All Along

This is a big one. Potentially the catchiest real song I’ve ever written, All Along is a basic pop number which clocks in at a truly absurd 5 minutes 5 seconds. A big reason for this is the completely unnecessary 8 bars of filler at the end of each chorus. I can imagine I might have made a mistake with the length of the verse when recording the guitar, and then just decided to make all other instruments follow suit, rather than going to the huge effort of rerecording the take.

It’s interesting listening to it now, being absolutely aware that All Along is a pop song. I reckon I was in denial at the time, which might explain why I haven’t adhered to the typical 3.5 minute length limit for this genre. The song uses the 1-5-6-4 chord sequence, for god’s sake, the one made infamous by this video:

It’s pretty much impossible to write a melody which isn’t catchy over those chords, and All Along is no exception, especially because it’s so long you probably know the whole thing off by heart by the time it finishes.

In 2008 I was very much not listening to music that sounds like this, and the song was never really meant to exist in this state. I wrote it on a holiday in the US, and I originally conceived it as a kind of shiny happy sarcastic bitter number, with the music acting as a sickly backdrop to the lyrics, which repeated:

‘And it’s what I’ve been thinking all along,
You can’t survive without me, if I’m gone’

I was halfway through recording a demo when I realised it was going to upset my girlfriend. This genuinely happened. I changed the lyrics so that the second chorus would resolve all issues and create harmony for everyone everywhere:

‘And it’s what I’ve been thinking all along,
I can’t survive without you, if you’re gone’

ENTER LOVE SONG

Then came some bland verses about living and flying, and a bit of picked electric guitar in the 3rd verse that is EXACTLY the same as this: (I honestly don’t think I meant to copy it, I was shocked when I heard the song again later and realised what I’d done.)

But one line remained the same: ‘And I don’t know why I’m feeling so heavy’.

Sounds a bit like happy. But it just isn’t. ‘Heavy’ is not a word you associate with feelings of deep love. Your heart is not ‘heavy’ with love. It’s ‘heavy’ with dread. With regret. Sorrow. The best connotation it can possibly have is probably one to do with reluctance. ‘It is with a heavy heart that I deliver this message.’ ‘It is with a heavy heart that I break up with you.’

The sad truth is that my relationship with this girlfriend was on its way out, and I knew deep down that the fact I had thought I needed to change those lyrics was a sign itself. But the word ‘heavy’ remained – a slightly disconcerting pearl within a happy and over-sized clam.

The song wasn’t fully recorded until a year or two after it was written. Which is maybe why there’s a syncopated guitar riff in the last chorus which is actually a bit good. Also, there’s one moment in the song that I’ve always loved. It’s as I go into the second chorus:

‘We’ll find a way, to meet some daaayyy’

Is it just me or do I sing ‘daaay’ quite nicely? It’s almost like I gathered up the vocal chords and said look guys, we may never sing vibrato again, but just for this second, can you give me a tiny bit of it at the end of this word? Can you hear it? It’s subtle I know.

Anyway, terribly sung the rest of the time, as usual.

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