A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘another stretch in iraq’

Christmas Hope Songs

So I’ve written a number of blogs about Christmas songs and a key point being that you need to write it 6 months out. A couple of years ago I wrote Another Stretch in Iraq which I blogged about here. This was my recognition of the men and women of the military who have served and are serving around the world. Following this year’s study it is going to get a major rewrite and new name, but the fundamental message doesn’t change.

Coming up to Christmas I was working on my second to last Melody Assignment at Berklee Music and decided to do it as a Christmas song. I haven’t finished it, but thought I’d share a couple of verses and chorus with you. I’m thinking it will end up with another verse and bridge before I record it properly, but hope you like the concept.

I am really into telling stories which will become obvious if you listen to more of my songs. So this one is about a family who have hit tough times and despite their own feelings are wishing for something good for someone else.

The exercise was point and counterpoint between bass and lyric melody. For the verses I’ve used Oblique motion where the dominant movement comes from the bass. In the choruses I’ve used Parallel motion to really draw attention to the emotion in the lyrics.

Hope you like it. All feedback welcome. You can hear it by clicking on the following link: Santa if youre listening

Merry Christmas to you and yours and many thanks for visiting my blog.

Another Stretch in Iraq, my Christmas Song

December is only hours away and I have just entered my song Another Stretch in Iraq into the Paramount Group’s Christmas Song Competition. Why enter a song about a soldier going back to the Iraq War?

I couldn’t think of anything more poignant than soldiers in the field opening up a parcel from home which has a miniature Christmas Tree in it. The men and women will be thinking of home, wishing they could be with their friends and family, just as they would have at Thanksgiving. Just as their families and friends are thinking of them, wishing they were at home, hoping they will come home safe, sound and soon.

The concept of soldiers going to war with pictures of their loved ones helping them keep it together and coming home finding their loved ones have moved on in their absence is not unusual and while it is tough, the strength and security of knowing your fellow soldiers have your back is in a sense even stronger than your home relationship because their support can be the difference between coming home alive or in a body bag. The memories of experiences in the field can not be fully understood by those who have not served in the field of war. The worry of those at home waiting and praying for their men and women is also a unique feeling, worrying every time the mail is late or the doorbell rings late at night.

So while my Christmas song is not about sleigh bells ringing or Santa coming down the chimney, it is about love and family, about fellowship and trust and about being alive, that special way of feeling alive in a world of uncertainty.

Now I haven’t been to war, I’ve been lucky to have come of age between wars, but plenty of my family members have served in times of peace and war.

I did spend 6 months or so researching it and the reaction of men who served in Desert Storm when I performed it in the US last year suggest that I managed to capture some of the feelings.

It must be pretty tough for someone to want to go back to the Bradley (personnel carrier)

Id rather have my Bradley

I'd rather have my Bradley

and the MRE rations (Made Ready to Eat) having gone home to the girl or guy they felt they were fighting for and finding they now love someone else. But the story has probably happened a hundred times to soldiers in the last year and to thousands before them.

So, I give to you and the judges of the Paramount Group songwriting contest, Another Stretch in Iraq and hope that they see my Christmas Song entry as a piece written full of respect for the men and women whose blogs I read and commented on at the Milblogging Site and the diaries of Desert Storm which told their story in their own words. This isn’t a song of war, but a song of people who do what they feel they must and what they feel.

Merry Christmas to all those brave people fighting and peacekeeping on their missions around the world. You and your families have my deepest respect. May your stretch be short and your Christmases with your families holding each other around  the tree be many.

Another Stretch in Iraq

(you can listen at MySpace)

©Luigi Cappel 2007

1

I was walking on an empty street

My feet were marching to a lonely beat

I had you on my mind.

I kept on walking though my feet were sore

There was no procrastinating I could take no more

I wanted to leave you far behind.

I served my time on the sand in Iraq

While you were making hay with my good friend Mark

How could I have been so blind?

Thinking of you helped me keep my cool

Little did I know you played me for a fool

Feel like I’m gonna lose my mind.

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Sit-rep says its all haywire

Its home where I got shot by friendly fire

I’m going back

Home is where I thought I wanted to be

Now I’d rather have my Bradley and an MRE

Even in Iraq

Bridge

It’s a strange old world we’re living in

Don’t know who you can trust

Don’t know where to begin

Now I’m gonna live my life one day at a time

So its Christmas time and the desert is cold

My life is with the army if the truth be told

They’ve got my back

My mom and dad sent a little Christmas tree

They said that they were praying for the boys and me

They said get yourself back on track

Chorus

I might as well sign up for another stretch

There’s nothing left to keep me here aint life a bitch?

