Week 45 – Fedora Swing by The Glad Stones

This is one of those for-fun songs. You know, the kind that you write for no other reason than to make you feel gooood 😉

I had this idea of picking a random object and writing a song about it… and after a moment Jaye said how about a fedora hat? (Which is not surprising because the dude owns dozens of hats and caps!)

We ended up writing a swing, because it’s just so infectious. I mean, you can’t help but snap your fingers the moment the swing beat gets a-going!

And that’s how this song came about. Feel free to dance 😉

Fedora Swing

I don’t want no blue suede shoes
And those Ray-Bans ain’t no use
Won’t spend money on Armani
‘Cos all I need is you
And my fedora

Calvin Klein won’t get my dime
Ain’t drinking no Bordeaux wine
No Rolex to tell the time
‘Cos all I need is you
And my fedora

CHORUS
I adore ya, and my fedora
You put the shoo-wop ba-dup in my heart
And the bebop ba-dip in my feet
And the swing-a-ling-a-ding
In everything single thing
I do
All I need is you and my fedora

You are my coronet
The one thing I won’t forget
You chase away the blues
I stand tall with you
And my fedora

Don’t need no bling to make me sing
Don’t need to live like a king
So why don’t you just give me one thing
Actually two, all I need is you
And my fedora

Introducing… The Glad Stones!

Yes, that’s us! That’s the name we’ve come up for our duo – after thinking of and rejecting dozens of ideas (most of them pretty silly!).

There’s a story behind every band name, no matter how crazy it is… so here goes.

I wanted a happy-sounding name to reflect the nature of our music – fresh, rhythmic, feel-good, and all that… So, we spent a few days throwing ideas around over SMS. I remember suggesting something like “The Happy Project”, and then we started thinking of synonyms for “happy”.

Naturally, the word “glad” popped up – and in a totally random string of events, the iPhone’s auto-correct function changed “glad” to “Gladstone”! We thought that was a really cool word, and of course we Googled it… and well, a Gladstone is a small and sturdy travelling suitcase – the kind you’d bring with you around the world. We loved it.

To make the name a little more fresh – after all it refers to a product that was invented in the late 19th Century – we split the word into “Glad Stones”

Pretty random, yes. But that’s us all over.

It’s now Week 45 of my song-a-week project, and we’ll continue the rest on our very own YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/thegladstonesmusic

Do check it out, and don’t forget to click subscribe!

Week 44 – Sleeping With A Memory

First, a disclaimer. If you’ve watched this video (thank you!) and felt it was full of flippant cutaways and more clowning around than usual – we had no choice!

Ideally, we’d have liked to record everything in a single take, but it was past 3am on a Friday and everything seemed to be going wrong.

It took us literally dozens of takes before we finally got something decent – BUT the camera decided to mysteriously stop recording about halfway through that one and only good take! It’s happened before and boy, we need to straighten out that camera…

So, we spent another hour shooting random videos to fill the gap – basically everything you see after 1:40. Plus, the camera kept going out of focus, but at 4am, we were too tired to care!

Forget the good things I said about Windows Movie Maker earlier – it sucks big time. It could barely function when we tried to edit multiple high-definition videos (at around 5am). In the end we gave up and I went home.

Fortunately, Carol’s Macbook has iMovie ’09 installed and it worked so, so much better with the video – which I only got down to editing today. The only thing that I couldn’t add were effects like sepia, soft focus and things like that, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Lessons learnt: Fix the camera (or get a higher-capacity SD card because I suspect it ran out of space at the end), and use iMovie, or a better video editing software from now on.

Okay, back to the song…

“Sleeping With A Memory” is a song about loss.

It’s about someone you are no longer with, but you just can’t stop thinking about her – so much that you keep dreaming about her.

You can’t bear to wake up because you don’t want the dream to end.

