Between the Lines: Stuck in Melodies

Music

17.08.2016

Between the Lines: Stuck in Melodies

Andrew Keoghan on writing his song, 'Stuck in Melodies', from his new album Every Orchid Offering.

I wrote 'Stuck in Melodies' with Wayne Bell, who produced my first album, Arctic Tales DivideWayne sent me a one-minute recording, composed of a few chords and what would become the verse and chorus tune of the song. At the time, I was lamenting that awkward period of a dwindling relationship, when there's proximity to one another physically, but acres of separation emotionally - and how lonely it can feel for two people to be bound, to love one another, and yet feel misunderstood. In those times there's a certain desperation for common ground, found sometimes in the songs you share. 

The song is a duet, with one contradiction leading to the next, moving towards some sense of understanding, but with a realisation that the relationship's nearing an end. Building on Wayne's idea, I wrote the second half of the song and some words I felt would fit the sentiment. 

Girl: Walk outside
Boy: You're always longing for some open space
Girl: Must I hide
Boy: You have a poet's eye to detail the night
Girl: It's not right
Boy: We know nothing

Chorus:
People talk, we're stuck in melodies
People sing while down on memories
I should push on but I won't leave it right

Boy: You're not shy
Girl: Whatever you've heard I could run away
Boy: What's your name?
Girl: If I say it to you it won't be the same
Boy: It's the way
Girl: Let's say goodbye

Chorus:
People talk, we're stuck in melodies
People sing while down on memories
I should push on but I won't leave it right

Guy: Every time I go to leave I get caught up in this space you call a home

Together:  
I really think I better push on
I really think I better push on
I really think I better push on

Girl: And you're not strange
You're a servant to what's happening

Together:
And you're not strange
You're a servant to what's happening

The song's arrangement took on multiple guises over the next couple of years, as the album headed in a more electronic direction, but one constant was that the song would begin as sparse as possible – anchor-less harmonically, with little accompaniment and a certain uneasiness. The beat itself is a combination of three elements - Chris O'Connor on drums, a quintessential hip-hop drum machine and some bicycle samples my brother sent me, including the clacking through gears, the fast release of air from a tire and a wheel dropped and hitting the ground. You can hear these towards the end of the choruses. 

I'd heard Claire Duncan's earlier project, Dear Times Waste, and was struck by her crystalline, evocative voice.  Her performance on 'Stuck in Melodies' is something special and honest. I was a sceptic of auto-tuned vocal recordings, which can give robotic traits to a sung part, but I'd heard it adopted tastefully and it felt appropriate for the backing vocals of our song, because here were two people who'd become robotic in their dealings with one another. Less human, and less empathetic to one another's needs. 


Video by Will Joines, featuring Mitzi Akaha

Between the Lines is a series where songwriters take us into the writing room
Read (and listen) to the rest of the series here

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