“Keep Warm Tonight” Lyric Feedback

I had a great time creating my “Bite The Bullet - EP”, challenging myself to complete a batch of music by my March 2017 deadline. However, I isolated myself, not looking for different perspectives, not actively sending out demos for feedback. While I am happy about that project, moving forward, I want to have more people involved in the process and receive some enlightened opinions from the outside world.

I asked my musically inclined compatriots to provide feedback on the Lyrics for “Keep Warm Tonight”. When I first wrote “Keep Warm Tonight”, my bones and heart were definitely attached to the guitar and vocals of the piece, but enough time had passed that I felt open enough to get some insight into the words.

WARNING SPOILERS: If you would like to provide feedback on the lyrics yourself without any spoilers of the rest of this article, please e.mail kanem.music@gmail.com, go to the form at the end of this article, or click this link!

Original Lyrics:

Verse 1
It's 28 degrees;
That ain't enough to freeze;
But hold me tight;
To keep warm tonight; 

Verse 2
Oh may I rest my head;
My labors bring me dread;
Let's rest under moonlight;
And keep warm tonight;

Verse 3
How do you sustain;
In the most inhumane
Someday we'll reach new heights;
But let's keep warm tonight;
Yeah, someday we'll reach new heights;
But let's keep warm tonight;

Verse 4
The struggle has your soul;
I stay strong, keep you whole;
Not much is going right;
But let's keep;
No, not much is going right;
But let us keep;
Not much is going right;
But let's keep warm tonight;

My questions:

  1. What do you think of the lyrics? If you relate to them, how do you relate to them?

  2. Should Verse 3 & 4 be swapped? Why or why not?

  3. Would you change anything about the lyrics? What would you add, revise, or remove?

Question 1: What do you think of the lyrics? If you relate to them, how do you relate to them?

I am happy that the lyrics were well received! People related to them, stirring their thoughts and emotions, bringing up ideas of an endearing relationship, overcoming adversity, focusing on the present moment as well as loneliness and homelessness. I am glad that the lyrics had flexibility for interpretation, they painted “a picture without over-saturating the song with descriptors”. And although the lyrics were focal point for the feedback

\, I welcomed comments about the guitar and my voice, and how they fit well together. It is not always necessary for my lyrics to have a grounding and connection, but for “Keep Warm Tonight” it felt needed, so I was satisfied to hear the words were doing their job.

Question 2: Should Verse 3 & 4 be swapped? Why or why not?

This question nagged at me because I continually tipped both ways. When I was working the song at open mics and gigs, I would sometimes swap the verses to try to solve the problem, but never came to a conclusion. Through outside perspectives, I found 47% thought the verses should be swapped, 12% thought it should not, 35% were indifferent, and 6% had other unique takes. The main reason people gave to swap the lyrics was to end the song on a moment of hope, “someday we’ll reach new heights”, which was probably the root of my indecision, did I want to sing out on a moment of hope? Thinking on it, the song needs a ray of sunshine at the end. However, there is one opinion that resonated with me, it came from the 6% of persons with unique answers. Switch the refrains between Verse 3 and 4 (see redone verses below). I dig this answer because the “sustain” and the “inhumane” attaches better to the notion “not much is going right”, and the song maintains the hopeful end of “someday we’ll reach new heights”.

Verse 3
How do you sustain;
In the most inhumane;
Not much is going right;
But let's keep warm tonight;

Verse 4
The struggle has your soul;
I stay strong, keep you whole;
Someday we'll reach new heights;
For now keep warm tonight;

Question 3: Would you change anything about the lyrics? What would you add, revise, or remove?

