Singled Out: Donn T's Midnight
"Midnight" came to life a few years ago in late fall, while I was staying at the Ace Hotel in NYC. I'd just checked into my room (room 1011 to be exact). I put my bags down and made a call to a good friend who lived in NYC. I remember for no reason that I could pinpoint, the conversation was tense at 'Hello.' I kept trying to clear the air but, my friend wouldn't bite. It was out of character for them. It was confusing for me. I'd driven into the city from Philly. It was late. I was exhausted and feeling impatient about the direction our talk was taking. The conversation was not going well. We ended the call with them saying words that really stung. I'd been pacing around the room while talking on the phone, but I had not been conscious of doing so. When the call ended I'd landed in the entrance of the doorway to the bathroom directly across from the mirror. My eyes fell onto a decal. It read, "Love is meant to make us glad." This decal by the way is on every bathroom mirror at The Ace. It was a miserable moment. I thought I'd lost one of my best friends. Then, as it mostly always happens, I heard lyrics and melody in my head at the same time. I stared at the decal, and sang the opening chorus and first and second verses of "Midnight". It was my way of processing that experience.
The irony of moments like this is never lost on me. When something vivid and light rises out of ashes unexpectedly, I am always stunned. The visual was, me in a dark room except for the bathroom light, then me in the bathroom doorway as the words and melody to "Midnight" bounced off tile and tub. It was raw, but it had a lot of musicality. The chorus and verses were colorful, intentional, soulful, and whimsical. In juxtaposition, I was entirely gray. I was still holding my phone. I dialed my number, recorded the song into my voicemail and put it to sleep.
Back in Philly several months later, I would sit and produce the song with MIDI keyboard, starting with the string arrangement, preliminary keys, lead and back up vocals. Singer-songwriter Naeemah Z. Maddox was also added into the back up vocal mix. My tracking engineer set a place holder with a basic electronic drum track and electronic bass track that would later be removed for live instruments and lush offerings, courtesy of a handful of elite Philly musicians including guitarist/producer Jake Morelli. Together, Jake and I flipped the song on it's side a couple few times, stripping it down, building it back up over the course of a year and hammering out what would become the final production.
Oh, there's a happy ending. My good friend and I resolved our difference of opinion.