New Old Music 6: Marshall Heiser “Anyone” (2011)

DURATION: 4 min., 50 sec. This a country song y’all, titled “Anyone,” with music co-written by myself and one Michael Muchow (pronounced like mo-fo, not moo cow). I wrote the lyrics. The track was written as an offering for a singer in Italy by the name of Jacelyn Parry who was then looking for some material. She didn’t use it, so I decided to turn it into a record production myself (I also offered her a jazz song called “My Favourite Hobby” – hence the lyrics sung from a female perspective).

I did all the arranging, engineering, performing and mixing myself (‘cos no-one else could be arsed 😉 ). It was recorded both at home (using an Apple Mac, Logic Pro Software and Digidesign AD/DA Interface) and at the studios of the Qld Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University, Australia.

Lyric-writing process:

Like so many songs, the lyrics for this track (ie., the first half of the first verse) were inspired by a real-life (personal) scenario, but from thereon enter the realm of fantasy (universal/archetypal). Although getting the second half of the first verse lyrics was a straight-forward enough process, I was unable to find suitable inspiration for the second verse and onwards for quite some time.

Paul McCartney in conversation with friend Barry Miles (1998) similarly echoed how initial lyrical inspiration for a song can be channeled into a complete first verse relatively easily, but then a new perspective on the same topic (an “appropriate incongruity” to use Oring’s (2003) terminology) is often needed to successfully come up with a second. In the case of The Beatles he added that he and Lennon would often play each their work when they got stuck in this way. The objectivity of the other would make it easier to generate just such a fresh new way forward.

When writing solo, simply leaving the song alone for a while (along with a sense of humour and all the detachment that brings) can facilitate such objectivity. That is exactly what I did in the case of this song. Upon returning to it, it dawned upon me that the “nursery rhyme” idea of “Jack n Jill” in the first verse could be used as a pivot-point. I asked myself. what other such characters might experience similar problems relevant to the story-so-far?

Since many country songs in the past have proffered a country life (good/friendly) vs city-life (bad/harsh) argument, I imagined that Little Bo Peep might have not only lost her sheep, but also the whole farm and therefore needed to move to the big city to find work. Such a scenario would provide a credible back-story as to why the girl in the first verse might feel so vulnerable and be prone to fall for a guy who was offering a helping hand. The rest of the story/lyric then just seemed to write itself. Here endeth the insight.

References:

Miles, B. (1998). Paul McCartney: Many years from now. London, England: Vintage.

Oring, E. (2003). Engaging humor. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.