Weeklybeats is a 52 week long music project in which artists compose and publicly release 1 song a week for the entire year.
Starting December 29th 2019 GMT each participant will have one week to upload one finished composition. Any style of music or selection of instruments are welcomed and encouraged. Sign up or Login to get started or check our FAQ for any help or questions you may have.

WeeklyBeats.com / Music / CosmicCairns's music / Always Gotta Have An Edge To It

Always Gotta Have An Edge To It

By CosmicCairns on June 24, 2020 8:25 pm

Happy Half-way point!  Let's do everything we just did all over again!

Back when I was in high school I was involved with a local kid's theater group and one of the leaders/instructors was a guy named J.  J was the first person I'd ever met in real life who wrote his own songs and they were good songs!  I can still sing a bunch of them now.  He had me come in and lay down some violin and I think cello parts on a couple of his songs back in the day, which was kind of my first taste of collaborating on creating a song.  He definitely had a vision of what he wanted, but he was open to my input and I seem to recall he even used a lyric I suggested in addition to letting me help craft the string arrangements.  He also owned a 4-track cassette recorder, which was like the awesomest thing I'd ever seen in my life at the time.  I ended up getting one myself a couple years later when I was in college, which was when I really started to create music of my own.  One of the things I got really interested in with the 4-track was the various ways you could manipulate sound with it.  You could mess with the tape speed, do extreme panning back and forth, make backwards noises by flipping the tape over to the other side, make the volume cut in and out abruptly, and various other stuff.  When I also got my first guitar effects pedal, all bets were off.  I got super into making weird noises, but also trying to merge them with, like, actual songs.

So I remember coming home for like a Christmas or summer vacation and I was excited to show J some of the music I'd created.  Now J was very much a meat and potatoes acoustic guitar singer-songwriter type of guy.  I remember having a conversation with him about the Beatles one time.  He liked Abbey Road pretty well, but he wasn't so big on Revolver because he thought it had too much experimental nonsense on it.  So in retrospect, I'm not sure what I was thinking showing him some of my more, shall we say, avant-garde recordings.  I guess it was just my youthful enthusiasm.  To be fair, I think I tried to pick ones that also had some kind of song structure and melody, but I never could seem to resist including some weird noises or something.  At any rate, I made him sit through a song or two and was like, "Well?  What do you think?"  He kind of got this glazed look in his eyes and shook his head and said "Always gotta have an edge to it" and just sort of wandered away. 

I realized that wasn't exactly intended as a compliment, but I recognized the truth to it and sort of chose to take it as a badge of honor.  To a large extent, I still follow this philosophy today.  I still like merging weird noises with actual songs, which is exactly what I tried to do on this song.  For that reason, J probably wouldn't like this song.  But I'm dedicating it to him anyway.  He passed away a few years ago, but he was definitely a huge inspiration to me,  especially in my early days of making music.  I'm not entirely sure I'd be doing this now if I hadn't met him.

I tried to make the lyrics a little bit of a conversation/debate about the pros and cons of making "edgy" music.  Are noise and abstract lyrics something to hide behind?  Or do they sometimes enrich the song and make it more interesting?  All I know is it was super fun putting together all the weird noises on this track, so that's one point in favor of the edge argument.  smile

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You say you want to play things straight
Get to the truthful bits
But then you sabotage yourself
Cause it's always gotta have an edge to it

It's like you need to hide behind
A wall of noise and grit
A shield to protect your heart
When it's always gotta have an edge to it

But sometimes edges can serve their use
Sometimes speaking bluntly lands you in jail
There's times when things are richer when you're not straight-forward
At times it's better speaking through a veil

I hear the point you're trying to make
Sometimes the facts don't fit
I know it's hard to look a fool
So it's always gotta have an edge to it

But there's a time for everything
So come and have a sit
Sometimes it should be silky smooth
And sometimes you ought to put an edge on it

I just like seeing what happens when
Things get pushed out to the edge
There's times I prefer staying on the couch
Sometimes I want to sit on a ledge

This submission is licensed by author under CC Attribution Noncommercial (BY-NC)

  • Play
  • Download
June 29, 2020 12:46 am

Nice bass tone, nice percussions, and again fun honest singing.

June 29, 2020 3:12 am

Damn, I miss my 4 track now.  I'm with you on the weird noises man, I love throwing them into songs when I can.  I used to do it more by manipulating audio (stretching, reversing, chopping, ect.) but I'm doing it more with synths now.  Either way, I feel like it definitely gives an edge to the song like you say.  Cool track this week man, very well written song and some very cool sounds in the background it listen to. 

June 29, 2020 4:31 am

I like the general tone of the song, with that retro vibe and the positioning of vocals. The weird noises make the song!

June 29, 2020 8:04 am

Are noise and abstract lyrics something to hide behind?  Or do they sometimes enrich the song and make it more interesting?


What is music?

Regardless of what J though, there's always someone out there who'll like what you're doing. It sounds like you need more heroes.

June 29, 2020 4:23 pm

Strong Pink Floyd vibes from this one. Classic tune, nice work!

