Author Archive

Song 26: “All Right Here”

by on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here is Song #26 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 26 All Right Here

26 Blue2Holy crap, I couldn’t come up with anything decent last night. I was drawing a complete blank – no lyrics, no melodies, nothing! I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to pull out a new song, and was actually afraid I might have to miss a day for lack of inspiration.

After staring at my instruments for about 30 minutes, I decided to grab a beer and go out back with the dog. I sat down on the back deck, and immediately noticed 2 things: 1) the cicadas were making a ton of noise, ans 2) there was a near-constant series of fast lightning flashes in the sky. The lightning continued – with no thunder or rain – for about 30-45 minutes, during which time I was struck with inspiration. I went inside, grabbed one of my parlour guitars, and wrote some guitar parts outside under the lightning. The lyrics were descriptive of the scene, and they came quickly!

I went back inside and recorded the guitar parts, then overdubbed some little guitar jangles on top. I must say that the rhythm guitar part is a bit uneven, especially in the first verse; but I knew I was working with a potentially brief bit of inspiration and didn’t want to lose momentum by rerecording it. After that, I laid down three separate vocal tracks (one lead and two harmony), and finished it all off with a nice little melodica part.

I can’t believe how pleased I am with this song considering how uninspired I was an hour before I finished recording it! I’m chalking this one up to luck and a bit of mother nature’s influence.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)

I could not be less inspired
Than I am tonight
My mind is as blank as a sheet
Not an idea in sight
I go outside for inspiration
Perhaps some mosquito bites
I see lightning in the distance
Lighting up the sky
And then it hits me like a punch in the face
Ideas are all around me now in the ether
All I have to do is reach out and take
What I need from what I have – it’s all right here

Song 25: “Not if She Does Not”

by on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Here is Song #25 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 25 Not if She Does Not

25 MixerThis idea went through a couple of big changes over the course of an hour or two. I first started playing it in 4/4, then got bored and switched to 5/4, and finally settled on 3/4. I think in 3/4 it sways a bit more, and more accurately conveys the tone I wanted for the song.

I also (just like the last song) recorded way more instruments than what actually ended up in the final mix – once I had layered on a bunch of stuff, I decided that it just felt better being very simple. So, the final mix here is just one acoustic guitar and two vocal tracks.

The lyrics for this song popped into my head as I was falling asleep one night last week. As I lay in bed, I could see into the next room through a slight crack in the door to where my special ladyfriend was sewing something. You see, much like me and my musical aspirations, my ladyfriend is an artist herself – her chosen medium is fabric. I got to thinking about how she sometimes makes a garment that she knows will never be worn – much like how I write songs all the time that I know will never be heard. But that line of thought led me to wonder what would happen if all of a sudden I had a breakthrough song that made people want to get their hands on any other music I had done in the past (I remember years ago really getting into Elliott Smith and searching everywhere until I finally found music he did with his previous band Heatmeiser). At this point in my life, what would my musical legacy be? I think of all the demo tapes and CDrs that people have given me over the years, and how many I have given away myself. I have early recordings by members of Mastodon and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (I went to high school with some of them) that sound nothing at all like the music that has made them famous, and boy would they be pissed if some of that shit ended up on the internet! God help me if some of the terrible shit I’ve handed out over the years ever made it into the wrong hands…. 🙁

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)

She threads the needle through cloth
And I sleep through it all
Like a restless child
I know just what this will mean
For us and what we will be
If she succeeds
And I will go with her if she does
Time will mean; not if she does not
She’s making a dress out of scraps
That will never be worn
But that’s not the point
Just like when I sing this old tune
For you, the prize in the act
We don’t have a choice

Song 24: “Suits & Stares”

by on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Here is Song #24 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 24 Suits & Stares

24 HeadphonesI came up with the verse guitar part for this song back around Christmas ’08, but couldn’t do anything with it. It didn’t fit with what we’re doing in A Fight to the Death, so I just kinda shoved it on the back burner. I have no idea what made it pop into my head out of nowhere yesterday, but I figured it what high time I actually finished it.

I fiddled with the song until I had what I considered to be a decent chorus part, and then recorded the acoustic guitar track with a very simple progression. Once this was done, I tried layering all sorts of stuff on top: melodica, xylophone, accordion, ukulele. But, as is often the case, I found that the more I added the less I liked the song; I stripped everything back out except for a single guitar track.

