As is now my tradition, I’m going to be showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. Sorry I’m a little late with this one as it was released on November 26th! I hope some listeners find this interesting or helpful. “Coming Home” is the first and title track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
This song started its life while I was taking a songwriting course early last year (so a year ago!). I was trying to take it really seriously to write a song with a lyrical and musical hook that could appeal to the masses… not because that’s necessarily my long-term goal, but as a personal challenge to make myself a better songwriter. I remember reading a list of overarching song themes that do well for advertisements and movies, and one of the top ones was “home.” I noodled around for a bit and came up with the “coming home” hook, which I thought was quite good. But it was just a hook, without a song.
I sat with it for a while and asked myself what it meant, knowing it probably already had a meaning subconsciously at least. What did I mean by “home”? Why was I coming back… where had I gone to? It didn’t take me long to figure it out. Being in the middle of the pandemic, with live music still pretty much shut down, I had been feeling pretty low and had been daydreaming about what it would be like to go to a real, large, crowded concert again. It would be amazing! I thought it would be a pretty good theme for a song because a lot of people would be able to relate to it.
During that songwriting course, I brainstormed a lot of lines and ideas for this song, but I never really finished it. It was too hard. Those who’ve read my previous blogs might know that this happens to me a lot with songs that mean a lot to me. If it’s a frivolous topic, I can finish the song in a few minutes, but God help me if it’s something close to my heart! I feel a sense of perfectionism, wanting to do justice to the sacred topic, and it creates a mental block.
But fortunately, I always eventually finish them because I am forever doing quantitative songwriting challenges. So I finally went back to this during 50/90 over the summer. I was surprised to find that I had pretty much finished the entire lyric, and all I had to do was write the melody. Now, writing non-chorus melodies is also something I find pesky and difficult. It’s very easy for me to come up with tons of quick, catchy hooks, but writing a longer, more complex melody and still trying to keep it catchy and memorable is difficult for me.
But it was 50/90, so I had to finish 50 songs, not start 100 and then lock them away in a drawer. So I sat down and wrote the melody. And as usual, it came out better than I expected. I am very happy with the finished song, and I only made a few minor changes from the first draft. I think it’s one of the catchier, more relatable (for like-minded people), and better written songs I’ve written.
The only downside is that, for the streaming age, it has the disadvantage of taking a long time to get to the chorus (as many to most of my songs do). It’s hard for me to focus on that to the exclusion of saying what I need to in the verse, though. It was also partly because it had a slow tempo and more pauses between lines than I usually write, which is actually a good thing because in the past I’ve been criticized for my wordy, breathless songwriting.
The first time I sung this in person, somewhere people were actually paying attention to me (at a local songwriter showcase), I had to distract myself from the lyrics at the beginning so I didn’t get emotional! This song really means a lot to me, and I expressed it perfectly in my opinion — and I am the first to admit when I’m not satisfied with a song; in fact, it’s hard for me to say when I am satisfied, but I’ll say it here.
I thought about making this a big production, especially since I wanted it to actually get shared and covered widely and I knew that wouldn’t happen without a big production. But in the end, the meaning of the song is the most important thing. So between time constraints and the fact that — in my opinion — you’re way more likely to ruin a song with overproduction than underproduction, I kept it very simple.
I put some harmonies in the pre-chorus which are some of the more complex and creative harmonies I’ve done so far, so I was proud of that. Then I added some basic instruments, mostly virtual, towards the end. Overall it’s a track I’m extremely proud of, that I know is unlikely ever to get the attention it deserves. Maybe 10 years from now I’ll be very successful and still singing this song, and it will gain a wider audience. Probably not, but anything is possible!
If I would have known that show was the last one
I would have danced like there was no tomorrow
I said that I’d see you next week but wouldn’t see you for 18 months
I wish I could go back and tell myself to smile
Because the good old days are here and now
There were times when I thought
That I was never gonna see you again
I can’t believe this day is finally here
Feels like I’m coming home
And there’s nowhere in the world that I would rather be but home
Feels like I’m coming home
An honest song on a stage, body heat on my shoulder
These are some of the things that make my life worthwhile
Some say that it’s not essential but for us it’s worth more than gold
And if we’re fading away then let’s do it in style
Because we finally got our passion back
There’s nowhere else in the world
Where you can feel a connection like this
And now that it’s back, we’re never gonna let it go
It’s not the end of everything we’ve ever loved
This song is gonna live to be sung another day