June 29, 2020 5:08 pm
djippy wrote:

Nice bass tone, nice percussions, and again fun honest singing.

Thanks!  My girlfriend has a suitcase that I noticed had a cool tone when I banged on it, so I used that for the percussion in this one.



Chrisfoo wrote:

Damn, I miss my 4 track now.  I'm with you on the weird noises man, I love throwing them into songs when I can.  I used to do it more by manipulating audio (stretching, reversing, chopping, ect.) but I'm doing it more with synths now.  Either way, I feel like it definitely gives an edge to the song like you say.  Cool track this week man, very well written song and some very cool sounds in the background it listen to.

Sometimes I miss my 4-track, too.  It had a lot more limitations to it, but I also think sometimes limitations force your creativity more and the tape manipulation was always a lot of fun.  I still try to use found sounds and audio manipulation because I enjoy it, but I'll utilize weird synth tones these days also.  It's nice to have more weapons in the arsenal to utilize.



Kedbreak136 wrote:

I like the general tone of the song, with that retro vibe and the positioning of vocals. The weird noises make the song!

I will always be a fan of weird noises I think.  Plus they're just fun to make.



Devieus wrote:

Are noise and abstract lyrics something to hide behind?  Or do they sometimes enrich the song and make it more interesting?


What is music?

Regardless of what J though, there's always someone out there who'll like what you're doing. It sounds like you need more heroes.

I don't mean to imply he was my only hero.  I've met plenty of people since then who have inspired me in various ways, but he was the first real life musical creative inspiration for me and that's always going to be important.  Plus he was a really good dude and encouraged me a lot in my creative endeavors.  He helped me stage a play I wrote that was quite experimental and he also let me borrow a bass for the 4 years I was in college, which is how I learned to play bass.  Experimental music just wasn't to his taste, which is fine.  I've had friends show me stuff that wasn't to my taste and I've just kind of smiled and nodded and been like "It's good!"  And like I said I actually just took the comment about always gotta have an edge to it as a source of inspiration, too.



Mission Crossing wrote:

Strong Pink Floyd vibes from this one. Classic tune, nice work!

Thanks!  It never hurts to have a little Pink Floyd in there.

June 29, 2020 10:29 pm

Wow the music really captures exactly what you describe above.  It's fun to read along while I listen. And you pulled out all your strange cast of musical characters although I'm not sure if pop corn tin is making an appearance or if you are thumping on the acoustic guitar.  That toy megaphone vocal, bell tones, and bubbly sounds really add a Beatles Octopus's Garden feel. We all need a mentor and it seems like J was a good one even if he wasn't down with the avant garde. Cool song (I've listened three times through!).

June 30, 2020 12:05 am
NWSPR wrote:

Wow the music really captures exactly what you describe above.  It's fun to read along while I listen. And you pulled out all your strange cast of musical characters although I'm not sure if pop corn tin is making an appearance or if you are thumping on the acoustic guitar.  That toy megaphone vocal, bell tones, and bubbly sounds really add a Beatles Octopus's Garden feel. We all need a mentor and it seems like J was a good one even if he wasn't down with the avant garde. Cool song (I've listened three times through!).

Thanks!  The percussion on this one was actually my girlfriend's suitcase.  I randomly decided to hit it for some reason and it had a pretty cool tone, so I thought I'd try using it as a drum.  Overall J was a great guy and he got me started on the path of realizing it was possible to make music on my own.  I had to get out there and just mess around a lot to figure out what kind of music I wanted to make and I suppose that's a process that's still going on to this day.

June 30, 2020 7:48 am

Beautiful song with a special background story. You managed to combine classic singer-songwriter music with lots of crazy edgy sounds. Both sides fit perfect together and make the song great. This was really something special this week. I love it.

June 30, 2020 4:25 pm

This is wonderfully creative. Never lose that edge. smile

June 30, 2020 6:18 pm
Q-Rosh wrote:

Beautiful song with a special background story. You managed to combine classic singer-songwriter music with lots of crazy edgy sounds. Both sides fit perfect together and make the song great. This was really something special this week. I love it.

Thanks!  I felt like I wanted to do something a little special to mark the half-way point so I thought I'd try to do something that had some personal meaning to me.



Reilly Farrell wrote:

This is wonderfully creative. Never lose that edge. smile

I used to worry in my younger days that if I was still making music when I got older that I'd start getting bland and lame and boring.  After all, I'd seen a lot of famous musicians insist on continuing to put out bad albums with diminishing returns as they got older.  I'm not like a senior citizen yet, but I fit the definition of "old" I had back then and I'm happy to tell my younger self I don't think I've lost the edge yet. smile

July 1, 2020 9:45 am

Excellent stuff... that bell-like section is the real edge here smile Fantastic and wild!

July 1, 2020 3:19 pm
Ashen Simian wrote:

Excellent stuff... that bell-like section is the real edge here smile Fantastic and wild!

Thanks!  That end section is my favorite part, too.  I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out going into it, but it exceeded my expectations, which it's always nice when that happens.

