Singled Out: Syd
The Pattern became a song that sort of ushered in a new era of songwriting for me. After the recording of "The Way We Found It" and even during the making of that record, I had been suffering through bouts of anywhere from minor to crippling writer's block. In retrospect it had a lot to do with the fact that I had learned how to write songs by following the route songs by singer/songwriters always seemed to follow---"this song is about the most important subject in the world: me and my love life. This is a riff to go with those thoughts. Enjoy". I think mentally I was just losing my belief that what I had to say about me and my capacity for love would somehow bring me closer to the listener. I wanted to draw from a broader range of experiences, and also from the stories of the people around me.
That's why, instead of lyrics, melody, arrangement and structure coming all at once, The Pattern served as a proving ground for a different, much more methodical (and, in some ways, drawn out) way of making an idea into a song.
In 2007, I had been recording a lot of piano for Lisa Piccirillo's solo record and at the time the house my mom was in had a beautiful piano in a big room. Good combination. I was visiting her and went for a run. I wasn't listening to any music, but got kind of sucked in to the cadence of my own footsteps. "This is the pattern repeat it repeat it"...I started singing those lines to myself. When I got back I just sat down at the keyboard and banged out the chord structure for the chorus. The song's a little different because the chorus is minor and the verses are major, which was actually with me from the moment I started working on it.
I brought it to the band and we came up with the structure of the tune and I just happily fumbled through dummy lyrics. We were so into it that we actually started playing the tune on the road at shows with me singing just gibberish lyrics. This allowed me to hone in on a melody and for the band to just fine tune those parts. We were trying to just find as many hooks as we could. The drums to me are one of the major hooks of the song.
Still no lyrics, but I knew they would come and even with dummy lyrics the song was clearly going over well with audiences. So we booked some studio time and got rhythm tracks (bass & drums) recorded in between sessions for my work producing Gregory Douglass' "Battler".
That fall, a year after my run in New Hampshire where the idea was born, I finally got a chance to sit down and work out the lyrics before finishing up the recording out here in California. I drew from a lot of stories we had shared in the van about the patterns people fall into, whether it's love or work, or whatever, just that idea that you at one point do something (cheat, lie, steal or on the other hand succeed, accomplish) and it can become a pattern in your life. So, no matter what we tell ourselves, we are sort of doomed and/or blessed to repeat those things.
I'm glad I got to spend that kind of time fine-tuning it, it makes the song that much stronger I think, and has served as a blueprint for my kind of version 2.0 songwriting style. Yesterday I starting humming another little melody. In two years, who knows. This is the pattern, repeat it, repeat it....
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, download the free EP and listen for yourself and learn a little about Co-Op as well - right here!
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