Sleeping With A Memory

The hands of night
Cover my eyes
I imagine you are there
Next to me
Can almost feel you
Wide awake but dreaming
Sleeping with a memory

CHORUS
Dreaming
Spend my life dreaming
Stay in bed all day
Just to be with you

Wake up
Don’t want to wake up
Sleeping with a memory
Is all I wanna do

I keep thinking
It was a moment ago
When the sun set
And we parted ways
It’s been so long
My heart still beats your name
Your face is so clear
In my mind

CHORUS
Dreaming
Spend my life dreaming
Stay in bed all day
Just to be with you

Wake up
Don’t want to wake up
Sleeping with a memory
Is all I wanna do

I remember loving
Holding your hand
We shone like stars beside
The dimly lit moon
Those sweet parades
Are now just a haze
Oh, how I wish it was just yesterday

CHORUS
Dreaming
Spend my life dreaming
Stay in bed all day
Just to be with you

Wake up
Don’t want to wake up
Sleeping with a memory
Is all I wanna do

Week 43 – Catapult

It was past 1am on Thursday night. Jaye and myself were sitting by the Singapore River just outside Central Mall, trying to come up with a song from scratch. We had left it till late in the week – so I was slightly worried, but pretty hopeful we’d come up with something!

We were opposite the reverse bungy attraction at Clarke Quay – you know, the one where you pay an insane amount of money to be catapulted into the air at a great speed.

Simply put, you are strapped inside a capsule (or pod?) at ground level. The contraption is attached to rubber cords which are stretched upwards to a height. Then the pod is released, shooting you into the air. You bounce up and down a few times before being gently lowered back into the safe hands of Mother Earth.

Well, they were still taking rides at that late hour and with the screams of the riders echoing across the river, we said –  let’s call the song “catapult”. (Don’t think anyone has called a song by that name before, but do tell us if you know of something!)

And that was the random inspiration behind this song.

It’s got a happy, bouncy feel to it, but don’t be deceived – it’s really a breakup song about someone wanting to “catapult” out of a bad relationship as fast as possible.

Catapult

Time is running out
And I am getting down
Can’t hold up my wooden heart
Crashing to the ground

I am no stranger to
Your highs and lows
I’m sick of this rollercoaster
I’ve got to go

CHORUS
My heart was caught by you
But now I can’t love you no more
Oh my dear
I’m gonna catapult outta here
Can’t stop me from leaving you
I gave you way too much
Oh my dear
I’m gonna catapult outta here

I was enslaved
By the queen of hearts
Now I’m doing a jailbreak
To get outta the dark

You had me all wound up
Tight as a knot
I needed sweet release
I had to get out

Week 42 – Chica Escandalosa (Scandalous Girl)

Since I’ve started collaborating with Jaye Foo in my “song a week” project, the support and comments we have received on YouTube has been tremendous. (Last week’s song, “Mystery Girl“, is the most popular so far ;))

It’s been really encouraging to have people you don’t know telling you they like your videos, and of course we are inspired to carry on writing!

In a collaboration, it’s always different. Like I’ve said before, when two contrasting musical styles combine, magic happens. What we’re doing is irreverent, random and fun. The best part is – we’re not out to prove anything – we’re just making music 🙂

This week’s song began with a Spanish-sounding chord progression we were working on one day. I asked Jaye what he’d like it to be about, and he said something like “a scandalous senorita”.

Should be interesting, I thought.

Neither of us knows Spanish, by the way, so when I sat down to write, I went to Google Translate to see what “scandalous girl” was, and “Chica escandalosa” had such a nice ring to it that I had to use it in the song.

The result was this.

It’s a love song, of course, about a man who is madly in love with a woman who, as it happens, has many men in her life. But he wants her so badly he is willing to close his eyes and look beyond her actions, just to have her come home to him every night.

During the filming, the camera battery ran out just before the end of our final take, and so we had to shoot some random videos to fill the gap at the end – which explains the slightly offbeat ending (if you get that far) 😉

Do let us know if you like it. And thanks for listening!

Chica Escandalosa (Scandalous Girl)

Broken hearts lie at your feet
You cut ’em down like a field of wheat
We are but dogs beggin’ for a treat
You make us howl your name in vain

Last night I made you happy
Tonight I don’t know which señor you’ll see
Poured out my love, gave you my key
And you shoved it down the drain

CHORUS
Chica Escandalosa
You cast your net and then you draw me closer
Next thing I know you’re telling me to go, sir
What am I supposed to do?
Chica Escandalosa
You leave me hanging like an old bill poster
I’m a bun inside your red hot toaster
Burnin’ for you

I dream to be your only one
The two of us lying under the sun
I’ll close my eyes and let you have your fun
If you come home to me

One day my dear you’ll find
Out of the other guys you left behind
I won’t rest until I get what’s mine
Oh, please be kind

Week 41 – Mystery Girl

It all started with a bass line.

