Friday, November 29, 2019

"Don't Look Back" - Song Insight



Urgency.   Love.   Exploration.   Adventure.   Regret.   Yearning.

"Don't Look Back" is an important song for me. Yet, for years I assumed it was lost, and while I thought I had something spectacular, I had never captured a recording of it, so the only thing left was fragments of muscle memory playing bits and pieces of the simple riff you hear at the beginning.

Take a listen:

In a way, losing my grasp on this song was an allegory of me losing my grasp on my dreams of composing music for a living. Sure I've composed dozens of songs and soundtracks over the years, had some success and am quite proud of what I created, but lets be clear:

Choosing a career in tech was not the dream.

Then, last year in 2018, I became nostalgic and wanted to "re master" a number of earlier songs I wrote and recorded between 1986 and 1991. At that time, these were the songs that were certainly going to launch my music career:


I had been in high school bands, and played off-and-on during college. But after my 3rd year of school I toured for a year with Up With People, learned a ton, got a whole lot better, and when I came home, I was ON FIRE to make it in music (if not as a touring musician, as a songwriter).

I had written a bunch of new songs and sent them out to record companies.

Most never responded.

Some did, and one in particular gave me a great critique in the middle of the "no thanks" letter. Soon after I was offered a tech job, and now I'm 28 years into that career.

But this song. This song was special to me, and captured the energy I was looking for. And while it was lost for years, now it's found. 

I found it at the end of my old 4-track masters. Never labeled, never properly archived. It was like discovering a long-lost precious gem. This song is important to me because it captures what I was looking forward to, my urgency to get into music, the love of adventure…

…and it very nearly was never to be heard.

I composed the verse and chorus in 1987, I didn't remember recording any of it. It wasn't until my recent "re mastering" work did I discover the completely recorded version from 1991, except the vocals. What I completely forgot was not only did I record the MIDI tracks in 1987 before I graduated high school, but that when I returned from Up with People in 1991, I composed the rest of the song (the bridge and ending), and finally recorded the instrumentation (including guitar) onto my 4-Track cassette recorder.

Then, in 1992, I started my job, and forgot about it. Actually, that's not true. A couple times a year I would play the riff, think about my decision of tech vs. music, and move on.

Well, now with updated technology, I was able to remaster the 4-track recording and put it into Logic Pro, and finally finish the song.

However, I couldn't find the lyrics. I can still picture a torn-away page from a spiral notebook with lyrics to this song, but no memory of the verses…just fragments of the chorus.

But as I said, this is an important song for me, and it was important to complete this song and release it. I started singing / humming to the song, and every time through, a bit of memory was uncovered, reconstructing the choruses (and eventually the pre-choruses).

I could never remember the verse lyrics, nor the melody, so I just re-wrote them.

In the end, this is a multi-decade layered song. Here's what you hear:
1987: Composed verses and chorus
1987: Recorded the drums, base, synth, and piano onto my MIDI sequencer
1991: Composed the full song (ending, b-section, …)
1991: Recorded the full instrumentation (including guitars) onto 4-track cassette recorder
….
2019: Remastered instruments, wrote new lyrics for verses, recorded vocals, published

~~~~~~~

Now that I listen to it, I love it. The song captures the urgency I felt, and to this day constantly feel, to keep moving, to experience new things, and how much I want the love of my life by my side for the entire ride.

I hope you enjoy it.

Greg. November 29, 2019.

P.S. The love of my life from the song in 1987? It's the same love of my life that's been by my side every day since, and continues to ride by my side, her hand wrapped in mine, as we chase our dreams.  Love you, Lady.


~~~~~~  Lyrics   ~~~~

Verse:
It’s time to break away
There’s no way I can stay
it’s my life at stake
I hear it call to me
a world of “what could be”
Out where I was meant to be

Bridge:
And I’m never going back
No more time for yesterday
But I need you by my side
To feel alive!

CHORUS:
and I say that we ride, into the summer night
Across the great divide, your hand wrapped in mine
We’ll be free to chase our dreams until the end of time
And baby always remember, yeah baby don’t look back
Don’t look back           just keep your heart a dreamin’
Don’t look back          just keep your faith and don’t look back,
don’t look back, don’t look back on yesterday

Verse
Ooooh, it’s been so hard
Paralyzed by what “could have been”
To you, I promise this
whatever time we have left
I will give you my best

Bridge:
And we’re never going back
No more worry or regrets
And with you by my side
We’ll feel alive!

CHORUS:
and I say that we ride, into the summer night
Across the great divide, your hand wrapped in mine
We’ll be free to chase our dreams until the end of time
And baby always remember, yeah baby don’t look back
Don’t look back           our future’s what we’ll make it
Don’t look back          just keep your faith and don’t look back,
don’t look back, don’t look back on yesterday

Bridge:
And we’re never going back
No more time to second guess
with you my heart is full
And ready to ride!

CHORUS:
and I say that we ride, into the summer night
Across the great divide, your hand wrapped in mine
We’ll be free to chase our dreams until the end of time
And baby always remember, yeah baby don’t look back
Don’t look back           our future’s all we need and
Don’t look back          just keep your faith and don’t look back,
don’t look back, don’t look back on yesterday

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