NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes

Posted by: Greg Johnson

NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/01/14 11:16 PM

Dear PG music community, this is a song inspired by a film, a particular scene in a film which I found very emotionally moving. Along with music, film is my favorite medium. When the two interact correctly (Cameron Crowe, Martin Scorsese), it can be emotionally orgasmic. I wrote this song after the film was out, decreasing my chances for placing it from 1/10,000,000 to zero (Oh well!). There are some issues with the mix (too bright, french horn too loud, strings too soft, too much reverb). Those are my clearest observations but I'd love to hear yours, and any other feedback you'd like to share. The piano is Liverpool piano, I will get the name of the bass, which I feel couldn't have worked better if played just for the track. Orchestra is a combo of East West Silver and Miroslav (changed formats in the middle of the song). Thanks for all your encouragement as of late. Take care. Greg

https://soundcloud.com/gjohnson-2/artistmaster1



Scotch and cigarettes (George Valentin’s theme)

If anyone should ever ask. you can say you knew me when
My star was shining bright, the world was in my hands
My life was filled with wonder, every moment I embraced
Though I fell so far, I tried to fall with grace

But don’t shed no tears for me; It seems I made my choice
Every artist has his fate; I just never found my voice
But as my star was fading, in surrender to the night
You arose to shine a brighter light

Now I’m alone, on these long afternoons
And my days in the sun seem as distant as the moon
I wander the past, and I sift through my regrets
Through the filter of Scotch and cigarettes

Was there a sign I might have missed? Was it arrogance or pride?
Or how the artist must insist on being true to what’s inside
Or maybe it was destiny and I found my rightful place
Just to shed that light upon your face

Now I’m alone…
Posted by: Pat Marr

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 02:08 AM

Greg.. is this song really your composition?? Not a remix of a movie theme?
I ask because, if it's yours, I am totally and irrevocably blown away!!

The orchestration is as pro as anything I've ever heard outside a movie theater. And the lyrics are so metropolitan and clever that I simply would not have expected to see something of this caliber on a music hobbyists forum! I was going to mention lines I thought were particularly inspired... but when I went back to your lyrics to pick them out, it ended up being all of them! The rhyme between REGRETS and CIGARETTES is made all the better by the context of the story in which you lead up to the line! VERY slick!

The chord pattern and melody are absolutely perfect for the type of movie theme you've created here! As far as I'm aware, this is the first song of this type that's been posted to the forum, and Man oh man! It is a good one!

If there are any changes that would make the song better, someone else will have to make them... because all I hear is success! In summary, this ended up being an 11 exclamation point review! I'm not sure what that means, but it seems significant somehow. ;-)
Posted by: gibson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 02:59 AM

Greg,

That is a masterpiece!

If only you knew but that could be the song behind my life crazy

The piano is beautiful, the orchestration sublime. All in all that song, IMHO, is faultless. It sounded perfect so I can see no need for any changes.

I am enjoying your works so much.
Thank you for sharing

Alyn
Posted by: Guitarhacker

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 04:18 AM

That is an amazing song. Well written in every aspect.

Love the hook...

Pat & Gibson said it perfectly.
Posted by: 90 dB

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 05:11 AM

Great stuff Greg. Orchestration is elegant.


Regards,

Bob
Posted by: tommyad

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 05:44 AM

Greg, First of all and without question this is a very important contribution to the forum. As Pat says "I simply would not have expected to see something of this caliber on a music hobbyists forum!" I agree with him that the lyrics are very sophisticated and metropolitan. What sets this apart is the fact that this could be set in movie right now and it shows the power and potential of BiaB as much as anything ever posted here. Brilliantly written, arranged and sung. Oh yeah the voice-WOW! I hesitate to list any nits as this is just so gorgeous, but here goes. 1.) The drums are too bright 2.) Too much vocal reverb 3) I know this is part of your sound- but I wonder if the vocal was a little less bright, a little less presence, could it retain the intimacy that you capture so eloquently. Again- this is just great as it stands and in no way do I wish to detract from this wonderful piece of art. Bravo!!! Tom
Posted by: Janice & Bud

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 05:51 AM

Greg, We could parse this song out and laud
you on every aspect of it. But that would
do our listening pleasure a disservice as
it's hard to get away from the totality.

The song is simply spectacular. Classy is
perhaps overly used but that's the word
that best defines it for us. A class production,
vocal and write.

What a way to start our day!

