Monday, April 13, 2009

New Song: Commodity

It feels good to finally forge ahead in the writing process of this record by producing another completed song amidst all the ideas we're always discussing and batting around.

This particular new number is the second from 2005. I wrote it after watching We Jam Econo and listening to lots and lots of Minutemen as a result, so this short song fires in and rocks it hard at just under two minutes with tinty guitars and roaring bass, the bassline once again being stumbled into when I wasn't playing bass much and just wanted a demo of the music. Daniel and I both always liked this one and wanted to turn it into a Distractions song. On our first practice after our first show, the same one where we first practiced, "Eli Whitney," Kelly had some lyrics that we applied to it. We weren't happy with the words, so we just let it go in light of the other songs.

So I set out to add my "A" material to this history record, quickly deciding to make its mechanized, angular chord progression about the industrial revolution. I've fretted over it since Christmas when we began the writing process, but to no avail. I decided to make it another answer to "Eli Whitney" like I did with "Bob Dole." That song was meant to take Eli's motif of a name as its title and a biography within the song, only with a less musical sounding name and a less romantic "hero" of history. It was written also with the idea of being about insecurity, being misunderstood of one's identity because someone else is mocking him. I think this is lost in Kelly's deadpan delivery of the words, but that's okay.

Anyway, the new song, "Commodity" answers "Eli Whitney" by its contrast. Eli is one of our most melodic songs, "Commodity" is shouted a chord progression that doesn't allow for much actual singing. It is also about the industrial revolution, which was started in the textile industry alongside the invention of the cotton gin (although the two aren't directly related). I wanted the song short, so I had to just make a mention of all the ideas I'd researched, leaving the listener to fill in some blanks more than many of our other songs.

Josh and Kelly came over Saturday to play some and discuss the record and new material, and I worked up the song to play it for them. By the time they knocked, I decided the song was stupid and was afraid they'd hate it. Their reaction was that they liked it. Kelly first said, "It's better than 'Bob Dole.'" He added that these were the most intelligent lyrics we have. I took that as a complement.

Unfortunately, it uses the formula of "take the title and sing it as the chorus," which Kelly's songwriting has matured past. This formula dominated the last record, and now it's only my contributions that use it on the new record (this one and "Let's Go to War").

This is the ninth completed song for the record, and I'll be writing about what this means for the whole project and the writing process sometime soon.

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