“outlines” is the 17th song in the yearbook series… track #2 on the “march” ep.
when i write songs and prep them for recording, it is most common for me to have a fairly clear picture in mind of the overall shape of the song – the general instrumentation, where each of the sections should land (arrangement), etc. however, with “outlines,” I approached the whole process without any clue of what the final picture might look like.
much like the song “wires,” “outlines” opens with a melody created within my iPhone, and that’s exactly where this song began in the writing process as well. I let that melody loop over and over and just began adding layer after layer of ideas… I started with electric guitar, and discovered a bunch of chords and ideas I liked, which was very helpful in finding the shape of the song.
a day or so adding and subtracting layers, I finally unearthed the overall “outline” (get it?) and heart of the song, which of course led to even more new layers and ideas. then my pal Dan and I explored some ideas on our keyboards and found some nice textures that filled in the cracks. Dan, added bass and did a superb job adding thickness to the song.
it was so much fun hunting for a mix of electronic sounds that played well with more organic “band” ish sounds (ie. drums, pianos, bells, etc) – for a song very much about origins (more on that later) – i liked the idea of natural sounds underneath modern and more electric sounds.
once all of the pieces were laid in place, I invited my good pal, jason toth to play drums. (jason appears all over my “storyboards” album and is a fantastic musician. fact.) his performance definitely gives this song its pulse.. the last minute or two of snare runs is pretty impressively fast – he didn’t even pass out while doing takes. a total pro. we had a lot of fun recording him for this, and watching him sweat. ha.
the lyrics came next, as they often do… but in this song’s case, I had no vocal melodies in mind just yet. usually, in the lyric-writing process, I will play around with vocal melodies while the song’s shape is coming into view. but “outlines” was nearly finished musically before I payed around with any vocal ideas and lyrics.
the lyrics, and the overall concept came together fairly quickly on this one.
I wanted to write a song from Adam’s perspective (of the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden story) – this theme might be most evident in the lyric:
“garden of eden,
lower your branches
for another year.”
so I imagined what Adam’s thoughts might have been in the aftermath of eating the apple. pleading, reasoning, hoping for and finding something more. the title “outlines” refers to this origin story, as the outline of who we are today. (hence the more organic sounds, mixed with more modern, electric sounds.)
thanks for reading!
much love, ryan
hidden in plain sight,
the world is an outline
of shapes i used to know.
like pulling ribbon,
all of a sudden
the curtains draw back slow.
though i’ve been distracted,
i am caught up in static
garden of eden,
lower your branches
for another year.
i’m dust, unsettled
until they reappear.
though my hands are prone
to trial and error,
i’m crossing my fingers
for something to hold.
i can’t help but hope for brighter,
here in the shadows of letting go.
God, may these good intentions
be the outline of so much more.
when i breathe, from now on,
i’ll mean it more than ever i did before.