The Offhand Band - Ballroom Dance (Shadow)

from by Various Artists

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about

I've always loved playing and composing in different musical styles, so this challenge really appealed to me right out of the gate. At the same time, I'm much more experienced with pop music idioms and less so with ethnic styles, so this challenge was also challenging for me. I knew I needed to find an idea that would work in itself while also letting me use ethnic styles that were at least somewhat familiar to me, minimizing the amount of research and trial and error I'd have if I went with less familiar styles.

One notion I had from the start was using the various styles to provide different versions of what was, underneath, the same song. This would allow the whole piece to be unified not only by topic/story/lyrics but also by the essence of the music itself, despite the stylistic variations. I also felt this would be both a good challenge for myself as well as possibly something to distinguish my entry, on the chance that others might not take this approach.

For those interested, many more details behind the writing of the song can be found at: theoffhandband.com/2010/08/ballroom-dance/?postTabs=1

lyrics

My little Nonna Bella used to tell a tale to me
Of all her lovely times back in old Italy
Where out on the piazza filled with lotsa people there
They'd eat and drink and dance out in the country air
I asked her, "Teach me how to dance like you did"
She said, "I can't remember how to do it
I'm old, and anyway, those dances may not be for you
When not in Rome, why do as Romans do?

Ballroom dance
Why not go try a class?
Ballroom dance
Don't just sit on your backside!"

Aristocrats in old Vienna floated round and round
The men in powdered wigs, the ladies, poofy gowns
A ballroom so magnificent, each surface blazing gold
That's where they did the waltz back in the days of old
Compared to them, I feel just like a beggar
Say "Austria," and I think Schwarzenegger
If I were an archduke then maybe waltzing would be grand
But I prefer Franz Ferdinand the band

Ballroom dance
Just try it and you'll see
Ballroom dance
But waltzing's not for me

A steamy night in Buenos Aires, couples barely dressed
At times open embrace, but mostly chest-to-chest
Expressing their passion longingly, and in their mouth, a rose
But frankly, I don't want bleeding gums or pollen up my nose
Sometimes I can't tell the steps from cha-cha, rumba or samba
And when teacher says, "Feel your burning desire!," ¡Ay, caramba!
The fancy footwork's frustrating, and don't even mention the dips
For Latin and spicy I'll stick with my salsa and chips

Ballroom dance
Just try it and you'll see
Ballroom dance
But tango, no esta por mi

A hundred Slavic peasants, what a happy bunch of folk, A-
round the barn they gaily barrel, yes, they're rolling out a polka
They get their fill of beer and sausage -- that feels like my speed
Except it goes so fast, please, slow it down, I plead!
How did they do it after full days farming?
Two minutes in, my breathing rate's alarming
We spin 'til I'm so dizzy, it just doesn't seem so wise
Now, polka dots dance right before my eyes

Ballroom dance
Just try it and you'll see
Ballroom dance
But polka's not for me

My other grand-maman, she came from Paris -- that's in France
I've seen her drink red wine, but, no, I've never seen her dance
She's watched me hoof around the world, but never as in Rome
She says that I should try a step from my own home
If so far I just feel malaise, ah, c'est la vie
Who knows, perhaps someday, instead, joie de vivre
A foxtrot, quick-step, jitterbug, or Lindy Hop or swing
But, 'til then, dancing doesn't seem my thing

Ballroom dance
I tried some, now I see
Ballroom dance
Perhaps, one day, for me

credits

from SpinTunes #1: Round 4, released August 11, 2010
The Offhand Band

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Spintown Middletown, Ohio

I run a songwriting contest called SpinTunes. Most of the material hosted on this account is a result of that contest. You can follow the contest on Twitter (@SpinTunes) or my personal account (@Spintown).

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