Monthly Archives: February 2015

My Life on a Shelf

New song about our former selves.

The Day Is Done – Romantic Sci-Fi Lament Turned Texas Two-Step

The Day Is Done started out as a song called She Isn’t Here. What on earth happened?

I was recently reading a very popular science fiction series that I had never read before and in one of the books was a beautiful lament that, even as I read it, seemed to be a song. I thought I would write music for it and once I was done, I could contact the author and post it on some fan sites where there would be a built in audience for it. But alas, it was not to be.

My daughter informed me that this particular author had made some outlandish, bigoted comments and I just could see my way to collaborating with him, even in a passive way. Too bad. The lines were rather poetic and the feelings they evoked were poignant, but an artist needs to hold onto his integrity (and so should everyone else). So those lyrics were tossed and new, original lyrics written for the chorus. The verses —music and lyrics were wholly re-written to match the new chorus and the song morphed into my first attempt at a Texas two-step

As it turned out, the new lyric was about heading out dancing, as my mother-in-law and her partner do on a regular basis. The song isn’t really about them, though I like to imagine them dancing to it. The Day Is Done is another mid-life crisis cry out from yours truly.

The line, the day Is done, came upon waking up one day. I had been living with the previous incarnation, she isn’t here, for a while, so it wasn’t surprising that my brain had worked on the problem subconsciously. Naturally following from the new first line was the night is young, but the next two lines originally started with I’m feeling old and it’s oh so cold. They didn’t last long though, because ideally I want someone else to sing these songs and it’s harder to get a singer to take on a weak, whining character. But you have to spew that stuff out, so you can properly discard it and write something new.

Pretty quickly, I managed to turn the song into a direct address song with you’re not too old leading off the third line, with a wink and a nod to Raine Wilson’s character in the movie, The Rocker, changing the maudlin I’m so bitter into I’m not bitter for his young emo protégé.

The cadence of the fourth line was changed completely to avoid locking into a structure that might prove too repetitive. The chorus finishes off with a line that was re-written twice and I even put the word weak in brackets next to the first attempt. Here’s the chorus with some of the original lines struck out.

The day is done,
Leave your cares upon the doorstep,
The night is young,
Lead your partner in a two-step
I’m feeling old
You’re not too old,
To fly above the dusted floor,
It’s oh so cold
And in the sigh of each last chord,
(weak) You will find you’re up for more.
(better) You’ll be calling out for more.
(final) You’re content for ever more.

 

So the chorus was written first and to the already existing music. The verses came next, but were a big departure from the original verses. Once I had written lead your partner in a two-step, it seemed apropos to do some research on two-steps and bluegrass. Turned out, I had already started off in the traditional bluegrass key of G, so all was well there and I started practicing and playing the song with a basic bluegrass pick and strum pattern to set some rhythm. It took a while to get up to a true two-step tempo as defined by The United Country Western Dance Council and Country Western Dance International.

The verses came fairly quickly, though I wondered at including the word email in a the 3nd verse line, composing emails in your head. My fear was that it could date the song, but then memos, although more general, has already fallen out of fashion.

I also abandoned some lyrics for a pre-chorus, as being too negative:

You’d really like, to find a way, to make a monumental change,
But the rent’s still due, so what you’ll do is what you done,
Until you’re done from all the pain.

 

In the end, I think the song comes off as positive despite much of the negative imagery. It’s redeemed as our protagonist is, by the dancing music. The overall message is that ideally you want to make the most of every moment, whether it’s at work or play.

That’s a message I can get behind. The song was posted quite a while ago, so go have a listen and refresh your memory. Full lyrics are in the post immediately preceding this one.