June 08, 2004

Bluebeard wouldn't do very well in a New York apartment. "Never look in the...cabinet above the stove."

Regular readers (as well as people who actually attended the concert) may recall that I played a short gig about a month ago at Barbes, opening for Life in a Blender. That show went pretty well, although I did make the tactical error of trying to play a song I had only finished writing that afternoon. The song went fine until I got to the bridge, which was treacherous for two reasons: it had a sorta tricky chord change rhythm (and still does), and it was the freaking bridge, also known as "the part of the song that never gets repeated and thus doesn't get quite as imprinted on the brain as the verse and chorus". Especially if the bridge is the last part of the song to get written. So I didn't get through the bridge. But now you can just download the song with bridge fully intact.

Oh...did you want to know what the song is? It's called "Bluebeard", and I wrote it because of a mondegreen. In the Jeff Buckley song "Nightmares by the Sea", there is a lyric which goes "Your rube is young and handsome," which I had always heard as "Your Bluebeard's young and handsome." When I found out what the actual line was, I was sorely disappointed -- I much preferred my lyric. I liked the idea of the fabled abusive husband presented in a more realistic, seemingly charming guise. So...I wrote my own song on the subject. I didn't want to do a straight retelling of the fairy tale, so I decided to explore the question: what if Bluebeard tried to change? Is he allowed to be happy?

If you're interested in boring details of the songwriting process, feel free to read on.

This song was written in a very atypical fashion for me. I generally start with a chord progression and then add lyrics; in this case, the entire melody was written on its own and the chords added afterward. This worked out great, since the chord pattern I ended up with was one I probably never would have come up with otherwise, at least rhythmically. (The chords themselves are all pretty straightforward.) You can also get a sense of my need to make things difficult on myself from the dense packing of internal rhymes in the bridge, among other things.

Posted by Francis at 04:35 AM