Okay fellow confessioners, let me tell you what’s currently on my mind. I have a song. It is a great song. It has been years in the making. It is catchy, intelligent, powerful and is just a really epic song. It was started so long ago that musical genres have come and gone since I laid down the first beats. The song has eaten emo and spat out its quivering soul. It devoured the Arctic Monkeys for breakfast and still had room for 3 Shredded Wheat! This song is seriously good. But here’s the problem… it is my ‘unsingable’ ™ song. So that is my question… does every singer/band have their own ‘unsingable’ ™ song???
Here’s how it goes… Every couple of months I load this particular song up in my studio and take a stab at singing it. And every time without fail I end up in a sweaty heap on the floor with a throat like sandpaper. This song beats me! It knows my weaknesses and pounds the living daylights out of me. But I wrote it!!! It’s all my fault! It shouldn’t be difficult, it’s just a song. Maybe it’s the knowledge that if I get it right – this song will probably be the best song on the album. Hmmm. No, I don’t buy into that at all. The problem is more likely the sheer speed the lyrics have to be sung at and the lack of gaps for breath! I just can’t get any air when I’m singing this thing. I think I need to enter one of those reality shows… Operastar UK; Britain’s got no talent; Pop star, you know the sort of thing! They always seem to have breathing exercises for the troops.
Do you know what makes it even worse? The fact that when I’m not actually recording, I can sing it perfectly. Now this really winds me up. No word of a lie, when that red light isn’t on – it’s like I’m a Jeff Buckley or a Thom Yorke. With the red light on however I’m more like Worzel Gummidge! (google it). Come on… be honest now… do any of you musicians/singers out there have this very same problem? Come on… there must be one of you??? Just raise a hand. No, raise your fist and yell!
Then to cap it all off, I actually do have a vocal take already on the track. It was the ‘guide vocal’. Let me explain a guide vocal to those of you not on the ‘in the know’ bus. A guide vocal is when the singer of the band sings the song in the studio just so that there is a version of the vocals caught on tape. This then allows the other band members to know where they are in the song and generally makes everything a little easier for all concerned. Then, at a later time, the singer re-records the vocals properly. Hence you have a pristine final version which usually has no resemblance to the pitchy, rushed, sung whilst nursing a hangover ‘guide vocal’ take.
So… I have actually sung this damn song through before – and it sounds pretty good. But I just want to make it great. Make it perfect. But I’m currently stuck with the guide vocal. And I can’t move on. Nothing comes close to the bleedin’ guide vocal! Arrrghhhh. Perhaps I could actually get a Girl Guide to sing the guide vocal. Maybe that would help? Or maybe just having a guide dog in the studio while I try and catch the perfect vocal take? Seriously, this would be like Van Gogh cleaning his brushes on an old rag – and then realising that the paint on the rag has formed the most beautiful image. An image he struggles to recapture for real on a canvas… but can never quite attain it. Would it drive him mad? Mad enough to remove an ear? In fact, maybe that’s what happened. Hmmmm, I should be a history teacher!!!
So I’m sitting here typing this… in a pool of sweat. The song is laughing at me. And it’s such a great song. I know it, and the song knows it. And this has been going on for years! This song sits on the studio hard drive. Just sits there. I’m getting older, and all the while the song is sitting there chuckling. If the song had a face it would have a constant smirk! I’m going about my everyday life getting older, writing other songs – but never completely moving on because this song is sitting in the wings… in the shadows… haunting me! If I hadn’t already named this song I would be tempted to call it “Dorian Gray”. In fact, I may well just do that anyway. I will keep coming back to this song because it has a hook in me. I cannot escape it. I know it is a classic song. But so far it’s a classic song that not another soul in the world has ever heard. And there is the argument that says that perhaps that is the way it should stay. A lost song. A lost soul.