CONvergence 2016: Love Shall Not Fail

This was a duet we wrote for a wedding back in 2007.  It was written for the same friend who wrote the lyrics for “The Nerd Song,” Steven Henry.  With the help of someone who knows Lord of the Rings WAY better than I ever could, we pinned down a few lines of dialogue between Eowyn and Faramir as the basis for the lyrics.

Of course, the effect IS somewhat ruined by opening with the word “Precious” but…uh…

Nope.  I’m still not sorry.  That was too good a fix for the gendered bit not to use.

Funnily enough, this is one song in my high register that I think DOES work over a microphone, but it’s because I’m not trying to sing folk or pop — I’m using my classical tone.

I think it’s weird that a lot of people really like this song and I find it kind of meh.  Maybe that’s just me not being overly happy with the girl’s part.  Eowyn is a great character, but the whole “now I’mma go be a healer when I used to be a badass” just isn’t a choice I could make for myself.  The womanly arts are boring.  Nobody wants to say it, but I’ll tell it like it is.  Being a champion is more fun.

I do like the musical lines of this one, though, and I LOVE Sarah’s part.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Waltz of the Wallflowers

This is one of my favorite cover songs to perform with Sarah.  Absolutely, positively, hands down, even when she’s not a dragon.  The back-and-forth is super hard to master, but it is SO WORTH IT.  The original was by a pair called Small Potatoes and I will be forever grateful to them for writing this gem and putting it out into the world.

When Sarah and I practice this one, I try REALLY hard to crack her up.  Sometimes it works.

Also, since I haven’t made note of it yet — the Nausicaa cosplay was AMAZING to wear, but very, very warm.  And slightly awkward to move in because it kept riding up and I kept thinking people were going to be able to see my butt.  I worry about things like that.  (Sarah was not nearly as warm being Haku, in spite of wearing about 6 layers.  Hers was entirely linen.  I was not so fortunate.)

There is a part of this song we swap and I take the harder part and add it to my character just because I’m not also playing guitar and trying to keep track of things.  It just means I get to spout EVEN MORE WORDS going REALLY FAST!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Fairytale

This was one of the very first songs Sarah and I ever recorded for YouTube.  “Fairytale” came about because Sarah’s sister asked us to perform a song for her wedding in the summer of 2012.  She basically told us she wanted a love song that had some fantasy or nerdy elements to it, and described relationships like Han and Leia or Harry and Ginny.  Well, we certainly weren’t going to let her down, which led to the pop-iest of our pop love songs.

I’m actually really fond of this one — except when Sarah starts it too fast and I can’t breathe in the last chorus.  I like that we wrote a love song that’s about laughter and in-jokes and the awe of being together.  There’s a lot of Sarah-and-I in this one, which, okay, was probably inevitable.  We only really know one love story and that’s the one we’re IN, so…

When we wrote this one for Melissa and Matt, we put some gendered terms in like “king and queen” or “prince and princess” which made it slightly problematic for us in this set.  Especially at CONvergence, being gender-inclusive is really important, and that includes non-binary gender.  What’s funny to me is that if you asked me to choose between being a “king” or a “queen” just given how they are perceived, the stereotypes, etc, I’d rather be a king.  Similarly I’d rather be the courageous prince doing the rescuing than the princess being rescued.

(Yes, we’re getting more movies about badass princesses rescuing themselves or, shockingly, not needing to be rescued at all, and YAY, but stereotypes are stereotypes and they’re not changing any time soon.)

Anyway.  Here’s our happily-ever-after love song, written for the real-life story of my sister-in-law and my now brother-in-law, who really are heroes every single day.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Carol of the Spells

All the high soprano issues of “Kitty Love” plus faux-Latin!  Yay!

Actually, this is one of those songs I’m the most proud for having written.  “Carol of the Bells” is such an iconic piece, and I just wanted to get that rhythm to fit with the spells from Harry Potter.  It felt like such a weirdly natural fit — AND it gave me the chance to parody yet another overdone Christmas carol!

I did actually write an alto part for Sarah for this one, but what we learned was that this one is too hard to play on guitar for her to also get a whole bunch of Latin words crammed in there.  So it became a solo piece for now, anyway.  With very few spots to breathe, let me tell you!

This was the first time we’d ever performed that one, in public or otherwise.  We’ve only done it once since then — at a holiday-ish gig in December.  But the Harry Potter fans in the audience really seem to like it.  It’s another one that makes me wish I had any ability to create a music video, because that would be hilarious.  Spell-slinging in rhythm!

Spell singing in rhythm?

Okay, I’m done.  *Hides*

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: The Ballad of Default Steve (The Minecraft Song)

I love this song.  I really do.  This is what happens when Sarah decides to REALLY mess with musical norms and meters.