This question allowed for all other suggestions, which provided more detail to things I may have not focused on. There were suggestions to extend the song more for a longer story, which I may toy with. Persons replied with useful ideas on how to better sing the piece, paying attention to phrasing, the space between words, and vocal variation between verses. I am going to reflect on comments about the clarity of the story of the song, possibly considering making the song a little less ambiguous. However, my favorite repeated remark was that the first lines “It’s 28 degrees, that ain’t enough to freeze” don’t make sense. If you read them literally, they do not make sense, 28 degrees fahrenheit is freezing. But I wrote them in a more abstract way--in fact, the temperature started out as “48 degrees” and I brought it down to 28. If you want to learn more about the writing of the lyrics, you’ll can provide your own feedback to the original lyrics, and then I’ll clue you in!

I truly appreciate all of your input into these lyrics and this song, which is now our song. I still haven’t made a final draft, but our lyrics have been altered below, if you want to check them out. I would like to thank everyone for their input, and if you played a part in this feedback process for “Keep Warm Tonight”, please let people know that you helped out with this song, and I will work diligently to do justice to our piece of music for us.

Preliminary final draft:

Verse 1
It's 28 degrees;
That ain't enough to freeze;
But hold me tight;
To keep warm tonight;

Verse 2
Oh may I rest my head;
My labors bring me dread;
Resting moonlight;
Will we keep warm tonight;

Verse 3
How do you sustain;
In the most inhumane;
Not much is going right;
But let's keep warm tonight;
Ohhhh, Not much is going right;
but let's keep warm tonight;

Verse 4
The struggle has your soul;
I stay strong, keep you whole;
Someday we'll reach new heights;
For now keep warm tonight;
Yeah, someday we'll reach new heights;
For now keep;
Someday we'll reach new heights;
But for now keep;
Someday we'll reach new heights;
But just keep warm tonight;

If you thought this was a cool experiment to get public feedback for my music, let me know by contacting me here or e.mail kanem.music@gmail.com. I will be doing more of these feedback sessions in the future, but for now, provide your feedback for "Keep Warm Tonight" via e.mail, the questionnaire below or use this link. If you like this sort of thing, please share this post, the more people in on this, the more I can do for you!

Yours Truly,

Kanem X

Black Mamba Blues v. Young Love

I recently put together a survey and asked some close musical friends with great taste to comment and compare two songs off my Bite the Bullet - EP. "Black Mamba Blues" went up agains "Young Love" and I got some terrific responses that helped me understand what I was doing right with my music and things that I could improve upon.

Out of the responses, I found that "Young Love" came out the champion with 58.3% of the love. So what worked well for the song? The groove and rhythm of the song resonated with listeners and the energy build up of the song culminating in the tempo change was something that stood out when compared to "Black Mamba Blues". Also, the narrative of the song worked great, it had more of a path that led a listener. That being said, I appreciated the knowledge and encouragement to continue to work on my vocals, which I agree were not as strong as "Black Mamba Blues" overall.

"Black Mamba Blues" received 41.7% of the vote from listeners. I didn't write the main riff of the song to be Hendrix jam intentionally, but we are all influenced by the guitar burning legend, so it seeped out of my unconscious mind onto the fret board. The boldness of the song really engaged listeners as well as the "Don't You Feel it Now" hook. Although the power of the Black Mamba works, I understand that the relentless distorted energy isn't for everyone. I also understand that the lyrical story in "Black Mamba Blues" is lacking and has more repetitive lines.

Overall, I received great feedback and I want to thank everyone that has participated in helping me understand my music from an outsider perspective. My hope is to incorporate more of the input into composing epic songs that emote who I am, but also captivate an audience. There will be more songs like "Young Love" that will build up energy throughout and have fun tempo changes and take you on a story with better vocals. There will be more songs like "Black Mamba Blues" that are all about the energy, all about strong distorted walls of sound, but will be tweaked to provide more clarity, storytelling and detail to the listener!

I plan on receiving more insight from listeners in the future, so stay tuned and sign up for the mailing list to be a part of the feedback crew! And I always appreciate more ears, so if you want, you can check out the form below, listen to both tracks and provide some feedback of your own (it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes). Feel free to share it with people that you think would provide great constructive critiques as well!

Thank you so much and I hope you had a good Turkey day!

