Coming up with an idea for a song can be totally random.
Although sometimes I might be fired up with a concept, passion or vision, many times it’s the smallest of things that set me off. From the seed of an idea, the song often takes on a life of its own, leading in a surprising direction far away from its starting point. I find it best to go with the flow and note down every idea, no matter how unlikely or crazy, and leave the shaping process for another day. In general my advice is: JUST START AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.
Here are some of the seeds for the songs on the new fleaBITE album (in no particular order):
DON’T SIT UNDER THE POO TREE – I was in conversation with a friend when he referred to a particular tree that was a mecca for birds in Wellington. He called it the Poo Tree. I was amazed since I had always called it the same name, and together we wondered what made this tree so special to sparrows and city birds. It turned into a down home singalong on the porch, complete with granny, and rude sound effects.
FORGET ME NOT – a cousin came all the way from Portugal to New Zealand for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He shouted me a ticket to the Tonga vs France game (where underdogs Tonga beat the favourite France). It was the first time I had been to the stadium, and my cousin and I Mexican-waved with the best of them, and he explained the finer points of the game. He had to return to Portugal because of ill health, and I wrote this song thinking of him.
DOGS’ DAY OUT – This grew from a desire to write a 3 chord (ukulele) thrash in the same vein as the Beatles’ Twist and Shout’, or ‘La Bamba’. There are many songs that follow this pattern. The story developed as I went along.
ROOTS – a huge macrocarpa tree next to me on the hill was being loudly dismembered by chainsaw over a week. It got me thinking about the size of the roots needed to support a tree that size. And led to a light hearted look at family trees (and a ‘rootsy’ backing track)
SPIDER – I had been doing some work on the outside of my house, and as I sanded and scraped I got to know the various insects that shared my home. I was particularly taken with a species of spider I had never seen before. Beautifully camouflaged, the (female?) spider patiently guarded its little woven nest.
YOU MAKE ME LAUGH –as a child I always enjoyed the song ‘The Laughing Policeman’. This turned into a nonsense track that will probably drive parents crazy. It may be cathartic.
THE WIND AND THE RAIN – I live in Wellington. I don’t think any more needs to be said.