I did “behind the song” blog series for both of my last two albums, and some people seem to like them, so I thought I would do it again! “Give You All My Love” is the fifth track from my latest release, Better. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
This is a weird one because it’s a nice, cautiously optimistic love song that kind of came out of left field. It represents nothing in my life. But my songwriting habits were partly shaped by a lifetime of hearing popular music, which is overwhelmingly about romantic relationships — I never understood why, as there is so much more emotional richness to life than just that. So I’ve noticed that whenever I start writing from a vague line or a musical idea without a particular topic in mind, I always end up on the subject of a relationship, even when it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes it’ll be positive, sometimes negative, depending on the material I’m starting with. I don’t choose the topic because I think it will have more popular appeal; it just comes natural to me as a product of my musical history. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Like many of the songs I wrote this February, this one started with a vague line I had lying around for years. I loved these lines, I just never knew where to take them. It started with a very straightforward statement about myself: “I’m not afraid of death, I’m just afraid of pain and suffering.” Completely true. That line sat there for a year or two, and then at some point when I was going through song line ideas like this one, I randomly came up with the second part: “So don’t just make it quick, make it an instant, make it an instant.” It just came to me and I thought it really worked well, in terms of both sound and meaning. Then, the lines continued to sit there because I didn’t know where to go from there.
Well, for February Album Writing Month I finally dusted off these lines that I’d been wanting to use in a song for years, and as soon as I committed to it the rest of the song really kind of wrote itself. I wish all songwriting could be like that. It does make for a shorter songwriting blog, but a much easier and quicker songwriting process.
Obviously my first task was to decide where I wanted to take those lines about wanting to be killed quickly — an odd thing to proclaim in most contexts, haha. I thought, well, it has to be someone potentially breaking up with you, right? I couldn’t immediately even think of any other possibilities, so I just went with it.
I instinctively knew how I wanted the structure to be, and that those lines were going to be a pre-chorus, though at first, I was going to put it after the first verse. But after writing that first verse and realizing it didn’t link up too well to its pre-chorus (though I really liked what I’d written), I decided to split them up. And the first pre-chorus wrote itself, and the second verse wrote itself, and the chorus wrote itself – even the melodies did, which are usually harder for me to write well, but I’m satisfied with this one.
At the time I thought it was a first draft, but when I went back to it, I realized it was pretty damn good the way it was. I think the only part that really bothered me was the chorus. The whole “final descent” and “armrest” thing was actually meant to be a dummy lyric (something you just throw out there to hold the melody when you don’t know what you want the lyric to be yet), but I guess my subconscious came up with something pretty good without my help. I asked a few people and they said they liked it, and it was growing on me anyway, so it stayed.
And there you have it: a song! I’ve written at least a dozen of these blogs, at least 100 songs of highly variable quality, and I’ve even done a song analysis live set, and I honestly still feel like I have no idea what songwriting is all about. But I’m in love with it. (What if my subconscious wrote this song about songwriting?)
Falling in love is serious
It’s not like we’re just taking a walk
This isn’t gonna be like your hobby that you gave up
You’re gonna have to give it your all
You can’t just promise love
You’ve gotta be there when I need you most
We’re not just getting close
This is the real thing, this is the real thing
And when the final descent of the flight is complete
I’ll cross my fingers and pick up the armrest and reach for you
And give you all my love
I’ll give you all my love
My head’s full of worries every day
And I don’t need another one
So if a quick goodbye was something you were gonna say
You’re gonna have to hurry it up
I’m not afraid of death
I’m just afraid of pain and suffering
So don’t just make it quick
Make it an instant, make it an instant