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#1154701 - 06/29/19 10:49 AM Oh, My Friend  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Every April, where I live, local volunteers organize the "Veterans' Stand-Down." Many of the volunteers are veterans themselves. Veterans in need, some of them homeless, many with psychological and addiction problems, come for free advice, dental treatment, medical referrals, clothes and food. I got to thinking of the stories behind the faces and wrote this song.

https://soundcloud.com/themysteriousbeings/oh-my-friend

All suggestions and advice appreciated. I have two specific areas that I'm not sure of. Firstly the title - If anyone can suggest something better, please do! Secondly, I've left the vocals on their own, with no backing or harmonies. I though that suited the kind of song, but I'm not sure if a few backing vocals would help or hinder.

MY FRIEND
(Words & Music by Gavin Sinclair)

Hello, old friend
Itís great to see you again
Itís been such a hell
Of a long long time
Iíd buy you a beer
But my creditís no good here
And I just drank my last dime

Can I sleep at your place?
Itís good to see a friendly face
A night or two
Is all Iíll stay
Thereís some guys on the street
That Iíd really rather not meet
A couple of bills
That I canít pay

Oh, my friend, itís so cold out there
I have no coat to keep me warm
Traded my good shoes
To a guy I know for booze
And it looks like itís going to storm

You know, Jennyís gone
Iím surprised it took this long
After all
That I put her through
Got in a fight
When my boss didnít look at me right
Lost my job
And my home too

Oh, my friend, itís so cold in here
I have no hope to keep me warm
Buried my soul in a dusty hell-hole
And no-one cared when I came home

(Musical break)

Sorry man
I swear this wasnít the plan
Iíll pay you back
When I get clean
But those guys on the street
Need their cash to keep them sweet
Or else theyíre going
To be looking for me

Oh, my friend, we both know where thisíll end
I have to do what I have to do
And the needleís tip and the bottle to my lip
Are closer friends than you

#1154703 - 06/29/19 12:03 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
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Martin Lide Online content
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Martin Lide  Online Content
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It's a pleasant melody Gavin. And it fits the lyrics.
Depressing lyrics, but not untrue to life.

My suggestion...
You land on the last word at the end of every phrase by emphasizing and stretching the word. In my un-credentialed opinion, it sounds mechanical and gives the tune a kind of phonic monotony.
I would add some syllables here and there and change the emphasis to relieve that.

Marty

#1154705 - 06/29/19 12:17 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Feb 2005
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Dave Rice Offline
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Dave Rice  Offline
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Gavin:

This is one of those bitter-sweet tales that entertain and yet cause some serious reflection about the world we encounter from time to time. I enjoy your "stage presence" and wry sense of humor. Thanks for sharing this one with us. Enjoyed! ----Dave

#1154707 - 06/29/19 01:29 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Jul 2006
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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Hi Gavin,

You're producing vocal tracks that have improved a thousand percent over a year ago.

The song might benefit from a harmony or two in the chorus. You can be more liberal with Melodyne when the vocals are slighly masked by the lead vocals. Maybe consider giving that a try. Love the chorus and can hear harmonies there.

Enjoyed this very much!

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 06/29/19 01:30 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1154722 - 06/29/19 06:03 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Martin Lide]  
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 927
Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted by Martin Lide
It's a pleasant melody Gavin. And it fits the lyrics.
Depressing lyrics, but not untrue to life.

My suggestion...
You land on the last word at the end of every phrase by emphasizing and stretching the word. In my un-credentialed opinion, it sounds mechanical and gives the tune a kind of phonic monotony.
I would add some syllables here and there and change the emphasis to relieve that.

Marty


By Golly, Martin, I think you're right about the syllables! That could really add a bit of variety, break it up a bit and maybe even make it still more conversational. Like most good suggestions, it's obvious in retrospect LOL.

I've already started working on that. Thanks.

I don't usually fall into that trap. I have songs with verses of eight lines, where no two are the same when it comes to syllable count and stress.

#1154753 - 06/30/19 10:20 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Dave Rice]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted by Dave Rice
Gavin:

This is one of those bitter-sweet tales that entertain and yet cause some serious reflection about the world we encounter from time to time. I enjoy your "stage presence" and wry sense of humor. Thanks for sharing this one with us. Enjoyed! ----Dave


Thanks Dave. Glad you enjoyed it.

#1154755 - 06/30/19 10:25 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Hi Gavin,

You're producing vocal tracks that have improved a thousand percent over a year ago.

