Looking Back: “I Took The Hard Way”

As my catalogue grows, its easy for me to forget about songs I put out in the past.  ‘Looking Back’ will take a look at some of my previous work and talk frankly about the process of making them, things I screwed up and things I feel I got right.  Hopefully this won’t be boring.

“I Took The Hard Way” from 2010’s The Truth in the Facts

When I started making The Truth in the Facts, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.  I had put out Miracle of Zero and had realized that making a second record that sounds different from the previous one while being its own thing is a lot harder that I thought.  I mean, I can sit down and write 10 new songs that sounds like Miracle of Zero with no problem.  I know what my habits are (for the most part) and I try my best to circumvent or at least bend them enough so that all of my songs don’t sound the same.

For “I Took The Hard Way”, I wanted to write a bluesy song for the album and record it in a completely new way.  I wrote the lyrics one day while working as a cashier at a grocery store in Taber, AB.  It had been a slow day and I was covering someone’s break so I sat up at the front and started jotting down lyrics about how I always seem to do things the most difficult way possible.  Whether it be working a less-than-great job until I’m motivated to find something better, or forcing myself to learn to play all of the instruments on my records, I have a knack for finding that hardest possible way of doing things.  With the lyrics written during an hour of standing at the front of an empty grocery store, I went home to figure out the rest of the song.

At this point, I was still living with my parents who let me set up my recording gear in their basement.  So when they were out of town visiting family or something, I would have all night writing binges.  I’d brew a pot of coffee and stay up all night writing and recording loose versions of songs.  For “I Took The Hard Way” I moved all of my gear up to the kitchen where the hardwood floor would make for a good place to stomp.  I put a microphone in the middle of the room and recorded every instrument and vocal track in different positions and distances from the mic.  Not being able to afford a stereo mic at the time, I mixed the tracks so that it sounded like you were standing in the middle of a group of people playing the song.  It was the first time I had played around with the idea of creating an atmosphere within the song, not just recording it as it was written.

This was one of the more fun songs to record for this album, as certain life changes during the making of it made it difficult to complete.  There are always things I wish I could change after I finish a project, but “I Took The Hard Way” is one I feel I got just right.