I've been watching with great interest the Occupy Wall Street movement. I've been irked in particular by the "media" coverage I have not seen, which contrasts with the quite newsworthy activities unfolding through the eyes of YouTube postings, and grassroots Tweetcasting through social media. The spirit of these Occupations seems to be peaceful, but aggressive. That aggression -- and courage -- is very inspiring.
Here's my take: In the United States, our system of term limits and political service, which was intended to bring about peaceful, regular revolution, has dramatically changed in recent years. The act of voting for some positions has become more of a corporate game of cards behind the scenes. At this time, at this moment, coming out of a very low place emotionally, a group of common people have determined that through action, and courage, they can make a difference -- as long as they don't give up, they don't go home, and they don't walk away.
As a songwriter, I wanted to honor that spirit. I spent a few hours on Saturday October 15th creating a song called "I Will Not Leave". I started out with one line:
"I will not leave"
I wrote that on a Post-It note. I proceded to write other simple lines and a chorus and verses emerged. While I normally write in my special spiral notebook, I didn't want to forget the words and I grabbed what was nearby. It also came in handy when I got around to recording it (you'll see Post-It notes on my desk in a photo I've attached to this post -- that's what I used to read the words when I sang the song).
I tinkered around on the piano and decided that much like the protestors, who are a positive, peaceful bunch, but way beyond serious in their positions, I too would do the same in the structure of the music. To do this, I start out with the verses being a simple progression around A Major -- first A Major Sus 4, then A Major, then A Major Sus 2. I repeat that. It is a positive and peaceful and spiritually honest. Then I go into an uplifted progression of F# Sus 4 / G / E / A as I make the case that the voice is not going anywhere any time soon. I end the chorus on Am / Fm / D / A. That drop into minor really underscores the seriousness of the Occupy movement, which is that this voice against tyranny will not quiet down, and it's at that moment that the lyrics say very simply "I will not leave / You will listen to me"
I used Logic Studio to record the piano part, and coming off of seeing The Low Anthem play at the Empty Bottle in Chicago recently, I decided to add a Clarinet to the instrumentation. I recorded three vocal tracks, and then added some random "spiritual" sounding percussion at odd moments to add some interest to the song and texture I thought it needed. I then played with reverb on the mix, and tried to come up with a decent bounce to post online. Since I am using Bandcamp.com to release my album "Follow the River Bend" in November, I decided to post this song to that website and make it free for download. It will not be on the album since selling the song is not my intention or desire.
I may post it the song to YouTube and have it work as a soundtrack to showcase photos and images from the Occupy movement that the mainstream media refuses to show or highlight as newsworthy.
You can hear the song in full here and also see the lyrics:
I really see it as a work in progress, but it is always great to spend a few hours writing songs about important things!