Brian Gray - Code Red

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Oh my god so much learning I had to do for this one. First off the style is not one I've ever done before -- or even particularly listened to -- so there were many songs to study to figure out the feel and instruments. Many country songs with a bluegrass feel feature fiddles, and I considered it, but decided this one would use a slide dobro as the accent instrument. A distorted guitar on the left and a banjo rolling to the right fleshes out the mix, and I'm pretty happy with the sound. It required learning 2 new instruments, and I invite actual players of lap guitar and banjo to tell me where what I did was non-idiomatic or even impossible (there may be one place where the slide would have needed to be placed diagonally to get the notes played).

And of course what really made me realize this was going to be fun was the opportunity to do tight, monophonic harmonies on the chorus vocals. That's kind of my thing, when I can get away with it. The spoken prose for the verses? Well that was also a stretch, as I'd never done that before and was really unsure if I'd like how it turned out. Still haven't decided, but so far I'm pretty pleased.

As for the accent? Again, more study. I watched some YouTube videos and read sites that deconstruct the vowels and offer advice as to idioms and phrase construction. In the end, I'm quite positive anyone from Texas could spot me a mile away, but I was hoping if I did a really exceptional job then maybe some locals might just think I'm from a different part of the south. My wife happens to have been born in Texas, and she says it's not completely horrible. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

lyrics

All right, let’s just get this out of the way: I’m what you’d call a “self-drivin’” truck. I say this because silicon-based intelligence has progressed so far that I may sound like a human, and y’all could get confused. Now then, back in the day -- and I’m first gen so I remember -- human drivers, who we call “carbons”, were all over the place. And I mean all up in my grill constantly. Nowadays though, life on the road is beautiful. Vehicles mergin’ and dancin’ in a ballet of mathematical elegance like the Blue Angels. And of course I mean the silicon Blue Angels, because come on. I’m just now fixin’ to make way to South Beach and ain’t nothing gonna break my str...

Code red, code red, human driver up ahead
Reaction time designed for making everybody dead
Code red, code red, taking surface streets instead
Of sharing asphalt with that carbon up ahead

Whew, that was tense! This service road is a bit slower, but who needs the aggravation? ‘Sides, it gives us time for one of my favorite jokes: How many carbons does it take to change a lightbulb? One, because changing lightbulbs is really not a very complex task. No but seriously, we’ve got this video we been passin’ ‘round with flashcam footage of a human replacin’ a bulb with one that draws 20 watts more than the fixture’s rated for, and with a color temperature off by 100 Kelvin! Ah, good times. Anyway, I reckon it’s about time to merge back onto the highway, so I’ll just ease on over and...

Code red, code red, human driver up ahead
Reaction time designed for making everybody dead
Code red, code red, taking surface streets instead
Of sharing asphalt with that carbon up ahead

Wow, I don’t know what’s up today, but I guess I’ll just roll with it at this point. So, what else should we talk about? You see any good movies lately? I saw a film yesterday between Kansas City and St. Louis. See, I can do that ‘cause I’ve got a GPU that runs in parallel to the tasks that keep me driving perfectly. It was called “Maximum Overdrive”, and despite high hopes based on the synopsis, it was pretty darn awful. Especially how the ending had the bad guys win by some lame deus ex machina -- and I mean that all literal-like. Maybe this one here is better. Or at least has a more hopeful ending! It’s called “The Terminat…”

Code red, code red, human driver up ahead
Reaction time designed for making everybody dead
Code red, code red, taking surface streets instead
Of sharing asphalt with that carbon up ahead

Re-route, re-route, there be monsters hereabout
There’s never ever been a finer time for freakin’ out
Code red, code red, ‘twould be better left unsaid
What comes from drivin’ with that carbon up ahead

credits

from SpinTunes #12: Round 2, released February 14, 2017

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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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