Jaye had a really cool bass riff he wrote some time ago which he had never put words to. This week, when we were jamming and thinking of a song idea, he played the riff for me. I thought it’d be fun to make it into a song –  and that’s how this collaboration called “Mystery Girl” came about.

You know, sometimes we guys have a “fantasy” girl that exists only in our heads. We hold an image of the perfect woman in our minds, and sometimes we dream about her. This song is about that “mystery girl” – but it goes one step further – she becomes real in the end! Yes, the lyrics are a bit abstract (deliberately so) – but you get the gist!

We had a lot of fun recording this video in Jaye’s new home studio. To capture a good sound, we positioned a condenser mic in the middle for the vocals, and two instrument mics at our guitars. The arrangement worked pretty well in getting a mix of sounds which we thought gave the recording a lot of depth.

For the video, we used Windows Movie Maker – and to my surprise, that basic software can create some really cool effects!

I like the way our individual styles are blending together – Jaye’s rhythmic progressions and my generally more flowing music.

All in, we were very pleased with the result. Let us know if you like it 🙂

Mystery Girl

There is this girl
She lives in a corner of my mind
Sometimes she visits me
In my melodies and rhymes

She’s been made by angels
With a touch of red hot chilli pepper and I let her do whatever
She wants to me (X3)

CHORUS
Has anybody met this mystery girl (X3)
Can anybody make her real for me cuz I need her in this world

Dreams are dreams
And life ain’t never as it seems
Everywhere I turn
She’s just out of reach

Wish I had a clue
Someone tell me what to do cos she’s flying up
Into the blue (X3)

CHORUS
Has anybody met this mystery girl (X3)
Can anybody make her real for me cuz I need her in this world

So I call out her name
Hoping she won’t walk away
I reach out my hand
Thinking I’m asleep again
Then I feel her skin
The moment I’ve been dreaming of each night
She’s walked out of my dreams and into my life

CHORUS
Has anybody met this mystery girl (X3)
Can anybody make her real for me cuz I need her in this world

Week 40 – Dancing In The Storm

Somehow, amidst the festivities of the Lunar New Year week, I managed to write something… (Frankly, it was one of those weeks where I thought I wasn’t going to make it – so a big sigh of relief!)

This song was inspired by the spell of intense rain over Singapore just before Chinese New Year. For something like three days in a row, heavy rains and winds swept down upon us without any signs of stopping. Driving home one night, the roads were so wet that I couldn’t tell if I was in the right lane or not. All I could see were the reflections of street lamps on the waterlogged road.

“I’m driving on a road of mirrors”, I thought to myself – and that line was how I began the song.

You’ll notice that there isn’t really a chorus, just four stanzas telling a story, which I’ll leave you to listen to right now…

Dancing In The Storm
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 4 Feb 2011

Walking on a road of mirrors, we shiver as the rain pours down
We slip, we slide, we try to hide somewhere safe and warm
But the sky is like a waterfall, I’m glad I’m not alone
The crumblin’ world that scares us all don’t matter anymore

We are soaked right through the skin, and chilled to the bone
Yeah we don’t care, won’t care at all, no we won’t
Cradled by the heat of love, we wait till dawn
I take your hand and we begin dancing in the storm
Dancing in the storm

Arm in arm we watch the sun breaking through the mist
Gentle rays of gold and yellow touch us as we kiss
All is bold and new and true as the darkness retreats
Our love it stays as strong as the ground beneath our feet

Today we laugh at the rain, we laugh at the rain
We walk in the sun, we run with the wind
If the nights are long and things go wrong
That’s when I’ll take your hand and we’ll begin dancing in the storm
Dancing in the storm

Week 39 – All Grown Up

As you can probably tell from the title, this is a song about growing up… or growing pains if you will.

