• Figs and thistles
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  • Charlie
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Figs and thistles
on: January 03, 2020, 07:05:30
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 07:08:23 by Charlie »
Yesterday evening I watched the HBO documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts which was broadcasted on Belgium television. Fonda is an actress I have admired all along her career for her incredible political stamina and perseverance in a relentless fight for the right cause. The documentary speaks volumes. At the very end of it she shares heartfelt compassion for her mother who suffered, as she discovered only at a very late stage, from bipolar disorder. It made me think of a song I wrote for a friend. Some of you might know it.

Figs and thistles

You sing like a blackbird, baby
You dance like a butterfly
And fragile as you may be
No mountain seems too high
You climb the rocks upon your path
You hang on to each cliff
And like the dayfly during spring
Such is the life you live

But sometimes it is bitter gloom
that reigns inside your head
when manic turns to panic
and any smile drops dead
when shackled in the dark
rock bottom down your soul
life is fearsome spiralling
out of control.

Music makes your heart rock
When life seems on a roll
But like between two lovers
You're torn between two poles
Your candle burns at both ends;
It will not last all night;
But ah, your foes, and oh, your friends -
It gives a lovely light!

And know my love when bitter gloom
reigns inside your head
when manic turns to panic
and any smile drops dead
when you're shackled in the dark
rock bottom down the pit
and life is fearsome spiralling
a candle can be lit.

For... you sing like a blackbird, baby
You dance like a butterfly
And fragile as you may be
No mountain is too high
As fragile as you may be
No mountain is too high ...

If you dig it, do it. If you dig it a lot, do it twice (Jim Croce).


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #1 on: January 03, 2020, 12:02:00
Yes, really, it’s a fantastic piece of craftsmanship I think.
You don’t have to be a murderer to write a murder story but empathy (like you so beautifully did here) will take you along routes you never dreamed possible.

What a deeply loving and human story it is!

And a beautiful song to go with it. What a way to kick off the new year.
Do I hear the small but elegant crowd shout ‘more, more’? I truly believe I do.
Kind regards, Gus


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #2 on: January 03, 2020, 14:30:57
Beautiful song...and well produced, @Charlie !
"The main thing is to have a gutsy approach....but use your head." Julia Child

 "In a world of robotic conformity, the only originality left in music is the imperfections" Eric Craptone

"Special thanks to Steve Gleason for making me who I am today." Leonard Scaper

Lenny's Tunes: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=540680

https://soundcloud.com/vincentgleason


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #3 on: January 03, 2020, 15:55:03
Yes, really, it’s a fantastic piece of craftsmanship I think.
You don’t have to be a murderer to write a murder story but empathy (like you so beautifully did here) will take you along routes you never dreamed possible.

What a deeply loving and human story it is!

And a beautiful song to go with it. What a way to kick off the new year.
Do I hear the small but elegant crowd shout ‘more, more’? I truly believe I do.
Kind regards, Gus

Oh Gush, you make me blush!  ::heart::


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #4 on: January 03, 2020, 17:35:17
hi @Charlie , that is very nice  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: the changes in the music going from the manic side to the other side ("when the manic turns to panic ") and the way you make the image change along with it in the video:  Great ! ::thumb:: ::thumb:: ::thumb:: ::thumb:: ::thumb::
me, myself, and Pie


Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #5 on: January 03, 2020, 18:02:54
@Charlie - This is a brilliant piece of songwriting! The way you crafted the words really struck me. It makes you stop and keep quiet and almost not breathe in order to listen closely to each word and soak in the heavy emotion residing in each line (almost like handling a fragile object). The melody is so beautiful and morphs to reflect the changes in the setting presented by the lyrics. And I cannot imagine a better vocal to deliver it. Wow! - it's perfect in every way :) Thanks so much for sharing it with us!
Rachel  ::Rachel::
https://.com/rachel_debattista


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #6 on: January 03, 2020, 21:59:11
@Leonard Scaper , @Dutchbeat  and @Rachel_D
Thank you all three so much for your kind comments. The lyrics and the melody needed to be in harmony with eachother more than ever. My heart is really in this song and I am so happy that that came across.


