I’m working on music with a myriad of online musician friends in order to develop a palatable sound that I hope most will dig. In the midst of writing lyrics, changing tones and coming up with new scenarios, I thought it would be good to show respect to the artists who have inspired me over the years.
I want to do a remake. Not in a way where I would be compared (because I believe nothing really comes close to the origianl), but in a fashion where people know I’m simply showing love to an individual who planted a seed of musical creativity in my heart.
It’s no secret that I ride hard for Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight and Eric Bishop (aka Jamie Foxx). My affinities go even deeper as I am a product of the late 70s and early 80s. My foundation lies in the expressions of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield. When the topic of remaking came up, two songs came to mind:
“Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway
“Make Sure You’re Sure” by Stevie Wonder
I reached out to my wife and a trusted online pal because they have both heard my voice and know what I’m capable of on the keyboards. Ironically, they BOTH suggested the same song (and they swear it wasn’t a conspiracy):
Stevie Wonder’s “Rocket Love.” Although it’s not vocally challenging, the concept and simplicity is genius. I love Stevie’s chord progressions and timbres. Plus, the universe demands that I do a Stevie song RIGHT. No mistakes allowed. The goal would not be to get on his musical level, but to capture just a glimpse of genius and let it serve as the cornerstone of my own imagination.
I flipped the switch on my trusty Roland XP-80, launched Logic Pro 9 on my Mac and cued up Stevie’s original version on iTunes. After a few stop / starts, I figured out the chords and listened for the subtle instruments in the background. The song is highly grown and sexy. The use of the rhodes piano was sublime. I wanted to bring in the strength of an acoustic piano in my version, though. I wanted my rendition to reflect my calm nature and intense passion for music. . . like a smooth ride on the monorail at Disney World.
An hour later, I had my idea recorded. I took a break so the wife and I could treat ourselves to a Barnes & Noble and Slush Monkey run on the south side. I thought of even more ideas to add to my reimagining. When we returned, I added more strings, less piano melodies and more syncopated basslines.
For giggles, I played a Wurlitzer 240V solo on the ending of the track. It won’t be on there when I record the vocals. Which means I need to learn the words quickly. I’ve never been a fan of remaking anything: from cartoon characters to songs – but I think that, when done properly and from the heart, you can create a rendition that is not poised for subjective dissection. Instead, it can be enjoyed as a sonic statement of love from one artist to another.
I pray this is what “Rocket Love” will become.
Until next time. . .