July 20, 2011

Song of the Month: “Autumn Breeze”

Once a month in my Song of the Month Series I take an in-depth look at one tune from my album, “Insert Coin”. Each entry in the series may include alternate takes, acoustic recordings, videos, lyrics, or anything else I feel like sharing about the featured tune.

A little Background on “Autumn Breeze”

I wrote Autumn Breeze at a transitional time in my life. The period after I finished my service in the US Army and moved back into the “civilian world” was a time of uncertainty and longing for me. It was in this short one to two month period that I wrote this song along with Better Days and Top of the World. Each song captures a bit of my feelings at the time, this one being the sentimental bittersweet song about leaving good friends behind.

I like how this song turned out, as it had gone through quite a few transitions in arrangement and composition before it arrived at the final version you hear now. I think it’s a very unique song and I can’t quite place it into a genre. I also can’t think of any musical influences that informed this tune, I made no attempts to cater to any popular styles or sounds. In that way, this song is pure Matt Rodela.

Video

Here’s an video of me playing Autumn Breeze at home, just me and my guitar.

Lyrics

Autumn Breeze

by Matt Rodela

Wake up on a Sunday morning
Take a drink from my cup, stretch around a bit
And I can still smell you on my clothes
In a day take a plane halfway around the world
And I’ll find a way
To think of a better time where you will be mine

Think of times
That sun shines
And it’s all right
But I do miss you

Staring at the Autumn Breeze
So soft outside, thinking about life
As the leaves fall and tumble to the ground
I wonder if they had a voice they’d say:
“Take me back to the branch I don’t wanna leave yet
From below I’ll never see another sunset”
But the leaves still fall despite it all
We’re so small, so small

Think of times
That sun shines
And it’s all right
But I do miss you

Some say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all
But I know the love we shared hurts deeply now that I feel so alone

Take me back
Take me back (but I don’t really wanna go)
Take me back (but I’m happy here)
Take me back

Think of times
That sun shines
And it’s all right
But I do miss you…..

Like this song? Have suggestions for the content of future Song of the Month entries? Let me know in the comments section below…

May 31, 2011

Song of the Month: “SWM”

Once a month in my Song of the Month Series I take an in-depth look at one tune from my album, “Insert Coin”. Each entry in the series may include alternate takes, acoustic recordings, videos, lyrics, or anything else I feel like sharing about the featured tune.

A little Background on “SWM”

SWM is definitely my most experimental song.  It was also the hardest to record.  It almost didn’t make it on the album.  The biggest challenge was finding a way to make the verses work.  Originally I was singing the verses, but with the rhythm of the guitar riff in the background, it just didn’t feel right.  Corrin Campbell, my vocal coach for the CD, suggested I try “talking” the verses instead of singing them.  All of a sudden the song took on a Cake-like pseudo rap feel that I fell in love with.  It also took me a while to figure out what kind of instrumentation to use.  I ended up taking a simple approach and treating the song like a typical rock arrangement with 2 guitars, bass, and drums.  Of course I had to keep the theme of horns on all songs and threw in the trumpet solo, which I think really ties the song together.

The lyrics are also a bit of a departure for me.  Normally my lyrics are sincere reflections of my real feelings.  In this tune I took more of a tongue-in-cheek approach to singing about a silly topic: online dating.  The topic is silly on it’s own, but throwing in a bit of a personal angle and then treating it as a sincere love song puts a unique spin on a universal genre. I look forward to taking this style further in future recordings.

Lyrics

SWM

by Matt Rodela

Single white male looking for a match
Brown hair, brown eyes, average build, about five foot nine
Likes good movies, writes poetry at night
Plays guitar, hasn’t gotten too far, but in a matter of time…

I will take you out dancing, to a club tonight
How about Karaoke under the moonlight?
Run away with me and I’ll show you a good time…
…in a matter of time.

