Track three from Inchoatery – sinking depression and regret.
The longest song on the album, arguably The Epic.
Listening to the early sketch recording of this, it’s clear the original idea for this song wasn’t necessarily more complicated than the basic verse-and-chorus structure, with maybe some sort of bridge at the finale as I originally brainstormed it. The final recording comes in at just under six minutes and incorporates a guitar solo, a fairly harmonically complicated transition to a very different-sounding bridge, and a return to the chorus through with a keychange up a step from where the song started. A lot of little ideas in there.
I really like the descending bass-line in the verse here (Ab, G, Gb, F, with the F the major third of an inverted Db chord) transitioning into an ascending figure in the chorus (an Ab root chord held firm for the first four bars of the chorus cycle with the Eb note, the fifth of that Ab chord, rising to E for an Ab-augmented and then F for an Ab6 and then Gb for an Ab7).
The descending line never resolves, just loops back on itself; the ascending line on the other hand resolves that build up of tension by moving on to a Db chord, the fourth (or sub-tonic if you’re nasty). I think it makes for a nice harmonic effect that serves the flow of the song well; after a long build up, you finally have a sense that, oh, things are MOVING, even if you’re not a music theory nerd who breaks it down structurally in these sorts of explicit terms. But then of course I only let that happen once in the first chorus and hold off on letting that feeling stick around; you have to wait for another chorus to come along to get that tension-breaker feeling again.
Beyond that I just like the arithmetic purity of the half-step-at-a-time movement in one direction and then another. I tend to play around with that sort of math-first approach to musical figures sometimes, and the problem is that it’s easy to come up with something that’s a little bit clever on paper but doesn’t really turn into something listenable when you play it.
This is one of those things that can get me in trouble sometimes, though I think it worked out fine for the most part on this album. Whether that’s because I got lucky with my clever ideas this time out or because I had the good sense to chuck out problematic ideas and forget about them, I’m not sure.
Portions of this song remind me of something I wrote in 2006, Twist The Knife — there’s a similar structure in the chorus of resolving the tension of a seventh chord on the tonic by lapsing over to a major fourth chord, and the sense of overlapping vocals from one stanza of the chorus to another is there as well. The songs are also both slow-build ballad type things. That’s one of my favorite older recordings in a lot of ways but one I never felt I did as good a job of as I’d have liked, so bringing some of those same ideas to bear here feels like a nice vindication of the song.