July 1, 2020 7:39 pm

I def regret getting rid of my 4 track.  It's funny the phases we go through.  At first I was happy to have whatever gear then it was I NEED DIGITAL and now its damn it why did i get rid of the ANALOG!  I relate to the lyrics especially the 'self sabotage'.  Interesting story and I enjoyed all of the edgy bits.  For a second I thought the popcorn was in this and then realized oooh no suitcase!  Well done!

July 1, 2020 8:11 pm
Tone Matrix wrote:

I def regret getting rid of my 4 track.  It's funny the phases we go through.  At first I was happy to have whatever gear then it was I NEED DIGITAL and now its damn it why did i get rid of the ANALOG!  I relate to the lyrics especially the 'self sabotage'.  Interesting story and I enjoyed all of the edgy bits.  For a second I thought the popcorn was in this and then realized oooh no suitcase!  Well done!

I held onto my 4 track for as long as I could.  After awhile it just kind of stopped working and then I basically had no choice but to switch to digital reluctantly.  I'm used to it now and it does have plusses in some aspects, but I definitely miss my 4-track days sometimes.  Lots of good memories.

July 2, 2020 5:08 am

Hey Cosmic,

Who are some of your favorite bands / musicians?

July 2, 2020 5:01 pm
Modulated Drummer wrote:

Hey Cosmic,

Who are some of your favorite bands / musicians?

The list is really long, but a few that spring to mind are the Beatles, Ween, Flaming Lips, Pavement, Pink Floyd, Beach Boys, the Kinks, Radiohead, R.E.M., Spiritualized, They Might Be Giants, Can, Guided By Voices, the whole Elephant 6 collective and lots of other stuff.

July 10, 2020 9:31 pm

Love that story about J. "Then he just walked away". Yeah, I've had similar experience. Good topic about the edge, good conversation in this song, and good sounds!! Sometimes maybe subconsciously we hide behind all that stuff, maybe? But whatever comes out comes out, and hey, gotta have some dang fun. Right, sometimes the couch, sometimes the ledge, good line! And whoever said there's rules and stuff!!

Great list of fave artists. Elephant 6, so good, there should be more "collectives"

July 12, 2020 1:31 am
miraclemiles wrote:

Love that story about J. "Then he just walked away". Yeah, I've had similar experience. Good topic about the edge, good conversation in this song, and good sounds!! Sometimes maybe subconsciously we hide behind all that stuff, maybe? But whatever comes out comes out, and hey, gotta have some dang fun. Right, sometimes the couch, sometimes the ledge, good line! And whoever said there's rules and stuff!!

Great list of fave artists. Elephant 6, so good, there should be more "collectives"

Yeah, I think sometimes (not always but sometimes) noise and stuff is kind of something to hide behind and not make your "real" self vulnerable.  But it also sounds cool and sometimes that's the point.  Plus I've come to the realization that there's different kinds of music for different kinds of moods.  Sometimes I like to listen to mellow quiet stuff and sometimes I want abrasive noise that rips my face off.  And in the end it's all self-expression and it's cool to be able to express different aspects of ourselves.  The no rules thing is one of the best parts of music.  And I agree there should be more collectives.  Maybe we should make the Weekly Beats collective?

July 12, 2020 5:04 am

Such a great effort doing these complete songs of various instruments etc.  Excellent use of samples.  Haha.

July 12, 2020 9:03 pm
rdomain wrote:

Such a great effort doing these complete songs of various instruments etc.  Excellent use of samples.  Haha.

Yeah I'm always recording cool sounds on my phone when I'm out and about and I hear them.  Then I gotta figure out a place to use them.  This song seemed like a good place to utilize a few.

August 10, 2020 11:52 pm

CosmicCairns wrote:
miraclemiles wrote:

Love that story about J. "Then he just walked away". Yeah, I've had similar experience. Good topic about the edge, good conversation in this song, and good sounds!! Sometimes maybe subconsciously we hide behind all that stuff, maybe? But whatever comes out comes out, and hey, gotta have some dang fun. Right, sometimes the couch, sometimes the ledge, good line! And whoever said there's rules and stuff!!

Great list of fave artists. Elephant 6, so good, there should be more "collectives"

Yeah, I think sometimes (not always but sometimes) noise and stuff is kind of something to hide behind and not make your "real" self vulnerable.  But it also sounds cool and sometimes that's the point.  Plus I've come to the realization that there's different kinds of music for different kinds of moods.  Sometimes I like to listen to mellow quiet stuff and sometimes I want abrasive noise that rips my face off.  And in the end it's all self-expression and it's cool to be able to express different aspects of ourselves.  The no rules thing is one of the best parts of music.  And I agree there should be more collectives.  Maybe we should make the Weekly Beats collective?

Good thoughts. Agree. I think some people think there are rules, or they impose rules, which is fine. But no rules mentality is more fun and liberating and ultimately more productive. Maybe we should start a collective. Count me in.

You need to login to leave a comment.
Login Sign-up