The song might benefit from a harmony or two in the chorus. You can be more liberal with Melodyne when the vocals are slighly masked by the lead vocals. Maybe consider giving that a try. Love the chorus and can hear harmonies there.

Enjoyed this very much!

Mike


Mike, I'm not actually sure what I'm doing different. Maybe just practice and a better grasp of the mic settings. Thanks for the encouragement!

I'll give the harmonies a try, like you suggest. Using Melodyne, are you suggesting taking the original vocals and just shifting them to the harmonizing notes, doing the same with an alternative track, or attempting to sing the actual harmonies and tweaking them with Melodyne?

#1154767 - 06/30/19 04:08 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,089
Michael Zaneski Offline
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Michael Zaneski  Offline
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California
Hi Gavin,

Usually better to sing a harmony part. Break it down line by line if you need to.

In a pinch, your pre-existing vocals can make a harmony part, but if you do that 1) tweak the harmony enough so it's not perfectly a third or 4th higher/lower than the lead vocal, cuz that sounds phony and also will magnify any "less-than'perfect" notes you left alone in your original lead vocal. Now you'll have two less than-perfect notes, perfectly in tune with each other but not with the music.. And also, 2) keep the volume low enough on the harmony part to mask the artifacts created when moving the vocal that much.

Probably better all around choice is to sing the harmonies anew. But if you have problems hearing harmonies, then create a harmony part from your lead vocals to serve as a guide vocal for the harmonies..and then break down the work into small enough chunks (line, phrase, etc) so when you rehearse that chunk, you'll retain it fully in memory. I find, with second harmonies especially, trying to remember more than a couple lines is really hard.

Hope that helps!

Mike


Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1154768 - 06/30/19 08:42 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Thanks for the advice, Mike. Much appreciated. I'm working on it now, but I think it's going to take a bit of practice - well, a lot of practice LOL. At the moment, it sounds like someone is strangling a cat!

#1154794 - 07/02/19 05:03 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 19,810
Calvin Offline
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Calvin  Offline
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Okeechobee, Florida U.S.A.
Hi Gavin,


You got a nice sound going on here, good job.


Calvin


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/0/calvinstewart

#1154802 - 07/02/19 02:38 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Calvin]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA

Originally Posted by Calvin
Hi Gavin,


You got a nice sound going on here, good job.


Calvin


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/0/calvinstewart


Thanks, Calvin, for listening and the kind words.

#1154804 - 07/02/19 03:53 PM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
At Mike's suggestion, I tried adding some fairly subtle harmonies to the chorus. On balance, I'm not sure if they improve it. They do add a bit of body to the vocals, but maybe there's something more plaintive and heart-felt about the bare vocal without them. I've listened too much and can't judge, so, if anyone has a moment and feels like helping out, please listen and tell me which you think is better. The verses have not had anything added, only the choruses

Version with harmonies

Original version without harmonies




#1154825 - 07/03/19 08:14 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Dec 2006
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Gary E. Andrews Online content
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Gary E. Andrews  Online Content
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Portsmouth, Ohio, USA
A Lyric can usually be judged by Structure. Does it have 'enough' Repetition to supply Structure the listener/reader can identify and relate to? Does it have 'enough' Change to keep it Structurally interesting? Even the Change can Repeat to supply Structure.
Also, the function of a Verse is to do Exposition of the storyline, to set the scene, to put the props on the stage where the Characters can act out the play. Then, a Chorus delivers the punch line, makes the point, sums up the story's main idea. Ideally, a Chorus Repeats identically, driving home the ideas in it as that main idea.
This Lyric breaks some of those 'rules'. But it's a different kind of storyline, so perhaps a different set of rules can apply.
Rules, in Songwriting, a fellow named Andy Rasmussen teaches, are more like 'Tools' than 'Rules'.
A different 'use' of the 'tools' enables the Songwriter to craft a different product.