Lonely female, seems like a catch
Brown hair, green eyes, likes frappuccinos and sunset skies
She cries at movies, reads Hemingway and Poe
Got a ring on her toe, a tattoo she doesn’t show normally

I will take her out dancing, cut a rug tonight
Sing cheesey 80s songs under the moonlight
Run away with me, yeah

I know you don’t know me
But we were meant to be, ohh, together
I don’t know any better
All I know is that we were meant to be

…Kick-ass trumpet solo…

I know you don’t know me
But we were meant to be, ooh, together
I don’t know any better
All I know is that we were meant to be

I see your smile in your picture and it looks like you have
Captured the whole world in your eyes
And I promise I’ll never make them cry, no…
But please let me show you a good time

Show you a good time , baby, oh
Show you a good time, oh baby please…

I know you don’t know me
But we were meant to be, ooh, together
I don’t know any better
All I know is that we were meant to be

We were meant to be, we were meant to be
We were meant to be, you and me
We were meant to be together
And I don’t know whether its right or wrong
So I’ll sing this song, because…

We were meant to be together…

Like this song? Have suggestions for the content of future Song of the Month entries? Let me know in the comments section below…

April 12, 2011

Song of the Month: “Melts Away”

Once a month in my Song of the Month Series I take an in-depth look at one tune from my album, “Insert Coin”. Each entry in the series may include alternate takes, acoustic recordings, videos, lyrics, or anything else I feel like sharing about the featured tune.

A little Background on “Melts Away”

It’s no secret that I love jazz.  It’s also no secret that I love coffee.  I attempt to merge these two interests into the perfect coffee shop song.  Melts Away is about those quiet times you spend with your significant other.  The times when the rest of the world melts away around you and it’s just the two of you in that moment.  Like drinking in that perfect cup of coffee, it both relaxes and revitalizes you.

This is the only song on the album that I use finger-style guitar playing (as opposed to using a pick).  This gives the guitar a soft mellow sound, perfect for playing intimate venues like coffee shops.  This was one of my favorite songs to write and perform, the vocal melody is perfectly in my range and the tune is fun to play solo or with a band.

I tried to keep the song structure simple in order to give Brian Falkowski (sax) and myself room to improvise and experiment with jazz riffs throughout the song.   Alex Barron lends some very unique cello playing to the tune.  I was so in love with his playing that I kept both takes and use them side-by-side in the recording so it sounds like two cello players riffing off of each other.  We never intended for that to happen, but it worked out superbly.

Melts Away Live

This video is from my CD Release Concert at the Strathmore Mansion in Bethesda, MD.

Lyrics

by Matt Rodela

Trace my fingers up your back
Your spine a path I’ll slowly track
To your neck and hair and back, back down again
A trip I’ll take till dawn cracks

And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
It’s just you and me here

With your coffee eyes lookin’ back
Swim in your gaze and I relax
Smooth java skin and I’ll take you black, no need for sugar
Sweetness I know you don’t lack

And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
It’s just you and me here

Breath you in I’ll take a deep breath keep you in my lungs
Hold you inside me no need to remind me with you beside me I am one
Complete my heart complete my words complete me completely
Until I fall apart
Until we fall….

And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
And the world….melts away
It’s Just you and me here yeah…

Like this song? Have suggestions for the content of future Song of the Month entries? Let me know in the comments section below…

February 19, 2011

Song of the Month: “I’ll Remember You”

Once a month in my Song of the Month Series I take an in-depth look at one tune from my album, “Insert Coin”. Each entry in the series may include alternate takes, acoustic recordings, videos, lyrics, or anything else I feel like sharing about the featured tune.

A little Background on “I’ll Remember You”

This song is one of the most ambitious endeavors on my album.  It’s also one of the songs that I wish I had more time (and money) to record it just right.  It’s a song that needs to build delicately, in just the right way, so you’re always curious to know what happens next, musically and lyrically.  It’s a song that’s meant to take you on a journey, and at the end, leave you wanting more.  It almost gets there, but I think my ambition was bigger than my production abilities on this one.  I still love it though, it’s one of my favorites.

The highlight of this song for me is the bridge section where I pay homage to the art of horn rock made popular by Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, and many other groups from the 60’s and 70’s.  As a trumpet player I love a good soli horn riff, and this section was my no-apologizes love letter to that genre.  I feel like I could have done more with this section though, especially with the rhythm instruments…it’s not quite funky enough for my tastes.

I like the way the music and words work together in this tune.  Like the lyrics, which are loosely based on a good friend of mine that has yo-yo’ed in and out of my life for the better part of a decade, the music also bounces back and forth, never really finding a home to fit into until the end.

This is also the tune with the most instruments playing at once, with close to 30 separate tracks going at the same time at the end.  Yet the song only start with one instrument.  I love that contrast.

