Heartbreak and Songwriting

It was easy to get wrapped up in Adele's latest record, 21. Chris emailed me the video for "Rolling In The Deep" the day that it hit the internet and I was hooked. Somehow her first record didn't do it for me. But this song was different: the attitude, the KILLER chorus, the thumping beat. She'd converted me for sure. And then I heard "Someone Like You." It was a live performance on the Brit Awards and the emcee gave the perfect introduction: "If you've ever had a broken heart, you are about to remember it now." I haven't had a broken heart for a long time but damn if he wasn't spot on. It's just one of those songs, those monster songs, that hits me in the gut every time I hear it. It makes me remember being in high school and falling in love for the first time. It makes me remember driving home from the airport after dropping off my college girlfriend, thinking I'd never see her again. It's a rare feat for a song to provoke such visceral reactions, but this one does.

I almost didn't want to like it at first. The arpeggiated piano chords and straight-ahead changes put me off at first. I sniffed around the web and read that Dan Wilson (of Semisonic/"Closing Time" fame) co-write the tune. Was it too sappy or radio friendly? After repeated listens I just couldn't deny it. It may be cliche at times but with Adele's voice and delivery, it really doesn't matter. She transcends.

I also discovered that the songs on 21 emerged from Adele's broken heart after a difficult break up. She drew on the lessons learned and mistakes made to write heartfelt, honest songs. Man, that guy must feel like an ass. (Sidenote: check out this parody of what his response album would be).

21 got me thinking and reflecting on TRN's new record Gets Over You. Our first LP Carry Me Home was definitely a from-the-heart production. Writing those songs was my therapy during a very difficult relationship of my own (which turned out well, by the way). After purging all those feelings I had to shift my entire outlook on writing lyrics. Stef was a huge help in this area. During the year before we started recording Gets Over You, we met during her lunch breaks and worked on songs together. It was a blast creating characters and stories, thinking about what a jaded lover or "done with you" friend would do in a tough situation. We laughed a lot and came up with enough material for an entire record.

It's a challenge for me to find truth and honesty in writing fictional songs, but I think it's getting easier. I try to have more of an outward-facing view of the world: instead of living within my own struggles I'm keeping an ear to the ground for what's going on in the world and with other people (ok, that is a bring egocentric sentence, I'll admit).

It's an important time for songwriters today. There is so much anger and disillusionment in our country, but also such hope and expectation for what the future can bring. One of my favorite "state of the union" songs is Aloe Blacc's "I Need A Dollar." Great melody, beat, and production aside, I think the lyrics really drive this tune. "Bad times are coming and I reap what I don't sow/Well let me tell you something all that glitters ain't gold/...I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is what I need."

This is a song of the moment. A song of Occupy Wall Street. Of high unemployment and a shitty economy. But it's also fiction, a song built on characters and experiences that Aloe Blacc has probably never faced. It's such a challenging road for a songwriter to take, and Aloe Blacc really nails it.

I'll wrap it up with a tune that fuses the shitty economy with love, and quite brilliantly: Allen Stone's "Unaware." This rules!

Grammys!

For the first time in years I actually tuned in and caught some of the Grammy Awards this year. That might make me an exception in TRN--Stef and Chris eagerly await the performances each year by their pop idols. So what made this year different for me? It feels like the Academy is finally starting to catch up with the new music industry that the rest of us have known about and enjoyed for quite some time. It's pretty amazing that people like Bon Iver (Best New Artist) and The Civil Wars are getting their due from such a glitzy, over-the-top industry event. These are artists that represent the real future of music--less glamor, less pre-packaged pop emptiness, and more honest and heartfelt songwriting. Whitney Houston's death reminded me of what the Grammys and the music industry used to be. It seems like my family and everyone else we knew gathered around the TV annually to watch brilliant pop stars perform. We didn't have cable and my parents definitely didn't shell out the cash to for me to see Michael Jackson or Paul McCartney in concert. The Grammys were one of the few chances I actually got to see those artists perform in a live setting. In my house live performance was the true test of talent. We gleefully anticipated unedited renditions of the biggest songs of the year to see if artists could actually pull it off in a live setting. How well can Mariah actually sing outside of the studio? Can Sir Paul still hit those high notes? What in the hell is MC Hammer wearing?

Music and celebrity weren't so accessible back then, and it's kind of mind blowing to think how much things have changed. Nowadays kids don't just hear vague urban legends about Anthony Kiedis' crabs (who remembers that?)--they can go to youtube or twitter and bear witness to crazy ass celebrities in real time (insert Kanye twitter joke here).

The performers did not disappoint this year. I have to listen to a lot of crap with my 5 and 9 year old kids and do a lot of vetoing. Bruno Mars is actually a breath of fresh air when Selena Gomez and LMFAO are involved. I'll gladly be subjected to Bruno's tunes after that show stopping James Brown act he did.

And Alicia and Bonnie Raitt? THAT is what I'm talking about.

I was really bummed that Cee Lo's double Grammy winning "Fool For You" didn't make the televised portion. As you've probably heard on our various social networking sites, Orgone provided the absolutely devastating backing tracks. They holed up in Killion Sound a few years back with producer Jack Splash and cut a ton of tracks that have since ended up on Alicia Keys, Anthony Hamilton, and Jasmine Sullivan records. It's a shame that they aren't given more credit for their amazing work on all this stuff, but especially "Fool For You." After my first listen to Cee Lo's The Lady Killer, it was my favorite track. I kind of freaked when I heard that they played on it.

So congrats to Orgone! They are hitting the road in a few weeks. You can bet that TRN will be front and center at their Schubas show on March 16.

-Brendan

 

 

 

Welcome to our new site!

So this is the new therightnow.com! It's all centered around the release of our new record, Gets Over You. Recorded in LA last summer with Sergio Rios (Orgone), the new LP comes out April 10, 2012 on all the usual formats (cd, vinyl, & digital). We're damn proud of the record and can't wait for you to hear it. The website launch allows us to show you some of our hard work. So take a look around and enjoy. You can stream our entire discography, preorder the new record, check out our new press photos, and a whole lot more.

Speaking of preorders, we are excited to offer a nice perk for folks who order a combo: you'll get a download of the record in your inbox on April 3, a whole week before the official release date. All of the items come with a download of the record (thanks, Topspin).

Check out this video from Stef with an awesome surprise!