Perfect Diamond by Styles Bitchley, need your help

Perfect Diamond by Styles Bitchley, need your help
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#1

Well, haven’t been around much. I recently pulled the plug at work and retired. Hope to have a lot more music time from now on.
I found an old tune that I wrote when I was looking for work a few years back. If you have a chance, please tell me the main 3 or 4 things I should do to shine it up a little.
Here are the lyrics, just in case.

Circumstances left me in the cold again.
Feel ashamed to show my face around here anymore.
Looked down upon as a dinosaur, without the fingers to unlock the door,
Used to be my experience counted for something.

Had another inquisition scheduled yesterday.
Wonder why I even bother anymore.
Their first reaction was an open book, I know I’ll never get a second look.
Used to be appearance meant less than substance.

I’m not a perfect diamond, there are flaws beneath my surface.
But I still could serve some purpose, anyway.
All you perfect diamonds, you all have some inclusions,
We all reach the same conclusion, someday

Someone tell me how it all makes sense,
To value shine above experience
Can’t you see the truth in my reflection?
Once you look beyond the fading light, to all the facets making up the sight,
The single focus of united parts, aligned in your direction.

Bought a copy of “A New Day Yesterday”.
That kind of music takes me back to happier times
Just to show the stage of life I’m in, I found my memories in the bargain bin.
Never understand what people listen to today.

Here’s a second try at this one with a new arrangement based on most of the suggestions I received. A little more explanation below.


#2

The main thing that I hear is that the drums sound really weak and anemic. I can hear the compressor squashing and pumping. Other than that I like the song.


#3

Thank you, I hear that a little too, but not as much on the WAV file. Have to check that out, thanks for listening.


#4

What a great line. I really dig these lyrics. I have nothing negative to say about the music. Sounds good on the iPad.


#5

Thanks, I tried to think of ways of comparing diamonds to aging, that one just kind of came out.


#6

I like the song. I might let the drums breathe a little more and let off the compressor,


#7

Hey Bob, this is a really good song! The two things I would want to address are the sounds of the vocals and the drums.

On the drums, I would dial the reverb way back, it sounds too much “in the cave” IMO, especially the snare. They sound like they’re in a different space than everything else.

The vox could use some EQ cutting in the midrange, there’s a boxy kind of nasal tone in there that I’m sure you could locate and remove with an EQ sweep. I would also experiment with something besides the slapback, maybe just a normal reverb. To my ear, the “slaps” of the vocal are fighting with the tone & verb on the snare, those effects don’t complement one another too well.

Edit: I forgot to add, this tune really sounds like The Band to me, your voice reminds me a ton of Rick Danko’s. And after another listen, I would also decrease the level on the acoustic guitar a couple of dB, seems to stick out a bit more than it oughta. Maybe just some automation would do the trick.

And finally, congrats on retirement!! I’m jealous! I’ve got another 9-plus years to go, if the creek don’t rise… It’s a little unnerving to find that I have reached this age, it seems so sudden! “And then one day you find / Ten years have got behind you / No one told you when to run / You’ve missed the starting gun…”


#8

Thanks very much for listening, I’m going to work on that. I will put it back up when it’s fixed.


#9

You’re right, thanks. I just pulled this out of nowhere and didn’t really do much before posting it. I’m going to work on the drums and the ambience. As to the voice, I do sound a bit nasally normally, but I will hunt down the offending freq. and tone it down.
As to retirement, I really hated my job, and needed to get out. I find myself very antsy, looking for things to do, but it eases a little each day.
I know you love what you do, so stopping may be a little difficult, so plan a nice vacation for when you hang it up to occupy your mind. The walls seem to close in on you a little bit after you shoot the alarm clock. Thanks very much for your comments, Dave.


#10

Hi Bob,
Congrats on reaching that ripe old age :grin: I still have a couple of years to go, although with constantly changing policies no-one in my country is quite certain when, could be five, could be seven years to go. Anyway, I don’t think I would be all to worried about what to do with all that time. Make music!

I can also relate to the rant about no one being interested in hiring you. I’m quite happy in my current job, but I was unemployed a year about 15 years ago. One moment you have a well paid job which you enjoy every minute of, the next you’re on the street, and already you’re too old (I was 46 at the time) for a similar job. It certainly is strange how experience doesn’t count for much these days.

Now, the music: let me say first I love the guitar solo’s.
You refer to New Day Yesterday by Jethro Tull of course, a song (and album) I love and which goes way back to my youth. It got me thinking about your song: maybe it could do with a bit more dynamic range over the song as a whole. Start more acoustic (some more subtle drumming maybe?) and get heavier as you go along.
I agree with the other comments about the compression on the drums and the reverb on the vocals.
But take your time: you have enough of it now!


#11

I think this is a really good suggestion. Tweaking an arrangement to provide some kind of “narrative arc” is almost always worthwhile. It’s one of the things I struggle with in my stuff too, building interest as the song proceeds. Easier said than done, but I think given the subject of the lyrics taking that kind of approach here would work really well.

Yes, I do get a lot of fulfillment out of my job. However, most of what I do is the bureaucratic crap nobody else wants to do, enabling my team of scientists to kick ass. But in terms of what I spend most of my time doing? Nah, don’t really love it. If I was in the trenches so to speak, working in the lab every day, that would be different. A couple of my guys who have retired in the past 5-ish years, and who have been here since Apollo, still come in almost every day, in their mid-70s. I will NEVER be that guy! When I do retire, I will be outta here like a shot.

