So, while I spend a couple of months writing about the Chemical Brothers’ Exit Planet Dust for my Britpop Album Showdown (I’m finding hard to say much about it from a trad songwriting perspective) I’ve been busily penning a few original tunes. For your viewing pleasure, here’s one of them – which I recorded on my phone like a proper professional.
Musically, it uses a few tried-and-tested tricks: based in G, the descent from C to Am and the resolution on D is a probably overused songwriting move, so to mix it up a little I deployed a few rhythmic variations. This opening figure repeats – but firstly as a strummed progression, then as an arpeggiated figure. Following this, there is what I guess you’d call a bridge, which uses the kind of stabbing chord work that personally reminds me a little of the sort of thing The Who would do.
For the chorus I used a soft key change. C then D then a B minor all fit naturally into the key of G, but the final chord – a straight E7 – doesn’t really belong in the air: to my ears it seems like an upward move, probably resulting in E’s relationship to D. Either way, I’m pleased with it as a progression.
The melodies in each of these three parts are quite distinct – and I think that’s the sort of thing that any purposeful songwriting should be trying to do. My biggest gripe with, say, a band like Oasis or Coldplay is the repetition of either a line or a chord change which individually might be fine, but is wearying when repeated many times over the course of 5 minutes. Again: my personal style/preference is to get it in and out with as much variety I can muster in or around 3 minutes. The instrumental break in the middle takes a quick trip to a B flat, which would only make strict sense if the song was in G minor, but hopefully works to divert the threat of monotony that always lurks in the background of any simple song.
Please note that I’m not making any great claims for my songwriting prowess here: I’m just trying to illustrate how I personally approach a song and the sort of thing I like to do – there is literally no end to songwriting technique 🙂
Unusually for me, the inspiration for this song was lyrical rather than musical: the phrase that opens the song and from which it takes its name (“I had a sex dream – and you were in it”) came randomly to me in conversation and tickled me sufficiently for me to write it down. One thing apparently common to many songwriters is the keeping of notebooks with snippets of conversation or random phrases in.
Anyway, it’s a silly song – and it even has a punchline.
I had a sex dream – and you were in it
I’ll tell you about it if you’ve got a minute
We were both younger and a little bit firmer
Your hair got all tousled ‘cos you were a squirmer
We closed the bedroom door
And then I had you on the floor
But still you wanted more
It wasn’t exactly hearts and flowers
We tangled the bed sheets for hours and hours
You said that you liked it harder and faster
We did it so hard that we knocked off the plaster
The scene: a Travelodge for two
The cast: just me and you
Wondering what to do
And when I wake up with her by my side again
I wonder what I’ve done to be denied again
I wonder what does it mean
I mean it’s only a dream…..
You wanted to do something highly immoral
Cos you and your boyfriend had had a bad quarrel
I shrugged and unzipped with a grin on my lips
While you stood there and waited with your hands on your hips
You said you wanted it there
I blinked and said “where?”
And you said you didn’t care
If I have another sex dream
Let’s hope your mother isn’t in it