• Nihil Admirari

The Anatomy of my Lyric Writing Pt. 2

Lawl. I'm back. Noshiです


In my last posting, I talked about my process of writing "Bridge of Sighs". Which... I don't know why I chose that song. There are no online recordings of it, I think. Are there? No. Dumb. Well, anyway, here we go, regardless.


Bridge of Sighs


Why do you love him?

Why do you need him?

Why do you want him when I'm here?


As sycamore stretch arms high above my core

Memories flood my loveless eyes tearing layer by layer

Streaming my meaning sullied and grotesque in this frigid breeze

Identify yourself in notes and phrases.


Notes and phrases I understand - I comprehend their moving shape

Twisting the adolescence I once used to sew shut my wounds

But since then clouded skies and white lapels two-tone a verse

I will never believe in a lot of things.


But there's one thing I believe in still.

It's my right to a bleeding heart.

No one takes it away from me.

They’ve only my confusion.


Why do you love him?

Why do you need him?

Why do you want him when I'm here?


There's one thing I believe in still.

It's my right to a bleeding heart.

No one takes it away from me.

They’ve only my confusion.


“My confusion is fleeting - fickle but not of all things encompassing.

My last view of happiness is reversed by love's promise.”


The sun's warmth is unmatched by anyone in this world of judgement

And though blinded we may be, I choose a suit of jade chrysalis

Because sometimes I want to be ignorant and lost like a sheep to its end

Though, that's not how the murmurs twist and pull at my muscles


She said there's no one in this world like daylight on my dark skin

No one in this world can show me what beauty once was

And I never knew what red letters there were in sweet kisses

Soon the afternoon will hasten away the spirits of a life lost


There's one thing I believe in still.

It's my right to a bleeding heart.

No one takes it away from me.

They’ve only my confusion.


Why do you love him?

Why do you need him?

Why do you want him when I'm here?


Why do you love him?

Why do you need him?

Why do you want him when I'm here.

When I'm here. When I'm fucking here.


I am a huge advocate for allowing the audience the chance to draw their own conclusions and meanings from the music I create. It's partially why I am so metaphorical. So, two people could come up with two completely different meanings for this song that is personal to them, or they might not feel anything at all and just enjoy the pretty words. In any event, whichever it may be, you don't have to change your understanding based on mine.


So, let's break down those steps from the last post.



1. Something inspired me to think deeply and learn something new (especially for the band).


At the time of the song's conception, I was listening to the music of a Spanish artist named "Buika" and, particularly, my favorite song of hers, "No Habrá Nadie en el Mundo" (There'll Be No Other in the World). The entire album, "Niña de Fuego" was

"...a collection of flamenco songs and also Spanish and Mexican folk ballads. The texts are about women facing loneliness, infidelity, and falling in love with the wrong man." - Wikipiedia

I was introduced to Buika and other artists by my first boss in NYC, a manager of several Latin Grammy holders. Her house and business was always overflowing with Spanish, French, Catalan and Portuguese energy. Their personalities, language and their artistry influenced me back then. So, the song brought back many memories and emotions. I was immediately compelled to research Buika's many influences, musical style and the genre she performed which included what the folk music of her people was written about and the common practice of specific metaphors (like the use of trees referenced in the opening of the first verse for Bridge of Sighs).


Simultaneously, and way less academically, I was watching a telenovela about the life and times of Celia Cruz and thus, the beginnings of what we call "Salsa" today. Quite a bit of it was fictionalized, but it introduced me to an artist who is way less unknown today than Miss Cruz. La Lupe. La Lupe's raw and densely passionate performance style, both fictionalized and in real life, almost completely changed how I performed on stage and became the bases for the strongly accented phrasing of Bridge of Sighs.





2. I used my everyday surroundings, stories and people to put together two messages: an obvious one and a hidden one.


I am always in a state of self-reflection, very observant and, contrary to popular belief, a hopeless romantic. I really hate cliches... Anyway. Where I grew up was extremely colorful and quite literally paradise (The Bahamas), and when I moved to NYC, I held on to my love of the tree-lined streets. My apartment window faces a small "jungle" in the middle of Brooklyn. So much was seen but unseen, especially among people as I viewed from the third person perspective. I thought about how choices were made deliberately but with a subconscious variable sometimes.


The two messages here:

- Obvious; In relationships, it's sometimes hard or even impossible to understand everything about the other people no matter how logically you may think or how many times you ask.

- Hidden; We are neither slave to mind, matter nor heart, but everything has its input. The question you ask may not be the question you wanted to ask, and it might not be with whom you wanted to speak.



3. I thought of my bandmates and other artists, how they perform and how they convey their emotions to piece together an impressionistic way to tell the resultant story of 1 & 2, forming the "style" of writing for this song.


La Lupe was joined by Celia Cruz, Buika and Mina of Italy. I took from their cloth and made an outfit that suit me nice and that would catch people's attention. Passion passion passion. Lots of it. Gushing. Unapologetic. I'm completely a fan.


Mike V. loves a "wall of sound". What I got from that is that he loves having tiny pieces put together into something whimsical but clear. Of course, this was after he joined. So this, in itself, was an edit.


Vabo is about rhythm and flow. In the early days, you couldn't get a non-blurry picture of him (still...now...actually...). He was always moving on stage. And I knew they both wanted another mixed-genre hit but with something heavy. So, I wrote lyrics that had a wild chorus with lots of room for the band, super rhythmic and picturesque verses and a bridge that was only developed after everything else was written including the instrumental for that section. lol


What we ended up with was Folk Latin Metal. Listen. I just needed some descriptive words. I'm not totally wrong. lol






4. Tying everything together, a general metaphor was chosen. In this case, I learned about the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.


The Bridge of Sighs provided convicts the last view of Venice before being imprisoned or meeting their end. It's a huge metaphor for "a moment of reflection". Thus, the "character" in this "story" is having a moment of reflection upon himself and with whomever he developed an attachment.



5. With all my mental research, I wrote out key sections, phrases and ideas to present to the band using phone recordings, my piano and an explanation of my process.


I thought about this song all day, every day, no matter where I was. And my audio recording app was open 24/7. I think I even woke up in the middle of the night sometimes to record something I had just dreamed. (Oh yes. My sleep with my phone basically by my head.) But this followed a lot of just thinking before I wrote down or recorded anything. I'm also really bad with writing things down. lol I just keep everything in my head. Bad. lol



6. After a few playthroughs, I re-visited my lyrics and edited so that each line was strongly presented in the context of the music including phrasing, accent and so on.


As with every writing (apparently, except my lazy blog posts), editing is very important. The band communicates with each other to every degree. So, they adjusted things, I adjusted things, etc. I can't remember who, but the speech in the bridge was not my idea.



7. (And I know this is pretty weird.) I first practiced speaking the lyrics in the form of spoken word/slam poetry then sung them in the mirror.


I really hate hearing myself on recordings, taking pictures or being on camera. Listen. It never looks or sounds like my, imo. And it's even worse when people say that it does. Oof. There were times when certain media of me was released that I actually approved, and people went "wow". BECAUSE IT'S SO RARE THAT I AM CAPTURED ACCURATELY.


So, instead, I do this exercise in front of the mirror to try out phrasing in the moment. I wanted to see if I could fully pronounce words and give enough breath support for phrases while jumping around, throwing my hands in the air or giving intense stares to some poor audience member. This is really super important for anybody performing their music live.



8. Bridge of Sighs was born and ready for performance.





Tada!

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Nihil Admirari, Alt. Rock Band - New York, NY - noshi@nihiladmirari.com