Jim Cooper demo – “Children of the Night”

Note: Detholz! will perform at 8 pm this Sunday, Sept. 23rd, at an all-ages FREE show at the Art Institute of Chicago. More info here: http://lemondrop.freeradiosaic.org

Welcome to Episode IX of the Detholz! Mp3 Blog! I apologize this comes a day late– believe me, this is an “excused tardy.” You would not believe the week I’ve had.

A change of pace today, ladies and germs, in our most recent installment: “Children of the Night,” a kinder, gentler, somewhat autumnal number.

This is not intended for any band, nor did I write it for anyone else in mind (other than the person the song’s about). It’s not meant to be played live, no flashing lights, no bells and whistles– just a plain old song.

I. SONG CONCEPT

So this is a love song. Will wonders never cease?

I’m turning over a new leaf! Sort of. The lyrics are written from the perspective of a vampire to his beloved.

I’ve been going through a real vampire kick recently. My recent obsession started with a breeze-thru of the painfully campy “Salem’s Lot,” continued with a flying leap into the depths of the Hammer Horror film catalogue (Dracula AD 1972 is a must-see!), and is presently manifesting itself as an addiction to a (gulp) vampire game. I know, I know. To quote Babyboomerangutang from “The Tick”: “It’s okay to play with dolls!” Right?

I heard a screenwriter on the radio recently suggest that the horror genre generally appeals to a younger demographic. I have found the opposite to be true. The older I get, the more I am drawn to films and books stacked in the “horror” racks at Blockbuster/Barnes and Noble. Perhaps this reflects my weak grasp of maturity and/or problems with functional adulthood– of those things there’s little doubt– but I’d also like to think it’s reflective of some semblance of imagination. A good scare is a healthy thing now and then, right?

Feh, enough disclaimers. On with the show:

A vampire is a damned creature– a child of the biblical Cain, cursed to walk the earth for eternity, feeding on the blood of others to survive. I tied in this idea with the concept of the Fall — not the current season, but the “Fall of Man” in Genesis 3. According to Christian theology, we inhabit “bodies of Death,” marred by the Fall of Creation in Genesis 3, cursed by God along with Adam and Eve. Though we still have fellowship with one another, we were separated from God in the Garden of Eden and remain so. Ultimately, our bodies– along with all Creation– will be redeemed by Christ. Redemption is a central tenet of Christian theology, and subsequently of American culture.

I liked the image of the vampire walking in the darkness with his beloved, living an “unlife” together marked with the all of the trappings of their shared Curse– but the Curse has no real power over them. They will eventually be redeemed. They are, therefore, simultaneously children of the moon, children of sleep and– because of their coming redemption– children of God.

Well, it made sense to me at the time.

II. MUSICAL CONCEPTS

Obviously this is a very different kind of song than others I’ve posted– an honest-to-goodness foray out of my comfort zone.

I purposely limited the vocals to one or two takes, leaving all of the warbles and warts intact. I think this lends an element of intimacy/sincerity to the vocal delivery, and helps create the “rickety” atmosphere I was aiming for here.

The first element of the song was the guitar part, which was sloppily played through a crappy reverb. The chorus melody is introduced is introduced immediately, and provided the foundation for the entire song’s arrangement. In the verses, the guitar part is static, sitting on a G. The organ moves the harmony along, moving around the tonal center, sometimes outside of it. The harmonic changes were put in place before the vocal melody, which is an old Detholz! trick. I hadn’t written a song this way in a long time, and it felt good to be back in the old, threadbare cap’m’s chair.

I wrestled with whether or not to bother with percussion, since this is such a subdued track. After laying down a bass line, though, it sort of screamed for one. I borrowed a few tricks from one of Bobby Conn’s drummers, Josh from Chicago band, Mahjongg, and definitely had him in mind when constructing the part. Quick, precise and jittery.

The piece de resistance for me is the backward guitar solo– not an especially original trick, but in this context it injects a pinch of creepiness, which is a must for this song.

When left to my own devices, as a “solo songwriter” that is, I usually churn out material like this. “Haunted Soft Rock?” “Eerie Relax Rock?” “Uneasy Listening?” I don’t know what to call it. I’m not even sure if I can name specific influences.

Maybe you can discern a few? Let me know.

