I Wrote You a Song

I Wrote You a Song

by Guy Simons

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452530918
Publisher: Balboa Press Australia
Publication date: 09/18/2015
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

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I Wrote You A Song


By Guy Simons

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2015 Guy Simons
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-3091-8



CHAPTER 1

SONG 1 - THE NEW ELVIS PRESLEY


Here comes the new Elvis Presley, can't believe my eyes
It is Elvis incarnate as I look towards the skies
Here comes the new Elvis Presley, hip swaying too
Iconic jump suit and cape, and wearing blue suede shoes

Some quiet please, a little less conversation
Get off your knees, rise up in celebration
Altogether now let's sing
Long live the king, long live the king

Here comes the new Elvis Presley, gonna kiss and tell
Light up the lights of Las Vegas, book a room at Heartbreak Hotel
Here comes the new Elvis Presley, and he's doing fine
Unlock the gates of Graceland and free your suspicious minds

Some quiet please, a little less conversation
Get off your knees, rise up in celebration
Altogether now let's sing
Long live the king, long live the king
Long live the king, long live the king

Some quiet please, a little less conversation
Get off your knees, rise up in celebration
Altogether now let's sing
Long live the king, long live the king
Long live the king, long live the king
Everybody sing, long live the king
Everybody sing, long live the king


Hold On Tight

I will take you on the journey of my song "The New Elvis Presley" from inception to its global release on all major digital download outlets on the 8th January 2012, to coincide with Elvis Presley's birthday and as part of the 35th anniversary celebrations.

Testing, testing, one, two, three.

Are we sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

First, a question.

How do you begin to write a song?

You ask a hundred people and you'll probably get a hundred different answers. There isn't a right way or a wrong way, but for me there is my way.

Dependent upon your age, you like me may have conjured up in your minds the song made famous by Frank Sinatra. I can visualise Frank as well as Sid Vicious crooning their way through it. That particular song has deeply ingrained memories for me as it was always played every New Year's Eve in Hunters, a public house in Cheltenham, England throughout the mid 80's and early 90's, along with Frank's "New York, New York", although I don't know why, and your traditional staple of "Auld Lang Syne". What songs bring New Year's Eve f looding back to you?

My songs are almost always created whilst strumming the guitar or playing the piano. This fiddling about (apologies for the musical pun) provides the spark of creativity that leads to a lyric supported by a melody. The lyric then provides a theme to work from. My song "Another Bad Day at the Office" is a classic example. The opening line begins "It's been another bad day at the office for me" and uses a minor chord followed by a major 7th. That sets the scene for a melancholy song that references Coleridge's albatross, 60lb. monkeys' amongst other aptly chosen lyrics.

As you can see, I am not averse to referencing other writers or artists in my songs where they suit the theme. In my song "Lemon Tree", the lyric "you said like Hendrix, we'd kiss the sky", adds a nice touch. "The New Elvis Presley" however, broke the mold slightly, as it was conceived from a throwaway line.

I recall being at work and having a chat with a couple of guys in Information Technology when Greg Naidoo walked in. I f lippantly said "Here comes the new Elvis Presley". The statement had nothing to do with Greg having any physical resemblance to Elvis. It was purely the fact that Greg was cool, hip, sic or any other pertinent phrase that describes someone with an aura. I was immediately struck with the line "Here comes the new Elvis Presley", and by the time I got home that evening the associated phrasing and melody had already formed and the beginnings of a new song were underway.


While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Armed with an opening lyric and melody, it's time to introduce the instrument. In this case the guitar. I have a Yamaha APX-10C acoustic/ electric. This guitar is about twenty years old and is what I started most of my songs on before I became more proficient on the piano. I find that I will play some chords and then apply the lyric.

I originally started this song with an E chord (the song was moved to the key of A after I had met Mark Hall. This is the key the released version is in) and would then play a sequence of chords whilst searching for the next line.

The opening line always sets the scene and conjures up the imagery associated with the song itself. "Here comes the new Elvis Presley" to me threw up an image of someone that looked, sounded and had all the same idiosyncrasies as Elvis, a carbon copy, replica or clone. Hence the next line "can't believe my eyes" is a natural progression of the scene.


Walking in Memphis

I thought this would appeal to my mate Beany who is one of the world's authorities on conspiracy theories. I hear that he is on personal terms with Michael Moore. One of the world's most prominent conspiracy theories is the fact that Elvis lives.

Sightings are frequent and there are many websites that post them, even the official Elvis Presley website encourages people to send in photos, although to be honest these sightings are specific to images of Elvis rather than a living breathing Elvis.

Take a look when you get a chance and you too can see Elvis shopping at Kmart, lining up at airport terminals and so on ad infinitum.

This now brings me to the second line of the first verse.

It is Elvis incarnate, as I look towards the skies

This continues the story of the narrator's incredulity at seeing someone that is Elvis personified. It also implies a spiritual experience.

Incarnate is defined within the Oxford Dictionary as a spirit "Embodied in human form".