I hope to take many of the ideas in this song and hone and tighten them into future songs I record…I feel like I’m onto something here.

Behind the Scenes Video

Lyrics

by Matt Rodela

Wandering along a lonely path
A Gypsy stops to rest her back
Sets down the load she’s hauling

That is how I found her there
Tired, worn, with dirty hair
I said, “How ya doin’ darlin’?”

She said, “Howdy stranger I’m alright
My journey’s lasted through the night”
She laid her head on my shoulder

We sat there and had a time
Our souls connected, stars aligned
But the road was calling her away

Did you wander off for the last time?
Took away my piece of mind
Now I’m left here wondering
When it’s through
Will you still remember me
No matter where you’ll be
I’ll remember you…I’ll remember you

Throughout the years she’d pass again
Weary and in need of a friend
She had changed but somehow she was still as I remembered

Ages since she went away
I have grown old and grey
Yet the memory of her remains

Did you wander off for the last time?
Took away my piece of mind
Now I’m left here wondering
When it’s through
Will you still remember me
No matter where you’ll be
I’ll remember you…I’ll remember you

You inspired me to be something more than you can see
Can I continue on my own wondering if you have found you’re home
You inspired me to be something more than you can see
Can I continue on my own wondering if you have found you’re home

Did you wander off for the last time?
Took away my piece of mind
Now I’m left here wondering
When it’s through Will you still remember me
No matter where you’ll be
I’ll remember you…I’ll remember you

January 4, 2011

Song of the Month: “Better Days”

Once a month in my Song of the Month Series I take an in-depth look at one tune from my album, “Insert Coin”. Each entry in the series may include alternate takes, acoustic recordings, videos, lyrics, or anything else I feel like sharing about the featured tune.

A little Background on “Better Days”

To kick off the series I’ll start with the first song on the album, called “Better Days”. This was part of a handful of songs that got their genesis sometime in 2004 after I got out of the US Army. It deals with the feelings of longing for someone special at a time when I was seeking a sense of belonging and direction.

The song writing process for this tune was very slow and organic. I started, like most of my songs, with the main guitar riff on acoustic guitar. I knew right away that the riff would translate well to electric guitar, so I always kept that in the back of my mind for when I finally recorded it.

I then started singing a melody over the riff and the first thing that came out was the line: “These days are a cloudy veil of wonder.”  That lyrics sums up my feelings at the time, and was a good kick off for the song.  I started constructing the rest of the two verses based off of that first line. The subject of the song naturally flowed from my state of mind at the time. The gritty verses that hit up against the rhythmic brick wall of the chorus that finally release into a glimmer of hope in the bridge and ending….all mirror the inner dialogue I had with myself.

I played this song live on and off for years, but it always felt a bit empty as a solo acoustic arrangement. The horn parts were added much later, in preparation for the album recording. I felt this song would be a perfect testing bed for some power-funk inspired horn arrangements and I had a blast writing them.

Listen to the studio version of “Better Days” from Insert Coin

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Behind the Scenes

The group horn parts to all the songs on Insert Coin, including “Better Days”, were recorded in one afternoon at my girlfriend Daisy’s apartment.  Here’s a short behind-the-scenes video clip of me laying down one of the horn licks, along with engineer Dave Kovacek.  What you don’t see are the other horns playing along with me at the same time: the sax player in the other room and the trombone player in Daisy’s closet!

Lyrics

by Matt Rodela


These days are a cloudy veil of wonder
Ice age is your attitude
Throw away all thoughts of better slumber
I’ll say what have I got to loose

I know better days will come my way
But for now I’ll sit and wait for your hand

Shyly I go through the motions
Nightly I sit alone on my bed with my hand
Occupying The emptiness I feel
Never finding satisfaction in the nothingness I have

I know better days will come along
But for now I’ll sit and wait for your hand

Waiting, waiting for your hand
Waiting, waiting for your hand

These days are a cloudy veil of wonder
Ice age is your attitude
Throw away all thoughts of better slumber
I’ll say what have I got to loose

I know better days will come my way
But for now I’ll sit and wait for your
Now I’ll sit and wait for your
Now I’ll sit and wait for your hand

Waiting, waiting for your hand
Waiting, waiting for your hand…

Like this song?  Have suggestions for the content of future Song of the Month entries?  Let me know in the comments section below…