Thanks, as always, for tuning in! See you next week. And I promise to be prompt.

III. LYRICS

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

When the town’s asleep
We’ve a vow to keep
Since the world began

Since the world began
Adam walks with Eve
And Cain walks with all of his
Inside their shadow’d bones
Alone and not alone

Is it dark enough
Under the moon above?
We are her children, love.

There is a light of love
Inside the Eye above
We are His children, love.

He has promised you
An eternal youth
Since the world began

Since the world began
I have walked with thee
And you walked with me
Through our darker dreams
Alone and not alone

Awake at night
You shake with terror

Let us fall asleep together

We are her children, love.
We are His children, love.

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16 Responses to “Jim Cooper demo – “Children of the Night””

  1. dj Says:

    While the title reminds me of the DeBarge song, “Rhythm of the Night” the song itself reminds me of an old ‘holz favorite of mine The Body Electric. They’re both nice, quiet, disturbing songs.

    The falsetto part, was a nice touch. Used sparingly, falsetto can add a lot to a song. Sometimes the ‘holz tend to do it a bit much. But here it fits with the light, airy feel of the song and the loneliness of the story that you’re telling. I dig the backwards “crappy” backwards guitar solo sound that you’re using. How very Beatles of you.

    A beautiful song.

    Not sure if this was written to be a ‘holz song, or if it’s part of the Jim Cooper canon. It’d be interesting to see what you guys did with it.

  2. Phil Says:

    Nice song. It sounds a bit like twisted version of the Beatle’s Blackbird. The first few notes are definitely reminiscent. Very well put together, though.

  3. WOTSAC Says:

    dj – I was thinking more of Rick’s songs than I was of Body Electric.

  4. detholz Says:

    Deej: Yes, the title leaves something to be desired. But nothing else really fit.

    Personally, I can’t ever get enough falsetto in my life. I hope when I’m old and grey to be at the helm of some PBS music special, in front of an auditorium full of middle-aged geeks, veins popping out of my neck as I try– and fail — to hit the high notes.

    Sort of like the last Bee Gee’s TV special.

    Oh, and this is just a Jim Cooper song. Not intended for band use.

    Phil: Didn’t make the Blackbird connection initially, but now that you mention it… yep. Like the Prego ad says “it’s in there!”

    WOTSAC: High praise, indeed! Speaking of which, to hear some of ex-Dethole Rick Franklin’s beautiful songs, visit The Easy Ups MySpace Page.

  5. kebabdylan Says:

    i thought blackbird as well, but as the song gets going, not at all. I have to express my love for this song as well. My favorite so far (in close running with death to the traitor). I love the melodies and pretty much everything else about this song. except the title. reminds me of the rocky ericson song “burn the flames” – deej, you know which one that is. Or maybe andew loyd webber.

    “I purposely limited the vocals to one or two takes, leaving all of the warbles and warts intact.” — jim, i an envious of all your warbles and warts!

    i would love to hear this one as a detholz song even though it doesn’t really fit with the current batch of songs. Haunted Soft Rock is good. I would call it “old school detholz lite”

    on a vampire note, i recommend the novel “the historian”. It’s pretty much the davinci code for dracula (with all the good and ridiculous that it implies) and is a pretty fun read. with the most preposterous ending of any book I have ever read.

  6. detholz Says:

    ‘Babs: Along with DJ, I made the DeBarge connection immediately upon choosing this title. Buy hey, it’s a vampire song, so one has to “embrace” (so to speak) the cheesiness of all that implies.

    Glad you like the warbling– I can hardly stand it, but it’s impossible to be objective about one’s own voice.

    There’s no doubt the Holz could easily pull this one off, but one thing we’ve discovered over the years is that generally people go to Detholz! shows to RAWK. Slow – medium tempo tunes have to be kept to a minimum in a live setting, for better or worse.

    I will definitely check that book out. My next big project is to write the Great American Pulp Vampire Novel, and I’m currently boning up on all of the kamp klassics. Currently reading “Interview with a Vampire” by Anne Rice, an author I’d never bothered with previously.

    Thus far all I’m prepared to say is that it’s better than the movie. But with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt cast as a couple of homoerotic, depressed tooth-fairies, there’s really nowhere to go but up.

    You must see Dracula AD 1972. Three words: Disco Black Mass.

