From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor
This is my first dissection of a song from this release and it happens to be one of the most emotional tracks for me, but I went for it and I’m here bearing my soul about the making of this song to the fans that care, appreciate the music, and wanted to know more 🙂 I don’t go too much into production details here, since that’s better left to Seb, but I do discuss some of the additions, and I do discuss the motivation, lyrics, melodies, some of my favourite parts and share some clips as well as personal memories. I hope you enjoy!
Just when I think it’s getting better, I relapse back to this place where the scenery has changed and it’s terrifying. How can I go back, when it’s much too late.
Piece by piece, bit by bit, my heart aches and I feel sick. There’s things you say, and things you can’t. Things you threw away and things you want back. The fact that I’ve lost you erases all my sanity. Seriously, how could anyone carry on like this? I’ll never look at things the same because of you. I’ll never get that moment back I shared with you.
It only hurts when I remember. I know you’re trying to make it better.
Bit by bit, my heart breaks. Your voice repeats and I can’t take it anymore. Don’t compromise, save yourself, I’ll always be here. Don’t say goodbye, I’m not through with you. Don’t compromise. Don’t say goodbye. I’ve tried and tried, my head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.
It only hurts when I remember. I know you’re trying to make it better.
I can not steer this ship without you. There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know. Let it go. Can’t let you go. Let it go.
I wrote this song about 2 months after my dad passed away in 2007 and it was also one of the last songs I had written for Hearts For Bullets. Out of all the stages of grief, I had just passed the numb and in-denial phase and was in the full blown anger phase after losing him. A lot of people have interpreted this song as an angry break up song, and it’s definitely not, but I hope people can, and have used this song however they need to help them deal with their own situations of loss and anger. The experience of losing my father was one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with and has forever changed me. Something I haven’t shared with many people about that time, was that I was at the hospital and held my dad’s hand as he passed away in July of 2007. I have never been the same since that moment. My life was hell for several months after that and this song captures the aftermath of being left behind and left to deal with the confusing emotions of grief and loss. I need to say, I can listen back to this song now and not be overwhelmed. I’ve long since passed the anger phase, and when I perform it live, I find it a powerful, energetic piece that is actually a lot of fun to play! I use the anger behind it still, but it comes from a different place within me. If that makes any sense?
I always give the songs I’m working on, random titles until something better comes up or sometimes the working title sticks. I went through two working titles for this track. First, was “The God Particle” after watching a documentary on T.V. about the hypothetical particle to explain the origins of all mass in the Universe, ok, so I thought that sounded pretty cool. I later found out a few other bands already had songs titled this.. we all must have been watching the discovery channel that day! But it didn’t connect to the song’s content either so I later changed the title to “Alive In Pieces” which, does describe my own state during that period, and to be honest, I can’t remember why I decided to change it from that, but in the end, I decided on something more relevant to my father “1000 Transmissions” came from the fact that my dad’s main hobby (obsession), was operating short wave radios. In an attempt to further bond with him when I was 18, I studied to get my license as well… so, yes, I’m a licensed shortwave (HAM) radio operator and yes, I always made nerdy jokes about this! 😉
Having shared the theme of this song with you, I really doubt I have to further analyze all of the lyrics as I think they are pretty obvious but I do want to explain a few parts though:
“I can not steer this ship without you. There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know. Let it go. Can’t let you go. Let it go.”
My father loved boats and fishing and we always had some kind of fishing boat that we’d take camping when I was young, out on the waters of Lakes Huron, Ontario or the up to the Ottawa river where we used to go camping. I wanted to write a boat analogy in the song. Musically, the reverse piano in the bridge was all Seb’s idea that came in the production stage, it was completely transfomed in production, and I absolutely LOVED the change, and thought it brought much more sadness and needed softness to it. My demo was much more chaotic and just percussive. The first clip is my rough demo before production so you can see how it was transformed by production:
A rough Demo of the bridge – 1000 Transmissions (before production):
Bridge – 1000 Transmissions (after final production):
after the bridge, I personally loved the progression of those notes of the bass synth (while I sing “let it go, I can’t let you go”) since when I wrote it, I felt it captured what I felt when I used to listen to 90’s industrial music. Again, I can’t speak about all the production details that Seb did, but a few things that stand out to me in this track were the added layers of static noise to the full track which thickened up the song, fit the harsher sound, and complimented the “1000 Transmissions” theme. I honestly gave Seb this demo a bit incomplete since I had no idea how to finish off this song after those notes in the bridge part! I had just hit a wall completely. He added about a minute to the ending of that song including the last powerful break that I loved:
1000 Tranmissions – break down into outtro:
“It only hurts when I remember. I know you’re trying to make it better”. I was, at the time, constantly remembering of course, and the second phrase was directed at the rest of the world and my family who were all trying to help overcome grief as best as they could. Musically, it’s not my usual style of chorus progression, since it was so simple and short but it summed up everything so perfectly with just a subtle change. It was important to me to mainly keep the driving bass synth and stompy percussion constant until the bridge.
“My head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.” This describes late 2007 where I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, afraid of dreaming. Musically, I want to point out that I loved and was surprised by the desperation in my voice in the recording during the: “sleepless nights, an endless cycle” part. It came out accidentally in the demo before final recording (meaning it was pure emotion) and it reminded me of , again early 90’s style of vocals (think Nine Inch Nails even) which is a cool thing. The distortion effect adds to the desperation and a tiny moment that Seb added that I adored, is right after the first phrase “Bit by bit, my heart breaks” there is a distorted sound that to me, sounds like a demon saying “LIAR!” it struck me and I sometimes mouth that word when I perform it live. Here’s a clip of the verse so you can hear everything for yourself:
I wanted to point out another very very subtle vocal effect in this verse (since I just love vocoding). If you just listened to the clip of the second verse, there is a second layer of vocals present that are vocoded under the more prominent distorted layer. It’s very quiet but it gives it such a nice thickness. I just found this clip going through my old files and I’m posting it is so you can hear what vocoded vocals sound like on their own:
Vocals: An example of vocoding effect used in 1000 Transmissions:
CD Liner Notes: “This CD is dedicated to my Dad who gave me the gift of music and who I know is still here with me”
Yeah, that’s me and my dad, proving I’ve been wearing pink for years! 😉
So, now that I’ve shared this deeply personal part of my world with you, and knowing that I’m currently a struggling musician working here in Toronto on my new CD (hint, hint), if you haven’t already, please consider purchasing the CD through my website (I will sign it and include a personalized note for you, etc):
OR please purchase the mp3 of “1000 Transmisions” directly from iTunes for a mere dollar through this link:
Thanks for reading! Not sure which track I’ll dissect next week yet…