I am lucky enough to be in a couple of songwriter groups, one based in Chicago and one with people from all over the US. The internet-based group is called The Tunesmiths, and I just spent September collaborating with two Tunesmith artists, Jordi Baizan and Sam Frazier on "Beside Me." Give it a listen!
Here’s how this song and arrangement came to be:
In January, 2020, the prompt was “caught up in.” It became this haiku: "the wind and the sky // surrender to each other // but don’t lose themselves."
Once I shared the song version of it with the group, Jordi Baizan wrote: “Jenny I love this song, and want to be a backup singer in the band for a live performance!”
Sam Frazier wrote, “Jordi can sing backup. I'd just like to play some tight little back up guitar part that you can barely hear but contributes to this groovy song.”
Fast forward to September. Patiently but insistently, two new books of photo and haiku seem to want me to bring them to life for your and my “shop small business” shenanigans for the 2020 holiday gift giving season. While it looks promising, the stars are still aligning for one or both books. We should know by mid-October.
That said, no matter what, the 3rd Haiku Milieu Concert of the 2020 Season happens on Friday, November 20, book in hand or no.
In August, asked Sam and Jordi if they would be up for collaborating on this song. They both said YES! I am thrilled with how the song turned out, and I can honestly say, if not for their enthusiasm, this song arrangement would not exist. I LOVE it - did I mention that??
So of course I want to share more about both of these guys with you. We begin with Sam.
Sam is from Greensboro, NC. I admired both his songwriting and his super steady hand on the guitar. He plays with a kind of timing that, no matter what kind of song (he writes in many styles) he seems to gather all the pieces of you into one place, getting your heart and your breathing to move in rhythm with each other. Neat trick.
He also has a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor. From the song Genius: “I went to sleep guilty, I woke up mean, I was a genius in between”. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/VYRYl44DwlU.
That sense of humor is only equalled by an almost Tennessee Williams-ian depth of empathy. From the song Core: “She don’t cry the way he cries // with a tear and a lie in the corner of his eye // when they’re side by side they’re harder to ignore // but she’ll grieve all the way down to her core.” You can see it here: https://youtu.be/yFfPaj_TYwE.
Though I have been very pleased to be getting to know Sam, and to witness the evolution of the way he brings songs to life, I DID NOT KNOW about his outrageousness on the electric guitar. Holy moly!
More at Samfrazier.com. I will let Sam take it from here.
"I met Jenny through a Facebook songwriter group called the Tunesmiths. Her songs were cool and she always had her own thing going, which is why I was honored when she asked me to participate in this long-distance recording adventure.
And she made it clear that I was to do what I wanted to do, which was a welcome challenge for me. And fairly open and brave on Jenny’s part. You never know what you’re gonna get in that situation. So, kudos to Jenny for taking the chance!
The world of importing/recording/exporting tracks is a new world for me. A lot of my friends do it all the time, but I’ve been behind the curve in that particular aspect of music. In the interest of addressing that issue, I purchased new recording software. I was just getting familiar with it when this project came up.
I listened to the rough tracks a few times, then plugged in and started playing along, just jamming at first until a part started to coalesce.
As a songwriter, myself, I’m always cognizant of structure and I want to do what I can as a guitar player to delineate and enhance the different sections. That’s the goal, anyway.
I ended up with two electric rhythm guitar parts that kind of joined the conversation with Jenny’s acoustic guitars without interrupting too much.
There was a verse with no lead vocals about 2/3s into the song which, to a guitar player, is an exhortation to solo. Just to be sure, I checked with Jenny, and she said (I paraphrase), “go for it!” So I did. I grabbed a different guitar, and went for it, until I had something I liked that took the song somewhere good. And I hoped Jenny would like at least some of it. You really never know.
Then Jenny reminded me that I was welcome to sing some background vocals. Jordi Baizan (another member of the Tunesmiths) had already sung a beautiful part below Jenny, so I just added a high part to the “beside me”s. Which I, of course, forgot to send with the guitar tracks. Better late than never!
Plus, as requested, I sent in an iphone video of me playing along with the song, and I’m trusting that I won’t look too foolish in the final cut.
I love what Jenny and Klem did with my contributions. Jenny’s in Illinois, Jordi’s in Texas and I’m in North Carolina. I’ve never met Klem and I don’t know where he is. It’s amazing. And a beautiful thing." - Sam Frazier