For most of this year, and really since finishing last year's album, Dahltry Lane, I've had a bit of writer's block. To make matters worse, I haven't felt the desire to write new music. YouTube ukulele cover videos have been a lot of fun, but recently I've gotten a little bit burnt out on those as well. I've also been writing songs off and on for roughly 15 years now, so I have a back catalog that's just asking to be reinvented. Lastly, I've been really been trying to develop my skills on a growing collection of what I call "hipster" instruments including ukulele, mandolin, bongos, melodica, and a few other things. Whenever I pull out a guitar for a ukulele cover, it almost feels like cheating. All of these factors led me to start Un-Guitar'd.
Un-Guitar'd was going to originally just be an EP of about four or five songs from various points in my songwriting, but after recording three(almost 4) songs in one day, I figured I'd keep going and record a handful more. This will likely not end up as a full length album, and it's not necessarily meant to be listened to in a particular order, but it would be nice if after another week or two I have 8 or 9 total songs under that patrician on my Bandcamp page.
Basically, like many of my Kendallcast type projects, I'm doing whatever I feel like and as much of it as I want. Here are some notes about the first few songs.
Oh Oh Oh: This is a song I wrote when I was 20 about the grind of working at Waffle House by day and hitting every open mike possible by night. Particularly, it was about my feelings for a young lady who made a point to come out to many of the open mikes where I was performing, sometimes several times a week. The melody and music came about after someone advised me that most of the originals I was playing at the time did not take advantage of my very powerful voice. It's always been a favorite of mine, as it doesn't seem to need any more than guitar(or in this case ukulele) and vocals. One thing I noticed while recording this version is that over the years the tempo has become less steady than it was back then, speeding up and slowing down to follow the inflections in my voice. It's almost got a Broadway musical feel to it.
Imagination: I wrote this song in 2009 in the summer that I now realize could be seen as the time my band 7 Book Trilogy was at its best. It stemmed from a conversation where a girl I was talking to told me, "Someday you'll meet a girl with quirky tastes and an artsy lifestyle that's perfect for you." It's hard to believe that only a year later our lead guitar player would quit the band right before we recorded this song in a studio at Ohio University in what is still the best recording session I've ever been involved with. Also of note, this was the theme for my first podcast "Kitchen Finks," so it's probably the song with the most reach of anything I've written. I kept this recording pretty simple only adding a ukulele solo and doubling the vocals for a particular effect.
Still Without a Name: In 2007, just before running off to Los Angeles in a poorly thought out plan to become a rock star, I wrote a song called "It doesn't have a name yet" about a new girlfriend(the same one I dragged to Los Angeles). A few months later, in early 2008, she dumped me, I was back in Ohio, and sinking into a deeper vat of depression. Fortunately, these days this song and a few friends who got me through that time are all that I have left from that dark period. I thought about bringing this song back for Dahltry Lane, but realized that the recording I'd made with 7 Book Trilogy felt like the definitive version of the song. One nice thing about Un-Guitar'd is its nature of being an exercise allows me to reinvent songs that don't really need it. Combining the ukulele and vocals with an improvised harmonica line gives the song a different more raw, unrefined feel than it's previous version.
Finally, I accidentally typed up this blurb about the song whose recording isn't up yet. Oh well, here it is. It should be up on Bandcamp sometime this week.
A Heart Shaped Rock: Originally a 9 minute long jam, I wrote this when I was 16 for my band Whoever Shows Up. It was about how I dealt with breaking up with the most serious girlfriend I'd had up to that point. Just a few weeks before I broke up with her(was it August or September?), she gave me the titular rock in the shape of a heart, a souvenir from her family vacation. Being the self-obsessed songwriter that I was at the time, I immediately knew I'd use it as a metaphor for the end of our relationship. I remember sitting in my room in late December and just writing verse after verse of the song. Once we added an extended guitar and sax solo to the arrangement, the song was really long. I've performed various versions of the song solo over the years, usually combining or cutting a verse or two and shortening the solo section. The simplicity and mellow-drama of the lyrics and melody lend themselves well to the ukulele, and I added a melodica solo for good measure in this version.
Thanks for reading and checking out everything at KendallHalman.Bandcamp.com. Look for more songs in the next couple of weeks.