February 8, 2008

New Song: This Ain't Me

Yesterday I got a 1st draft of a new song, tentatively titled "This Ain't Me." The way it came together taught me the value of keeping an open mind when writing songs.

Several months ago, I had an idea for a funny song, called "I want to be an expatriate". The theme would be envy for the lifestyle of the expatriate writers (Hemingway, Henry Miller, etc.) living in Paris in the 1920's. The singer would be longing to leave his day job, go to Paris, hang out at sidewalk cafes and such. I did some writing, coming up with images of Paris and such, got a few lines together, then dropped it to work on "serious" songs.

Musically, the original ideas was just going to be a semi-ragtime, blues ditty, rolling chords, probably C - E7 - F - A7 or something similar. Nothing very original or creative.

But I decided, well, let's listen to my stored library of music ideas and see if I like something else better. I heard one that was a little funky strumming pattern, starting in C, going to F or Am, I forget. I thought, hmmm, maybe. Let's try it. I changed the second chord to D9 (or Dsus2, whatever you call it), and really liked it. But I thought, that has a melancholy sound to it, doesn't work for a funny song. But that's ok, I'll save it for another song. But then, for some reason, I said, let's just sing a few of these lines. One line, "This Ain't Me", really resonated with those chords and rhythm. I said, wow. But it totally changed the song. It didn't really change the theme of the song, but it changed the approach to the theme; it changed the mood. But since I want to write "serious" songs anyway, this worked out better!

The first verse would be about his current job/life, then subsequent verses would be about wanting to be living it up in Paris as an expatriate. But then I thought, maybe Paris should just be one of his dreams; why not come up with other places he'd rather be. So I changed the later verses.

Here's the first draft of the lyrics. The rhyme scheme isn't consistent from one verse to another, so I have to make some adjustments. And I'm sure I change other stuff as well. Our songwriter group meets tonight, I'll play it for them and get some feedback.

This Ain't Me
by Rob Roper 1st draft Feb 7, 2008

Sitting in a cube
Living in a Dilbert cartoon
But my mind is far away
sitting at a sidewalk cafe

Chorus:
But here I am
Working for The Man
Staring at a screen
But this ain't me
This ain't me.

Me is in Paris
Walking down the street
with Amelie
Me is on a train
on my way to Spain
or Italy

(Chorus)

Me is on skiis
flying on the snow
past the trees
Me is on stage
Singing songs of joy
and of pain

(Chorus)

3 comments:

Rob Roper said...

I've pretty much decided to change the last chorus to say "This is Me" instead of "This Ain't Me". I played an open mike and sang:

"So here I am
Playing my guitar
In this little bar
This is me
This is me."

But it breaks the rhyme scheme from the earlier chorus, and "am" no longer rhymes with anything. Maybe something like:

"So here I am
Playing in a band
Can you see?
This is me
This is me."

Except I'm not in a band right now, and if I play solo, that might sound weird. Maybe:

"So here I am
Playing for my fans
Can you see?
This is me
This is me."

I also think it could use a bridge, to make the transition to the last chorus.

-Rob

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob,

I like this one a lot...it is my favorite of all your songs...which probably means no one else will like it...so you are screwed. Ha!

Not sure I would change it to "This is me" at that the end...kind of like it how it is in the demo.

But what the hell do I know, I haven't written a complete song in years. (What a loser.)

Take care...you're livin' the life man!

I never did make it to Paris myself.

Kurt Loken (ae6uj@yahoo.com)

Rob Roper said...

Kurt! Good to hear from you. Thanks for the comments, hope you're doing well.

-Rob