Monday, October 10, 2011

Are You Happy Now?

Wow, it has been a long time since I have blogged and so much has happened, but we will get to that in another blog. I wanted to share the story of my latest song, Happy Now. I started work on Happy Now back in July when I was sitting at work and I heard a line come to my head. "Whispers in the wind catches my mind as I set sail into the night". I liked how I kept the same cadence for it and wondered how I would put music too it. I started thinking about it in my head and then matched up some chords on my notepad (which were completely wrong) so that when I got home I could figure them out. I wrote down a few more lines and then the chorus before jetting out the door and home.

I picked up the kids from daycare and hurried home, kissed the wife and asked if she minded that I went downstairs to flesh out an idea. Thankfully she didn't mind at all, and I ran downstairs, closed the door and grabbed the guitar. The first thing I noticed is that the song in my head didn't match the chords I wrote down on my notepad. With my guitar in hand it was much easier to figure out what those chords should have been. I finally had my chord progression down and started thinking about a chorus change. I had been noticing lately that a lot of songs that I been listening to lately either used the same chords for verses and choruses, or just switched the order of one or two of them (the classic Taylor Swift chord progression). That got me to thinking that maybe I could do the same thing and by simply changing my verse progression of Am - C - F - G to C - F - G - Am for the chorus gave me the exact effect that I wanted without completely changing the sound of the song. I quickly put a rough recording together and even a horrendous guitar solo (which was the basis for the eventual guitar solo) while my kids decided to raid my office. My work for the day was done.

It was a day or two later that I went back and started looking through the lyrics I had compiled and fleshed out the ideas a little more. The line "I never thought you'd leave me for some asshole from your work but where is he now" was one I was contemplating. I liked the line, but was it too harsh? I was asked to think about using something like jerk or moron instead, but in the end I felt that the feeling I had when this occurred in real life was more in line with the word asshole, so it stayed. The song was a reflection of what happened to me years ago at the end of a relationship, and I felt that I would be cheating the song if I didn't let the raw emotion of the incident come out. When she told me that she was considering going out with another guy I was heart broken, crushed, and genuinely ticked off. This guy whom I had never met was an asshole because he was hitting on my girl. She was wearing my promise ring wasn't she? He should have known she was dating someone else. Those are the thoughts that ran through my head when I first heard those words coming from my girlfriend's mouth.

For verse two, I moved on to the aftermath. In real life, the relationship ended very shortly after this occurred. The girl in question would constantly talk about this other guy and what they did at work that day to the point where my heart was basically crumbling and falling to the ground. I didn't understand, and to this day still don't understand, why she was doing this to me. Why would anyone blatantly tell their boyfriend that they were hanging out and enjoying the company of another guy? There were signs that this relationship was going sour long before this occurred, but it took this incident to finally give up. As heartbroken as I was, it was time to move on. I burned up the notes I had (which weren't that many in reality), threw away the picture I had sitting next to my bed for the last year plus, and spent many nights trying to figure it all out; figure her out. On the recommendation of my good buddy Jay, I changed the repeat line at the end of verse two from "I figured it out" to "I figured you out". He was right when he made that suggestion. I figured it and her out, so why not call a spade a spade?

I now had a finished song in my hands. It was full of emotion and self healing. These were words that needed to come out for a long time, and now I had completed the circle in my mind. I call this song the sequel to Rejection because it deals with the end of the same relationship. Where Rejection deals with all of the crap I put up with during the relationship (including the incident that spawn Happy Now), this song zeroed in on the final days of that relationship, and really the reason it ended entirely. The only thing I had to do now was record the song, and that was no easy task.

I must have done 100 takes of the song, with most of them being the lead guitar work. I wanted the guitar to tell the sadness of the song, while the words conveyed the message of the song. I also had a hard time getting the vocals to sound just right. I would get through a take and learn that my voice cracked during this chorus, or I held this part too long. I wanted it to be just right because I felt this was such a strong song. I spent over a month getting the song to where I felt it was finally right, and I am happy to share the song with all of you. I hope you take the opportunity to feel the emotion of the song, and I hope you enjoy the song.

Happy Now
Words & Music: Brian Bartholow
Guitars/Vocals: Brian Bartholow
Drums programmed by: Brian Bartholow

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