J&B
Posted by: floyd jane

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 06:46 AM

Originally Posted By: tommyad
Greg, First of all and without question this is a very important contribution to the forum. As Pat says "I simply would not have expected to see something of this caliber on a music hobbyists forum!" I agree with him that lyrics are very sophisticated and metropolitan. What sets this apart is the fact that this could be set in movie right now and it shows the power and potential of BiaB as much as anything ever posted here. Brilliantly written, arranged and sung. Oh yeah the voice-WOW! I hesitate to list any nits as this is just so gorgeous, but here goes. 1.) The drums are too bright 2.) Too much vocal reverb 3) I know this is part of your sound- but I wonder if the vocal was a little less bright, a little less presence, could it retain the intimacy that you capture so eloquently. Again- this is just great as it stands and in no way do I wish to detract from this wonderful piece of art. Bravo!!! Tom


Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
The song is simply spectacular. Classy is
perhaps overly used but that's the word
that best defines it for us. A class production,
vocal and write.


Greg...

Tom & J&B said it already. But I will no doubt repeat much of it.

This is SONGWRITING at the highest level. Not a word, not a syllable out of place. An elegant melody - the perfect match. Gorgeous in every regard.

Originally Posted By: Pat Marr
...the lyrics are so metropolitan and clever...I was going to mention lines I thought were particularly inspired... but when I went back to your lyrics to pick them out, it ended up being all of them!


Ah... what the heck... here are my favorite lines:

"If anyone should ever ask. you can say you knew me when
My star was shining bright, the world was in my hands
My life was filled with wonder, every moment I embraced
Though I fell so far, I tried to fall with grace

But don’t shed no tears for me; It seems I made my choice
Every artist has his fate; I just never found my voice
But as my star was fading, in surrender to the night
You arose to shine a brighter light

   Now I’m alone, on these long afternoons
   And my days in the sun seem as distant as the moon
   I wander the past, and I sift through my regrets
   Through the filter of Scotch and cigarettes

Was there a sign I might have missed? Was it arrogance or pride?
Or how the artist must insist on being true to what’s inside
Or maybe it was destiny and I found my rightful place
Just to shed that light upon your face"


It is too bad Soundcloud doesn't register repeat listens - I added at least 20. I understand that this is inspired by The Artist, but thought your Soundcloud post should have had the "Scotch And Cigarettes" title.

"Through the filter of Scotch and cigarettes"

Man! What a line!

Diana Krall needs to cover this - so that people will search for and find your version.... and marvel...


The orchestration is the best that has ever been put up here. Did you write/create/play the string and horn parts? If not, where did they come from? If so...

The piano sounds great. The drums have a nice snap, a nice presence, perhaps just a touch too much sparkle - other than that, I really like them! which RD?

Your vocal is STUNNINGLY beautiful. I'm not sure the reverb should be "lessened" but there is more high end than it needs. If that were rolled off some, it would still be plenty bright. Like Tom, I do NOT want to take away from how absolutely wonderful the vocal is...

I could sit here and continue spewing superlatives... but I think I'll just go listen another 20 times.

MAJOR Standing O! The jump-outta-your-seat-and-look-around-to-see-everyone-else-agrees-can-you-BELIEVE-this? kind...

floyd
Posted by: Charlie Fogle

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/02/14 07:21 AM

Greg, you've got the experts standing on their heads all the while trying to give this performance a well deserved standing ovation. Not much one can add to that other than to say us little guys are right there with them. I'm sure there are plenty more accolades to come as others listen. Floyd is right, there is no way I can listen to this just once. I've managed to walk away from the computer for a few minutes but keep drifting back and hitting play again.

With the roll out of BIAB 2015, for PGMusic, this song gives them the perfect illustration to showcase their product. This is an absolutely stunning work at every level. Writing, programming, choice of instrumentation, vocals and performance.

You're on notice you've produced a masterpiece, my suggestion is make the small corrections and sit back and enjoy the praise coming your way.

Charlie
Posted by: boehm

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 06:10 AM

Hi Greg,

as already said this is a masterpiece. And I'm not the only one who can't stop listening.
Let me quote Charlie: "Make the small corrections and sit back and enjoy the praise coming your way."

Guenter
Posted by: JoanneCooper

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:08 AM

Hi Greg
Wow! This is totally different to anything of yours that I have listened to thus far. I enjoyed it. My only nit and I see that others wont agree but too me there is too much tops or reverb on the vocal. Not too sure which one I would change though. Great job! Greg.
Posted by: RnAM

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 10:45 AM

Hello Greg,

well, you're definitely in excellent shape with your last two posts!!
A very professional composition, the kind of ballad I like. Very nice classical (popmusic)influences too. The chord on 'sigarets' is so beautiful.

Please keep going at this level!!!

Regards,
Rob
Posted by: Janice & Bud

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 06:07 PM

Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy


We just listened again and Janice said it reminded her the early 80's movie themes a la Arthur. Great stuff.

J&B
Posted by: Al-David

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 07:47 PM

Hello Greg ...

