Saturday, June 17, 2017

Raw to Polished - "At The Edge" - Song Insight

"We are all at the edge...good or bad. What we do with we react at the edge...will shape our lives"

I have several "Song Insights" blogs for songs I've written...kind of a "what's the backstory". For the next few songs, I captured the very first spark of the idea, record it into my phone, and once once the final recording is done...I provide you with a "Here's the raw idea I started with and here's how it ended up"

Song: "At The Edge"
Composer: Greg Hintermeister, ©2017
Arranged: Greg Hintermeister
Performed by: Greg Hintermeister, Karyn Hintermeister
Recorded: 2017 in Hint of Light Studios
Emotions: Finality, hope, determination

Finished Recording:

It all started with the phrase "At the edge, it's all so clear"...and I imagined standing (physically or metaphorically) at the edge where everything I've done up to this point in my life has brought me here...and the very next step, one that I cannot undo, will determine the rest of my life.

...and then I just started playing guitar. That's where the raw idea recording came.

The raw idea (take a listen):

The hardest part is to write lyrics that talk about these ideas. I love the craft of lyric writing, but it doesn't come easy.

In the spirit of #design, I interviewed my family and asked, "What do you think of when I say the phrase "at the edge". They came up with a whole list of ideas that ended up in this song!

Even better, not all the ideas were "happy" "hopeful" ones either. Which I liked as well.
  • "The edge of the knife" - could be good or bad, could be for vengeance or for defense
  • "The edge of the wood" - could be coming out of a very dark period in life, or it could be at the "edge of the lake" where most of us get flooded with memories
Highlights for me:
  • My youngest son suggested the double time section for the solo...not only does it give the song energy (which I was worried it was too sleepy), but adds an urgency to the 'adlib' vocals at the end of that section
  • My Julia sat and analyzed the lyrics for a while to give other input which made them so much better
  • Recording the guitar solos...the intro 'jazz' was all octave doubled and sounds so smooth with the PRS guitar set to the neck pickup, and the fast solo was the first time I doubled the whole solo to give it a bigger sound
  • My wife sang!!!! I love it when she sings on these songs. I know I'm biased but it gives it so much depth and beauty when she sings.
  • The drums! I (for some reason) chose hiphop drums for the song. Not sure why, but in the spirit of my #unfiltered year of recording, I kept it. Then for the chorus, I added a "loop" that just sounded really cool. 

One more thing: This (and all the songs on the emerging album called #Unfiltered), are songs that I try to not filter what I write musically or lyrically, and also songs I try not to spend too much time in post production. At this point I want to capture the energy of the songs, and if I mess up or there's lousy note, that's OK. I just need to get what I feel out into a song.

Technical Specifics:
Recording Unit: Logic Pro - iMac
Drums: Logic Pro "drummer"
Acoustic Guitar: Paul Reed Smith Tonare Grand Custom
Electric Guitar: Paul Reed Smith Starla
Guitar Amp: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
Electric Guitar Mics: close: Shure SM57;
Vocal Mic: Sure Beta58
Keyboards: Rhoads keyboard: RD-500, Vibes - Logic Pro
Bass:  Logic Pro "Thumb Bass"


At the edge, it's all so clear
I finally see what brought me here
It's too late to turn back now
Here at the Edge
At the edge the moment's here
The next step is what you fear
Will it make you or make you fall
Here at the Edge
The edge of the knife I see sweet revenge
The Edge of the bed I feel sweet sweet tenderness
The Edge of the cliff there's majesty
We're all We're all at the Edge
We're all at the Edge right Now
At the edge we make our peace
or give in to our wildest dreams
I always wondered where I would fall
Here at the Edge
The edge of the knife I see the hero's fight
The Edge of the woods running from the dark towards a better life
The edge of the lake rich with memories
We're all
We're all at the Edge
We're all at the Edge right Now
 It's a beautiful edge
Launch you beyond what you thought was possible
It's time to leap from the edge right now
We're all
We're all at this glorious edge
What will we do with our edge right now
At the Edge
I finally see
Where I will fall
Here at the Edge

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ideas vs Action - And the Birth of a Hope-ist?

Yesterday I had a decent idea.

It started with an old friend saying that she had a couple of "Up With People" dreams, and one dream involved letting alumni travel for 6 week mini-tours. (We both traveled in Cast D'90…a one year adventure with 107 students traveling the world learning, singing, dancing, and promote the concept that we're all connected)

My response?

"IBM has a program that takes employees for 6 weeks into developing regions to help with basics. Imagine if Up With People did that? Organize a 6 week focused program for alumni to gather in groups of 10-12 and apply their skills to help a struggling community. Not only do we have experience from our year of travel, but we have a life-time of learning under our belts we didn't have when we first toured…we could help others even more."

I thought that was pretty good. And lately, since I've really struggled with my purpose in my last 1/2 of life,  I pondered what I wrote

...and did some googling

...and followed up with this

"So I want to name this program, and it made me think that if this were an actual thing, it would accomplish exactly the opposite of terrorism….and we could be exactly the opposite of a terrorist. So I look up "antonym of terrorism"…

…and interestingly there isn't an antonym.

That's sad. 

So maybe we can start something new: "Hope-ism" and we can be "Hope-ists". Maybe another phrase would be better. Thoughts? "

I was getting pretty excited. Except for the name, since I know it's not a word (yet), and people would by default write it as "hopist", and then I think of bunnies, and then I think of my yard, and then our pup who loves to chase bunnies…

In other words…I get distracted

…which is why I engaged the group to think of a different name. Besides, it still bothered me that while a small group of people hated with such passion that they had a house-hold name for what they did, but it didn't seem like there was a name for people who loved with such passion.

Then I continued…

"But imagine the headlines: 'More Hope-ist cells…formed back in the 90s in an Up With People group, emerged again and surprised a local community by acts of hope: this one just dug a well in an emerging economy...another taught young mothers how to budget for a micro-business...another partnered with a homeless shelter to feed and educate"

And then reality hit.

I was just an idea generator. It would take real work to get this running. Maybe I'm guilty of this a lot…great ideas but lacking the grit to act on them.

Yet it still bothered me: Why is there not a "house-hold" name for a group who loves with such passion? Is it easier to hate than love? Is it harder to get passionate about helping others than hating others? It sure seems like there are a lot of similarities in the commitment level: your time, your money, you must believe in your cause…with enough passion to push past the roadblocks, and possibly give your life dedicated to your cause, and finally a conviction that the world will only become what you want if you continually repeat acts on unsuspecting people you want to impact.

I know there are many, many groups working to do great things. But imagine if everyone was passionate about hope…enough to actively engage those without hope?

I finished my discussion by suggesting an "Agile" approach (my passion for design is never far away)…experiment, start small, fail fast, learn, and grow…

"Well, maybe we start small...even a friendly competition within our cast...share how we delivered hope in our individual communities. "I was a hope-ist today...drove a struggling youth to her job small step to independence". And whoever is voted the most awesome hope-ist of this group gets a free meal at our next reunion"

So will I turn my idea into action?

I hope so.

Hmm…maybe hope-ist isn't such a bad name after all.


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