At the request of the powers that be at the dueling piano club I was playing at in 2008, I started taking voice lessons. My friend Pete Wilson referred me to Patrick and Bonnie at the Arizona Music Project. I started taking voice lessons, and even started teaching piano lessons. I could have easily gotten paid for these lessons, but I had found a new muse in life and I decided that it was time to record some of my songs, so I traded lessons for recording time at the AZ Music Project. The end result would be a rough (see: ROUGH) demo of three original songs and a cover that I could give to my new muse (see: GIRLFRIEND) as a Christmas gift. The track list was
1. Picture Yourself
2. Mr. Wrong
4. The Luckiest
For legal reasons, at least one of those would never be released to the public. But I had bigger fish to fry: Mr. Wrong only had half of a verse, no solo, and no bridge.
Step 1. The verses
Aside from adding “don’t tell me” to the hook at the end of the chorus, I hadn’t touched the lyrics in three years or so. I’m glad I took so long though. I had many experiences in those three years that honestly shaped where the song went. I knew the song had to be about rejecting immature advice about playing the field in favor of sticking to my own goals, so the pre-chorus (see: Part 1) became a sarcastic jab towards those who would tell me that I’m approaching my post-dumped rehabilitation incorrectly. Apparantly they thought that following my dreams and goals about relationships was incorrect (not to mention dreams and goals about horn playing that had fallen behind since becoming a pianist). The line “Security makes all my doubts so strong” was easy enough – living on your own and buying your own insurance and checking on credit reports and our society’s acceptance of things like pre-nups told me that security is only for the insecure (see: DUH).
And that lead to the insecure line that would round off the first verse: “I’ve my own insecurities to feed”
Where the first verse was speaking directly to those who had hurt me, the second verse would speak to those who were giving me therapeutic advice that I didn’t want to hear. Thinking with a man’s second brain turned into “Your heart can’t lead you where you need to go”, and my urge to be Mr. Right instead of Mr. Right Now gave me a great title for the song (see: TITLE), as well as my favorite line “Mr. Right can’t make it to the show”.
All that was left was the bridge. Given that I have a tendency to find a recording or artist I like and listen to it for many years, it was not unusual that I was still basking in the audio bubble bath that was Radiohead’s In Rainbows, specifically the second track from the bonus disc that came with the LP that cost a lot more than the LP or extended version of the album that would follow, King of Limbs. Though I wish the release date of the two had been switched – then I could have sold KOL instead of Rainbows to pay rent.
Anyhow, the second track from the CD of songs that didn’t make the final album cut had a great progression I liked – Yep, the I – bVII – IV that I was already using for half of the tune. What was the difference? Radiohead had it in Ab, not D. How was I going to modulate?
Well, that may be the way a real composer looked at it. I was honestly just playing the Bb7 to the A7 pre-chorus section and decided to continue descending down a half step and start a new (see: old) chord progression in Ab. After playing it I immediately recognized it as the progression (and key!) that Radiohead had used.
So I had my bridge (musically, anyhow). The lyrics came from my own reaction to the advice I was being given and my general reaction to it, which went something like this:
“I don’t want to hurt a girl, and I can’t fake my way into a casual relationship just to help me get over someone. I’d rather meet the girl and not waste her time by being who she isn’t looking for”…
These jumbled self-righteous thoughts became the lyrics of the bridge: “Am I only one man’s hero? Maybe a villain who’s misunderstood”
Either way, the recording went well. Not great, but well.
I still didn’t have a solo I was happy about.
And I wouldn’t until June of 2011, two and a half years later (see: PART 4!!!!).