist, a dance piece, a "writers room" of tv writers and also a band (us) all doing something original about suicide. It really works.
Even apart from the musical score, we did two songs on the subject, "The Suicide Song" and "Always Be" . I didn't want to do anything safe or staid, which is kind of the point of the whole movie - we all need to learn to not be scared to discuss suicide. There seems to be a lack of consensus in the suicide-prevention and mental-health communities about fear of representing suicide to prevent suicidal ideation.
Anyway, in both songs I wanted to say SOMETHING - and personally what I wanted to say was to strip the B.S. romantic notion of suicide that young people sometimes do with Kurt Cobain or Sylvia Plath. Basically my point in "The Suicide Song" was to remind people that killing yourself is actually a pretty violent act whereas in "Always Be" I wanted to illustrate that when somebody commits suicide then they unfortunately will always be remembered for their cause of death instead of their life.
I may or may not have succeeded in what I set out to do. You be the judge. Lyrics and other info are below.
Listen, Lyrics, Personnel
Wrote & Recorded It Quickly
Most independent bands like us usually take as much time as they need to record, mix and master an album. There's no record company (or clamoring public) demanding a new album ASAP. At least for us, that means we take our sweet time when we're in the studio.
The funny thing about doing music for a movie though is that you have to go fast. Film and tv production is always a high-wire act and usually since the music is nearly the last piece of the puzzle (near color correction) before locking things down, that means that things are probably already behind schedule so the music scoring part of the production can have its time shrunk even more.
There's a benefit in this: you stop over-thinking everything you do and just crank it out.
In the case of "Always Be", when Shay was setting up the drums and Andy getting the mics set up, I was still finishing the song. I wrote the bridge and Shay came up with the drum feel on the fly during setup. Then wham-bam, it's time to record and it came out great.
My Impressions, The Little Things
Again, it's hardly a killer favorite for people who know us. And yes, it's probably not worthy of me writing 750 words about this - but I gotta write about something every week.
There are so many things musically I love in it. The guitars sound like a million dollars. Andy played the main jangly guitar like The Edge in a U2 song. Then the little climbing guitar riffs Keith Goodwin did in all of the pre-choruses. And the sound of the kick drum and all of the drum space in this one.
After recording this so quickly, it makes me wonder why we still like to take so much time on other songs.
Though we don't play "Always Be" live, it's something we're proud of. Besides, we can't write EVERY song of ours about something silly.