I also love that Sarah sings lead on it.

And not just because DAMN is it hard.

But partly because of that.

Because DAMN.

It is HARD.

Anyway.

So, Sarah wrote this one about her adventures in the Minecraft world, and as soon as I heard it the first time I decided I was NOT going to be singing lead on it.  Of the two of us, I tend to be a little bit more “showy” in performance, and also I’m not playing an instrument so I can focus completely on lyrics and meaning and presentation.  Sarah doesn’t mind letting me sing lead on so many of her songs, but there are songs that she simply performs better than I.  The recording of “Rachel’s Song” on our album is that way.

Besides, especially after “Kitty Love,” I needed the break.

I’ll admit, my harmony is not the most inventive thing in the entire world.  It’s simple and easy to remember and it doesn’t require me to be able to keep up with all of Sarah’s shifting beats and rhythms.  I really didn’t start learning to harmonize against a melody until a few years ago — I could follow a part that was written for me, but I had trouble inventing a complimentary part that added to the overall song.  I’m still working on it.  Some harmonies are better than others.  This one is…eh?  Middling?

Sarah is wonderfully patient with my bumbling, given that she invents all our harmonies and is AWESOME.

Behold her awesomeness!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Kitty Love

The special guest star who walked into the middle of the last one and then chatted with us at the start of this track is Justin Hartley who drums in a couple of bands with Dave Stagner and put down some of the drum tracks on our album, too.  At least four people in the front were TRYING to wave him away from walking in front of the camera, but eh.  I thought it was funny.

This is one of those songs that would be a lot more fun if I could put it to some kind of music video of cats doing cat things.  But my ability to video edit is literally what I have done putting these on YouTube.  So…probably not happening.  If anybody wants a good copy of the audio to do it for me, let me know!

Also, this is one of those songs that I don’t really like singing into a microphone.  Most of the songs Sarah writes are in her register; Sarah sings low alto.  Most pop songs are voiced for altos or mezzo-sopranos.  I can sing all those ranges just fine, but in choir I’m actually a high, high soprano.  And it breaks something in my brain when I have to sing a pop song with my soprano voice.  I was trained to sing Vivaldi and such, so it’s very difficult for me to sing high in my register but not classical-formal-proper.  Vivaldi never envisioned a song about a cat squashing frogs, I don’t think.  Anyway, I feel like microphones always exacerbate the weirdness of it, so I get a lot more nervous and I think I sing less well overall.  Give me rock and an alto part and I settle right in — singing high is something else.

Oh well.

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Because Pirates!

This one happened due to me and my constant feelings about Christmas carols.  In December of 2014, I got fed up with listening to Christmas carols WAY earlier than most years.

Now, understand, I have lots of reasons for not being fond of them.  First, I’m not actually Christian.  So “yay Jesus” doesn’t really do it for me.  Second, there is a weird competition going on between people who record Christmas carols to see how can sing them the slooooooooooooooooooooowest.  No, seriously.  Everybody has heard that version of “White Christmas” where you could go out for a taco and come back and they’re not even through the whole first verse yet.  Third, recordings of Christmas carols are just…bland.  They all have the same soaring string part in the background, the sleigh-bell jingle bits, the choir trying too hard in the background.  And, of course, fourth — you can’t walk through 2 stores without hearing them.

So, yeah.  That year I was DONE with the carols.  And over the course of about 4 days I wrote 6 or 7 parodies which we then promptly performed live and put on YouTube.  You know what?  It made me feel better.

All the other Christmas carol parodies I wrote are specifically related to the holiday season, as in the one where the kitchen catches on fire in “Winter Wonderland” or the power fails in “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  This was the only one I wrote about a non-holiday subject and I wrote it about pirates BECAUSE I COULD, DAMMIT!

Also?  Anne Bonny really was a very cool, badass sister!

 

Funny side-note: when Sarah and I talk about this song, we call it “Beacuase Pirates!”  This comes from the epic and still-funny video below.  Fair warning — once you add “beacuase” to your vocabulary, the word “because” becomes a lot more difficult to get right!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: 2015 in Review

Talk about a song that goes too fast!  Eesh this one takes it out of me.  I’m always glad Sarah sings the melody with me just so there’s somebody to bite out all the syllables if I get mixed up.

We did drop half a verse for this performance from the original.  The Orlando night club shooting had just happened, and so a joke about mass shootings was very, very out of place.

I’ll be honest — we originally intended to use the same song and rewrite the lyrics for each year because it would be fun…and then 2016 ended in a really rough place and it wasn’t fun anymore.  I don’t know if we’ll ever do another one, though maybe if we have a better year with more things to laugh about, we’d consider it.  It’s always going to be sitting there if we want it.

