Last night, after days and days of delay, I posted a guitar/vocal demo of my song “Like That.” I’ve been playing it out for a couple months now and it’s quickly become one of my favorite originals to perform. If you haven’t seen the video (and would like to), you can check it out below.
First, let’s talk about the song itself. It is not about my relationship, although I have been in relationships where I was the one under and over invested. The first couple times I played this for friends, they politely asked how my relationship with Attractive Young Man was going, faces creased with with concern. Things are great, guys; all’s quiet on the home front.
Singer-songwriters sometimes document their own lives through their writing and we often expect that the content someone is performing is drawn directly from their experiences. A lot of what I write and perform does come from this place. This song, however, comes from a conversation I overheard another couple having. I didn’t choose the second person to distance the singer from what she’s saying, I chose it because the vocalist has a purely voyeuristic role in the situation.
I was hanging out with a group of people I didn’t know terribly well and we were cutting up a bit. The woman in this couple tells the man, giggling, that she doesn’t love him, clearly intending it to be a joke. Of course, this was not funny and he got pretty understandably pissed off. But beyond just being mad that there are chairs with a better sense of humor than his significant other, it was clear that this struck a nerve with him because he worried it might be true.
I didn’t know these people very well and – after that awkward moment – didn’t seek them out again. But that little vignette struck me. I’ve been with someone who didn’t love me as much as I loved them and I’ve been the one who couldn’t give their heart away. The pain in that guy’s face, the insecurity and the heartache; it was difficult not to empathize. And she didn’t seem to get it, which is what inspired the bridge. We all have our own way of loving and showing love; and the level of importance we assign to others, their feelings, and our relationships with them differs as well. From that interaction, I got the distinct sense that she may not feel as strongly about anything as he did; their value systems might be intrinsically different.
Again, I didn’t know these folks and haven’t seen them since. For all I know, she may have grown to “love him like that” or they may have broken up or the may be living miserably-ever-after. One of the coolest things about songwriting, is that I got to take this one snapshot and extrapolate a whole story from it. My assessment of their relationship might have been completely off (maybe they have some weird, kinky thing where they hurt each others feelings and then have crazy sex), but it’s my prerogative as a writer to fictionalize the situation. I’ve never been in their bedroom and hope to gods I never will be, but I can make up a scene where he wakes up beside her and realizes she doesn’t love him. Plus, I think it’s something we’ve all needed to hear before: “She (or he) doesn’t love you the way you love her (or him) and you may want to move on before it kills you.” Or maybe it’s something we’ve needed to say but can’t work up the nerve to spit out (which might be why people worried this was me trying to dump by boyfriend via musical number): “I can’t love you like you need; please leave me so I don’t break your heart.”
So now you know where the song came from. As far as the recording goes, it was series of errors. I’ve only been playing guitar for about two and a half years and, although I’ll begrudgingly self-accompany live, I haven’t committed my instrumental mediocrity to film before. I’m still learning and it frustrates me to be so much less competent on guitar than I am with my singing and songwriting. So actually getting a take that I was happy with was a huge headache. On top of this, I was serving as audio engineer and film director in addition to my role as artist.
After an hour or two I finally had a take that I liked and quickly mixed the audio before going to sync it with the video that I had simultaneously recorded. Apparently there was a warp in space-time, because the video was a few fractions of a second slower than the audio even though they were captured at the same time and remained in the same key. This was, unfortunately, an unfixable issue so I cursed the wasted hours and recorded it again the next day.
The next day, I tried to dress and do my makeup the same as I had the day before since I had posted a teaser photo. I borrowed a nicer camera to hopefully avoid the whole wormhole conundrum and took a couple takes, including some different angles to hopefully cut into a more exciting video than just one continuous shot of me sitting with a guitar. Thinking I had gotten what I needed, I downloaded the videos and cut together a new version of the demo.
And then I noticed there was lipstick. All. Over. My. Teeth. In every shot.
The day after that, I employed Pete (Attractive Young Man’s secret identity) to operate the camera, gave up on recreating the same outfit a third day in a row, and completely opted out of lipstick. Third time was the charm and that’s the version that ultimately went on the web – three days after I said it would. I may have ruined the song for myself and my next-door neighbor definitely never wants to hear it again. But it’s up! And you get a couple great shots of my office. I have a fun blue wall, life’s great, I never want to record this song again…
But seriously, I’m happy with how this came out and I hope you all enjoy it as well, along with the little sneak peek into the writing and recording process. Every song has it’s own unique, weird journey and this one has a better story behind it than some.
Peace and love, guys! See with you some more content after the holidays!