I thought it would be interesting to share a bit of the songwriting processes and the evolution of a song. Songwriting for me usually takes a solid chunk of time in solitude working things through and developing ideas. Sometimes though, the main idea or the core of song comes in one big swoop. I still have to put in the time to figure out how to make it work to my satisfaction, and a song usually evolves over time.
I thought it would be interesting to share some recordings I have that capture the evolution of my song “Conduit.” I happened to be sitting around on an idle weekend day when the musical core for Conduit came to me. I immediately made a make shift recording to get the idea down. Using the built in microphone on my MacBook and some simple editing in Garage Band, I captured this early sketch as the melody came to me. Here it is:
Next came the lyrics. Here is a fairly embarrassing early live recording of me first messing around on the tune with some Casual Smokers. I forgot most of the lyrics and make some obnoxious noises, but the musicians playing with me do some pretty cool stuff. On this track, Faye Bontje lays down some amazing violin while Ely Rosenblum plays bass, Nick Everett plays percussion/glockenspiel while I sing, play guitar, and mess around on my melodica.
Then came performance! This is a live recording of one of the first times the song was played in front of an audience. There was still a lot of room for tightening things up, and some of the words have undergone minor changes, but this is the first recording of a mostly “finished” version of the song. This was released on a live EP called Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers in 2009, and this track was selected as a CBC Radio3 track-of-the-day.
At last, this is the song’s present form on this recording from my latest release, In the Time of the Great Remembering, released October 20, 2011.
Of course, the song continues to evolve, and the live version is pretty different. It’s all about call and response when we do it live. You’ll have to come to a show to hear the latest evolution and contribute to it!