The Making of a Song - 'Broken Year' (Songwriting)
"Broken Year" was written in 2016 after I ended an eight month avoidant relationship. It was performed many times by The BeeKeepers and always received a positive response. Then in 2020, Mandy and I finally decided to record the song with plans to release it in January 2021, because in many ways 2020 felt like a "Broken Year" as well.
After the lyrics to "Broken Year" were written (See Post 1), I found the melody for the verses and the chorus. This is always my process - lyrics first, then the music. If I love it, I keep it. If I don't love it, I let it go or revisit it at a later date.
After I finished the song, I handed it over to Mandy via a rough version that I sang into my iPhone! Mandy knows my vocal limitations and she is able to hear what I'm trying to do (thank God). Mandy worked with the material, recorded a draft version, and sent it back to me to see if she captured what I was looking for. Hearing Mandy sing one of my songs for the first time is always thrilling for me.
Mandy is the main vocalist on "Broken Year"; she is also a co-writer and arranger.
When Mandy and I finally decided to record "Broken Year", I knew it needed a bridge section to make it more dynamic. Once again, I wrote the lyrics. I had several basic music ideas for the bridge section, but it was Mandy who made the music in the bridge section extra interesting
For the arrangement, I always start with guitar chords and bass. During one of our rehearsals, Mandy introduced a Mandolin part that became central to the song. In this draft below, we started to add a fiddle part, but we will probably have the fiddle player improv their own ideas.
Normally, I would have whatever band I am in record the song, but this time I am using studio musicians.
My next post: Meet the amazing studio guitarist on "Broken Year!"