Blitch Bango

Leaving Song Notes

As is customary, this page contains the notes I collected while making the Leaving EP, to give you, the listener, information behind the songs and the madness.

Once again, I decided to release this purely over the internet, as musical shareware, and with a "Some Rights Reserved" copyright tag.

I started the Leaving EP pretty much right after I released the You Said She Said CD. I had always intended the release after You Said She Said to be an internet only EP, similar to Broken World. However, the approach was much different. All the songs in Broken World were written around a theme specifically for that release; the same cannot be said about Leaving.

Most of the songs for Leaving were songs in my years-old back catalog of things I liked but didn't know what to do with. They either did not fit the lyrical theme of any previous release, or did not fit musically. While perusing through my back catalog, I noticed a few songs had one element in common: they were about leaving. As such, Leaving was born.

Though I liked the songs, there were elements of each that bothered me. In some instances, I was having trouble with completing arrangements; on others, I didn't feel that the final arrangement fit my style anymore - they were OK when I originally arranged them eons ago, but I felt they could be arranged much better now. In some instances, there were great little pieces buried in the song, and other little things irritating me.

What follows is a play-by-play account of the mutations into the final song versions you hear.

"I'm Leaving" - This was a song written right after leaving the 'Tones but before "Hello Marie" (and no, it's not a scathing indictment about leaving the 'Tones, none of these songs are). The demo, a one guitar piece written some time before, was a very slow repetition of a guitar riff. This was used as the basis for the original song arrangement, a fast acoustic guitar based folk-rock song. The original arrangement had two guitar solos, an electric drone during the middle break, and an extended acoustic solo to close out the song. The original drum beat didn't sit well with me over time and was one of the first things I decided to change. Though I tried to do this and keep the original guitar arrangement, it wasn't working out. I even tried to change the bass line to make the drums fit but that was a bad idea also. After frustrating over this for a couple days, I decided to completely re-arrange the song. First, I went through my collection of drum loops to find something I liked, and selected a mellow bossa-nova beat to purposely distance myself from the original rock beat. I recorded the rhythm guitar using the same chord progression as the orignal song, but picked, instead of strummed. On this I added the bass part remaining relatively faithful to the bass line of the original arrangement. I re-recorded the drum loop for a slightly different drum sound. I had intended to keep the original guitar riff and the drone break solo but they no longer fit the song. Instead, I recorded an electric piano melody for the opening, break, and closing. I also arranged the left-hand piano piece to suggest a reggae rhythm and doubled this with acoustic guitar. I doubled the piano melody on vibes and flute, added some additional percussion, and a mellotron section at the end that vaguely suggests the drone guitar solo. Then I added the vocals also suggesting the original vocal melody. In the final mix, co-producer M. Tailor suggested I drop the middle break piano melody to make the break more comtemplative. The only thing the song retained from its original arrangement are hints of the vocal melody and bass line and the original chord progression.

"She's Leaving" - This is the oldest song in the collection, at least in its original form, and the second in the collection I re-arranged. Originally this was written as a solo demo, then performed as a band piece when I was in the 'Tones. In it's original incarnation, it was a moderately slow tempo song in 3/4 time, and though unintentional, it sounded as close to a pirate sea chanty as I could probably muster (irritation #1). The song had a melody guitar winding its way through the song accentuating the stein-slinging sea chanty rhythm (irritation #2), and a solo that was too close to a Journey sound for comfort (irritation #3). All this would seem OK for a song with silly lyrics to begin with, but I don't like releasing music that irritates me (at least, it shouldn't irritate me at the time I release it). The first thing I dumped during the re-arrangement was the 3/4 time to clear up irritation #1. Back to 4/4 time, I was trying to work out a rhythm pattern, and ended up with kind of a straight-ahead but slightly funky rock beat. Around this I re-arranged the melody guitar, the rhythm guitar, and the bass, purposely staying as far away from the original as possible though using the original chord progression. When I auditioned this arrangement for co-producer M. Tailor, she recommended I dump the drums and try a more latin beat. To try this on for size, I re-used the bossa-nova drum loop I previously used in "I'm Leaving", and layered some more percussive sounds on top. I found it fit the song suprisingly well and accentuated the existing guitar parts. I wasn't comfortable with re-using the same drum loop however, so I re-recorded a different bossa-influenced drum loop - different enough to distinguish it from "I'm Leaving" - and reduced the percussion part somewhat. After this I re-recorded the bass to better fit the new rhythm, and added the lead guitar, keys and strings. Note that the lead guitar line was originally written on the piano - I think this is the first time I played a lead guitar part that was written on piano. The chord progression and vocal melody are essentially unchanged from the original sea chanty.

