If you’re a podcast listener you’ll probably be familiar with the two podcasts whose names I’ve mashed up for the purposes of this series of posts. I thought it apt because what I’d like to do is to give you an idea of my creative process (à la Song Exploder) as I actually work through it over the next few weeks and months (à la Serial) on a new song called “Wrestle With Giants”. 

 

As with most instruments I sort of play, the piano is the one that pains me the most. As with the majority of the population, my exposure to playing the piano consists of “Yeah, I played a bit when I was as kid.” My entire repertoire of songs are the following: Imagine, Don’t Look Back in Anger, Royal Conservatory Grade 1 piece, Halloween theme, the opening of Home Sweet Home, and of course Chopsticks and Heart and Soul.

The pain comes in when you hear great piano-based pop songs or classical piano masterworks. Such a versatile, rich and gigantic instrument deserves better than some schlub who can just pound out the first few bars of a Mötley Crüe ballad. But as my approach is when writing any instrument part I suck at actually playing, I try to listen to piano parts, pick out patterns or techniques simple enough that I could potentially replicate it with painstaking tenacity, and hope that it will trick the listener into thinking that the tune is slightly better than it actually is.

The exception to this process was the instrumental break in my song I’m blogging about. Before I wrote a note of piano music, I played the song for my wife and totally vocally ad libbed the most ridiculous solo part I could think of as a joke. But somehow that little joke buried itself in my memory and I pretty much wrote the “joke” out note-for-note as the piano part in the instrumental break. And guess what? It works beautifully. Am I a genius? No, just very very lazy.

Here’s “Wrestle With Giants” with guitar, pedal steel and piano:

 

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