One thing that I’ve always been fascinated by is the progression of a song.
I’ll often go through my old music folders and click on some random song that I’ve collaborated on. Then I listen to the very first track where it all began. It truly baffles my mind when I hear the before and after tracks. Kind of reminds me of Beauty and the Beast…but more like Beast then the Beauty!
In all fairness, the first few tracks of a potential masterpiece usually are a bit rough, and I really enjoy reminiscing once the song is completed. It reminds me of how much fun I had during the process. The ups and sometimes the downs, but nonetheless the experience that goes along with collaborating.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and listen to some of my favorite song progressions.
First up is a song called Your Guide. I’ll spare you the weird details of where I was when I thought of the initial idea. It was the very first song that I wrote without being inspired by a piece of music. That was pretty rare, I usually need to hear a music track before writing a melody or lyrics – but for this song, it was opposite. I wrote the melody & lyrics first.
This was my initial Acapella idea.
I shipped it off to Lee and the next day he sent back an acoustic guitar track that seemed to fit like a glove.
I was super excited to record a rough draft of my vocals, and just as expected, the vocals & guitar blended beautifully.
Still, I felt it needed something else. I added some background vocals but thought it would be even better if Lee added some as well. Yeah, that worked out beautifully.
A few tweaks later, properly recorded vocals & lots of lurve – we finally got it done.
Here is the finished version of Your Guide.
This next song is called Love’s Philosophy. I was in a weird kind of mood when I wrote this. I was humming a melody in my head all day while thinking about the components that make up love.
This was my poorly played idea.
I sent it to Lee and he really liked it, again, the next day he sent me a rough guitar track.
Over the next few days I finished writing the lyrics and recorded a very rough draft to see if the verses would work.
With a few tweaks and some background vocals added, we got the last draft done. Lee wanted to keep it raw and organic so he didn’t want to add anymore instruments…or so he thought!
I properly recorded my vocals, Lee recorded his guitar – but he felt the song was still missing something. Bongos! He actually bought a set of bongos to add some flavor to the song. Yeppers, that’s devotion!
Here is the finished version of Love’s Philosophy.
The last song is called Addicted. It took us over a year to complete! Lee had an idea for an eighties inspired rock song, and I was stoked when I heard it!
I quickly came up with a melody & lyrics and recorded a rough draft. But something was definitely lacking, but we couldn’t quite figure it out. Lee thought it might be the bridge, or lack of it – but I felt it was my vocals that were coming up short.
We wound up putting the song on the back burner, but every now and again we’d talk about it and would try to somehow get motivated to continue were we left off. About 6 months later, Lee sent me an acoustic version in hopes we’d get enthusiastic about recording it again. So I figured I’d give it a shot…it didn’t work though.
Neither of us wanted it to be an acoustic song, so we went back to the Rock idea. Lee wrote and recorded a new bridge for the song, and I was inspired to give it another shot. I also decided to record background vocals this time, which really beefed up the pre-chorus.
A few days later, we finally got it done. Halleluiah! It was definitely an experience that I’ll remember, and I really appreciate the fact that Lee didn’t give up on the song.
Here is the finished version of Addicted.
All in all, each collaboration that I am a part of is a special one. I love that I am able to recapture all the fun and sometimes crazy moments by listening to each track in its different stages. The good, the bad, and the ugly – they’re all beautiful to me.
Do you have a crazy or special collaboration experience? Share it below!
9 thoughts on “Beast then The Beauty: The progression of a song”
Oh wow, the memories! Love’s Philosophy is one of my all time favorites!! EVER!!!
And I remember how much we loved Addicted, but it took a lot of twiddling to finally feel that it was working. You were fighting with the vocals, and I was fighting with the solo. Then I just found a sound that inspired me and it started to fall in to place. Great fun. Great experience 🙂
Great experience indeed! Cheers to many many more! 😉
I have had several HD failures over the years and many songs are gone except for the finished track. I often listen to old songs and sometimes I am surprised that I wrote some of them, I do not collaborate very often mostly because I have a fear of sounding bad. I have done a few with Raven and K6 and I did enjoy the experience even tho I was scared to death to try.
I think anyone would be scared to death when working with Raven, but the upside is that she can make any song sound great, no matter what we do 🙂
Always a shame when stuff get’s lost to digital nowhere though. Time for a tighter backup regime.. or back to tape, where nothing ever really seems to die. At least, nothing a splicing kit won’t fix!
We have done quite a few songs together over the years, Shadowman – all of which were wonderful. 🙂
Thank you for this article. It’s always interesting to see the evolution of a song. I do feel however that the original guitar chords given for “Your Guide” weren’t quite the perfect fit. Too many melodic compromises were required to make them fit. Which is a shame, as for me, the original melody was the best one. I’ve taken the liberty of doing a version with (very basic) chords that stay true to the original melody. I’ve put it on this private link and will take it down straightaway if you want me to. I’m not sharing it anywhere else other than here. It’s your song. But I couldn’t help myself. I just wanted to hear it with chords that would require no melodic changes. Here’s the link: https://soundcloud.com/kayroberts-songs/your-guide-with-original-melody/s-wHbwm
Awesome take, man. Always great to hear different interpretations on an original idea.
Very cool – and like Lee said, it’s always neat to hear different interpretations of a song. Thank you so much for sharing your idea. 🙂
Thanks Raven & Lee. I’ve often thought I’d love to be in a position to be able to hand a song over to 6 top producers working in completely different genres, just to hear the various interpretations. One day. One day…