My favorite jokes that I crammed in at the end are the “Horse named SpellCheckFail” and “the dress was blue slash gold.”  That last line always makes people stop and think before they laugh.  It’s hilarious.  Everybody’s nodding along, having a good time, and then I drop that and they all THINK before reacting.  I’m not sure why?  Maybe because the argument about that stupid dress that was blue AND gold but not blue AND gold is still going on inside their heads?  It was a bit of a brain-bender for us all so…

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

 

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CONvergence 2016: The Nerd Song (You Could Also Call Me an Enthusiast)

This song’s lyrics were written by a friend of ours in 2013 — we challenged him to write a series of limericks about nerdy topics and then we put them to music.  We’ve tweaked them slightly in the years since, but for the most part, this is still the writing work of Steven Henry.

This is one of those songs that is very fun to sing, but sometimes doesn’t get the laugh we hope all our funny songs will garner from our audience.  It kinda depends on the group.  Also, this is the kind of song that if Sarah starts it a touch too fast, I’m going to be out of breath by the time we’re done.  There are a LOT of words to cram into not a whole lot of beats!

Going back and forth with Sarah is always fun, though, and it was our first time performing at CONvergence, so it seemed the right time to add it to the set!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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CONvergence 2016: Trial by Fire

In advance of CONvergence this year, I actually managed to put all of our CVG performance from the previous year on YouTube, and it seems to offer a nice opportunity to talk about various songs and what they mean and where they originated.  So I’m going to go through the performance each week for a while (excluding “Ode to Fanfiction” just because I’ve posted about it before) and give you the author’s notes about the songs we perform.

“Trial by Fire” was actually written in October 2002.  Sarah wrote the vast majority of it sitting on my dorm room bed while I did homework in my sophomore year of college (she was a junior).  The song went through a few relatively tiny revisions over the years, mostly because I’m really picky.  We’d be singing it and I’d stop mid-word and look up at her and say, “I think that line/word/phrase is dumb.  Can we do better?” and she would sigh and then we’d fix it.  But, really, 80% of this song came out of Sarah’s brain.

That fall, she and I spent a lot of time taking walks out in the woods behind our college, particularly late at night.  We were both working through a lot of emotional growth at the time, and so many nights the dorms just felt closed and airless.  When we were out there with the wind and cold and stars and sometimes thunderstorms because why the hell not, it was like the world stood still and gave us time to breathe.  Gave us time to remember what was real and what wasn’t.  It also gave us time to talk, to lean on one another without wondering who was listening to what through the thin rooms of my single or whether or not a roommate would return to Sarah’s triple.

My favorite line of the whole song is one I added a year later: “Never thought that I’d fit my skin.”  Because that’s the transformation I needed to make at that time.  I needed to figure out who I was and then learn to be that person.  I had been a person defined by everyone else, it seemed, a person who existed only in relation to others.  I think it’s that way for most kids growing up.  You’re “so-and-so’s kid” or “so-and-so’s sibling” and what YOU are is still nebulous and uncertain.  And I learned that I didn’t want to be a person who made even one choice about myself based on anyone but me.  I learned that I didn’t give the slightest of damns for what other people thought or felt or feared or cared.  I learned that the person inside my skin was mine and mine alone, and I needed to embrace her.  Weaknesses and failures alike with strengths and successes.  I needed to be the person screaming from inside, or die trying.  So I did.

The bit about “the wolf and the tiger” is a nod to how we and our whole group of friends claimed an animal avatar for ourselves, kinda like how people pick their patronus as a meme (though this was before Harry Potter really hit full cultural saturation).  We all claimed two animals — one real and one fantasy/mythological.  Sarah has always been a wolf, and I am and always have been a tiger.

Anyway, for two years we pretty much went out at least once a week on nights it wasn’t -40 degrees (thanks Minnesota!) and just let ourselves run free — metaphysically.  Those walks, those discussions, those moments in the quiet dark, they helped us with the tough times in college and to step forward to become the people we were choosing to be.  We faced the dark, faced the fear, and won.

The one CD Sarah and I ever managed to release is just 4 tracks, and this is one of them.  That album is named “Fire on the Hill” for this song.

Also, in the live CONvergence version, we are joined by our friend Dave Stagner, who helped record and produce that album, and who plays an AWESOME electric guitar with us when we’re in the same place at the same time.  He’ll sneak onto other tracks from that performance, and I love what he adds to our music!

*Please note that this entry has been backdated.  Basically, the summer got completely away from me AND I lost access to posting on the site from the reliable computer I’d been using — and posting via smartphone is not as elegant as it sounds.  So, to make up for it, I’ve retroactively put this entry here.  Hopefully this won’t become an annual trend!

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