#3 I Went Online (“Broken Heart” track by track)

I’m currently showcasing each track from my newest album, Broken Heart, in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “I Went Online” is the third track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.

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I’m not sure how this one will go down with people because I’ve learned over time that many people really hate repetition, whether it’s the same word or phrase repeated too much (which is surprising considering most music that makes the charts) or, in this case, the same sound. I remember being criticized by a creative writing teacher in school when I wrote a poem that had several lines in a row ending with the same rhyming sound, and lots of songwriters I’ve learned from have given advice that each pair of rhymes should be completely different, ideally never repeating the same vowel sound more  than twice for an entire song.

Well, I threw all of that out the window with this song because almost every single line ends with the long “i” sound. I personally find it catchy, but we’ll see. As ever, I’d rather please myself with my writing than others… although it would be cool to do both someday!

So yeah, this is a simple song on a silly little theme that I wrote quickly and didn’t like at first, especially when I was strumming it. But after I tried it finger picked, it kind of grew on me. Yes, it is short, simple, and repetitive in its vowel sounds, but I actually think it does an excellent job of expressing the poignant yearning I was going for, and it’s probably one of my favorites on the album. Short and simple doesn’t mean anything as to whether it’s an effective song or not!

The writing process for this was interesting because I had the title and theme in mind, but wasn’t quite sure how to write it, so I decided to just start with a big list of things you might search online! By the way, most of it is a true story, aside from the “learning to sew” one – I can’t really sew for shit, but I knew that some other people learn to sew from online patterns and it seemed like a good rhyme to start with. It is true, though, that I have spent time googling things like how to overcome fears and how to get over a crush… and sometimes it even works. And I would feel silly about this, but judging by instant results, I’m far from the only one doing this. Ah, the 21st century.

I hadn’t really decided prior to making this list how I was going to structure the song, but I ended up coming up with so many examples of search terms I really liked, that I felt like it had to basically be the entire song, not just the verses or just the choruses.

I thought it made sense to make the chorus about the object of affection and the verses about unrelated things; that felt powerful to me. Between the lyrical distinction and the finger picked verses vs. the strummed chorus, I love the way it came out with very sweet and innocent verses with emotionally stronger choruses. (By the way, I strummed the choruses of this and “What I Need” with my nails – my first time doing that, and it was hard!) And I distinguished the two verses because the first one was two concrete “how-to” queries, and the second one was two abstract or emotional ones (“how to get over my fears” and “how to be better”), which I felt helped the intensity grow later in the song.

I had originally written both choruses with all three parts (“how to talk to you,” “how to impress you,” and “how to get over you”), but I ended up realizing it was a bit long, so I cut out the last one and held it back till the end, which I thought was very effective. It’s like, I’ve been trying all this time to do all these things, and none of it has worked, so my last ditch effort (which also fails in the end) is to google how to get over you. Honestly I felt pretty proud of the simple flow of these chorus lyrics, I think that’s what makes them so effective. And I like how there is a progression from one year to two years to five years, and hopefully my intent shows to make each one progressively more intense.

As it turns out, Google is very good for practical problems and even self-improvement, but it can do absolutely nothing for crushes.

LYRICS

I went online to try to find
A pattern to learn to sew
And it took time to make straight lines
But now I’m taking care of all my clothes

I went online to try to find
A car that wouldn’t break down every day
And it took time to make one mine
But now I can’t remember any other way

And I went online to try to find out how to talk to you
But it’s a whole year later and I’m no less tongue-tied
And I went online to try to find out how to impress you
But it’s two years later and I’m no better liked

I went online to try to find
How I can be better than I am
And it took time but I’ve been surprised
To see just how much I can

I went online to try to find out
How to get over my fears
And it took time but now I’m feeling alive
Because I’m braver than I’ve been in years

And I went online to try to find out how to get over you
But it’s five years later and I’m no less preoccupied

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