The Music of Kelly Van Shaar

Anything Or Nothing

~ Folk Rock ~ 2014-06-23


I'm standing with you on the precipice of fear and we're looking for courage in an upbeat way.

Lyrics

You wait like solid ice for an awakening
Breaking from the strain; do you say anything?
No, no, no, frozen in time you remain so resigned and alone.

Now you keep it inside, but your confidence is melting,
As you focus on that blank spot on the wall
And you don't say a word, or it might show a feeling,
And that would be the ending of it all.

Anything or nothing?
Are you really gonna leave it like that?
Anything or nothing
Do you think you can live with that?
Anything or nothing?
Anything or nothing.

Sure you're better off to be without a friend
Anybody close will only hurt you in the end,
With great indignation of self-preservation you stay

And you hide your fear so well that you don't know you have it,
Isolate yourself from bitterness and pain.
Screaming for the help that you let no one give
Just live! Break free and live!

Anything or nothing
Are you really gonna leave it like that?
Anything or nothing
Do you really wanna be like that?
Anything or nothing.
Anything or nothing.

instrumental

There's so much we need to say,
And if we don't get it right, well, that's ok
Better to have tried and failed
Than never to have failed at all

Try it, try it, you will see
We'll get it right eventually
Be at peace and hear my call,
And you can be there when I fall
When I fall

Everything or nothing
Are you really gonna leave it like that?
Anything or nothing
Do you really wanna live like that?
Everything or nothing
Are you really gonna leave it like that?
Everything or nothing
Do you think you can live with that?
Everything or nothing.


Notes / Back story

Probably one of my most polished songs to date. Has more tracks and instruments than probably anything I've done, with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, piano (bass and treble separately), bass guitar, and then 5 tracks of drums. Usually with the drum tracks I just find a pre-made beat or two and slap them in there, then repeat it through the whole song. This time I took parts of 3 or 4 beats, split them out by instrument and mixed and matched them to add a lot more variety and dynamics. I think it makes a big difference. Features bass drum, snare, tambourine, shaker, cymbals, some toms and even a little hand clap and cow bell now and then. I have no idea if you can hear the cow bell in the final mix, but it's in some of the drum fills (the jazzy parts that play between verses). Other firsts in this song: first time I've used banjo or harmonica, and first time I've put pitch bend on an electric guitar.


One weird thing that I did this time is that I completed the music before I wrote the lyrics. I had an idea how the chorus would go, but the verses were mostly up in the air. I wanted the verses to be interesting musically and not just filler between the choruses, so I decided to write the music first and then write verses to fit. Amazingly, it worked! When I finally had the music done and went back to get me some words, they came very easily.


I generated a temporary accompaniment track and went into the "studio" to get the vocals. The first thing I discovered was that the song was in such a low key that I couldn't sing it! I could hit those low notes just fine under my breath while writing them, but to actually sing them out loud? Naw, couldn't do it. Sooo... I went back to the computer and transposed the whole song up a couple steps. Couldn't go too much, because I had intentionally written it with a wide range, again, to make the verses musically interesting. Finally, I brought my my 6 or so vocal takes back to the computer and then generated a separate .wav file for each instrumental track, brought those into my audio editor (Sony Vegas) and laid them all out. The master mix has 16 tracks total, with a vocal track, an echo track and 14 instrumental tracks.


Regarding the message, it's based on several of my own experiences, but I tried to leave out the specifics so it can apply to a wide range of people and circumstances. I hope it fits something of yours. We're talking about a problem, but the music is very upbeat and positive; meant to be filled with hope and give you courage.


If you are someone who's been hurt and has become afraid to share feelings, afraid to fail or to be hurt again, hopefully this song will help. In the first part of the song I talk about the situation. If it resonates with you, then maybe you're in the situation that I describe or you know someone who is. The chorus is meant to be a question: Will you do anything, or nothing? Often I see people do nothing because they're afraid of the outcome. My point being that anything is better than nothing. I put a twist on the old saying to be "Better to have tried and failed, Than never to have tried at all" and make it "Better to have tried and failed, Than never to have failed at all," to emphasize that failure is an important part of the process: It gives us experience which allows us to learn. Thus, failing to try (choosing nothing) can never have a positive outcome. In the final chorus I alternate "anything or nothing" with "Everything or nothing" in an attempt to further drive home the point that if we don't get out there and start learning from some failures (choosing anything over nothing) then we eventually lose everything... all our opportunities gone.

Visitor Comments

T.T. from United States ~ 2014-06-24 15:55:14 ~ I thought the words were great. Nicely done.

J.J. from United States ~ 2014-06-24 11:33:25 ~ Nice song. Good message. I found it interesting that you had the music written before the lyrics as I am opposite in thinking lyrically first. Thanks for sharing.

Marsha from United States ~ 2014-06-23 18:22:52 ~ Kudos! It sounds great! Putting all those tracks together is a challenge I'm sure. Some day it would be fun to record some of my own songs...just cuz I've always wanted to do it :). Great Job Kelly.

GVS from United States ~ 2014-06-23 15:23:55 ~ Great message. Great music. My favorite lines were: "Screaming for the help that you let no one give" and "Be at peace and hear my call, And you can be there when I fall When I fall"

Jennifer G from United States ~ 2014-06-23 15:10:42 ~ Pretty awesome stuff, Kelly. I like the chorus a lot.

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