News & Rambling

News & Rambling

The “wood block” song & The NPR Tiny Desk Contest. #tinydeskcontest

NPR has just informed me that my song “wood block” is an official entrant into Tiny Desk Contest. I am obviously thrilled to be involved. They have asked that I post a little more about the song. I am glad to oblige here.

In December, I received a message from a friend telling me about the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I promised to do her proud. I set about recording various new songs I’ve written this year, just to test them out and see how they’d sound. At the end of the session, I decided to try out “wood block”, a song I’d been working on for awhile, but never performed or recorded in it’s entirety.

I started writing “wood block” because it just seems so unnecessary that people still kill each other in this day and age. It frustrated me that it was so hard to write a song that would just chill everyone out and say, hey, that’s not nice. Let’s be nice. We’re all just people, and in some way, we all really like each other. We’re all being shown a million things every day that promise to make our lives better. For some reason, the thought just popped into my head, “What if everyone just needs a wood block?”

I write songs in various ways. Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to write three verses and a chorus in one shot and be done with it. But, in many cases, I find a translation which occurs between the head and the pen, where the head’s honesty fights the pen’s cleverness for the truth of the song. I always try to focus on that fact that I write songs because I want to remember something about that moment in time. What I remember of what I’ve written is what matters. That’s what ends up becoming the song. I often like to think of songs as pieces of pottery in the kiln of your heart. You fire them, you glaze them, you fire them again, then one day you’re drinking coffee out of them. When they’re useful, they’re songs.

“Wood block” took shape over two months. For awhile, it was just a little melody I’d find myself singing. Then I’d share bits of it with friends. It was such a personal song, that I didn’t even want to write any of it down until I was sure I knew where it was headed. I wanted to let my memory write the song, because my memory would be on the hook for singing it again if anyone were to ask.

After reviewing my footage from the day’s recording, I found the “wood block” song had the most I wanted to say¬†and remember about being a part of the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. There was only one problem. Since I hadn’t dreamed¬†I’d be using the take, I’d left my unsightly bedhead showing. Through the magic of the Ken Burns effect on iMovie, I was able crop out most of it and still pan down to show the desk where my typewriter sits. I’m very glad it was accepted into the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. I would like to thank my friend Susanna for telling me about the contest and the folks at NPR for helping me to get this song out to the world.

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Copyright 2014 Alex Battles.