The vocal melodies came very quickly; this song has such a simple structure that the vocals practically wrote themselves. The lyrics are just about how I wish I could sometimes take a sick day from my life and not just my job.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)

Coming up for some air
Beneath the waves for too long
I can see things as they are
Not how I think they should be
I think I’m coming down with a cold
On this day
When I will confront the things I fear
I will take a sick day
But I am only postponing the inevitable
Things won’t change just because I hide
Finding structure in chaos
Ruin all the order
Everything will be better
Without all the plans
Now I can face the suits and the stares
With more apathy
Towards all that I feel pressure to do
I must be strong

Song 23: “Dressed in Rags”

by on Monday, August 24th, 2009

Here is Song #23 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 23 Dressed in Rags

23 Stella fretThis song is the result of me really wanting to finally use a little guitar part that I’ve had in my head for a while now. I’ve never been able to make a full-length song out of it, so I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to clear it out of my idea pool.  Not much to say about this one except that I used my Stella acoustic guitar for the primary track, and then all I added after that was vocals and percussion; I used metal sticks and slapped my hands on my jeans for the rhythm (special thanks to the Campbell sisters for that little idea).

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)
Metal sticks

Down the road is a man
Whose face I can’t stand
His sadness is evident
He dresses in rags
And his wife is a hag
He has nothing to live for now
But he wakes every day
Just why he can’t say
I guess he just feels compelled
To sit on the street
Depress the people he meets
By telling how down he is

Song 22: “Great Stories”

by on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Here is Song #22 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 22 Great Stories

22 NylonOK, so with this song I’m fairly certain that my use of falsetto singing has jumped the shark. I became kinda fascinated with it after Song #20, so I decided to do another one this way. Listening the the playback, it reminds me a lot of the old “Chipmunks” Christmas record I had as a kid.

The structure of the song is a chord progression that popped into my head late last week; it kinda reminds me of early Belle & Sebastian songs with regard to tempo and rhythm. Once I recorded a simple A-B-A-B repetition of the two parts on acoustic guitar, I just went straight for the vocals. Usually I flesh the song out more before I do the vocal track, but in this case I figured that there might not end up being much in the way of instrumentation, so I just jumped ahead. Once I had written and recorded the vocals, I put a little nylon-stringed acoustic lead part in the middle and that was it.

The lyrics are a playful look at the compromises and sacrifices you have to make if you want to attempt a life as a professional musician.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)
Nylon-stringed acoustic guitar (no-name piece of crap)

I have a great idea
To get us off to where we should be
We should each sell off a finger
Or a toe, but only the little one
Then with all the money we make
We will travel the world
If they ask where did our toes go
we’ll just say we gave them up for the band
And we might find that we regret
Giving up such precious things
But in the end we’ll have great stories
All our friends might have their fingers
And jobs with 401ks
But we will have played in New York
And even been mugged in L.A.
When it all is said and done
We can sit back and live off our kids
When its time to say our goodbyes
We can say at least we tried

Song 21: “untitled 3”

by on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Here is Song #21 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 21 untitled 3

21 ShakersThis was another case of me having a bit too much fun with my old Casio keyboard – I played some chords and a little melody on top…and that was it. Once I had a basic rhythm track recorded, I played the melody over it with the Casio, and then banged on some drums to fatten it up. Ultimately however, I opted to leave the drums out of the mix (it was a bit too much!) and just used shakers instead.

I finished it up with a little toy piano interlude in the middle, and a vocal track that just popped out!

Instruments used:
Casio keyboard (80’s thing)
Toy Piano


Song 20: “I’ve Got Things, Girl”

by on Friday, August 21st, 2009

Here is Song #20 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 20 I've Got Things, Girl

20 GuitarsMy main inspiration for this song came from my special lady-friend. Yesterday, she told me that she’d like to hear me sing in some different styles than I’m prone to; I explained that years of shitty singing have taught me what I can and cannot do, and that I adhere to the former as much as possible.

All explanations aside, it kinda stuck in my mind that perhaps I should try some things that I haven’t tried in years. I mean, I’m no Pavarotti but I have a style that I do well enough and people seem to like it…so I haven’t branched out lately as perhaps I should have. So when it came time to write this tune, I picked a key that would be a challenge for me to sing in (C minor), and I’ll admit that I struggled with it for a little while. Then I took the radical (for me anyway) step of switching to singing in falsetto. Whoa…I was not i my normal comfort zone anymore!