If you have your guitar handy, you can play the first two lines at a tempo of 154, eight bars each. The chords are A, A, A7, A7, G, G, D, and D. The next section moves from the spiritual to the idiosyncratic, which will suit the Freudians amongst you.


Spirit in the Sky

As we proceed down the literal path of "The New Elvis Presley" we have established a spiritual connection through the opening lines.

The third line of the first verse starts in the same way that the song begins, "Here comes the new Elvis Presley". I find that this is a trait that I display on occasions and the same style was used in "Superstar".

The next part of the line is "hip-swaying too" which is a common stereotype for Elvis and therefore was a natural progression. As part of the rhyming quatrain which is created by two pairs of rhyming couplets, I had already established "and wearing blue suede shoes" as the ending of the first verse.

Early TV appearances of Elvis only show him from the waist up as the media was concerned that his writhing hips and legs would corrupt the innocent American teenagers and offend their stiff parents. This was the decade before the Swinging Sixties and the Summer of Love.

This image of Elvis wearing blue suede shoes and the obvious link to the Carl Perkins song that Elvis made famous, then begs the question, what else is he wearing?

The phrase "Iconic jumpsuit and cape" then literally jumped out at me and then allowed me to complete the line with vivid imagery.

Now I am sure that the sartorial eloquent amongst you would argue that such a combination doesn't work, however I will leave that to the experts such as the hosts from the show Queer Eye for a Straight Guy that was a big hit a few years ago.

That's of course a big hit for the folks who actually watched it.


Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

After leaving the verse on a D chord, we move into the bridge with a B minor chord with the opening salvo "some quiet please" and then back to the D for "a little less conversation".

Staying true to the theme, it is envisaged that a crowd has assembled to witness this second coming, but the merry throng are a rambunctious lot and therefore multiple conversations are taking place. The narrator is desperate for some hush and basically tells them to shut up.

This is the second reference to an Elvis song. The next lines "get off your knees, rise up in celebration" maintains the imagery of reverential people joining in praise for the new Elvis.

Writing this piece reminds me of The Life of Brian, which has to be one of the funniest films ever made and was financed by George Harrison.

In the Martin Scorsese film George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Eric Idle recalls the time when they needed a million pounds to finance the film and George said he would pay for it.

Eric Idle jokes that it was the most expensive movie ticket anyone has ever bought. This is not a Beatles plug, although they are my favourite band. I also love Monty Python but we digress.

"Altogether now let's sing, long live the King" is the final part of the bridge with the word King landing on the A chord for the chorus. The chorus is set up with the chords A, C, D and E each one taking a bar.

The song is constructed with an intro, verse, bridge and chorus that is then repeated. The first chorus is repeated twice before going back into the intro.

You will see that the second chorus is repeated four times before the guitar break. Elvis is synonymous with the term "the King", hence why I used it.


Heartbreak Hotel

The second verse commences with "Here comes the New Elvis Presley, gonna kiss and tell, light up the lights of Las Vegas, book a room at Heartbreak Hotel." I like the inferences of these lines.

Famous people are constantly subject to kiss and tell stories in the media. I wouldn't be surprised if you are aware of one as you read this.

The alliteration in the first part of the second line also pays homage to Elvis' seven years on the Strip from 1969 - 1976 and the last reference was Elvis' first number one.

Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" in 1955.

Elvis never wrote any songs himself although he appears on the songwriting credits of nine songs that he performed. According to various sources this was down to Colonel Parker angling for more money for Elvis and therefore himself, but who are we to judge?


Suspicious Minds

I was about to call this subject heading "Graceland" but that triggered Paul Simon's song in my head, so I went for "Suspicious Minds" instead, although this triggered Fine Young Cannibals. Be my guest and check out You Tube for both these songs.

For the intellectually astute, you would have realised that both "Graceland" and '"Suspicious Minds" feature in the last two lines of the second verse.


Here comes the New Elvis Presley, and he's doing fine
Unlock the gates of Graceland and free your suspicious minds


These lyrics continue the storyline of apparently witnessing the second coming of Elvis that plays nicely into the hands of a doubting Thomas analogy. The lyrics deliberately draw parallels to a religious experience throughout.

As I mentioned previously my songs start with the opening line and a melody, so the whole imagery for the song formed at that point, and each line was constructed to support the underlying theme.

We have now concluded the second verse.


Stairway to Heaven

We have now arrived back at the bridge "some quiet please, a little less conversation, get off your knees, rise up in celebration, altogether now sing" before the second chorus.

This is then followed by a lead guitar break. I am the first to admit my lead guitar skills are at best passable, having spent all my time in bands as a songwriter and rhythm guitarist.

My favourite guitarist is Jimmy Page who was so versatile and could mix it up with majestic lead breaks, heavy riffs and intricate acoustic work. I can only dream of playing like that.

Ironically enough, I started guitar lessons as an eleven year old at school using a nylon string acoustic, but that only lasted about half a dozen lessons due to the fact I had to miss out on sport to attend.

I had to learn three blind mice and listen to Segovia. That in its self is not an issue, but I feel that if they had mixed in contemporary riffs at the time it may have captured my interest.

