The Making Of Aloha Supreme: Take This, Leave That

I wrote Take This, Leave That on a Rhodes, which is not the way I usually write.  The Rhodes was lent to us by our friend John, who needed a place to store it while vacationing in Tokyo.

This was around the time I was listening to Michael Holt’s Windows and I was really curious about his writing process.  I called Mike up and asked if I could come over to talk to him about writing, and to play a bit.  We got together for a couple hours one afternoon and talked a lot about being honest, and about playing only what you hear.

Ali once told me about this thing she heard Paul Simon say in an interview:  He said that when you have writer’s block, it’s because you’re not writing from where you are.  When you’re not writing from where you are, you’re trying to be something you’re not, and that’s usually a bad idea.

So Michael and I talked for a while, and then we played – Michael played piano, I played guitar.  We didn’t play any tunes, though, just improvising over simple changes.  I think we just played over a C and F chord for about 20 minutes, taking turns playing what we hear.  When I say “what we hear,” I mean melodies that you hear in your head before your fingers touch your instrument.

It’s easy to let your fingers improvise while your brain kind of checks out.

We also talked about how he develops a song in his head long before he brings it to the piano to play.  He won’t play it on any instrument, he won’t record it, and he won’t write it down.  That way, if it survives, it survives by it’s own strength.

That’s how I wrote Take This, Leave That.  I sat at the keyboard for a few minutes each day and developed this little melody. Whatever I couldn’t remember the next day was lost – it wasn’t strong enough in the first place to be remembered!

After about a week of playing this tune, I recorded myself playing it…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

It’s simple on purpose.  It’s just exactly what I heard that week.

We got lucky in the studio on Wednesday and got it down in the first take.  I usually don’t like to do more than three takes, but one is even better!

(You can pre-order a copy of the album by clicking on the donate button below.)


(top photo by Graham Powell, bottom photo by Ali Eisner)

4 Responses to The Making Of Aloha Supreme: Take This, Leave That

  1. Lou says:

    Great post and I love the Rhodes’ sound. I never tire of hearing how other songwriters work out their craft. Thanks for the insight. Excellent advice from Paul Simon, too.

    Best of luck with the recording process.


  2. Pingback: Weekly Aloha Update: $3830 Raised So Far | Christine Bougie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *