Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Behind The Song: The Morning After The Day You Saved The World

Download the FREE mp3 or chord sheet here.

Schindler’s Song

I saw Schindler's List on Feb 16th 1997. That morning I had seen my first child born and my wife immediately wheeled into the operating theatre, so the fact that the film reduced me to tears was no big surprise. But the documentary that followed about the real life Oskar Schindler had a more lasting effect. I was struck by the aimlessness of Schindler’s life after the war, a life that had already had it’s one defining moment and yet still had decades left to run.

In some ways it reminded me of a passage in Bob Geldof’s autobiography where he describes leaving Wembley after the Live Aid concert. He had initiated and performed in one of the biggest media events in history, raising enough money to save thousands of lives. And yet, just like everyone else in the audience, he was going home to see what was in the fridge. How do you make the transition back to ‘normal life’ after something like that?

I saw echoes of Geldof’s story in The Return of the King when Frodo, having saved Middle Earth, finds he cannot re-enter his life in the Shire or escape the pain of the wounds he has received.

The title that wouldn’t go away

By 2005 I was leading a worship team in a growing Church plant and was trying to write nothing but congregational worship songs. But the phrase “The morning after the day you saved the world” got stuck in my head and wouldn’t budge. In the end I decided to write the song just so it would stop bugging me. It came together so quickly that the bundle of various drafts for this song is a fraction of the size of other songs in my folder.

Questions & Echoes

Nearly every line of the song is a question. I wish I was smart enough to have planned it that way, but that’s just how it came out.

What was conscious was a desire to contrast the mundane with echoes of the story of Christ who, as well as saving the world, wasn’t stuck for things to do afterwards. He talked to mother, had breakfast with friends & had people wanting to see his scars.

Although the song is not about Christ, in saving Jews and feeding multitudes Schindler, Geldof and others like them, were pale reflections of Christ - saviours with a small ‘s’.

The ‘Kitten’s Got Claws’ tuning.

To play this song you need to tune the g string up to a (EADABE). I've never used this tuning before and never heard of anyone else using it. I did purely to make the first chord (C#m7b6) manageable, figuring I’d be able to adapt all the other chord shapes to compensate.

C#m7b6 standard tuning

C#m7b6 in EADABE tuning

Trying to play ‘normal’ chords led to some weird fingerings, but when it came to writing the bridge, normal shapes led to some of the weird chords that I used - Fsus#4 (played like a normal F) and C6/E (like a C).

6 impossible key changes before breakfast

Writing in multiple keys seems to be a besetting sin of mine, but this song is the best/worst yet.

The verses are mostly in C# minor (straying into C# Phrygian at 0:49). The Chorus starts in E mixolydian 1:26 before spending most of it’s time in E minor 1:34, stopping by G minor (2:09) before ending on G major (2:13) which, again more by luck than artistry, lead nicely* back to C# minor for the next verse.

(*The first three notes of the melody “waking up”(G F# E) are part of the C#m blues scale of the verse and the G major that concludes the chorus).

The Bridge (4:03) is broadly in G mixolydian. Changing key to F for the solo (4:41) seemed to give it the lift that it needed, but as the solo is based on a chorus the key is F major/mixolydian to F minor, but then, as I didn’t want to spend the rest of the song in F, I needed the weird chord progression at end of the solo (4:54) to get us back to E (4:59).

Home at last, never more to wander?

Not really.

Apart from all the usual chorus shenanigans we foolishly allow the Dsus4 - D/F# progression (5:15) to lead us smoothly into G (or G major/mixolydian/minor). But then it’s back to E (5:34) for one more hop, skip and a jump through all those boring and predictable chorus transpositions and we collapse exhausted onto a G major, vowing to write a 12 bar blues next time.

With all that chordal craziness it’s a good thing the tempo stays constant.

Apart from when it wanders between 80-112 bpm that is.

Things you may have missed.

  • The child's voice at 1:24 says “Is that it?” - the title of Geldof’s autobiography
  • After the line “Did you try to speak to God” (5:52) there is a ‘number not recognised' dial tone
  • The line about the world “staying saved” is a reference to the Pixar film The Incredibles
  • The opening guitar part is an acoustic, a clean electric and an electric transposed up an octave

Things you may like to do.

Download the FREE mp3 or chord sheet here.

Related Posts: Behind the song - The Ballad of NDC
Behind the song - One Three Nine

More Free songs by Matt Blick

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