  7. kebabdylan Says:

    screw “death to the traitor”, the new detholz album MUST be named “disco black mass”. I might just be a strange one, but if I heard you were going to debut this one, I would be more excited to hear it than most other songs. I really think you should consider it. I mean, what other song right now calls for the lighter? and its not like it’s “dust in the wind”. It has a solid drum beat to it (which I forgot to add, that is great when it comes in).

    The historian is like 800 pages but its a quick read. I actually had to check out the “large print” edition that just shouted “you are an idiot for reading this” even more. But it delves into the whole history of vlad tepes and the legends surrounding him and the whole vampire thing so if you plan to write you masterpiece, it might be good research. At the time I was challenging myself to write a song for every book I read, just so I had something to sing about. that book has been my undoing. they lyric are just ridiculous. but you have inspired me. If the mighty super-duper-cooper can write about vampires, why not lowly me?

    and for the record. I never thought deBarge…

  8. dj Says:

    After I posted, I was going to log back on and make the Blackbird comment and bring up our collective favorite performance of the Beatles tune. Someone beat me to it. Kind of.

    Good luck with the Vampire novel.

  9. Steve Chignell Says:

    Cool man. This is one of my favorites of the new ones. Very chill, very trippy. How did you do the “backwards guitar solo?” Hope your show went well tonight, I had work to do, so I couldn’t go. Oh, and by the way, Aural Skills is raping me.

  10. detholz Says:

    ‘Bab: Vlad the Impaler, eh? Perhaps the next love song I write will be from his perspective… or would that be too bawdy?

    Deej: A show that will live in infamy. Thank you for being discreet.

    Steve: Glad you like it! You missed a good one: we played in a large, opulent ballroom at the Art Institute, and Thax (rock n roll poet) addressed the audience from the balcony before we played, invoking images of a bearded male Eva Peron.

    What is “Aural Skills?” Is that what they’re calling “Ear Training” these days? Taking dictation and the like?

    The backwards guitar solo wasn’t hard: I played a “forwards” solo first, kinda bluesy, lots of bends, and made sure to stay in and around the tonal center most of the time. Thinking towards reversing the solo, the effect I was going for was more “droney” than “bluesy”– cf. “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles (the link will take you to an excellent Wikipedia article about that song).

    After that, I simply brought up the waveform in my sequencer (I use an outdated version of Logic Audio Platinum by Emagic) and hit the “reverse” button. And voila!

  11. kebabdylan Says:

    yes! vlad is da man. write a song about him called “I used to disagree with him, but now I see that Vlad has a point”

  12. Steve Chignell Says:

    Yeah, Aural skills is ear training and dictation. It’s freakin hard. Anyway, that’s interesting about the solo– great idea there. I think it worked well with the mood of the song.

    My friend’s mom here gave me an old article she found of the Wheaton Record from April 18, 1997. On the back is an article (complete with pictures) about the Detholz playing in the men’s bathroom of the MSC. It’s got Jer in the stall with his drum kit and you grinning by the sink. It’s really funny– I can show it to you if you want.

  13. detholz Says:

    ‘Bab: “Vlad About You”

    Steve: Heh. I remember that afternoon well. We had a show that night and the MSC coffeehouse was infested with Koinonia Kreatures ALL DAY. Man, those folks were in that place ALL the time.

    Anyway, we were forced to practice in the bathroom, and our friend Dennis was there to capture the glorious moment.

    How did it feel to practice in a bathroom? All in all, I’d say it was a huge relief.

  14. Jim Says:

    Man, it’s been a while since I could divert my attention the best thing my Wednesdays have to offer. Good to be back. Anywho…
    It took me a while to really make up my mind how I feel about this tune. Besides the first three notes in the guitar/bell part, I don’t hear any resemblance of Blackbird. But I do think this tune is downright beautiful. I’m surprised that you used the backwards guitar effect. It just seems that would be something you would normally grit your teeth at, but it works great.
    A vampire/love song. Very interesting concept. I’m digging it.

  15. detholz Says:

    Jim: My musical project these days is to use elements I would ordinarily sniff at. Sniff, sniff.

  16. kebabdylan Says:

    so anyway, my wife, autumn, within the week, may be standing within Vlad’s Castle in Transylvania

    thought I’d give this song a spin in honor of that

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