hangin' out at hidden beach skies so grey night spirits chill my skill take my breath away sit near the water by circles of stone slow smoke cigarettes to feel more alone
© Michael Raven
These are first verse from old lyrics from around 1990, about the time I was trying to move away from the “strum/strum/strummity/strum” sound a lot of new guitarists get trapped in (no accents, sometimes few chord changes, no difficult chords). The original version had tons of lift-offs and fluttering hammer-on/lift-off strums combined with some jazz chords, along with off-tempo strums. It was straight 4/4 time, but most of the people I tried to play it with hated how they couldn’t count the downbeats because of the weird strumming I was doing to make it “interesting”. They all refused to play it after a few attempts.
The weird strumming ending up became my signature sound for the bands I did play with afterwards, but I ended up having to modify (read: simplify) my style or regularly get grief about how impossible it was to follow me and I got more strummy by the time I was last playing with another folk musician to stop his gob about my “horrid” rhythm style (he hated my progressions too, because they didn’t follow standard music theory about how chords are supposed to be best).
The clip (first verse and chorus) is from about a year ago when I tried to capture the sound, with some modification and additional instrumentation to fill it out (NOTE: it is VERY WiP, and not anywhere near end-production; intended for checking old lyrics against the sound of the music tempo and speed). The drums are “drum machine” feeling because I never got around to adding fills and off-beat accents. Maybe with the kiddos going back to school, I’ll take a “migraine” holiday from work and slip in the actual vocal tracks, fix the mix and fill in the drums — assuming I can capture that whiskey-smoker’s voice I used to have when I drank whiskey and smoked (I have mentioned that I am not a very good singer, right?). Otherwise, it’ll just end up in the dustbin of broken ideas.
The guitar is simplified, largely thanks to arthritis. I can’t do what I used to do, so the hammer-on/lift-off flutter is reduced and hidden behind the piano and other instruments anyway. Not sure if I’m 100% okay with the piano I tossed in, so if I were to finish it, I might drop off that track and bring up some of the crunch on the guitar. Maybe add some beloved e-bow.
As far as “hidden beach” goes, it is real and also goes by “bare-ass beach” because people like to skinny dip in it after bar close for whatever reason people like to skinny dip after bar close (and usually get arrested for indecent exposure when it was so dark that you couldn’t tell anyone was naked). When I used to hang out there during the earlier part of the evening to smoke and be by myself, I would sit next to balanced stones away from the beach proper, usually laid out by someone with a fascination for spiral stone stacks. No mystery as to the lyrics, which are bog-standard rhyme scheme.