Kanem X

Solo's I've learned...then forgot

It is great to sit down learn a song through and through. Nowadays, I start with the chords, maybe a bit of the baseline, and then I get more in depth with the nuances of how the guitar bits are played, as well as adding the vocals to it. I even get into the drum beats (I can actually play a bit of drums myself). Then it comes to the creme de la creme--the solo. I take my time, listen, even pull up the tab, I start chipping away at it, brick by brick...and then I think to myself...WHY DON'T I JUST IMPROVISE?

I try not to. I really try to resist letting my fingers fly on their own accord, but being able to smug together my own solo on the fly cuts away from taking the time to actually learn it. I have learned solos in the past, but it's time consuming so I've become a strong believe in improvised solos.

At the root of it, yes there is some laziness, but it is also a challenge, albeit, a really fun challenge. I love matching the chord progression and general energy of the song, and creating something completely unique. This goes for my covers I enjoy playing and my own songs that I create.

When I am writing my own songs, I do tend to get some general ideas of what I like the solo to sound like, and sometimes I do write specific parts, merely because I happened to like the way it sounded and I think it fit really well with the song. However, for the most part, I rarely write my solos down, and I rarely commit to one. It's just too much fun improvising!

Here are the solos I can think of that I learned, I remember some of them, some of them I only remember bits of, and other I've completely forgot in all honesty. 

  1. "Fade to Black" by Metallica
    I only know the intro solo, it's one of my favorite solos, I still remember this one...I think
  2. "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osborne
    Ahhhh...what young guitarist hasn't fallen in love with Randy Rhoads awesome "Crazy Train" riff, not to mention that the solo is extremely fun and interesting. This one is one that I have completely forgotten unfortunately.
  3. "One" by Metallica
    I find it funny that in a way that I ended up learning this solo, not because it's a bad solo or anything. I can remember at the time of my more broodish teenage years that the slow serenade at the beginning of the song helped me drifted away from my angst. The aggressive tail end of the song let me release whatever rage was left inside of me, all of the fun tapping at the end of the song was really appealing to me as well. Generally, as a guitarist I tend not to tap a whole lot, but when I do...I flip people off (because I keep my pick in my hand and use my middle finger to tap). I've actually learned this solo at least 3 times, it gets easier every time I have to re-learn it though. I can say with great confidence right now, that I would completely blank on how to play the lead on this one!
  4. "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
    This is my band. For a long long long time, this was my song. Slash's solos, were my solos. I've learned so many songs, and a lot of techniques and ways to play from Slash. This was the first song I learned in its entirety including all of the solos. Every lead part is something to fall in love with, and the story behind the intro, that it was just some carnival riff Slash used for practice, makes the song better somehow. As I said, I learned a lot from this song in general, definitely the beauty in creating a repeated melody. That being said, I can remember some of the more repetitive parts, and I definitely know bits and pieces of the main solo...but I can't play the whole thing without taking a crack at improvising to fill in the blanks.
  5. "Estranged" by Guns N' Roses
    So I have 2 Metallica, 1 Randy Rhoads, and this will be my 2nd GNR one. I am a Use Your Illusions II fan more than Use Your Illusions I. Both are fantastic albums, but II has this epic piece "Estranged", and to top it off, the video for the song cost $4,000,000! Okay, that has nothing to do with the solo. The first half of the song has a constant lead part that has so much feeling, so many great bends! The main solos in the second part of the song have a great explosive energy. The whole song, the way it comes together just has a fantastic mood. And again, all of my love for this song, and Guns N' Roses, I don't think I could play the solos without a good bit of practice first! But this would definitely be song I would want to learn all of the solos for, if I were to play it, or else you are just missing a crucial piece of the track.

I'll have to talk about more solos another time! I've left you with 5 that I really enjoyed learning and playing, but there are some others that I'll have to share in the future.

Take it easy,

Kanem X

Re-re-re-record: "Black Mamba Blues" Intro Solo

Hello January 2017!