Once I committed to singing this way, the melodies came rather quickly and I was able to record guitar, ukulele, and vocals in less than 30 minutes. For lyrics, I decided to write about my lovely lady since she did, after all, inspire this tune to be written.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (1940’s Stella)
Baritone Ukulele

You should start believin’ what I say is the truth
That I love you more than you could know
And I will always be here
Let’s start living like there is nobody else
I’ve got things girl, that I have to do
But I can do them and still be there for you
There have been times when you’ve doubted my word
But girl I can tell you that I’ll always be yours
No matter how long the roads may be
I will always be coming home to you

Song 19: “Too Easy”

by on Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Here is Song #19 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 19 Too Easy

19 BassThis song was inspired by a conversation I had with a couple of buddies last week about how if you are a shitty/mediocre musician, all you have to do to get fans is:
1. Play loudly
2. Jump around and/or do something “crazy” or “outrageous”
3. Create semi-catchy but ultimately forgettable “hooks” in your songs
4. Most important: have a schtick

I will never down a band for being successful and building a strong fanbase by doing something they enjoy, regardless of how I feel about their music – that’s great! But, I do get a bit tired of the bottom-feeding hipsters that will flock to bands with very little skill or talent who just happen to scream into a mic and pull their balls out onstage. I wonder if maybe I had no self-respect or pride in my artistry, maybe I could behave “outrageously” and people would appreciate my music more. I guess I’d just rather be Dean Martin than Johnny Rotten.

Related: If I decided to form a cult based on bullshit that I completely make up, I can guarantee that I could have a dozen followers by the end of the week. And you could too. There are always people out there who are willing to follow, so long as you have some sore of schtick. See what I’m getting at?

Enough about all that – let’s talk about the song here. I tried to put myself in the mindset of someone who just plays simple, loud music with no substance and pseudo-social-commentary lyrics. With that in mind, I picked up my Telecaster and just banged out the first 3 chords that were in the same key – I think I went with B, Em, and maybe F#. I just played each of those chords in different orders and I had this song written in my head in literally 4 minutes. It’s that easy to write this crap, folks. I recorded the electric guitar really loudly, then overdubbed a simple electric bass line (I played it with a quarter instead of a guitar pick for extra “punk rock attitude”), and then beat on a couple of drums with the most simple rhythm I could possibly do. Oh, and then I also played the crappiest intentionally-bad guitar solo I could do.

I couldn’t force myself to give any thought at all to writing “real” lyrics for this song, so I just pushed the record button and sang along like I didn’t care (I figured that was appropriate). I made up the lyrics on the spot and it’s pretty much just about wanting to be the singer in a shitty band just so I can get on stage and dance around with my pants down. Once that was recorded, I threw some “edgy” distortion on the vocals; this is a common trick used to blur the line between talent and attitude. Ever heard a song and wondered if the “crazy” or “wild” singer can actually sing or not? 🙂

This is not a good song – it is an easy song that took 4 minuted to write and about 40 minutes to record and finish. I did it to prove a point to myself, and kinda just to be an ass. All I need now is a band full of guys willing to wear hot pink jumpsuits and pee on each other onstage and I’ll be a hit!

Instruments used:
Electric guitar (Fender ’75 Thinline Tele reissue)
Snare drum & floor tom
Electric bass (Fender Jazz Bass)

I can’t even make myself write them out…

Song 18: “Ukuleles in A minor”

by on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Here is Song #18 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 18 Ukuleles in A minor

18 Ukulele stringsOK, I’ll admit it – I love this tune. I know that in yesterday’s post I promised that today’s song would be longer….and it is…if only by a small amount! This one clocks in at only slightly more than 2 minutes, but as is sometimes the case…I didn’t want to unnecessarily clutter up the song just in the interest of making it last longer.

The inspiration for this song came when I was shuffling some gear around in my gear room. I had a pile with all three of my ukuleles and my mandolin, and decided I should do an all-uke song. I sat down with the baritone ukulele first, and played a traditional mediterranean chord progression (in Am); I put 2 minutes-worth of that onto the recorder, and set about creating some melody on top.

Originally I imagined the tune to be instrumental – just to showcase my different ukulele tones. However, as I was composing the uke parts a vocal melody kept springing to mind. Once I had four ukulele parts recorded (two baritone, one tenor, one standard) and a couple of simple percussion parts, I just sang the melody (with gibberish lyrics) into the microphone. For some reason, I think it generally sound stupid to sing grand eastern melodies in English – I’d rather just make up my own language for a song than sing about trees and shit in English. I finished the track with some backing vocals, and that was it!

Instruments used:
Ukuleles (baritone, tenor, standard/concert)
Snare drum


Song 17: “untitled 2”

by on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Here is Song #17 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 17 untitled 2

17 Toy PianoI am certainly not going to ramble on about this one – it really is the simplest of these tracks so far. I sat down with the toy piano and came up with a very simple part that I couldn’t envision becoming a full song. So, rather than force some other parts into it I just decided to treat it as an “interlude.”

So, its only a bit over a minute long and only contains toy piano, a snare drum, and a tambourine.

Maybe I’m getting lazy? Nah…the next song will be longer! 😀

Instruments used:
Toy Piano (old wooden thing)
Snare drum