This will be short and simple, as everything has already been said. This is a wonderful piece of music. Top shelf all the way. Worthy of inclusion in any current movie of the proper context. A helluva lot better than a lot of what we hear behind many movies.

One small nit ... well, more a personal preference, I guess: If it were me (Alan) I would cut back a little on the presence of the track track so we can't occasionally hear you taking in a breath.

We are wowed! Simply fantastic! best to you and good luck with the song ...

Alan & Di
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 07:58 PM

Thanks so much for the flattering review. I always loved these type of emotional ballads. I was so inspired by the film that the first part just came pretty quickly. I really appreciate your consistently thoughtful listens and comments. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:00 PM

Thanks Alyn. Indeed great praise, probably much more than I deserve (but I sure do love it). I always look forward to your posts and am never disappointed. Much appreciate your kind words. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:01 PM

Thanks so much Herb. A compliment from you always means a lot to me since I know how carefully you listen. Your recent posts have been you best I feel. Keep 'em coming! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:04 PM

Thanks Bob. I do love orchestration. I would like to learn more about it, but I always find the instruments so beautiful. Having a realistic orchestra at your fingertips is one of the great technological breakthroughs for musicians. Thanks again! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:08 PM

Thanks so much Tom. Although people on this site may be technically hobbiests (not making a living at music), I believe the talent, of which you are a prime example, is enormous. The program does open a lot of possibilities for a person like me who isn't much of a player. I think all your nits are right on. This was kind of the first mix that captured the song but I plan to tweak it somewhat. Your recent post MORE is still one of the very best I've heard in a long time, here or anywhere else! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:11 PM

J and B, thanks so much for the overly kind words! I really appreciate your kindness, and your positive presence on the forum, not to mention the fact that I love your music. Thanks again! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:14 PM

Floyd, your comments are among my all time most flattering. I was truly touched when you said "my favorite lyrics" and copied the whole song. Any compliment regarding songwriting from you carries a lot of weight with me as I consider you a true craftsman. I don't know your background but it's clear you are a many decades songwriter. Your comments blew me away! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:16 PM

Thanks Charlie! Very, very kind praise, and very much appreciated. I have been shocked and elated by the kind words from everyone. You are doing some great stuff! Keep it up. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:18 PM

Guenter, thanks so much. You have been very consistent in listening to my tunes and giving really nice comments. It means a lot to me. Thanks again. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:22 PM

Thanks JoAnn. This is a type of music I have always loved. My greatest fantasy is to have a song of mine playing during a powerful scene or the credits of a great film. This may be the closest I get, but I really appreciate your kind words. I think your feedback on the mix are right on. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:24 PM

R and AM, compliments from you guys mean a lot to me. You are the most prolific contributors and never compromise quality-class A productions all the way! Thanks so much for your positive words about my songs! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 08:26 PM

THanks Al and Di. Your nice comments mean a lot to me. I think you're right on the mix suggestions without question. I've been loving the jazz standard vibe you guys have been into lately. Hope Di is fully recovered and feeling good-no sign of any problem with her vocals! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Sundance

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/03/14 09:04 PM

Beautifully written song Greg. The lyrics certainly strike an emotional truth with so many who share these feelings on this forum and dreamers everywhere. That movie must have really moved you to write such a fabulous song. The arrangement is absolutely perfect.

The "scotch and cigarettes" melody I recognized as "learn how to pretend" from Boz Scaggs song "We're All Alone" and I thought uh-oh. So I went and played it on Youtube and sans that one commonality - not an unusual occurance in songwriting - the rest of the song is quite different. Then listening to both back to back, I was truly impressed how your song held it's own up against a classic top ten hit. So many times that is not the case.

You should be very VERY proud of this one. Writes like this don't come along every day.

I can identify so much with FJ getting beside himself over this because the only thing songwriters love as much as writing a great song - is hearing one.

With the production tweaked to showcase your voice in all it's true tone's glory, A+ from me.

I second that standing "O".

Josie
Posted by: dani48

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/04/14 12:32 AM

Hi, Greg !:))


I agree with those who say that
this is a masterpiece as it
surely is ! I could not say
it any better than what has
already been said so I just
say that this is my favorite
Gregsong henceforth !!!:))

Merry Christmas Greg !!!