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #7 on: January 04, 2020, 22:00:37
@Charlie great song, vocals, and delivery......I can hear James Taylor and Jim Croce in your voice. Mahalo for posting.


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #8 on: January 05, 2020, 09:25:25
Wow. They don't make songs like this anymore, do they? Classic writing and performance. Perhaps the vocals are just a tad too upfront, I'd have liked to hear just a little more of that exquisite guitars.  Well done indeed!
Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart
My land's only borders lie around my heart


Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #9 on: January 05, 2020, 23:16:23
Such an interesting mix of genres.  Of course, there's a folk song feel to things, but your playing, harmonic choices and voicings on the guitar betray a more classical background to my ear.  The lyric is captivating and the overall result is lovely.

There just one place where your choice of notes in the strings seems off to my ear.  I only point this out because your voice-leading is otherwise pretty classically "correct," so these kind of outliers really stand out. At 2:08 you play a B minor chord, while the strings play an E.  All is fine if this suspension resolves to a D WHILE you're playing the B minor, but you let it hang (dramatically) and only resolve to a D during the following F# major chord. It's pretty hairy there and  it really sticks out.

I think the production is just fine.  If you're looking to up your game - consider that your string patch, while very nice, is very limited with its single articulation, and starts to become fake sounding very quickly no matter how expertly you play it. There are many ways to bring a little more life and "real-ness"to them.  One, which may sound crazy but it works is to get a friend who plays violin (or viola in this case) to lay down one or two tracks along with them. Another is to use the ADSR on your synth to create a different attack and decay for choice notes here and there.  Obviously, a more expensive way is to purchase a string library, but these are becoming more and more affordable and I'm guessing they could be useful for other songs you write.

All in all, very enjoyable.  Congrats on a really nice song.


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #10 on: January 06, 2020, 16:00:37
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 16:03:58 by Charlie »
Wow. They don't make songs like this anymore, do they? Classic writing and performance. Perhaps the vocals are just a tad too upfront, I'd have liked to hear just a little more of that exquisite guitars.  Well done indeed!

Thanks @Jambrains , your comment makes sense. It's the mixing (like in fact all other aspects of the song writing and recording process) which never seems final. Yes, I could improve here. In my most recent recording (Love is strange) I intentially tried to give the guitar track 'that tad' more prominence.


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Re: Figs and thistles
Reply #11 on: January 06, 2020, 16:20:43
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 16:22:47 by Charlie »
Such an interesting mix of genres.  Of course, there's a folk song feel to things, but your playing, harmonic choices and voicings on the guitar betray a more classical background to my ear.  The lyric is captivating and the overall result is lovely.

There just one place where your choice of notes in the strings seems off to my ear.  I only point this out because your voice-leading is otherwise pretty classically "correct," so these kind of outliers really stand out. At 2:08 you play a B minor chord, while the strings play an E.  All is fine if this suspension resolves to a D WHILE you're playing the B minor, but you let it hang (dramatically) and only resolve to a D during the following F# major chord. It's pretty hairy there and  it really sticks out.

I think the production is just fine.  If you're looking to up your game - consider that your string patch, while very nice, is very limited with its single articulation, and starts to become fake sounding very quickly no matter how expertly you play it. There are many ways to bring a little more life and "real-ness"to them.  One, which may sound crazy but it works is to get a friend who plays violin (or viola in this case) to lay down one or two tracks along with them. Another is to use the ADSR on your synth to create a different attack and decay for choice notes here and there.  Obviously, a more expensive way is to purchase a string library, but these are becoming more and more affordable and I'm guessing they could be useful for other songs you write.

All in all, very enjoyable.  Congrats on a really nice song.

Really appreciate your thoughtful comments, @M57 . I haven't got time to get back to 'the drawing table' to see if I could find a better solution in the chord/string progression you mentioned (which btw I use twice in the song). Your remarks about my strings touch certainly the right chord. They need more life! I have to get that better. Only recently I bought StringWerk which gives more realistic string patches than the ones used in this song but my skills in using that library are still underdeveloped. Work ahead.