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Just a Dream

Notes:

Right on the tail of my fake entries into SpinTunes 3, they host an actual competition, creatively named "SpinTunes 4". Challenge 1:

Night Terrors - Write a song about a childhood nightmare. Include significant use of rubato.

So this kid's nightmare is that his life will be "normal". I pictured myself visiting me at work and watching me sit there and type, and got bored just thinking about it. There was no way for me as a kid to imagine that such a thing could actually be fun to do. I love writing software, enough that I do it on my own time after I get home from work. But to a kid it must appear boring as all get out. Plus, I got to vent about such irritants as printers and heavyweight processes (hands up, anyone who has to deploy software in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley). Bonus.

I didn't mean to get as depressing as this song could be taken. I'm thinking, "ha ha, it's funny cause this kid has an unrealistic idea of what adult life will be like," and then my laughs fade out and I'm all, "damn, this is just sad. Who has Cheetos?" That's what happens when I use the whole week to write the song: it evolves from one feeling to another. But I'm happy with the result.

The music itself was really fun to work on. The verses are all over the place. Start in A, but then hit a G chord, eventually follow with a C, and an E7 leads to the chorus where the C9 represents a sub-dominant that resolves down to a G. Basically I just let the melody guide me and that's where it led, but along the way, I played up the "weirdness" of the progressions during the part of the song that describes "normal" life, while getting very simple and straightforward when the lyrics are unrealistic. Leaving the chorus, the descending melody gets me back to E7, resolving back to A for the second verse, but then veers up to Bb for the bridge. I just let that move forward in Bb with a harmonic structure that mirrors the verses, so when we get back to the chorus we find we're a half step up from before. Gives it a bit more energy for the home stretch, but without the obvious half-step modulation that's typically used.

Also had fun cranking up the noise in the verses via distortion on the guitar and a shaken box of silverware, speeding up the tempo, then cutting all that out for the chorus. My goal was to make "Thank God" be a big tension release, like waking from a nightmare and getting a big chest full of air.

And by the way, it didn't escape my attention that Astronaut may very well be the profession which must follow the greatest amount of boring, tedious process. Even more so than Accountant, the other thing that every kid wants to grow up to be.
Lyrics:

Last night saw the Ghost of Grown-Up Future come to me.
And he said, "Hold tight. Kinda bumpy as we cross the century."
And there I am in my cubicle, typing a report
I hit print, but the printer's out of toner, so I file an IS ticket,

And thank God it's just a dream.
I'm still gonna be an astronaut.
I'm still gonna be a rock star,
A race car driver, candy bar taste tester, and the Batman.
I'm still gonna make a difference.
I'm still gonna be important.
All right, shut up, relax, it's just a dream.

Six lines to repair and test that issue with the site
Within the confines of the epic standards doc I had to write.
Three more days to complete and file the detailed change request.
Time to go, but it's missing an approval, so I start the process over,

And thank God it's just a dream.
I'm still gonna be an astronaut.
I'm still gonna be a rock star,
A secret agent, master Lego builder, and a robot.
I'm still gonna make a difference.
I'm still gonna be important.
Ok, ok, chill out, it's just a

Dream a little dream the real world fits into
The grander scheme, and I can be a
Part of things more awesome than they seem.

Thank God it's just a dream.
I'm still gonna be an astronaut.
I'm still gonna be a rock star,
A baseball player, guy that drives a tractor, and a Jedi.
I'm still gonna be remembered.
I'm still gonna change the world.
I'm still gonna be the man that everybody says I could be.
I'm still gonna be the president.
I'm still gonna be a stuntman,
A scientist who travels through the Stargate, and a ninja.
I'm still gonna make a difference.
I'm still gonna be important.
That's it, enough, wake up, it's just a dream.