It's been since November since my last Kanem's Log, and I'll be definitely posting for the next 3 months on the 12th's of every month (with the exception of this month). Although these Logs don't necessarily take a huge amount of time to write, I want these logs to become more and more genuine. I would like them to be something that I might even tune into. That's what I am attempting with this log.

I am making the declaration that I am finished recording the current EP I am working on! This is difficult, because there is a battle between what I get recorded, and what improvements I can here that I could make...and improvements can always be made. So I am declaring my recording finished and I'm moving on to mixing and mastering! 

Let's talk about recording though. Below I share several recordings of the Intro Solo to "Black Mamba Blues". I start with what I have currently on soundcloud, and I go through different takes of the solo that I made. I'm still debating on which take to use, and I have a few more in consideration. Overall, I decided to re-record this song and hopefully make some improvements to my current version (you can listen to the full song on soundcloud). Also, for this song (and most of my solos), I just improvise with a few ideas of what I want to do in the song, so you'll here differences in where I go with my solos in the recordings.

I did a total of about 12 takes at the lead guitar for this song, which is great in some ways because I'm really trying to make something fantastic. But it does help sometime to have a limit, that way you aren't on an endless loop of re-re-re-re-re-recording. Obviously, if you have no good takes it means you have to practice, and come back and do a better job, but I'll end up in a loop of "I could still probably do a better job".

That's why I typically aim to do at least 4, but at most 8 takes for recording; I got this idea from Questlove I believe on some podcast where he said that he did 8 takes (don't quote me, but if that's accurate I feel pretty good about my memory right now). 4 recordings is enough to have some options, without being lazy to me. I gave it a shot and I did well, I shouldn't just keep recording to keep myself on a "I can do better loop". I limit my recording to 8 takes per recording time, because if I'm not nailing it, chances are, I need to just practice it, or rethink what I am doing in my solos.

That is my basic approach to most of my recording. Thank you for reading this far, and I look forward to writing more in 2017. If your interested in updates, please look to the menu for my social media profiles to follow/like.

Much Respect,

Kanem

Hello November 2016

If you like his music, go get a ticket, go see him.

If you like his music, go get a ticket, go see him.

Catfish & the Bottlemen
Catfish & the Bottlemen made a lively performance at St. Andrews hall. It was a mixture of good music that was amplified by the entertaining performance! I'm not an open tuning kind of guy, and I'll admit that I haven't truly tried studied and learned it well, but Van McCann's use of it works wonders for his performance which I believe anyone would enjoy.

The Worn Flint
The opener for Catfish & the Bottlemen at St. Andrews hall kicked off everything superbly. They radiated a fun funky energy that was symmetric with their music. It was the first time I even heard of them, and I was hooked by their sound. They set the perfect tone for the night! You should definitely check them out!

Kanem & the Jammin' Jalapenos at Kerrytown Concert House Open Mic presented by Music Matters (University of Michigan)
The placed was filled with such an enthusiastic crowd that cultivated great talent on stage from so many musicians! I've been playing with "The Jammin' Jalapenos" since the summer and it was great to play with them on a stage finally! 
We had a couple of songs prepared, but decided to play "Move On". We got the crowd joining in on the fun and clapping with us.

The performance was great, which encouraged me to go for gold and do a playing behind the back trick I got from Stevie Ray Vaughan.


It got me nervous, and I thought I wasn't gonna get my strap clicked back in, but in that moment, I calmed my mind, tried not to panic, and got my strap clipped in to continue soloing! Haha, such a good time!

I would like to thank Music Matters, the Kerrytown Concert House, and last but definitely not least, the Jammin' Jalapenos!

Please share KanemMusic.com with your friends, sign up for my mailing list, follow me on facebooktwitter, instagram, and soundcloud! This will keep you up to date on what I am doing and any performances or releases that I may have.

If you are a musician, and would like to work with me, or would like to know about performance and recording opportunities, please sign up here!

With the holidays coming through, my next Kanem's Log post won't be until January. I hope you have a fantastic end to 2016, and I will see you in 2017!

And please feel free to contact me.

Have a good one,

Kanem