I have a lot of friends who are retired, and some say as you do that it’s not all great, with that antsy feeling. I just don’t think I will have that problem. I have so many interests outside work that I never have time to pursue, I believe when I retire I will definitely not be bored!


#12

BTW I also forgot to comment on this lyric. Geologically, you are completely on point here-- some really profound geochemical insights have been derived from studying inclusions in diamonds. Diamond-bearing magmas originate from great depth, so the fluid and mineral inclusions they contain capture bits of Earth’s mantle deeper than any other type of magmatism. We’ve learned a tremendous amount from studying those inclusions. It is totally accurate to say that most diamonds have inclusions-- only the rare “clean” ones end up in jewelry.


#13
Never thought about diamonds quite like that.  Your description reminds me of a glacier tour we took in Alaska, where they showed ice samples and were able to learn a lot about the weather cycles from way  way back.  Cool stuff.

When I said antsy, I meant it as a temporary thing. My wife and I have plenty to do, but we both weren’t planning to start quite this quickly, so it will take a few weeks for the finances to settle before we start taking our bucket list vacations. If I’d planned a little better, I would have left the job and headed to the airport, but we’ll get there soon.
I also reconnected with an old bandmate from 30 years ago , and we might be putting something together. We will be called The Flatliners. I’m working on deals with Viagra and Metamucil. We’ll announce ourselves as “The Flatliners; we’ll get you coming and going”…


#14

Thanks for the comments and suggestions on the arrangement. I need to think about how I could build it better. My problem is taking it too far and ending up with a seven minute song. My buddy called and wants to do real drums on it, so maybe we can work on the dynamics better than my drum programming, which is not my wheelhouse.


#15

Hey Bob - So cool to hear another track by you!

…Sorry to hear about the circumstances that inspired it, though. I’ll only be hitting the half century mark early next year, but I’m already very aware of how dismissive the world in general is of those who are considered “past their prime”.

I’m going to focus my suggestions on arrangement ideas, because I think you can take this track a lot further.

Tweaking an arrangement to provide some kind of “narrative arc” is almost always worthwhile

@Chordwainer has hit the nail here IMO. The arrangement builds nicely from the guitar solo on, but prior to that, things sound a little “same-y”.

My suggestion would be to strip the first two verses back to just guitar and vocal. I can also hear some piano really enhancing the arrangement here. Maybe you could get your mate who tickled the ivories on “Mean Girl” to lay down some tracks.

The biggest issue I hear with the arrangement is the “stop/start” nature of the song. Using a few strategic stops can be a fantastic way to punctuate and elevate an arrangement, but here the constant stops at just about the end of each line just make the song sound “choppy”, and the rhythmic flow is lost. Rather than providing variety and surprise, the stops actually get to be a bit repetitive after a while.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about music over the years, it’s that a well-chosen moment of silence can be worth a thousand well-chosen notes. For example, the stop at 2:23 is killer - for me, holding off the stops until then would make that point of the song so much more satisfying…

In fact, I’d suggest keep the drums completely out of the arrangemt until the guitar solo.

Try to keep the first section of the song super intimate and personal - it is the part where you are talking about your own experience; that’s where you are drawing your audience into your own narrative. Then, as the song grows into the final sections, it becomes more inclusive, and that can be mirrored by the instrumental arrangement becoming bigger. You’re effectively saying: “this could/probably will happen to YOU”… Emotion, anger, resolution.

Lyrics-wise, for some reason the line “Used to be appearance meant less than substance” sounds a little 'clunky" to my ears and could do with some work too.

Guitar solos are killer as usual…

Overall, I love the ideas in this track - I can so relate to the story being told. I wrote a song about 20 years ago called “Style Over Substance” which was less specific about the circumstances, but was based around the same general idea. I’ve never been happy with my various drafts of it, so it’s never really seen the light of day.

All the best with your retirement, Bob - I hope you find more fulfilment in life and get more time to produce some more great music!


#16

Thanks, Andrew. Aaron wants to work on this now, so I’ll make sure he reads your thoughts on the song. Since It’s just EZ Drummer, It’s one button push to delete.
By the way, my retirement circumstances are going to be fine, and It’s great to have the free time. I didn’t mean to make it sound traumatic. My fuse just blew a few months earlier than expected.


#17

Just to add to what everyone else is saying- holy sh*t man, the lead guitar you’ve got weaving throughout this mix; beautifully done - the tone, the phrasing… D-A-Y-U-M! I wish I could play any instrument just a fraction as well. Mad respect!


#18

Wow, thank you very much. You Don’t know how much that means to me. I’ve always considered myself a guitarist first, but supporting a family took precedence.


#19

Based on some great suggestions, I worked out a new arrangement. Still using EZ Drummer, but found a different kit and took all the unneeded junk off the drums to open them up a little, and tried to reduce the nasal honk in my voice, Andrew, I have a new line for that part you found clunky, but my allergies are so bad right now I didn’t dare punching it in. That will get done when I get the live drums from Aaron. With those things noted, let me know if it has improved a little.


#20

I’m really liking where this is going - cool!