♪ If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do –
(HOLD UP, I get to post the actual song for this post! :- D )
THE LONGEST TIME! Aaaaaaaand post ~~~~>
I’m takin’ it back to some good ol’ fashioned 80’s Do-Wop music with Billy Joel’s, ‘The Longest Time.’ This was for the assignment, Dramatic Reading Remix, which tasked bloggers to “take a song that you love, and record yourself doing a dramatic reading of the lyrics. Then take another piece of music (obviously without lyrics) and set your dramatic reading to it. This should result in something that sounds very different than the original song. Post both the original song (for comparison) and your new dramatic reading remix in a blog post.”
I chose to do a dramatic reading of ‘The Longest Time,’ because it’s one of, if not the, best 80’s song in existence. That’s a pretty bold claim, but one that I can make because it’s such a timeless masterpiece. It’s fun. It’s upbeat. It’s infectious. If one person starts singing the lyrics, it’s almost guaranteed that another person will join in with the next part of the song. It’s like the ‘Pokémon’ theme song. You can’t not sing it once it starts.
(I’ve witnessed both ‘The Longest Time,’ and the Pokémon theme song turn into a group sing along).
Fun Fact: Billy Joel sang the entire song himself. He sang the part of lead vocals and all the backing vocals. Joel recorded and mixed 14 tracks of himself singing and only used a bass guitar and a snare drum being played with brushes for backup instruments. The rest of the sounds are finger snaps and hand claps. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the difficulty of singing a song that’s meant to be sung by a group, and then singing it in a near a cappella style.
The Art of the Spoken Word
For my dramatic reading of ‘The Longest Time,’ I had to visualize myself pouring my heart out to another person. It’s difficult to say a song, because the melody of pop songs are so ingrained in our heads, that our first inclination is to sing the lyrics. I had to put aside the song’s tune and focus on the words. A song in it’s purest form is really just a poem, after all. They (usually, but not always) have a rhyming scheme, and the lines flow into each other. One of my favorite lines is:
I don’t care what consequence it brings
I have been a fool for lesser things
This could have just as easily been a sentence. One might say, “I don’t care about the consequences; I’ve been foolish over dumber things than this.” Doesn’t have the same ring to it. This is the power of poetry and music- each line is a pause to let the words sink in (followed by a, ah ah AHH AHHHH).
Once I had my spoken rendition of the song, I set it to some instrumentals from Soundcloud. I had originally intended to use an acoustic guitar sound for backup since it’s easiest to set words to a guitar strum, but I wasn’t diggin’ it. The guitar gave my dramatic reading a corny, overly sentimental feel, which is not really what I wanted. I swapped it out with some piano, and it worked better for a somber feel, although it was harder to sync. The song I chose was, ‘Everyone Falls In Love Sometimes (Acoustic Piano Version) (Instrumental)’ by PEÑA. The piano’s rhythm was a little too fast for my speaking pace though, so I slowed down the tempo a bit.
After cutting up the piano instrumentals and stitching it back together, I noticed that the beat got very monotonous, causing a droning effect to the words. I played around with all the sound effects in an effort to find something that would break it up without sounding too out of place. I decided on the ‘wahwah’ effect, the vocal reducer/isolater, and the envelope tool to create a sort of beat drop in the middle. I’m not sure how audio mixers create music- It’s really hard to do and takes a lot of patience. The final touches were treally just trying to line up the voice recording with the piano melody. After that, I hit export and uploaded to Soundcloud.
Here’s ‘The Longest Time’ as Spoken Word Poetry: