Hotter song 3: Bullet

Unlike "Because I Care," I know exactly where and how "Bullet" came from. It started with two things. One was something I read about the shootings at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, about how some boyfriends/husbands sacrificed themselves to protect their girlfriends/wives. I thought, courage and self-sacrifice aren't gendered things. I would do the same for my partner, even a close friend, and I know many others who would as well. The other thing was my usual theme of how important love and friendship are to me. I really would rather be taken than to lose someone I love.

The words and music both pretty much flew out. I wrote "Bullet" on my acoustic guitar. Originally, it was in the key of A, but it felt better in B. However, the first position of B major is not an easy chord to play, and certainly is difficult when you want the guitar to ring. So I used a capo to change the key to B. And I bought a capo to use with my electric guitar for the first time ever.

I wrote the two-line refrain first. I think it was one of those things that I scribbled on a piece of paper in the car while I was stopped at a red light. Or maybe I kept singing it to myself until I got home. After that, the verses almost wrote themselves.

The words to the verses are purposely simple, just a 1960s-ish pop song about love. I grew up listening to a lot of those. But then comes the refrain, and suddenly the sweet pop song is about death. I was pretty happy with that.

Even though I was singing the song just by myself while I was working it out, I always intended for it to be a duet. Think Everly Brothers, a sound that was later imitated by the Beatles. I taught G the melody line that I had come up with, and then I sang the other part. We're not sisters, but I think we managed to work out a pretty close sound.

As usual, the bridge posed some difficulty. I knew the song needed a bridge. Unlike the rest of the song, I laboured over those two lines. When I hit upon the new chord on the second line, I knew I had something good. I could already hear that two-part harmony in my head, and G and I made it happen. It is totally supposed to evoke the '60s.

It was G who suggested not starting the duet until the second verse, which I think works to great effect and makes each verse more distinct. T came up with the idea that the drums would drop only to the kick drum in the chorus. And C added that distinctive slide down an octave after the word "to" in the first line.

The song came fairly quickly in the studio. It was one of the oldest of the set, so we had rehearsed it a lot and played it at shows more than once. I used my Mustang with the capo for the basic guitar track. Because I really wanted a full sound, I added a second rhythm guitar part with the Stratocaster, playing the same chords in different positions than the first. I did the lead part separately, also with the Strat, using my antique (seriously, it's 30 years old) Boss flanger for that swirly effect. I knew what I wanted to play. I didn't quite nail it, but close (should have done one more take—hoping you won't notice). G nailed her vocal part pretty quickly, and later I added my harmony part. The last thing I added was the tambourine.

Jesse did his usual brilliant job in quickly getting a decent mix. He made the guitars even more swirly. But I had some specific requirements, such as to get a real duet balance in the vocals. I wanted more tambourine, but Jesse thought the level was good. I think I should have fought for that one! I got a little tambourine back during mastering. Overall I'm very happy with how this one came out. Hope you all sing along with the morbid refrain!

No comments: