Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[ BtS ] Ghosts of Roses

I'm primarily a bassist. No, really! I am.

Of all the instruments I play, I'm most at home on the bass. I should be. I've been playing since I was 12 - almost 24 years now. I'm just not as comfortable on piano or guitar much less anything else like flute or sax.

But writing on the bass isn't so easy... And sometimes I'm just as much a writer as anything else. (Well, except for that whole _finishing_ something...)

"Ghosts of Roses" is the other song inspired by The Ex. Unlike "Your Arms", however, this one is actually written *to* him (or at least at him). It still carries some of the same self-blaming weight, of course. But this time the narrative is between us.

There's disappointment at not being able to break through his wounds - as if his emotional scars and damages are somehow *my* responsibility. Yes, I still blamed myself at least in part for the breakup. At the same time I'm picking the two of us, our faults, and our failure apart.

Our whole affair was just so messy from beginning to end (especially the end) that... I just didn't know what to think. How was I supposed to reconcile our incompatibilities? How was I supposed to process my damaged heart and terminated dreams? How was I supposed to love someone and no longer be with them?

How was I supposed to move forward?

To make matters worse, along the path of our relationship, I found myself time and time again ignoring lessons I'd learned and advices I'd given. I sacrificed ideals and needs. The things I'd told both myself and others, "don't do ___" only to suddenly find myself doing just that...

There was constantly a part of my brain asking the rest of me what the FUCK I was doing and why the HELL was I allowing it to happen.

We had one vacation as a couple. Provincetown, MA, September 14th, 2001. Yeah, it was a strange time - the events of 9/11 were obviously *VERY* fresh in everyone's psyches. But we'd already made the reservations and everything a while before and... well, it seemed silly to not go through with our plans. Besides the running motto was, "don't let the terrorists win! Live normally."

Now sex was one of our more frequent fighting grounds. There were things I needed that, contrary to what he'd said when we met, he just couldn't... handle. Maybe it seems absurd. Maybe it doesn't. But the battle quickly became a path-more-traveled for us.

Anyhow, we'd had one of our sex arguments earlier. I'd been feeling *very* frisky but he was just not. It blew up into more than it should have because I can be like that.


So we're in bed. I am pissed off. And he starts grinding against me. I told him to stop: I was definitely no longer in the mood. He kept at it. I told him again to stop. He kept going. Eventually I figured I might as well get a little something - even if it's not what I really wanted. A few minutes later he's done.

"See how quickly you change your tune," he said, rolled over, and went to sleep.

At that moment I was *so* irate I could have injured him. It was a scene out of a cheesy, poorly written drama. And here I was in the reality of it - pissed off at him for being (once again) so manipulative and pissed off at me for having been (once again) manipulated.

Yes, The Ex: someone that I loved and yet couldn't fathom how to deal with sometimes. We were wonderfully destructive for each other.

"Ghosts of Roses" was written as a bass-highlighting piece. I was really in a point of writing where I wanted to spend time trying to use the bass as my primary accompaniment and see where that would lead me. [I have at least two other songs yet to be finished that feature the bass as the primary accompaniment. Someday...] In fact there's absolutely no guitar on the track at all!

Frankly I think it's also one of my most complex songs harmonically and compositionally. At one point - at 2:34 - I've cycled through so many chords that I wind up briefly on an E Major chord. I then turn around and land back perfectly in the home key of C minor.

Yeah. It makes me warm inside. :D

I don't remember what particularly prompted the verse bass riff. I've long had a fascination with tapped harmonics on the bass. Unlike the guitar, the octave difference brings them down into a more accompanimentally-viable register. It might have been luck. It might have been knowledge. But there's a wonderful Cm9 chord I spell as of the second verse.

The pre-chorus moves into Ab as well as 7/8! Again I utilize a bunch of easily accessible tapped harmonics to flesh out the chords adding 7ths and 9ths.

To end the song I really heard a sort of spoken-word thing going on. I really wanted to dip into a quasi Ani/beat poet kinda thing before departing with the title and final image of our now-sundered lives: the ghosts of roses.

I think there's a significant irony that the tune would turn into something with an almost old-school porn funk/elevator feel. It just seems appropriate.