Hey friends. Now that it's been a few weeks since Evolution came out, I figured we could start writing about how it came together. And what better way to start than with the song that got me going. While Wind is not the first song I've written, nor was it the first song for the album that Sean and I played together, it was the first one I wrote after the pandemic started, and it began my personal frenzy of writing while I was waiting for Sean to recover from bronchitis.
My best friend, Chris, was recently engaged, so a group of us drove out to Skyline Drive so they could take engagement photos. This was early in the pandemic, and it was just getting nice outside, so it was refreshing to go out and DO something. I am not a photographer, so really I was just along for the ride, but as I sat on a mountaintop, feeling the wind and watching the shadows of clouds roll through the valley, I just really wanted to write music about it. So I did what I'm sure everyone in my position would have done, and just started singing into my voice recorder on my phone.
My original idea was to write something chaotic, a song that subverted expectations and changed constantly, like the wind. It's hard to do that though and still have something that's pleasant to listen to. But that chaotic nature is what I really wanted to capture in the opening segment of the song. It begins by switching time signatures: 4 -> 5 -> 4 -> 6, and adds part after part to build a swelling cacophony of beautiful sound. It then falls to a more familiar place, like wandering through the woods and listening to the wind through the leaves. This lets the song hit its first moment of clarity, when the main riff comes through on a solo guitar, like pulling through the gates of the park and realizing that the drive was worth it, and now you know how you're spending your afternoon.
My original recording was all on acoustic guitars, which I think really helped me capture what I was feeling that day. I knew in my head, from what I was coming up with, that it would be something of a classic arena rock song, but it felt good to hear it for the first time as a more intimate and contained song. There are still acoustics in the final product, so a lot of that energy is still captured, but it's a much grander song now. Every time Sean and I practiced it, just the two of us, drums, guitar, and vocals, I could so easily imagine playing it in an amphitheater for 20,000 of my best friends. Obviously that's a pretty lofty goal, but if it feels like that every time I play it, I think that's pretty cool.
Sean and Chris together got me to add an actual "chorus" to the song. If you've heard our album, there really aren't many choruses to be found (maybe in six eight?) but Wind needed something of a payoff for all the buildup. It needed that feeling of reaching the mountaintop and actually getting to enjoy everything for a moment. The first "chorus" is like the first peak on a hike, where you can enjoy a moment, have a snack, and look at the beauty of nature. Then it leads back into the valley for a subdued 2nd verse before exploding into a guitar solo, an Allman Brothers style duet, and the final "chorus" as the highest peak. I'm constantly surprised Sean let me play so many guitar solos, but I'm even more surprised that they all worked out so well.
The final verse, more or less, carries us away into the sunset. Even the heaviest wind will dissipate eventually, and that seemed like an appropriate way to conclude this song. This was also a first for me, to sing all the way out of a song. It recalls the circle of fifths progression from the first buildup but takes it to a new conclusion.
Among the other firsts in this song, it was the first that we had mixed. It seemed like a good idea just from the dynamic changes throughout, and if we were going to set the tone for the album, it seemed fitting to use one of the more joyous and celebratory songs. We want Conebuds to represent nature and good times, which is what Wind brings to mind.
Anyways, thanks for reading. I hope this gives a little insight into a cool song, and maybe even lets you listen to it in a new way. If you go driving through the mountains on a nice day, blast Wind and let me know what you think.