JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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• Nationwide songwriting. Literally, as this is the tale of a cross-continent collaboration.

Just before I left for a vacation over Christmas (see pic!), my friend and former Creative Director, Dave Tutin, who lives in New York, posted the beginnings of a song on his blog. He asked if anyone out there was game to help him finish it. I jumped at the chance. Dave and I have written one song together before, and for me, the experience was great on several levels, so I wanted to do it again.

Why did I enjoy it so much? First and foremost, Dave writes killer lyrics, so I felt very lucky to be trusted by him to put music to his words. But I also liked the focus I was allowed, in that all I had to do was write music. The lyrics were done, unless I needed a few more, which, it turned out, Dave could provide nearly instantly. Finally, it made the lonely process of composition a little less lonely. Even if we were only communicating over email, I did not feel as isolated as I normally do.

Now, if you're up on tech, you're no doubt aware of the myriad collaboration sites out there for musicians, but Dave and I didn't use any of them. In fact, we've been strictly email, which works, I think, because email was our favored mode of communication back when I worked for Dave as a copywriter. Here’s how the process went:

I “finished” the lyrics Dave started, emailed them off to him, my words gave him ideas for new words, he rewrote the tune, sent it back to me and… it was great. To read all the lyrics just scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Next up, music. I started on my Strat, but soon switched to the magical Maton, and a song emerged. I programmed some drums, recorded everything, croaked out a horrific vocal, and emailed Dave an MP3. While awaiting his response, I played the song for my wife, Catherine, and she, um, well, uh, sorta, you know, ahh… Then I heard back from Dave, who was nice, but I know Dave and I could tell that, like Catherine, he was pretty far from impressed by how the tune was sounding musically. In listening to the track again, I had to agree. The music had a sameness that made the song dull, a situation I've been attempting to remedy for a few weeks now (yes, I brought a guitar with me on vacation).

Stay tuned for the final result. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from version one of The Forgotten Place (beware, I'm singing, and I really do suck).

DAVE’S ORIGINAL “VERSE IN NEED OF A SONG”

THE FORGOTTEN PLACE

There's a need that burns like a forest fire
Scattering the casualties of my desire
From Hong Kong to London
From Bangkok to Rome
From New York to Rio
To a forgotten place called home

MY FIRST WHACK AT COMPLETING DAVE’S TUNE

THE FORGOTTEN PLACE

There's a need that burns
Like a forest fire
Scattering (s) the casualties (ashes)
of my desire

From Hong Kong to London
From Bangkok to Rome
From New York to Rio
To a forgotten place called home

But nothing grows
No, nothing works out
Because all the seeds scattered
Are just seeds of doubt

In Singapore cafés
Under cathedral domes
In hotels and airplanes
All forgotten like that place called home

(these four lines are from a poem of Dave’s that I thought would form a god middle 8)
There are some Jigsaw cities
where I may rest a while
Knowing I am safe
within the suburb of your smile

But the need still burns
Until it all lights on fire
And scatters one more casualty
Of my desire

And I go back to London
I go back to Rome
I go back to Rio
But I can never go back
To that forgotten place called home

WHAT DAVE ULTIMATELY WROTE

THE FORGOTTEN PLACE

There's a need that burns
Like a forest fire
Scattering the casualties
of my desire
In love and loss
In flood or drought
All the seeds I've scattered
Were just seeds of doubt

From Hong Kong to London
From Bangkok to Rome
From New York to Rio
To a forgotten place called home

Sparks on the wind
And a new fire starts
The ecstasy of every
Collision of hearts

From Berlin to Cape Town
From Bangkok to Rome
From Singapore to Paris
To a forgotten place called home

But the need still burns
And that wall of flame
Stops you from returning
The way you came

And with their mother's ghost
Still between the sheets
My imaginary children
Walk the streets

From Hong Kong to London
From Bangkok to Rome
From New York City
To a forgotten place called home

©2008 Dave Tutin / openDmusic

©2008 Jeff Shattuck / Cerebellum Blues Music