At least in the army I know where I stand

Serving my country in a foreign land.

Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you know someone who would appreciate this blog, please send them a link. Please feel free to leave a comment, I always welcome feedback. If you are inspired by this, check out the links, its not too late to contribute to a Christmas Parcel. The guys who blog at Milblogging also appreciate feedback and knowing that even total strangers are thinking of them. Finally wish me luck with my Paramount Song Competition entry, I’m keen to grow my career as a songwriter and a competition like this could be a leg up.

How to write a Christmas Song

I’ve noticed that a number of people who read my blog recently found me by putting in a search query on the search engine, asking how to write a Christmas song. They found me because of a blog I wrote back in August, saying that was the time you needed to write it.

That blog covered lots of topics you can write about, but I just wanted to add one for those of you who are now inspired. It’s too late to record something to go into a Christmas stocking unless you are burning it yourself, which is a good idea. You could also send a song as a Christmas present to your friends, family and fans as an MP3 Musicgram, which is a cool idea. This site allows you to upload songs and send them to a friend. I’ve tried it myself and it was very cool.

Anyway, I just wanted to add one very important point. If you disect the songs that populate the hit charts, you will find a major difference between the average singer songwriter song and the hits. That is that a hit song usually has a happy theme, like “I’ve got a new guy/girl and I want to tell the world.” “Now that I’ve found you”. “I’m in love”.

Many singer songwriters write about the one that got away and are being what Ralph Murphy calls the typical singer songwriter, a self indulgent writer who writes to get things off their chest (which is fine if that’s what you are after), but most people want to listen to songs that are uplifting and what more uplifting is there than “I’ve got you and that’s all I need for Christmas”. Think about the songs that you have on your stereo or listen to on the radio on Christmas Day to set the mood.

Sometimes you can do something a little more melancholy with a Christmas tone, but it probably won’t become a popular Christmas song. There are ways to add some special sentiment. For example in my song Another Stretch in Iraq, there is a mention as follows (about the tradition of sending miniature Christmas trees to the troops):

‘It’s Christmas time and the dessert is cold

My life is with the Army if the truth be told

They’ve got my back

My Mom and Dad sent a little Christmas Tree

They said that they were prayin for the boys and me……..’

Check out this list at Lyrics Vault for the top Christmas Songs of All Time and you will see that they are pretty much all uplifting happy songs full of Christmas Cheer. Of course there is a place for sad songs, but if you want to write a hit, write one in a major key with a lively beat and chuck a few sleigh bells in the chorus.

If you really want to be a little melancholy, you can still turn it into positive. Live Aid’s Do They Know Its Christmas did a great job of telling the sad story and what people could do about it into a happy one. It is just as popular today as when it came out in 1985.

watch?v=stNGHiscETo

Now is the time to write your Christmas song

It’s not unusual around November to get opportunities to do something with your Christmas song, but if you haven’t written and recorded at least your demo it’s going to be too late. I don’t know about you but listening to Snoopy chasing the Red Baron anything more than once a year is more than I can take. So how about writing one now and be ready for the opportunity.

Christmas songs don’t have to be all about Jingle Bells, there are many poignant songs about Christmas these days. Songs about please bring dad home for Christmas or, well here I some ideas to get you started. How about trying one of these as an exercise?

  • Christmas Love
  • Christmas Stress (Think about all those people doing last minute Christmas shopping and how happy they look, not)
  • Christmas Shopping
  • I don’t know what to buy you for Christmas
  • All I want for Christmas is a new girlfrind/boyfriend
  • Christmas Blues (I actually have a CD of famous Blues artists performing Christmas Blues, I can’t be the only person who bought it)
  • Family Christmas
  • Christmas on the beach (that’s what a lot of us do in New Zealand and Australia)
  • I love/hate Christmas shopping
  • My Christmas gift to you is me
  • I didn’t want you for Christmas I wanted a new guitar
  • What Christmas means to me
  • My gift to you is this song

That should give you a few ideas for a start. The song doesn’t have to be all about Christmas either. My Christmas song is called Another Stretch in Iraq and you can hear it on my MySpace page.

Oh and a little favour. If you thought this was useful or you liked my song, I would really appreciate it if you would click on the Demand It Competition banner on my MySpace page and vote for me in the Eventfull Competition, I really could use the help:)

If you found this useful and you know of anyone else who i a songwriter and could use some ideas, how about sending them a link?

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