Home (a song is born)

Wishing a very happy December to you all in this very strange year! Times have been hard all over. The regular challenges of life are even more trying in isolation, and with the regular remedies made more difficult or unavailable. 

Nonetheless, even in these odd times there are things that bring a little joy and light into life. For me, that’s been an unusually productive period of songwriting. In fact, I have three songs in development right now: “Careful What You Wish For,” “I Am Not Well,” and “Home.”  (This is of course in addition to the four songs I just finished recording and mixing for an upcoming EP.)

Each of the songs is in its own way a product of the times we’re living in, and of some of the moods I’ve found myself in because of these times. Each of them came to me almost fully-formed, taking very little time to write as a first draft. I’ve been playing each regularly in my recent livestreams, and each is finding its way towards its final form with each performance. 

That last song, “Home,” is the first one that I’m actually trying to record. I think its origin story is pretty interesting: a good friend of mine took on the challenge of finding a different cover version of the Talking Heads’ “Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)” to play every day before the election this year. It’s a great song, and there are so many incredible versions of it. However, after hearing it every day for a few weeks straight, the song got stuck in my head, as you might imagine.

So I lay there the Friday night before the election, completely unable to sleep and with the song going through my head. This was somehow mixed up with my thoughts and anxieties about not being able to see my family for the upcoming holidays. I started to think about the concept of home, and of hope; about the things we long for in life, but which are very often undefinable and therefore unattainable.  And yet, these same things are those that if we only change our focus a little, we realize we already have and that we should appreciate and cherish.

So, what if home is where we cannot go, because we’re already there…?

And then the rest of the song came in a flood.  All on the same theme, with a middle break that came to me from worries I have for some people very close to me.  I got up and walked to the other room to tap out the whole lyric, fully-formed, into my phone.  

And eventually I did get to sleep.

The music for the song came a little later. I’d written the lyric with the rhythm of “This Must Be The Place” in my head, so I knew I wanted something with a strong repetitive rhythm in the verse, but that I also wanted it to open up in the chorus and bridge.  Arpeggiated chords do the trick in the verse, as do strums in the other parts of the song.  The song also starts and ends on an F#m7, giving the first impression of being in a minor key, but with major elements throughout, adding to the ambiguous, but hopeful feel of the song.

(I don’t usually have this level of thought going on when I write a song, by the way.  But I do see the elements afterwards on the songs I write that I end up really liking.)

I’ve now played this quite a few times for friends and at virtual open mics, and I’m thinking that it will have at least two recorded versions.  One will be a full-production layered, electric version (snippet here in process).  The other… well, “Home” also really works with just guitar and voice.  Both versions breathe really nicely, and I think they might speak differently to different people.

Here’s the acoustic version.  I hope it brings good meaning and thoughts to you. If it does, I’d love it if you shared it with your friends.

-Chris

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