"Hello Marie" - This song was written some time after I'm Leaving, and once considered for release on the Twilight CD (though it missed the cut early on in that CD development). Like "She's Leaving," this song was originally arranged in 3/4 time, though leaned more towards an Irish pub song than a pirate chanty. As originally arranged, the song had a loud strumming acoustic guitar and a piano melody repeated through the verses. Also, starting from the break and continuing through the song was a string arrangement that bounced around the stereo spectrum. The string arrangement was pretty cool, but had two problems: it muddied the song up, and was unmixable, at least to achieve the effect I was going for (it sounded pretty cool though if the other instruments were dropped and only the strings played). I liked the song in its original incarnation but the pub-song sound became a minor irritation once it was pointed out to me. I tried to work with the string arrangement to un-muddy it, and even tried the arrangement with other instruments (horns, vibes, etc.) replacing the strings. Nothing worked, so I decided to re-arrange it. I thought of two choices: keeping the 3/4 time and re-arranging completely, or changing the timing, and keeping elements of the arrangement. I decided to go the latter direction, and started out with a straight ahead drum beat. Then I tried to work in the original guitar and piano parts to the new beat, but that failed. I kept the drum beat, but added a sparser reggae/ska influenced guitar part. This still wasn't working so I scrapped all but the reggae guitar part, and started new work from there. Following the example of the previous two songs, I added a percussive, latin-influenced rhythm taken from a few loop samples fitted together. On this I added the bass. I was still trying to work in a piano part faithful to the original, but this wasn't working with the new beat, so I decided to scrap it and work with something sparser. I worked out the left-hand arrangement first. Then while trying to think of a melody for the right-hand part, I just randomly beat out sparse, simple chords, just to help me think. I liked the way this worked instead of a melody, and kept it, albeit arranged a bit more consistently. Then I wrote the solo break on piano and complemented it with a solo guitar. On top of this I added the island-influenced vibes in the solo break and final verse. Next came a rock-flavored beat on top to complement the percussion. Then I added the vocal, with the melody identical to the original arrangement, but worked to fit the new timing. Like the previous two songs, the chord progression and most of the vocal melody are nearly identical to the original arrangement.

"Gone" - This song was written specifically for this collection. The lyrics and music evolved separately - the lyrics were a sort of stream of consciousness thing I wrote during the recording of the previous songs. The music started out as a comtemplative piano piece, doubled on guitar, and with some synth pad and string drones behind it. I reworked the music a bit to make it more rhythmic for the lyrics. When I paired the lyrics (modified slightly to fit the chord structure) with the music, the song started taking on a more folky/bluesy feel. So I abandoned the arrangement, and re-recorded the guitar, accentuating the folkyness in the guitar rhythm and with the foot taps. I tried to add the synth pad sound behind this, but decided that the song would sound better with a harmonica that included elements of the original synth melody. Then I added the vocals.

"It's Leaving Time" - The music for this song was originally written during the making of You Said She Said, right before making Broken World. Originally, I had thought to use this as a sort of instrumental intro to the Broken World songs (it was originally called "Intro"). After dropping this idea, I thought I'd use it as an intro to the bonus track "Summertime Getaways" on You Said She Said. I eventually dumped this idea as well, ended up using the remixed Broken World tracks as bonus tracks on You Said She Said, and shoved this song aside. I pulled it out for this collection, thinking I would use it as-is, but with newly written lyrics and a vocal melody. Originally, it was a little under 45 seconds long, and had some interesting 3/4 time counterpoint guitars along with a 4/4 rhythm guitar, bass, fast bongoes, and four drum parts (three of them samples). After contemplating lyrics (originally titled "Depart", I wasn't satisfied keeping the length of the song at 45 seconds, and decided to make it longer. After lengthening the song by splicing in already-recorded tracks, I then decided the song tempo was too slow. I sped the tempo up, and then decided that the 3/4 counterpoint guitars no longer worked at the faster speed. So, I re-recorded new supporting guitar parts (those at the stereo spectrum extremes), added some additional bongo and conga samples (also at the stereo extremes). I then added a keyboard part, and some simple strings. I also spliced on an outtro guitar part, to add some variety. After auditioning this creation next to the previous songs mentioned, I discovered that the feel of the song was too different from the others. To remedy this, I stripped out three of the four (sampled) drum parts, and re-recorded the main drum part with a lighter rim-click touch. I then re-recorded the chrous drum part, similar to one of the sampled parts, and left it at two drum parts. Before this, however, I scrapped the "Depart" lyrics, and wrote entirely new lyrics during the initial audition. Finally, I recorded the vocals from the new lyrics. The song includes just the bass and fast bongoes from the original recording, a re-recorded version of the main guitar part, and hints of the original drum parts. The rest was arranged just for this version.

General notes: In this collection, I found myself once again gravitating towards drum samples as a creative aid, even though I ended up re-recording most of the sampled parts myself. I also found myself gravitating towards more exotic rhythms, similar to what I did with "Black Sheep" on Broken World. And once again, I decided to release this purely over the internet, as musical shareware, and with a "Some Rights Reserved" copyright tag. The song order I present on this website, while unnecessary for downloadable songs, was chosen to be basically the way I would have presented it on a CD.


Liner Notes:

All songs written by B. Mathis, M. A. Tailor

Produced by B. Mathis