Monday, September 28, 2009

Keep It Inside

Behind the song:
In the beginning, I tried to force this song to be something it wasn’t. I let it sit for a few weeks and then I’d pull it out again. I knew it was important, I just couldn’t see what it wanted to be or what it was trying to teach me. I’d put it away, rediscover it, put away, rediscover. This pattern went on for a year and a half. Until one day I had just finished reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I thought about the people in my life who give. I thought about my mom giving even when she had nothing left.  I thought about my neighbor who was giving so much.  Both of them would give and never give up.  I  listened to a David Wilcox song, "For Real." Feeling inspired I went to the guitar knowing the story I needed to tell. The song opened up its arms and let me bring it to life.

I wanted words to describe the smell of the leaves, the crisp autumn air, and the woods. In Fahrenheit 451, there is a moment when Guy Montag is hiding under leaves in a wood. Bradbury (the king of igniting my senses) describes the leaves as having a cinnamon scent. I loved the way that description captured not only the scent, but also the crisp feel of autumn.

Musically, we wanted something to be subtly present from the beginning of the song. A kind of haunting melody that would at times compliment and at others stray from the
main melody. It never defines the song, but it is present throughout.

Even when life is difficult, we can find joy in knowing that we can grow. We have faith that the bare branches in winter will be green again in the spring. Difficulties challenge us. They make us stronger. 

In the studio:
We decided that strings would be the appropriate voice of the haunting melody. The melodies we came up with were beautiful but not quite what we wanted. We looked to other songs that we had recorded together and came across the file "Alleluia" from my Christmas album, Merry White Tree in the Night. "Yeah. Something like this." I told Nathan that both songs are in the key of E so we pulled some of the string files over to "Keep It Inside" to use for reference. As we were piecing cellos here, violins there, and the full quartet in the spaces in between, we realized how well the two songs fit. We started placing entire phrases in sections. There are times when the two songs fit perfectly and others when the strings stray slightly from the melody. We had stumbled upon a magic moment that we couldn’t have otherwise duplicated. We would have written the new melody within the musical theory boundaries that typically "works" melodically in a song. Just like the lyrics, choosing the instrumentation for this song wasn’t up to us. This song knew what it wanted to be. We got out of the way and listened.

Writing this song helped me process events in my life and also opened my eyes to how I live it. I need to listen to who I really am and stop trying to force myself to be something I’m not. Life is more rewarding when we get out of our own way. 

Leaves are dry and marigold beneath our feet
Above our heads a subtle blue
We lay in silence so this silence is our bed
Cinnamon and earth we breathe
We breathe
And I keep it all inside

We climb these branches bending to our weight
I find the safest way into your arms
If I’m doing well you’re pulling
more than they would know
Who could ever fell this tree?
Of you and me

I keep it all inside
No one sees the beauty in an ordinary life
The days are turning into sleepless nights
But I keep it all inside

I can walk this silence with a brave face
So no one has to feel the weight I feel
This isn’t giving up it’s knowing
when to let it go
I would never give up on you.
I forgive you

These limbs are bare now
With no signs of green
The promise of a new day
Blossoms underneath

I keep it all inside
Flowers of the mourning paint an ordinary life
The days are turning into sleepless nights
But I keep it all inside

Kirby Heyborne

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Blogger chrissy said...

hey kirby! i'm a huge fan. congrats on all your recent success and new album!

October 3, 2009 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger LaurieW said...

Beautiful lyrics. I understand that need to let the "song" be itself. I have found some of my stories come the same way. They know what they need to be, I just have to stand back and stop trying to bend it's will to my own. Fantastic.

October 3, 2009 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Kirby Heyborne said...

Chrissy - Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you came by.

LaurieW - I'm glad you can relate. It's so interesting that when we create something, it never comes out of nothing. Bits of our creation have existed forever. I love the moment when I see how the puzzle was meant to be put together. Keep on creating!

October 4, 2009 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love that the other part of your autumn song was your winter song. You're becoming seasoned, Mr Heyborne.

October 11, 2009 at 3:39 PM  

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