Cheers
Dani
Posted by: floyd jane

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/04/14 06:36 AM

Just because...
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/04/14 07:20 PM

Thanks so much Josie for the kind words. I never made the connection with the Boz song but now I see how that line is the same. I was always a big fan of his. I first heard that song sung by Rita Coolidge and still prefer her version. I loved his version of Harbor Lights, and Look what you've done to me (not sure if that's the actual title) from Urban Cowboy. Very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence as Boz! If you haven't seen the movie, you should. I fell in love with both of the characters. In particular, he seemed to never take the audience for granted (Every moment I embraced), and he never seemed bitter or displaced his anger and still was kind and generous on the way down (Though I fell so far, I tried to fall with grace). She had a magical smile and palpable warmth. It is a beautiful film. One small compromise I made with the song is that he was drinking a clear liquid (likely Vodka or Gin) but that just didn't roll of the tongue the right way. THanks again for listening and for your wonderful support through my first year as a contributor. You have no idea how much it means to me. Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/04/14 07:25 PM

Thanks again Floyd!! I realized I never filled you in on your questions. I used EZdrummer Nashville kit. The drums are too wet (particularly the kick-I have to separate the drums out so I can still have a big tom and snare sound). With orchestration I go by a few simple methods which are all I know: 1) play with the strings/french horn until you find something that just sounds right, 2) play the other against that, avoiding parallel fifths, fourths, and going for 3rds/6ths, and try to make the instruments go in opposite directions when not moving together in 3rds/6ths. That is what I remember from a year of Harmony classes at community college. I love orchestral instruments and have a ball playing around with them. Thanks for your great support throughout the year!! Take care. Greg
Posted by: RichMac

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/04/14 09:56 PM

Wow! A beautiful song beautifully sung with a wonderful orchestra.
A delight and a privilege to listen to. Cheers.
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/05/14 10:23 AM

THanks so much RichMac!! Glad to see you back posting again. Loved you new one!! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Rafa T

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/05/14 03:03 PM

It's really a beautiful song, with great feeling. And with a very lyrical and proper arrangement.
I can only agree with all the comments of colleagues deserved.

On the technical side I think the voice needs to be processed with a DeEsser plugin, to correct the ssss.

Congratulations and thanks for sharing this beautiful music!!!
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/06/14 12:59 PM

Rafa T- Thanks so much for your kind words and support! I agree the vocal needs to me tamed a bit (EQ or De-ess, and maybe a little less verb). Really appreciate you taking time to listen and comment! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Scott C

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/06/14 01:10 PM

Very cool song. So very different and some neat chord progressions. All aspects of the song = first class...
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/06/14 04:58 PM

THanks so much for the kind words Scott. Much appreciated!! Glad to see you posting again. Take care. Greg
Posted by: rsdean

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/06/14 05:02 PM

Greg,

I've listened to this a number of times over the last couple of days... Just beautiful from start to finish.

Bob
Posted by: VideoTrack

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/07/14 04:57 AM

Greg

Another really nice production. Of the same quality that we have come to expect from you. Always worth waiting for the next one

Nice

Trevor
Posted by: tommyad

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/07/14 05:37 AM

Greg, Back again. You've ruined my ability to come up with a melody. I can't get this out of my head. This song has taken my brain hostage. In order to move forward I will have to reluctantly drop this off my playlist. This is one of the greatest pieces I have heard in a long time. Incredible beauty in all aspects. Even though I'm pissed at you -All the best, Tom
Posted by: Pat Marr

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/07/14 08:11 AM

Originally Posted By: tommyad
Greg, Back again. You've ruined my ability to come up with a melody. I can't get this out of my head. This song has taken my brain hostage. In order to move forward I will have to reluctantly drop this off my playlist. This is one of the greatest pieces I have heard in a long time. Incredible beauty in all aspects. Even though I'm pissed at you -All the best, Tom

LOL! What Tommy said!

If we were Amish, we'd all have to shun Greg now
;-)

I think the time has come for a new forum: the SUPERusers showcase! Maybe a forum that was read only to everybody else, where PGMusic staff could move the really amazing songs from the regular user showcase and put them in the SUPERusers showcase.

But lately, that would be most of them!
Posted by: Pat Marr

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/08/14 10:57 AM

BUMP!
(sponsored by the awesomeness preservation society)
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/08/14 01:26 PM

Thanks so much Trevor. Really appreciate your nice comments! Haven't seen you around for a while. Great to hear from you again! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/08/14 01:29 PM

Tom, I've never been so flattered to have someone get pissed at me! You have been beyond kind with your comments. Between you, Floyd, J and B, and Pat, I am completely overwhelmed. Like all of you, I put a lot of time and effort into music and we all know how hard it is to be heard and appreciated. You have no idea what you guys have done for me. THANKS!! Take care. Greg
Posted by: Greg Johnson

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/08/14 01:31 PM

Pat, thanks so much for all your praise of this song. As I said to Tom, you guys have been amazingly supportive and positive. You've made my week, my month, my year, MY LIFE!! Thanks again so much for all your kindness. Take care. Greg
Posted by: pikeyh

Re: NEW SONG POST: Scotch and Cigarettes - 12/08/14 03:05 PM

Bloody hell, top tune my friend top tune...