Everything You'd Want to Know (And More) - "Dig in My Heels"

On this edition of Everything You'd Want to Know (And More), I'll be going over the writing, meaning, and decisions behind my song,  "Dig in My Heels".

While this song has never been released, it is far from new. I wrote this song in the fall of 2015 after I was promoted to a new position at my job. I was aiming at this promotion/position from the start of my employment there and I wasn't shy about it. It was really the first time I made a real and challenging goal like this in a professional setting. I felt a little like the Great Bambino, pointing to the fence, and calling the home run.


A lot of my songs have reflected workplace struggles, so I thought it made sense to finally write one that was more triumphant. It was originally written with guitar and mandolin lead lines and was approximately twice as fast, a real Irish feel. I performed it with harmonica instead of mandolin for two years, but always felt that the song was better than the arrangement.

From time to time I revist older tunes and see what speaks to me. One Sunday morning in February, I picked up my acoustic and started playing with the tempo and mood of the track. Instead of a chest-beating victory lap, the song became more of a contemplative and reflective piece. It was definitely brought on by another work transition I'm a part of now, close to reaching a goal that I've had for nearly my entire time post-college.

Aside from some melodic changes to better fit the tempo, I did change two lines. At the end of the second verse, it ended with two powerful statements: "I'm over my past" and "It's time to start new." At the time, that's what I believed to be true. This time around, I changed them to questions that more accurately reflect my mindset, "Am I over my past?" and "Is it time to start new?". That was a big change for me mentally, especially when it comes to performing the song.

When going to record the song, I knew I wanted to keep it simple. It just didn't call for my precious beats or synthesizers, so I left them off. But I kept hearing brass on the bridge and close of the song. I was convinced that was the way to go, until I tried tackling the logistics of recording those instruments/players. I started thinking about vocals instead. I've really loved adding in choral elements to my recent tracks and thought it could work. Because the parts I'd written out were mostly for trumpet, that meant lots of falsetto vocals. I couldn't deny my Beach Boys roots and just went for it. Turns out it was a lot more appropriate for the mood of the track while keeping it sonically linked to my other work.

I couldn't be happier with how this one turned out and finally feel like the song is framed the right way.

- Nathan