Archive for August, 2009

Song 30: “Can I Relax Now?”

by on Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here is Song #30 – Stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 30 Can I Relax Now?

30 PedalsTo quote the immortal words of one Clark W. Griswold, “Hallelujah, and holy shit.” Here I am at the very end of my 30-day project, and I must admit that I am terribly relieved. It has been a boatload of fun and a huge challenge, but I definitely feel that I have grown as a songwriter and I have allowed myself to step outside of my usual comfort zone with many of the tunes. That said, I’ll also very much enjoy having my spare time back to relax and do real human things. I’ll post this song today, and then probably relax for a day, and then come back and do a “wrap-up” post. It will include my thoughts on the whole project, some links, and of course: I’ll put all of the songs (along with some album artwork) into one big handy ZIP file for easy download. I’ll also discuss how the project will move forward without me!

So, the song. This tune was a tone of fun to record, and is definitely a sound that I’m not usually doing. You’ll just have to listen to it!

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)
Drums
Electric guitar (Telecaster)
Electric bass (Fender Jazz)
Tambourine
Vocals

Lyrics:
I can’t believe its finally over
I thought this month would never end
I can’t believe I’m finally finished
This project nearly did me in

Song 29: “Then and Only Then”

by on Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Here is Song #29 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 29 Then and Only Then

29 CapoToday’s song is deliberately quiet. In fact, you might have to turn up your speakers if you care to hear all the details…you might even hear my cat and dog wrestling in the background. Poor cat.

There are only 3 chords in this whole song, and it weighs in at just over 2 minutes long. I decided to let the vocal melody and they lyrics drive this one, rather than instrumentation.

The lyrics are about how everyone should semi-regularly test their own boundaries, and shout in the face of their worst fears (literally or figuratively) as a way of overcoming them and removing oneself from all the bullshit out there. I’m not always as good about this as I should be, but I do try to shift my paradigm as often as possible without totally wrecking my life.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)
Vocals

Lyrics:
Forget all that you grew up with
Give up everything you own
You’ll be a better person for it
Embrace the change you have made
Walk out onto the ledge and scream your name
Stare into the death and curse your pain
Then, and only the will you be free
You won’t ever miss who you were

Song 28: “Only ’til Night”

by on Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Here is Song #28 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 28 Only 'til Night

28 GenBooooooo Comcast! OK, my internet service is back up, but it is intermittent and I’m very irritated. But the good news is that A) I have 2 songs posting today, and B) We had a great time playing the Grant Park Festival yesterday. So YAY for that!

So, this is Saturday’s song, and I’m posting it on Sunday. Sorry dudes. Anyway, this song sprang from another old guitar part that I’ve had in my head for a long time. I’ve tried playing it (and recording it) a few times before, but never got it right and never wrote lyrics for it. So, like many of these other songs, it seemed a perfect candidate for this project. I stripped it down to some nice acoustic guitar and a couple of vocal tracks – as you may have noticed, I’ve favored that low-key sound for a few of the past songs here. Maybe I’m just in that kind of mood?

Once I recorded the guitar part, I wrote some lyrics and recorded the main vocal track pretty quickly. The song is about how much I enjoy my special ladyfriend kissing me goodbye on mornings when she has to get up earlier than I do, and how I then look forward to her kissing me goodnight later on that day. Sappy, I know. But hell, I just love knowing that she’s the first person I usually see in the morning and the last person I usually see at night. It’s nice.

I then did some harmony vocals and that was it.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Seagull)
Vocals

Lyrics:
When I hear her alarm
I slightly wake
And give her one last hug
Before we start our day
I look forward to her kiss goodbye, but only ’til night
All day long I wait
To get home to her
And lay down for the night
Hold onto her tightly
I look forward to her kiss goodnight, but only ’til day

UGH.

by on Saturday, August 29th, 2009

I’m writing this post on my iPhone because my internet is out at home. Ugh. Anyway, I will post today’s song later if Comcast gets their act together before I have to leave to go play the Grant Park Festival. If not, I’ll post Sat and Sunday’s songs tomorrow from a freakin’ coffee shop if I have to!

Sorry dudes, I’ll make it up tomorrow…

Song 27: “All”

by on Friday, August 28th, 2009

Here is Song #27 – You can stream it by clicking the little PLAY button, or download it by right-clicking the title:

CJ Bargamian - 27 All

27 drum2This track is much less of a song and more or an experiment. I know, that sounds scary and suggests that this will be crappy noise; its not noise, but it was definitely less of a structured ‘song’ than usual.

Basically, I wanted to see if I could play a chord for every note of the scale, in a row, and make the transitions as such that it wouldn’t seem too jarring as I switched keys. So, I arranged all of the chords in a certain order, played them each for 16 beats, ending on A flat; then, I repeated the same progression backwards to make kind of a musical palindrome if you will. The song starts with A major, peaks with A flat major in the middle, and then ends back at A major.

Once I had recorded this progression on the guitar, I made a duplicate track and reversed the audio. The result is a kinda eerie mix – much like that little person that David Lynch had talking backwards in Twin Peaks. Anyway, I the recorded some banging sounds and mixed it down. When it was done, I noticed that you can hear my ladyfriend talking on the phone in the next room in some spots…I left that in there too.

Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (Stella)
Drums

Lyrics:
NONE

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)
Melodica
Vocals

Lyrics:
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)
Vocals

Lyrics:
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)
Vocals

Lyrics:
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
Vocals

Lyrics:
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)
Vocals

Lyrics:
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