Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Song Insight: “Be to Me”

Composer: Greg Hintermeister, ©2000
Arranged: Greg Hintermeister
Performed by: Greg Hintermeister
Recorded: 2010 in Hint of Light Studios
Emotions: Detached, longing, pleading

Other song insights

Usually I write songs based on personal stories or strong emotions that inspire the lyric or music.

Not this time. This song, “Be to Me” is entirely fictitious.

I wrote it to accompany a drama we did at crossWinds church back in April 2000 (my stars…how time flies). The week was “Family Values – Everyone Counts”. The drama focused on a young man in a busy family who isn’t getting his dad’s attention. Over time we see the son being ignored and feeling more invisible. He looks detached and ‘over it’, but inside we learn he is really yearning for a closer relationship.

To fully engage the audience, we needed a song that fit perfectly to express more of the emotion the character was feeling. The actor stayed on stage at the end of the drama while the song unfolded.

This was a great chance for me to get into the mind of the character. I love doing that. It’s like writing the music for a mini-musical. I read the script several times to get the feel of the character’s feelings, then extrapolated as to what he would sing about after the scene ended. The chords and arrangement were critical in moving from this detached acceptance at the beginning to eventually having the character open up and yearn to be noticed.

I had a great time with the lyric writing, too. Since the audience knew the context from the drama, I was free to be a little more poetic. Notice the internal rhyming in line 3 of the verses. Thank you Stephen Sondheim.



Technical Specifics:
Recording Unit: Cakewalk MIDI software, Soundscape DAW
Drums: Roland XV-5080
Electric Guitar: Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II (rhythm and solo)
Guitar Amp: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
Guitar Mics: close: Shure SM57;  3ft back: CAD E100
Acoustic Guitar: Ovation 1712 Custom Balladeer (CAD E100)
Bass: Fiama Hollowbody (recorded directly into the board)

Recording Specifics: 
I had a surprisingly rough time mixing this song down. My goal was to have strong, raw instruments that expressed the character’s raw emotions. After mixing and mastering, I noticed some anomalies in the chorus. After soloing the tracks, I discovered a few problems:
  • The drums bled into the guitar track
  • The drums in the chorus contained open high-hats that were too loud and harsh
  • The bass had some clipping in strong parts
What’s really frustrating is that I know better. I think I was so excited to get the song ‘out’ that I rushed through some setup. I usually record guitar direct through my Line 6 POD pro, but wanted a real authentic sound with this song. I ended up mic’ing the Hot Rod Deluxe amp, and I think it sounds great, but that caused the drum bleedover. Why? Because I wasn’t using headphones to monitor the drums…I was just playing them through the speakers. Idiot. I just wasn’t thinking. Normally tracks bleeding through are not a big issue, but in this case, it made those loud open high-hats really shrill sounding…and limited any changes I wanted in the drums as the rough drum track was printed in the guitar track.

All in all, though, I’m still quite happy with the song.


Lyrics ©2000 Greg Hintermeister 
Verse 1:
I never really wanted to be invisible 

it just sort of happened over time 
Began without a word…a small desire to be heard 
To you everything was fine

Verse 2: 
I guess you never noticed I’m amazing 
at never being noticed by you 
It’s just another skill I never wanted to fulfill 
Am I ever on your mind?

I don’t want to be alone…talk to me tonight
any little thing will do…just look into my eyes
so you can see – it’s me…and I’m still here
waiting for you

To be real to me…that’s all I ever ask
is to be real to me

Verse 3: 
You seem to be distracted by the little things
I wish you were distracted by me
Maybe if I changed…the way I look or said your name
you’d spend some time with me

I don’t want to be alone…talk to me tonight
any little thing will do…just look into my eyes
so you can see – it’s me…and I’m still here
waiting for you

I don’t want to be alone…talk to me tonight
any little thing will do…just look into my eyes
Will you look at me – and see…that I’m still here
waiting for you

To be real to me…that’s all I ever wanted
to be real to me

Saturday, November 13, 2010

God, I LOVE This Guitar!

…and I wonder, did You plan this all along?

Then God said, “Let there be Luthier-quality tone-wood”. And God saw that it was good…saw that it was better than good. God saw that it rocked! Thus ended the third day.
Genesis 1:11-12 (GRH Translation)

I know Day 3 was a big day for you, but among creating all the “Seed-bearing plants” and “Fruit-bearing trees”, did you put a little extra love into East Coast maple, Indian Rosewood, and Mahogany… knowing that in 1999 these woods you created would be formed into my Paul Reed Smith Hollow-body II Black Sunburst 10-top?


Did you end Day 3 thinking, “I can’t wait to see Greg’s reaction”?

2010-09-08 Guitar1

When you taught the Eagle to fly on day 5, did your eye twinkle knowing their flight would be honored on the rosewood neck using abalone inlays from the sea shells you made on the same day?


Were you giddy knowing that when I turned 30, and decided to buy my ‘dream guitar’, that you had already planted, cultivated, and grew the trees that would be used?

Did you guide the invention of glossy finish, 000 grit sandpaper, and black-sunburst stain procedures knowing it would only enhance the guitar’s flamed-maple top?

Do you wink when the wood reflects my smile, knowing it also reflects yours?

2010-09-08 Guitar

I wonder…did you gather the angels around your throne to watch (and sing) at the exact moment I first plugged my guitar into a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, turned the gain to 3, and strummed an E chord?


…and did you audibly whisper to me, “Yeah, I knew you’d like it”, or did I just imagine it?

How about when I play? I know you are ruler of the universe and all, but do you smile when I nail that solo I’ve been working on…even if it is during a church service? Or, maybe, especially when it is during a church service?

When the band is tight, anticipating each others phrasing, filling the stage with sonic goodness, and I’m playing more from instinct than paper (and playing far better than I should be), is that you surrounding me? Is that my heart laughing with you?

Greg Plays

Do you bless Jim Marshall when I play dropped-D through my Marshall Gov’nor Plus pedal because it’s the exact hard-rock tone a troubled soul in the audience needs to hear so you can soften his hardened heart?

How about on that cold winter morning when my PRS fell and was cosmetically damaged. Did you shed a tear with me, even though you knew I had to learn that a guitar shouldn’t replace You as the focus of my music?


I wonder…

Do you use my passion for this guitar as your way to help me understand how much you really do love me?

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