Writing Considerations: This Too Will Pass (and all the tricks)


Gifts from the universe, that's what my friend Josh Van Wey called it. When you're working on a song and it comes to you, unbidden, and almost in its entirety - when you get the flow and the song writing seems effortless. But I wonder - how much of that is how much work one puts into the craft - when you get the gift, but it's built on all the tools.


I think in this case it's a little bit of both. The lyrics certainly came straightaway. But I had some pretty solid ideas about what I wanted from this song as I thought about the little things you can do to keep it interesting.


So, first of all - a bit of a melancholy song so you know what that means - minor key! In fact, I had just been playing the Am - Dm (the i and iv of the key of Am) and thinking how much I liked that sound. That's when the lyrics popped into my head...


I don't want to go there

I don't want to know...


Ooooo I can't wait to hear how this one is going to turn out.


Now - I know what you're thinking, because I thought it too - key of Am, the i-iv-v for this would be Am - Dm - Em. But I thought, "nah, let's mix it up just a bit". Thus, for the verse I went with Am - Dm - Am - Dm - Am - Em - G - Am.


What I really like about this is the back and forth between the Am and Dm doesn't really resolve. The listener is left hanging. The resolution "almost" comes on the five (the Em), but then I go to the III (which is a C chord in this key) and only then do we resolve back to the one (Am).


The other main performance note is playing this in 6/8 time so you get that "triplet over two" feel which is great for ballads. Powerful timing, powerful key - sad lyrics... everything is in place.


Before we talk about the chorus/hook I'll talk about the overall song structure. As you know, you can go a lot of ways here. You can go verse-chorus, verse-chorus... you could even start with the chorus (a la George Strait on "Fireman") and then you have the big question - "to bridge or not to bridge".


I was pulling out all the stops on interesting bits that you can do to keep a song interesting from start to finish.

This song is structured thusly:

Intro

Verse 1

Verse 2

Chorus

Verse 3

Chorus

Musical Interlude (same chord progression as the verse)

Bridge

Chorus (with an added dynamics change)

Outro


Whew! That's a lot!


Now on the chorus I thought about going simple... and then thought... "nah".


So - we start with the Am... where we left off, but instead of going to the Dm, I go to an F, followed by a C. (The III and the VI in this key). And only then do we return to the Am-Dm-G-Am that resolves us back into the next verse.


Coming out of the musical interlude we switch to the bridge. Although we start the song on a sad note I want to give a glimmer of hope... so that means... yes, switching to major chords (the bridge chord progression is C-G-C-G-Am-Dm-G-Am.

The lyrics of the bridge open with:


Come out of the darkness

Step through the glass


We have to connect the C-G (the III and VII chords of this key) back to the main pattern of Am-Dm-G-Am so that we can resolve back into the chorus.


Then we just have the outro which Am-Dm-Am-Dm-Am-Em-G-Am - where I'm just hammering the hook over and over...


This too will pass...


How many "tricks" were employed in this three minute window?

  1. Short intro - 20 seconds to set the tone

  2. We do two verses and then hit the chorus - but coming out of the chorus, we only do one verse, then hit the chorus again, emphasizing the hook. The chord progression differences between the verse and the chorus should hold interest

  3. Come out of the chorus straight into a musical interlude - this is where the lead will be played

  4. Come of the lead into the bridge - we've changed the feel yet again

  5. This final chorus includes a dynamics change - on the guitar going to a quiet, finger-picking mode

  6. Dramatic pause at the end of the chorus and then...

  7. Big finish with the outro - big powerful strumming on the guitar.

You can hear performance notes and see a playthrough at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYBkoxeTB7o


Lyrics below:

Am Dm

I don’t want to go there

Am Dm

I don’t wanna know

Am Em

I don’t wanna see

G Am

Inside your soul


Everybody’s been there

Everybody’s been sad

But ain’t nobody

Ever want to go back


Chorus

Am F

So put down the shovel

C G

Stop digging the past

Am Dm

It’s only a season

G Am

This too will pass


Take hold of my hand

Look me in the eye

Let’s put this behind us

It don’t mean goodbye


Chorus

Am F

So put down the shovel

C G

Stop digging the past

Am Dm

It’s only a season

G Am

This too will pass


Musical Interlude

| Am Dm Am Dm Am Em G Am |


Bridge

C G

Come out of the darkness

C G

Step through the glass

Am F

Always remember

G Am

This too will pass


<Quietly – Picking>

So put down the shovel

Stop digging the past

It’s only a season

This too will pass


<pause>


Outro

Am Dm

This too will pass

Am Dm

This too will pass

Am Em G

This too will pass

Am Dm

This too will pass

Am Dm

This too will pass

Am Em G

This too will pass



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