MY FRIEND
(Since each giving of the Chorus opens with "Oh" I'd say that dictates the title as "Oh, My Friend". The storyline is all about this friend whose kindness, offered to HIS old friend, found in a condition of desperation, is befriended anew, only to find his old friend has new friends he values more. In a Coda to end you might sing, "Oh, My Friend" a couple times to fade and finish.)
(Words & Music by Gavin Sinclair)

Hello, old friend
Itís great to see you again
Itís been such a hell
Of a long, long time
Iíd buy you a beer
But my creditís no good here
And I just drank my last dime

Can I sleep at your place?
Itís good to see a friendly face
A night or two
Is all Iíll stay
Thereís some guys on the street
That Iíd really rather not meet
A couple of bills
That I canít pay
(Below is the first giving of the Chorus. Instead of making the main point it seems to do more Exposition, the function of a Verse. I think a later version of the Chorus would make a better Structure, used here as well as later. But I see the story development, also, in these Chorus variations, and that Structure can work too.)

Oh, my friend, itís so cold out there
I have no coat to keep me warm
Traded my good shoes
To a guy I know for booze
And it looks like itís going to storm

You know, Jennyís gone
Iím surprised it took this long
After all
That I put her through
Got in a fight
When my boss didnít look at me right
Lost my job
And my home too
(This second giving of the Chorus is more the Summary style I would expect. I'd delete the 'And' in Line 4, saying, "No one cares when I come home.")

Oh, my friend, itís so cold in here ('in here' referring to inside himself, the 'cold' perspective of one who has accepted misery as his fate.)
I have no hope to keep me warm
Buried my soul in a dusty hell-hole
And no-one cared when I came home

(Musical break)(The Beatles referred to an "Instrumental Interlude". I think perhaps it is more simply called an "Instrumental Bridge", serving the same function as a Lyrical Bridge, a break in the Repetition, Change, to keep it interesting, brief, and enabling Repetition to resume, welcomed back by the listener who has 'learned' the Melody of the Verse/Chorus in previous givings and doesn't mind now, after the Change, to hear them again.)

Sorry man
I swear this wasnít the plan
Iíll pay you back
When I get clean
But those guys on the street
Need their cash to keep them sweet
Or else theyíre going
To be looking for me
(Below the third giving of the Chorus continues the 'Expositional Chorus' style, which justifies the 'breaking' of the 'Identical Chorus Repeat Rule' in favor of the 'using' of the 'Crafting Tool'. Part of Songwriting is Creative Inspiration that pops into your head and out of your mouth, onto paper; part is Crafting, deliberate decision-making regarding what words to use, what words to edit out, what ideas to employ to enable the Singer-Character to tell their story.)

Oh, my friend, we both know where thisíll end
I have to do what I have to do
And the needleís tip and the bottle to my lip (Delete 'And'. The Line will read the same without it. Listeners 'get' it w/o it.)
Are closer friends than you


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1155373 - 07/18/19 04:33 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Gavin Sinclair]  
Joined: Jun 2011
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Travis david Online content
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The present title fits the story line, pretty depressing story too,. Which i think needs at least some hope of a better existance than a hand out and bed for a night or two.
It's a long story so perhaps it might come at the end deleting the final four lines?
Best of luck with finishing it Gavin
Regards
John
Something a bit cheerful!

Oh, my friend, we KNOW where THIS COULD end
NOW SO GLAD YOU CARE LIKE YOU DO.
BELIEVE ME I WON'T LET YOU DOWN
WE GO BACK A LONG WAY,ME AND YOU
TODAY'S THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE( yeah old hat this line)
ETC




Last edited by Travis david; 07/18/19 04:44 AM.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde
#1155383 - 07/18/19 10:42 AM Re: Oh, My Friend [Re: Travis david]  
Joined: May 2017
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Gavin Sinclair Online content
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Gavin Sinclair  Online Content
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Conover, North Carolina, USA
Originally Posted by Travis david
The present title fits the story line, pretty depressing story too,. Which i think needs at least some hope of a better existance than a hand out and bed for a night or two.
It's a long story so perhaps it might come at the end deleting the final four lines?
Best of luck with finishing it Gavin
Regards
John
Something a bit cheerful!

Oh, my friend, we KNOW where THIS COULD end
NOW SO GLAD YOU CARE LIKE YOU DO.
BELIEVE ME I WON'T LET YOU DOWN
WE GO BACK A LONG WAY,ME AND YOU
TODAY'S THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE( yeah old hat this line)
ETC





Thanks for the input and suggestions, John. Much appreciated. I take your point about it being a depressing story, but I just can't see it with a happy ending. To me, it wouldn't ring true, would appear contrived. If I was going for "formula" country, I could see how I might have to do that, but I see this more as folk, where you don't have to deliver a happy ending. As always, I could be wrong, of course. Or we could both be right. Or wrong... LOL


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