Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Gracefully Blog.

Ok. So here it is. The long awaited, maybe too long awaited that you forgot you even wanted it, blog entry about the song Gracefully.

This may be a bit of a blabber blog, too...all over the place. Prepare for take off.

Warning: If you don't like knowing what songs are really about, if you like to interpret them for yourselves and keep it that way, then don't read this blog. Ok? ok. Here we go:

When we entered the studio to record 23 Red, it was initially going to be a 5 song EP. That's right. 5 songs. We asked Gary Philips, our producer, to help us pick the best 5 from about 18 or 19 songs. I believe the initial top 5 songs were No Remedy, Everywhere is Home, Borrowed Time...and...I can't remember what the other 2 were now. But then we did the Kickstarter Fundraiser and suddenly we had a real budget. One that would allow us to record 8 we added 3 more from the list.

Then we wrote Gracefully by accident and had to add it to the CD as the 9th song. And it just didn't make any sense to go in and record only one song. I mean, all that set up and rigamarole (really a word, go ahead and google it like I just did). So we ended up recording Gracefully and Say You Want to Leave. 10 songs. Full length CD. We went a little over the budget there. But we figured all our fans donated so graciously, we couldn't possibly put out an 8 song CD. I mean. Who does that?

So Gracefully...the song. It came about because Nini thought the CD needed a song with a tempo change on it. All the songs on the CD were in 4/4 time. You know. Tap your foot along and count to 4. She thought the CD needed a song in 6/8 time...or 3/4 time. I'm not totally sure what the difference is between those two time signatures. But tap your foot along to Gracefully. Or Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway. Or Goo Goo Dolls Iris. You'll see. It's in 6...or 3. Go ahead. Tap your foot and count. The 1 comes after the 3 or 6. Not after the 4.

So that was Nini's objective for writing it.

My objective was a little different. Mine was based on a conversation I had with my neighbor the night before we wrote the song. She was at my house and told me a really sad story about someone we both knew who had just been re-diagnosed with cancer. And the friend had kids. And the diagnosis was very grim. My heart sank...and I knew I was going to make Nini write another depressing song with me the next day.

**Good spoiler alert**The friend beat it again and is totally fine. Yay. Phew. Why can't I ever write a song about that? Hmm. Note to self. Write a song about that for once.

Now back to the story of writing the song.

So I show up at Gracewood to write with Nini, and she's strumming a chord progression in 6/8 getting ready for the task at hand...I lay the story on her about my neighbor's friend and we end up talking about our own kids and how that's our worst nightmare come true...I mean, anyone's worst nightmare come true...Nini starts singing placeholder words like fall with the fall, all in the all...and I tell her they're not placeholders, and we debate that for a few minutes...and then I say Gracefully at the end of those "placeholder" words...probably because we were writing at Gracewood...and then we realize we have the start of a real song.

(the ...'s are starting to get on my nerves too...)

So we decide the song is about teaching your kids one final lesson. Even if you were dying, you can still teach them one final lesson. Whatever it is you have to do in life, no matter how hard or difficult, do it gracefully.

Fall with the fall. You know. Sometimes you just have to go with it. There comes a time when you just have to accept it and go with it. And always remember, it's all in the all. You know, give it your all, even when you're falling with the fall. Make the most out of everything you do. Even dying. Wring every little drop out of life while you still have it. This stuff makes total sense to Nini and me, if nobody else.

Just hold your person's hand, and both of you, do it gracefully.

I'm a great believer that blog posts should never be too long. But I haven't even touched upon the intensity of the recording session when we tracked Nini's lead vocal. The session was so intense we had to stop a few times. It was making our stoic producer, literally, cry. And we sent Nini on the most intense roller coaster ride of emotions in the vocal booth. You should go read Nini's blog post about it. She blogged immediately after the session. Read it here: Worktape: In The Studio, Gracefully. It's the 3rd post down.

Alright. Nap time is over for the babies. I don't even have time to spell check. I'm just going live.



  1. Please feel free to blog all you want Kristen. I really enjoy reading the thought process behind everything.. the words, the chord progressions.. all of it.Thanks for explaining all in the all, fall with the fall.I look at the song with a new clarity.

    Thanks to your blog I feel we got a little sneak peek into the song process.

    So glad your friend is better.Are you working on that new song now?

  2. Since I am at work and in an analytical mindset, I thought I would address the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 time. It is in the feel of the beat.

    3/4 is 1 and 2 and 3 and...(emphasis for each beat)

    6/8 is ONE two three Four five six (empasis on 1 and 4).

  3. Thanks for the insight Kristen. Gracefully is the one song on the CD that I can actually "see" when I listen to it. I admit it was the time change that caught my attention. I am a fan of So You Think You Can Dance and I can so see a beautiful waltz set to this song. And how the song came to be makes it all the more touching.

    I have recently become aware of how the seemingly insignificant things are actually the ones that can change the way you see the world. Fall in the fall, its all in the all is one of those things. It is a great way to live your life...all in, every day. Thank you for seeing the true meaning inside those "placeholders".

    Love the whole is on constant play in my car. Thanks again for sharing. Love your blog.


  4. from Ken: luvd the backstory to Gracefully. When I closed my eyes and listened to the song I imagine two holding each other as if their very being depended on it. Two lovers, married couple, mother/father and child...holding each other as if one is giving their life's energy and existence to the other.....if that makes any sense...

    Also, 3/4 time would invite a waltz..:-)

  5. after reading Nini's blog, I couldn't wait to hear this song, and I was not disappointed. Well, I was a wee bit, but only because I couldn't make out all the lyrics. Now that you've explained the "fall with the fall, all in the all" it's all good!

    But for me, this song is about the feel. I FEEL it. Maybe that's the timing. Maybe that's osmosis. I don't know why it is, but it is a wonderful thing.

    You ladies make beautiful music.

  6. Love all of 23 Red - and now have a special feel for Gracefully. Always at birthday time (yesterday) I try to reconnect with those moments that make a difference, and to focus more on sparkle instants and less on the daily minutiae! great music helps the positive flow... Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. Now, I need to go listen to that song...really listen. xo

    Patti Elder Scharf

  8. I'm way behind on this...this and many other things - ha ! but i'm right there with the comment from the SYTYCD fan - i always hear this song & "see" it as a beautiful dance, so totally appreciate it's tempo - and the message? goes without saying - heartfelt and very touching.
    Really wanted to come on to congratulate you on the Starbucks news - Yay ! x0x