Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Music Story: All of the Love (repost)


All of the Love


Current mood:mellow
All of the Love

Hello again, thought I'd post a slower song on the page as we've had the anthemic numbers up for quite a while now. As I've been rambling on about the process and reasons behind all the other songs I've posted, I thought I'd do the same for All of the Love.

This was the centre of the album for a long long time. I considered it the best song, my most moving piece right up until I wrote Embrace (which came only after Isabelle and I considered the record complete). The original idea came out of an improvised piano idea, alone in the basement, just messing around, trying out sounds and plugins, attempting to come up with something that sounded real. I think I was obsessed with compression on pianos, the sound Sigur Ros makes so beautifully, so I'm pretty sure the virtual piano was smacked to death when I first played it. I put the improvisation away for a while until one night in the July of 2005 when Isabelle and I had another music night and brought it out for her to listen to. Thankfully she liked it and suggested we try to add to it.

That second night when we were together, the song proper was born. I don't think either of us knew where the lyric was coming from or what we were singing about at first, but the lyric slowly took shape. I think it was when I started singing "All of the Love" over and over that we both thought there was something to the idea. After that the verses started taking shape and it became a bit more clear what the song was actually going to be about. Earlier that year one of Isabelle's good friends had passed away. It occurred while she was in England, visiting me during the recording of The Upper Room cd. I'd been over for a full month already and she had come for a visit at Christmas. On the 2nd of January we got a call that our friend Jordan had succumbed to Cystic Fibrosis. The death made its impact on us, though I'll confess it was rather devastating to Isabelle. I think the intent of the lyric manifested itself all in one line: All of the Love in the world "can't bring you back." Those four words, can't bring you back, seemed to indicate what we were writing about, and who.

So from that initial idea night we made rapid progress. The next evening we worked on it, we smoothed out the lyric to make the story more complete and I began layering a ton of backing vocals. I spent eleven hours singing layer upon layer of "Love, love love" etc. in about six different ranges and harmonies. In the end I would record eight good tracks singing each line, do a bounce and then add another part. By my estimation there are somewhere close to 64 vocal parts just in the final chorus alone. Kept it up until almost six in the morning, when my throat finally packed it in no matter how much water I'd consumed - along with a few other beverages. The chorus sounded really thick, the vocal arrangement was rather choir like and pretty much covered every note in each chord with suspensions, passing tones and counterpoint. One day I'm going to make a mix of just the vocals and the orchestral sampled instruments for posterity's sake. It's the closest to a Brian Wilson type of production I've ever come.

The instruments were easy, I just kept adding more and more parts until there were simply too many. Hidden away underneath are orchestral strings and horns, synthesized sounds, electric guitars and mallet instruments. The original piano stayed on there until we went into Mushroom to track the drums. Jonas Fairly played his parts on the vintage Ludwig kit in three takes. I believe I simply chose the first or second one, they just felt perfect (the third take sounded as though he was thinking too much). At the end of the second night we put a pair of U87's on the Yamaha C7 grand piano and I replayed the piano part. Isabelle was sitting in the room with me as I performed it and if you listen closely you might just hear a little shuffle in the background of the opening passage where I was making faces waiting to come in. It's a strange thing to feel so close to one's music where even the mistakes seem charming, but that's how this record was made. Every noise was considered important unless it distracted from the feel or sounded plain wrong.

The bass and guitars were pretty simple to do, especially the bass. That was one take, no punch ins, just big whole notes and lots of sustain. The guitars were a little different. They consist of parts from the original demo, and new sections added after the arrangement neared completion. The absolute hardest aspect of the recording was the lead vocal. I'm still a little wary of it, always waiting to cringe at certain lines. I can't even count how many attempts I made at getting to the final version; it must number more than a hundred. A bit depressing really. However, the version on the album is there after much deliberation and effort. I don't think it's my strongest vocal by any stretch, I just wasn't in command of my voice enough to do any better! The real challenge was to capture the fragility of the lyric and then sing the part without sounding totally crap. Getting the balance between performance and vulnerability, trying to keep the pitch and then transition into the louder final chorus proved quite the challenge. I think it works now, but perhaps a few of you will let me know differently? Isabelle had the easy job of just adding in a few spotlight moments, a couple harmonies and putting her voice into the mix of the massive chorus harmonies. We considered redoing her parts later on, in attempt to add more of her to the mix, but really, it seemed complete as it was and now she gets to sing a lot of harmonies when we do it live now!

By them time we finished the lyrics the song encompassed a great deal more than just a tribute to our friend. I'd envisioned pretty much everyone who'd ever passed away, from Callan, my high school friend and the singer in my first band, my father, Isabelle's grandfather, as well as Jordan, but it became more ambiguous as to whether it was about those who died, or those who survived? It depends on perspective really, which is what makes the song more interesting to us.

The lyrics are:

The afternoon was spent, staring at the skyline
The sun has set on your dreams tonight
We know you're faced with a problem
You're given life and then it's taken

All of the love, all of the love,
All of the love, the love in the world
All of the love , all of the love,
All of the love, the love in the world

Can't bring you back, (can't bring you back) to us
In these times we like to lean on other answers (It makes it easy)
It makes it easy to keep on breathing (do you decide)
We're gone too soon but when is a good time?

All of the love, all of the love,
All of the love, the love in the world
All of the love , all of the love,
All of the love, the love in the world

Can't bring you back to us
Can't bring you back to us
Can't bring you back to us
Can't bring you back to us

All of the love, all of the love, all of the love, the love in the world
All of the love, the love in the world, all of the love can't bring you back

Not really a pop song you could say. But it was cathartic. At one point I remember sampling a little moment in the fade out, where the backing vocals were looping into a delay and sounded like monks in a cathedral. So I copied that and flew it into the intro of the song. In the album sequence you hear them at the very end of All Together, right before the introductory piano of All of the Love. Sets the mood.

If you take the time to watch the time lapse video we made for this song, you'll see flashes of people in each of the choruses. One is my father, another is Isabelle's granddad, another still is Callan and right at the climax of the song there are two images of Jordan that appear one after another. It's maybe a bit heavy handed but seemed a nice tribute to those people we loved and are lost to us now.

That's it for today, we're starting to rehearse again after taking way too much time off to work and make some money! Got to get back on stage and performing, life seems so dull other wise.

Thanks for reading, hope you're all happy and healthy! Cheers,

Mark   



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