The Music of Kelly Van Shaar

Straw Man

~ Bluesy Rock ~ 2012-03-07


A song of hope. No, really. Wait for it... Musically inspired by Alanis Morissette, Santana and Scooby Doo.

Lyrics

You're angry.
That's all I know.
You're angry, angry
But not letting it show.

You're hiding
In a blind illusion
But you got unending faith
In your confusion.

Go ahead and make me a straw man,
So you can knock me down.
Go ahead and blame me for your anger
Yeah, spread it through the town

And I would love to say that you can never hurt me,
But you can and you do.
do, do, do, do....

You should have figured out that hurting me won't make you better
If that was gonna work, well it would have worked already.
Taking all the poison and expecting me to die.

CHORUS
How much pain can you deal?
How much hate can you feel?
How much more 'til you heal?

How much joy is erased?
How much blood can you taste?
How much life will you waste?

How much more can you fake?
How much more till you break?
How much time will it take?

BRIDGE
It's just a stupid little tantrum and it's really gone on too long
It should have ended long ago, but then you never could admit when you're wrong
Da da da da da da...

BREAK

Now, you've got yourself
Painted right into a corner
Told us all that you were right
And you won't let yourself come on over.

It makes you look weak
If you change your mind
Better to look weak once or twice
Than to be wrong all the time

You know, the strongest of all
Are those who face their fears
And the weakest of us all
Are those who hide away for years.

Well, you may have made me into just a straw man in your mind
But you're the dummy.
Da da da da da da da dummy.

And you should have figured out that hurting me won't make it any better
Because well, if that was gonna work, well it would have worked already
You're taking all the poison and expecting me to die.

CHORUS
How much pain can you deal?
How much hate can you feel?
How much more 'til you heal?

How much joy is erased?
How much blood can you taste?
How much life will you waste?

How much more can you fake?
How much more till you break?
How much time will it take?

BREAK

No, I am not a straw man
And you can't knock me down
I'm standing here, year after year
Until you come around.

Start taking all the joy in and open up your eyes.

Notes / Back story

Clearly I use music to help me cope with these deep feelings; kinda like an audible journal. I wrote the lyrics for this one back in November of 2011. At that time I also wrote down the melody for the main part of the chorus, the parts about "how much time will it take" etc. At that time I also wrote down the melody for the bridge section, "It's just a stupid little tantrum." Then I put it away and promptly forgot about it. Yesterday morning I felt like working on a song, so I went through the folder on my computer and there it was. I spent pretty much the whole day working out a melody for the verses and creating the rest of the accompaniment, and recorded the vocals in 6 or 7 takes at about 5pm last night.


Musically speaking, this song for me is all about the guitar. My guitar ideas for this song were heavily influenced by an Alanis Morissette song I had just played over the weekend, "What I Really Want." There is one particular guitar lick that is copied directly from that song, or at least from the way I hear it in the song.


My original distortion pedal setting for the guitar had an extreme wah-wah effect on it and Danielle didn't like it at all, so after she was done listening to me do my last couple of vocal takes we went back to my cave and ran through all 40 presets until we found some she liked. I played the Alanis song for Danielle and she hated the guitar in it. We got to talking about what made her like or not like an electric guitar in a song, and she mentioned that she liked Santana, so we listened to "Smooth" and tried to figure out what it was about it that made it so non-irritating. Then we went through all my presets again, listening to only the guitar track, to find the one that sounded the most like Santana. That's the one we used. After that, she asked if we could be done for the night and I relented.


This morning I re-recorded the guitar part with the new preset and did the final mix. Here you have the end result.

OH YEAH... I would be remiss if I did not also give some musical credit to the original Scooby-Doo theme. The melody and bass line of my bridge section are taken pretty much directly from the way I hear them in that song.

Thematically speaking, my use of the 'straw man' metaphor is hopefully meaningful to most of you without an explanation, but for those who are interested, the idea of the straw man argument is to create an artificially flawed version of the opposing point of view and then easily defeat it. If you're really curious, here's a Wikipedia article about the straw man technique.


The parallel between 'straw man' and 'dummy' was actually a lucky coincidence that I realized only yesterday. When I picked up on it, I changed the words in the second verse to include the straw man reference, and brought the straw man stanza from the first verse back on the end of the song. I also renamed the song. The original working title was "How Much Time."

Visitor Comments

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Yeah, it's spam. Funny spam... so I approved it. ~K


Robbie from United States ~ 2012-06-15 14:51:11 ~ The late great Randy Rhoads would often seek out classical gutiar tutors for lessons while on tour with Ozzy Osbourne. He certainly knew a few things about guitar, but he knew there was more out there to learn. There is never a point where you stop learning new things in life. It's the same with the guitar. If you have the time and will to learn new things then I highly suggest you seek guitar lessons. A sure way to find someone who knows more than you is to pick a different genre of music that you may not be used to and find an instructor who teaches it. Rhoads may have been in a hard rock band, but he could draw upon the classical world to deliver something new and unique. I'm pretty amazed of what I can still learn on a daily basis and I've played guitar for over 25 years.

KNVS from United States ~ 2012-05-27 23:30:33 ~ I like the guitar.

KCVS from United States ~ 2012-04-21 15:08:57 ~ I like this song a lot because that sort of thing really does happen. This song pretty much tells you what to do.

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