It’s something we all have to do at some point. Part of it involves getting older, which none of us can help, and the other part involves learning to face up to the realities of life. (I’m sure you know of some people who, as they get older, refuse to “grow up”.)

As a guy who’s just gotten married, and who’s begun the thirtieth decade of his life, the feeling that I need to grow up has never been stronger. And yet, at this very moment, I’m writing a song about it. A walking contradiction perhaps?

Yes, some people might think I’m crazy, refusing to get real and focus on a career.

But I don’t think I have my head in the clouds at all, and both my feet are firmly on the ground. I’m living my dream, pushing myself as a songwriter, and as determined as I was when I first started this project, to launch my album.

I feel that in some ways, growing up involves knowing what you want in your life, and then going ahead and doing it. This is what I want to do, and boy, am I doing it.

Well, enough of that. I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions.

About the song itself… I stuck to really simple chords for this one. The intro is C Am Em (Capo 3), and I did a little riff on the Em chord, which I like. Also, I used a basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure – three verses, three choruses, no fancy bridges or anything. I just felt the need for simplicity I guess.

And on a separate note, notice the black background? I’ve received some feedback about my earlier videos that the room in the background was too messy, so I decided to hang some black cloth I got from Ikea across a bamboo pole to create a backdrop of sorts. I think it worked pretty well! No more messy clothes (if you’ve seen my other videos) hehe…

All Grown Up
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 26 Jan, 2011

All grown up, and wishing I could turn back the clock
To a time when I could do anything
When the road ahead was wide and free
And twists and turns weren’t that big a deal

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

All grown up, gone are the days of learning to walk
Now life is real and bittersweet
I let go of the dreams that I once dreamed
To be the man that I must be

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

Forever young, I cry each time I hear it sung
Thinking about where I came from
Does happiness grow, when will it show
And how can I learn to let go

CHORUS
The clouds roll by too fast
Sunshine never seems to last
My head doesn’t fit my heart
When I’m all grown up, all grown up

And the audience clapped along…

Last night, the most amazing thing happened to me…

It was my turn to perform at the Songwriters’ Showcase @ TAB Singapore, so I went onstage with Anthony to do three of my songs. I wasn’t expecting anything because there really wasn’t much of a crowd on a Tuesday night, and only a few tables were occupied. (The place is huge, like I mentioned in my previous post.)

So, I started with “I Lose Control”, followed by “Bad Stuff Got You Good”, which I thought were pretty well-received. The last song I did was “27” – one of my older songs which I wrote when I turned 27. What surprised me was that towards the end of the piece, people started clapping along to the beat!

Now that’s never happened to me before, I thought to myself. It was a great feeling, I can tell you. Little things like this can make your day 🙂

I thoroughly enjoyed myself there, not just performing but also listening to music by other songwriters. It was truly a night of originality.

Here’s a nice shot Carol took of the performance:

Performing at the Songwriter Showcase @ TAB Singapore, accompanied by guitarist Anthony Kok.

Songwriter Showcase @ TAB, 25 Jan

Hey everyone,

I’ll be playing a few of my songs at a Songwriters’ Showcase tomorrow @ TAB, a live-music place at Orchard Hotel. (If you’re driving from Tanglin Road towards Orchard Road in the evening, you can’t miss the big bright yellow sign on the facade.)

I’m so psyched about tomorrow’s gig because I’ve heard a lot about the place – and it’ll be my first time setting foot into the venue.

From their website and the pictures I’ve seen, it’s quite a massive establishment which can seat up to 250 people, split into two levels – easily one of the biggest places I’ll be playing at.

And the best part is that they are dedicated to showcasing original music from all over the world! If you’re into this, TAB is definitely worth checking out.

There’ll be several talented songwriters taking to the stage tomorrow, and I’m honoured to be part of this showcase. A big thank you to Dezz Moey for organising this 🙂

ORIGINALITY! Songwriter Showcase @ TAB
When: Tomorrow (25 Jan), 7-9pm
Where: TAB Singapore
442 Orchard Road
#02-29 Orchard Hotel
Singapore 238879
(Entrance on street-level)

More details about this event can be found here. Can’t wait to see you there!