"Lily Hill", originally "Heaven Unsend", ca. 2017

Inspired by Coldplay's approach to their album Viva La Vida, this song wanders between many catchy, related sections, but never stays. 

It started out with the concept of "Heaven Unsend", that heaven might send back a person just like we might unsend a text message.

It centered on this question of where people go when they leave our lives and how easily the universe could put them back in our lives, if it wanted to. 

And then it became a totally different song. 

No, the irony is not lost on me.

I could bring back the original song if I wanted to. But the idea just didn't fit the riff that I had written, which brings us to the details of the writing.

I wrote the riff first. But my preferred writing style is all-at-once: I start from an emotion and morph it into both words and sounds at the same time. This ensures that the words match the music. In rare cases, I deviate from this strategy (most of my blog posts cover these rare cases). In Lily Hill, I made the mistake of writing just a riff. 

I wrote that A minor guitar part for the same reason that I write string quartets and choral music: a college music teacher once told me that I could never be as good as Mozart. I found his opinion utterly uninspiring, potentially incorrect, and just plain boring. What a bummer of a world to live in! I reject the idea that the best music has already been written. 

And so it is with guitar riffs. There are a lot of them. Many of them are so simple that it may seem they were the obvious choices, that they must be the best. I said, "pshaw!" and wrote one more. 

And so, I had music, and no words that fit. In a way, the current words are a time-lapse diary, because I returned to this song many times, from different emotional vantages. At the center of that diary was Lily. 

Lily was an inspiring person to meet during a difficult time. No matter what went on in between, when you saw her, you were back up to speed in a matter of minutes. She reminded me of why I used to listen to music for fun, which I had stopped doing when I started writing so much of it. It was a constant in life, a force of nature. Much of my classical music was based around this idea, but I didn't have a pop song like it yet. 

This is why you hear a pseudo-fugal section in "Lily Hill", why the musical motifs develop and recapitulate in a way typical of classical music. We like to keep moving, as human beings. But we always have a place to return to. 

"Lily Hill", originally "Heaven Unsend", ca. 2017