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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Attic: story of a ghost story... (by Mikey)

So there I was, listening to music; it must have been Richard Thompson... a haunting ghost song, really eerie and atmospheric. He played some chord change and I thought "wow, that's cool - that gives me an idea..." That's the thing about great music: it gets my creative mind going, and I can see, hear, and feel music just coming from everywhere... it grows and grows... (creativity begets creativity, perhaps?)
So I pulled the guitar out and started noodling around. I came up with some musical ideas that popped into my head. I liked some of them, and started stringing them together. By the time I was done, I had the main theme, chord progressions, and song structure. It bore little or no resemblance to the RT song - that was just a launching pad for an idea, which grew into something else. However, there was an haunting quality that lingered.
I recorded the guitar part for the band to listen to. But I had no lyrics.
I tried writing something, but all I could write about was ghosts. Of course, the RT song was called Ghosts in the Wind. Hard to get away from that, especially with the minor key and the eerie theme. So I set the song aside for awhile.
A couple weeks later, I started noodling around with some lyrics about a girl who wore a necklace from an abusive boyfriend, and the chain around her neck became a metaphor for her situation. I expanded on that, with a young man who wears his alliances on his sleeve, and then eventually my own dogma (that which at first is liberating can eventually become restrictive); all being variations of a "chain around the neck." Interesting idea, but it wasn't flowing right, and the lyrics just weren't feeling right for that song.
Still, I had the temptation to write some ghost story lyrics. but I didn't want to do the obvious, especially since that was the theme of the song that had started all this.
Scotte offered to take a shot at it, and so I gave him the lyrics I had and the recording - without ever referring him to the RT song. Scotte wrote a beautifully haunting set of lyrics, which became the words for The Attic.
JJ came up with an even eerier guitar line, that has a life all its own. And Gary's percussion and sound effects just put it over the top, really brought it to life.
What is it?
A ghost story.
I guess the music just says "ghost story..." and it wasn't just me...
And here's the kicker... when we were in the studio recording this song, my guitar and JJ's guitar started this 'sympathetic harmonic vibration' thing going back and forth between the two guitars, it was like two ghosts singing to each other... it was so cool, and we looked at each other like "WHOA. Don't stop, just let it happen!"
We have a saying in the band: "Let the song decide." And this one did.

(thanks to Megan Ratchford for getting me thinking about the story...)

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