Sunday, July 29, 2012

Song #223 of 9999 - Heart of a Lion by Frankie Big Face

As mentioned in my post of July 20, I'm going to write about my own music for a few weeks as a way to get some song comments together for an updated website. My goal is eventually to have a few paragraphs written for every song on my website and I figured I'd start with all the Nur Ein songs I've written over the past six years. Nur Ein is a songwriting competition in the same vein as Song Fight!, wherein a title is presented each week and participants must write and record a song using that title. The songs are posted and listeners vote for their favorites. In the case of Nur Ein, there is a judging panel that ranks the songs and participants are eliminated each week until "only one" (nur ein) remains. There are also additional challenges that must be incorporated such as "lyrics in the form of a sonnet" or "guest rapper." Nur Ein has been around for seven years and I've entered four times and won twice. NBD. :D  This is post #7.


Song #223 of 9999 

Title: Heart of a Lion
Artist: Frankie Big Face
Year: 2007
Album: Nur Ein 2

Click here to listen! 

I can't remember if 2007 was the year I first taught the Popular Music class at the high school where I teach but I know it was the impetus for me suddenly being so into Motown and letting it seep into my songwriting. There are elements in the song Brownie Points (profiled in post #219), especially in the guitar, but the influence emerged in full force with Heart of a Lion, the head-to-head final round match-up between me and the Canadian who goes by the name Puce.

When the chorus came to me, I really felt I had a winner of an idea but I had to act quickly if I was going to turn out Motown-style production. I enlisted long-time Frankie Big Face drummer Paul Gallello to lay down the groove, borrowed a trio of brass players from my school orchestra and (tortuously) laid down the violin tracks myself. I knew the verses were weak comparatively, but I peppered the arrangement with electric piano layers, an active bass line and (kitchen-sink time) a whole-tone scale lead-in to the chorus. The challenge was to "bring your 'A' game" and I pulled out all the stops. I regret that I was unable to make my backing vocals more Temptations-like. I think a better mix would have helped, but what I really needed were additional singers (as opposed to layers of me). In retrospect, the lyrics in the verse and pre-chorus could use some work (the vocal performance too) but I'm still really proud of the chorus.

The song was pretty well-received with one reviewer astutely comparing it to The Grass Roots' Sooner or Later. And so I won the whole competition, right? Sadly, no. I lost by one vote to this song. I'm still a little bitter. ;)

But I would be back! Tomorrow, Nur Ein 3.

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