This blog is devoted to the band The Really Good Pot Roast.
THE REALLY GOOD POT ROAST - Emergency Cord
OK. We’re shifting gears from the instrumental electronica stuff we did for the Trevor Project (The wait is killing me). This track is from our album, Serious as a Heart Attack. The album is available on iTunes and AmazonMP3. All proceeds will be donated to the American Heart Association.
Lyric writing is always tough for me. I have a little journal I carry in my bag just in case I get an inspiration while I’m on the road. 85% of the lyrics in that book will never see the light of day, nor should they, but every once in a while something good happens.
I wrote these lyrics on the subway home from work. I’ve always wonder what the emergency cord is for since the signs tell you never to pull it, even if there’s a fire or a medical emergency. Mark and I both liked the lyrics, but had a hard time putting together music that worked. This song was the last track on the album to be finalized despite being one of the first tracks we started.
While Mark and I consider this a part of our 50/90 productivity for this year, the song actually pre-dates it by little bit. The song started as another one of our musical experiments. I programmed some basic drums (just to keep time), wrote a melody and recorded it using my MIDI keyboard, then set it to be an acoustic bass sound. Then I sent it to Mark and told him to really explore the MIDI functions in our recording software to make this song something different. By the time the file made it back to me, Mark had transformed the melody from that acoustic bass sound into an entire horn section.
I really like Mark’s lyrics here because they capture our brand of humor quite well. I think his line, “I’ll travel back in time and get your mom to abstain / and the best part of you will just go down the drain.” is one of his best to date.
Hope you all enjoy!
I love this song. Aside from being just a fun tune, I loved writing this song. This was a song Rob and I collaborated on for a song writing challenge. During a weekend of songwriting, hanging out, and drinking, Rob came up with a great idea; we trade off writing in isolation. Each person writes and records for no more than 15 minutes, then tags the other person in. The other person has 15 minutes to listen, edit, alter, write, and record anything. The catch is that we could not talk to each other about what we did, or didn’t, or meant to do. First, I spent 15 minutes programming drums. Then Rob laid down the bassline. I did some guitar work. Rob did some guitar work. We played chicken with the vocals, and I eventually lost and penned some quick lyrics and cranked them out.
After the vocals, we both sat and listened. We had a working draft of the song. It was fascinating, because it could’ve gone so wildly wrong, but we just went with it, and surprised each other with each new layer.
That song is one of my favorite tracks we’ve written, not just because it’s a catchy little tune, but because how it came to be.
Some of my favorite moments in a song are not musical at all. I have always been fascinated by what happens around the music. Musicians talking to each other during the recording, count-ins, people noodling on instruments randomly before the song starts. That kind of thing. I once won a round of musical Jeopardy by correctly guessing the song Lynyrd Skynyrd song Sweet Home Alabama after hearing only the count in by Ronnie Van Zant. Also during the opening of Sweet Home Alabama, Ronnie Van Zant can be heard asking the engineer at Muscle Shoals Studio to turn up the volume in his headphones. Mark and I have joked about making a track on a future album consisting of just the conversations we’ve captured while recording other songs.
A well known example of this can be heard on the Let it Be album cut of Get Back, by the Beatles. The song has en extended opening that really captures the energy of the session. Everyone is checking their instruments, Paul seems to be doing a vocal warm-up, and John ad-libs the line, “Sweet Loretta Fat, she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan.” It makes me smile every time I hear it.
Mark and I occasionally challenge each musically by giving each other unique challenges. One such occasion took place when he and his wife came to visit my wife and I for the holidays. We all woke up on New Years Day pretty hung over, devoured some homemade waffles, and crashed on the couches. When our wives went to another room to chat I decided to jump in the shower. As I left Mark at my studio computer, I said, “I expect a new track to be in progress by the time I get out.” When I walked back over to the studio area 15 minutes later Mark handed me a guitar and said, “We’re in A. This is your only take.” This is the result of our 20 minute songwriting effort.
One of the easiest songs we’ve ever written as a band, lyrically, is Good Times, Baby (Good Times). Rob was down by me, visiting, doing some session work. We took a break and wandered over to a free concert being held at a park near by. A band was playing some good southern rock blues music. As we sat on lawn chairs watching the band, Rob pulled out his blackberry, opened a text editor, tapped out the first line, and handed it to me. I took one look, thought a moment, then wrote the next line and handed it back. Back and forth the blackberry went, and line by line we wrote the song. I think it took us about 20 minutes. And it’s one of my favorite songs we’ve ever done.