Anyway, the short and long of this is that I lost five years in my development as a guitar player which might as well have been a million for the lost ground both technically and theoretically.

The reason I draw your attention to this fact is that although I can deliver a spontaneous lead guitar break that sounds great, my ability to replicate it is sadly lacking. On an early version of this song, there is a lead break that I really liked but couldn't get the same effect on later recordings.

Jimmy Page was famous for selecting the solo that felt right in the song rather than technically being the best take. I would love to have been able to apply the same principle but I'm no Jimmy Page by any stretch of the imagination.


Radio Ga Ga

It is interesting to recall that at the original time of writing which was 16th June 2008, any thoughts of releasing it globally would have been a sign to seek psychiatric help. Basically there was absolutely no chance of a songwriter in their late thirties being given that opportunity.

Irrespective of any grand ambition of that nature, I still enjoyed recording my compositions on my Roland VS1680 that I had bought in England in the last millennium. This along with a Dr. Rhythm drum machine I was able to record it.

Once recorded, I sent it to some colleagues for their feedback and was pleased to find that it was positive. Of course, whether that feedback was totally honest is another question, and one that I am not going to lose any sleep over.

I had joined Triple J Unearthed that is a website run by the ABC where unsigned artists could upload their songs for people to listen to.

I originally uploaded three songs I had recorded previously called "Rollercoaster", "Joy Ride" and "Lemon Tree", which were the ones I played to Mark Hall when he asked to listen to some of my work.

When "The New Elvis Presley" was recorded I sent it to David Garrood, a former colleague in Brisbane who was associated with a community radio station called 99.7FM Your Better Mix.

As luck would have it, he was filling in for the usual Friday night DJ who was taking a break.

He played the song on Friday 26th March and sent me a clip of him introducing the song.

It was played under the title "Long Live the King" which explains why I still haven't received any royalties for that auspicious occasion.


Rock and Roll

Fast-forward a couple of years and I find myself picking up my oldest daughter Rachel from a piano lesson. Her piano teacher is Mark Hall who runs the music and drama departments of Warringah Performing Arts in Brookvale, NSW, Australia which he owns with his wife Julie who runs the dance school.

Rachel mentioned to Mark that I write and record songs. Mark asked if he could listen to some of my material and so the following week I took in some old recordings of "Roller Coaster", "Joy Ride" and "Lemon Tree" that I had recorded a few years back plus an early version of "The New Elvis Presley".

Mark really liked the songs and said he could improve my vocal performance by having formal lessons. I have never been the lead singer in all the bands I have played with. I have been content to write the songs, play guitar and let others sing so this prospect was very daunting.

I recall at my first lesson, I played Mark my latest song "Kicking and Screaming" on the piano. Mark was able to transpose the song to the correct key for my voice and also play the song on his Clavinova with various accompaniments that really lifted the song. I was very self-conscious about my voice and so it was re-assuring to have someone who could place it correctly, play the song immediately in the correct key and provide an arrangement that sat perfectly with the integrity of the song.

Around Christmas 2010 we were discussing recording "The New Elvis Presley" and using a tribute artist to sing it, but we didn't get round to it. That project would have to wait another year.

During that time, I had been writing plenty of material and working on a set of other people's songs Mark has chosen to improve my voice. One of my songs was called "Superstar" and Mark felt it was time that I could be unleashed to an unsuspecting public, so after starting my lessons in April 2010, my first live performance was in December of that year and as Robert Plant once sang "It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time".

It was a daunting experience to me, due to the fact that everyone else who was performing was half my age. I sat there whilst the other performers went through their contribution to the evening that consisted of popular and recognisable songs. Proud parents watching their children sing, applauding the performance whilst I sat near the back trying to conquer my nerves. The fact I was singing my own composition that in the play list was down as "Superstar", Guy Simons.

Would people like it?

What if I bombed?

All these fears presented themselves as I sat there. I know that I seriously considered silently slipping away, but thankfully the fear of letting Mark down outweighed my inner demons and I resolved to stay and get up there. When my time came to be called up, I was extremely self-conscious and made a joke about my age that thankfully got a laugh and calmed me down a bit. Mark accompanied me on his Clavinova and I managed to get through it, although you could hear the nerves in my voice. When I finished, the crowd applauded and I felt tremendous relief that I had got through it and remembered all the lyrics.

After the show, a couple of the parents came up to me and were very complimentary about both my song and my singing. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Objective One.

Achieved.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from I Wrote You A Song by Guy Simons. Copyright © 2015 Guy Simons. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Prelude, 1,
Song 1 - The New Elvis Presley, 11,
Song 2 - Shine That Light, 27,
Song 3 - Two Lost Souls, 45,
Song 4 - You Say You're Leaving, 55,
Song 5 - Invisible Man, 69,
Song 6 - You Are Everything., 85,
Song 7 - Seventeen, 107,
Song 8 - Time Traveller, 129,
Song 9 - Another Bad Day at the Office, 143,
Song 10 - Cyber Spaceman, 163,
Song 11 - Superstar, 183,
Song 12 - I Wrote You A Song, 203,
Coda, 223,
Encore, 229,

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