It’s All A Cliche

It’s All A Cliche

Today I’d like to share another song that Rodney Craddock and I have recorded. It is called It’s all a cliche. My dad, Larry Craddock, is once again playing lead guitar. This time, my mom, Samie Craddock,has  also made a huge contribution. She wrote the lyrics. I received an email from her seemingly out of the blue last November. It included a poem that she had written one day while she was in a particularly cynical mood. That poem became the lyrics for the song it’s all a cliche. Along with the lyrics, mom sent me instructions to make any changes we deemed necessary. She also encouraged me to take full credit, which I obviously refused to do. We did make changes but very few.

Her original idea was to create a poem comprised of the opposites of overused phrases. For example instead of “two wrongs don’t make a right”, she would say instead “two wrongs make a right”. It was a great idea but in my opinion, the poem was inconsistent. Some of the phrases expressed the opposite while others did not. I invoked my right to make changes by including only the overused version of each phrase. The end product is very similar to mom’s original lyrics but not exact. We did reorder a couple of the verses and changed two lines completely. I only mention these changes to keep the record straight. Any lyrical inconsistencies are almost certainly my fault.

I think she expected us to put them to music with a more country flavor. After all, everything we have done up to this point has leaned in that direction. Both Rodney and I were ready for something different. We wanted to do something a bit more rock and roll. I had a tune in my head that I thought would fit. I first played it for mom and then for Rodney. They both liked it. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure but their approval was enough. I’ve gone back and forth.

It’s funny how these things work. Mom may have written most of the lyrics. I may have written most of the music. But Rodney has been this songs champion. When I wanted to scrap the music and go with something different he convinced me not to. He was right, this seems to happen to me every time. At some point in every project, I think to myself “this sucks, I’m no good” blah blah blah. I’m learning to tune it out. I’m running on the assumption that it’s better to do something than nothing. I tell myself that everything is a learning process and the best way to improve is by making mistakes. So you might as well get busy making mistakes. When I have had doubts it is usually Rodney who encourages me to keep on.

On this song Rodney handled the main vocals, bass and digital drums. I recorded both rhythm guitar tracks and helped out a bit with background vocals. For the lead guitar part, we recruited Dad. I wanted to get someone else’s take on the song and you can never go wrong getting Dad to play. The song is sort of split in two. There is an intro, two verses and a chorus. This format repeats after a pause. Initially, we asked Dad to record a solo during the repeat of the introduction (if that makes any sense). We also asked him to solo at the end over the chorus music. After some trial and error we decided we liked hearing a solo over the chorus music much more than the intro. We ended up adding another frame after the chorus and leaving the second intro with rhythm guitar only.

These types of situations are kind of stressful as they are happening. You always worry about offending someone or starting a fight. An “I don’t like a solo there” can easily be heard as “Your solo sucks and so do you”. You have to run on the assumption that the guys you are working with aren’t jerks. Thankfully we all trust each other. It’s pretty easy to takes statements in their best light instead of their worst. The arguments and criticism are both the toughest and the most memorable parts of the process. They are also the difference between an average recording and a great one.

By far the toughest part of this song for me has been the video. Rodney usually handles most of it. This time I tried to lend more of a hand. Unfortunately, in doing so I only caused more work. This song is about living life on autopilot and getting caught up in the flow of everyday life. I can’t help but think of white collar America and my corporate day job. I’m the one who suggested that we dress up in suit and ties for the video. I drove to downtown Fort Worth and recorded backdrop videos of busy streets, parking garages and the fronts of impressive looking buildings. I also took some video of us driving down the road. Don’t worry, Linda handled the driving duty while I operated the camera. I’m sure people thought i was crazy with a camcorder held out the window.

As I mentioned, Rodney and I would be playing while wearing suit and tie in front of the green screen. We had other plans for Dad. We had him dress up like a hobo and play his part with an open guitar case in front of him. The idea was that we would put him on the street as if he were playing for change. To my shock he didn’t protest. We each submitted our performance to Rodney and he got busy making the video. He worked his tail off and created the video that we had both signed off on. I didn’t like it at all. He must have been ready to kill me.

It wasn’t really the video that I didn’t like. As usual, Rodney did a great job especially with the quality of material he was given. It was the costumes. It sounded like fun during the planning process but it was nearly impossible to implement on our budget of practically nothing. I thought that all three of us looked silly and the reason for our costumes wasn’t very obvious. Of course it could have just been me being insecure again. Rodney wasn’t able to talk me down this time. Truthfully, he didn’t try very hard. Either he agreed with me or I had already worn him down with other complaints. Regardless, we each videoed ourselves again but this time we nixxed the costumes. The video that Rodney created is pretty much the same except it now had the new footage of us playing replacing the old.

It has been over two months since we have shared any music. It’s not that we haven’t been playing but for one reason or another, we haven’t been ready to release it. In my opinion, each recording that we do sounds better than the last. After every project I have learned a little more about recording, engineering and mixing songs. I hope you all enjoy listening to this song as much as I did recording it. Please let me know what you think. If you like it, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it with your friends.

Erik Craddock