The Sunday Song: The Ballad of Chris and Chris

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Jan 122014

I first got the storyline of this song stuck in my head maybe eight yearimages ago. But I didn’t have music for it, and that meant I also couldn’t write it down fitting a melody.

I finally shaped it into a lyric right around the end of 2012, when the guitar part came to me in a noodling session. It was thanks to a chord progression that is somewhat unusual for me (I rarely go from the I to the V, I find), though set in my go-to key of D. I pulled out the bass line that made the progression work, and doubled it on the mandolin, and shaped the melody around it. Add a dash of strings, and recorded a vocal (if I recall, I had a cold at the time… but ended up liking the tentative quality it gave) and here it is. I figured, it’s been a year, I should let it out into the world.

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Lyrics, chords, and similar details after the break.

The guitar has a partial capo on strings 3, 4, and 5, up at the fifth fret. This means a lot of the strings ring open and turn into 9ths or more exotic chords. In practice, though, the easy thing to do is to just play these chords, pretending you have a regular capo there. You can also get a less harmonically rich version with a regular capo there, of course, and it’ll work. To play it in its original key without a capo, transpose down from A to D.

How I recorded the instruments: I have a large diaphragm mic parked a couple of feet away, and two instrument mics, one pointed at the 12th fret and the other at the soundhole. I pan these center, left and right respectively. I added a touch of reverb to all these. So that’s six tracks between the guitar and the mandolin. There are actually two tracks of strings — contrabasses throughout and cellos playing a harmony part on the choruses and bridge. Then there’s a vocal line. That’s it.

As usual, it probably deserves to be re-recorded with more love and care. Ah well. 🙂

The Ballad of Chris and Chris

A                                             Amaj7                                                   E7                           D/F#
They met on a rainy day, spilled each other’s coffee, one dared to say, “Can we share a fresh cup?”
A                                                                   Amaj7                                                   E7                           D/F#
After some months they knew they were for each other, there wasn’t any way to deny the laughter
A                                             G                             D/F#                                      E
And that’s the story of Chris and Chris, at the top of each other’s lists

One was fair, one was dark, they had very different laughs, one was short the other tall, really not alike at all
One leaned on walls, one stood straight, one loved to cook, the other to tempt fate
Like puzzle pieces, Chris and Chris, they fit together just like this

G                                                             A                                                          G                 A
And who’s to say it couldn’t have happened to you? A simple case of one and one makes two
G                                       F                                                              C                                             A
They have their secrets, wishing and striving and living and hoping to keep each other happy

After years Chris thought maybe a child — The house sounded quiet and all too mild
But Chris had a problem, and Chris understood, they knew they blamed each other, even though they shouldn’t
And that’s the story of Chris and Chris: Nobody ever thought it would come to this

Any burden the one put down, the other would lift but now they had a reason to drift
It all added up, and they began to spin apart, too many late nights, too many worried hearts
We all thought that for Chris and Chris it would end with it all going amiss

And who’s to say it couldn’t have happened to you? Just two people with different points of view
They have their secrets, wishing and striving and living and lying to keep each other happy

C                                                                             D
Would it have made a difference if their names were Sam and Sam?
C                                                    D
Morgan, Tracy, Jordan, Blair, Parker, Cass, or Fran?
C                                                             D
We all have our problems, we all seek our bliss
                C                                             F                                                              A
We all have things that we don’t even know that we miss

They filed the paperwork, they checked all the boxes, not great candidates but they knew that love unlocks things
It was a long wait, but they heard back on a rainy day, few years after that I moved out of state
And kind of lost touch with Chris and Chris – “Keep the faith,” they’d insist

I hear from them online, you know these modern ways, near as I can tell they’re say they’re doing great
Though one’s lost a job, the other is sometimes sick I won’t call it a happy ending, it is what it is
For you, for me, for anyone, for Chris and Chris, two people I dearly miss

Well, them, and their kids

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