Everything You'd Want to Know (And More) - "Turn Around"

On this edition of Everything You'd Want to Know (And More), I go over the writing, decisions, and recording of my song, "Turn Around."

This one has pretty clear cut origin story. I was in my car heading home from work when I heard the new single by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats called "You Worry Me." The song itself was pretty ok, but the groove...that was damn good. It was laid back, but driving forward with emphasis on short eighth notes of the piano. I wanted to replicate that feel and make it my own.

Never wanting to be a ripoff, I took out my acoustic and tried to see what my version of that groove would sound like. I only allowed myself to start with a similar tempo/speed, strumming pattern, and number of chords in the progression in the verse. From there I was on my own. Luckily, the melody that would become the initial saxophone line and the verse vocals came out pretty quickly. I recorded them on a voice memo and was on my way.

The lyrics for the verses each involve situations where my natural instinct to is to either flip someone off and/or mirror the hate that flows through our country.  Instead, if we just turn around, we can find another way. It's a start. (This was originally a much larger rant...but I think you get the point.)

Back to the music! The bass part I had in my head to compliment the guitar was not working out, so I had to turn to my trusty synthesizer. The song immediately took on a whole new feel. The vocal melodies of the song don't really lend themselves to harmonies, but I needed something organic to balance out all the electronics. This is something I try to accomplish in all my tunes these days. I think it is some carry over from my straight up folk days. A track needs to stay human. I kept hearing saxophone and thanked my lucky stars that a talented tenor sax player works in my old department. Ben Hohenstein is a WAMI nominated saxophonist and did a great job, giving the track the last push over the edge. His performance really wrapped up the song and made it something really special.

The result is a bit like some of the final work of David Bowie. It's a darker tonal palette, but has those elements of his plastic soul work like "Young Americans." 

I really love this song. It feels like an emotional outpouring of situations that I can never quite put into words outside of music. Overall, I think we just need to be better to each other.

-NPH