Patterico's Pontifications

2/2/2015

Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 1: Creation

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:34 am

So, I have this crazy project in process, and this is the beginning.

As I mentioned yesterday in teasing this, while in law school, at the age of 22 or 23, I wrote and recorded several songs. My performances are poor, but I have convinced three musicians so far to record some of them for me. Three of the recordings are in hand, and I present the first one to you today in this post: “Creation,” sung by the incomparable Jay Semko, lead singer of the Canadian band The Northern Pikes.

Before we get to my song, let me say a few words about Jay. The Northern Pikes has always been one of my very favorite bands. All of their albums are great, but “Secrets of The Alibi” and “Snow in June” in particular are absolute classics. To get a sense of how good the Pikes were, listen to one of their songs from the 1990s, with Semko on lead vocals:

Here’s another (more acoustically oriented) song where Semko shows off his vocal talents:

Jay recorded three of my songs; “Creation” is probably my favorite of the three. Jay tells me he recorded the songs for me “live off the floor” at the same studio (Randy Woods Studios) where he recorded his most recent album: Flora Vista (which I highly recommend, and which has one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard: Asleep in the Loving Arms of God). During the process, Jay was wonderful to deal with.

When Jay sent me the recordings last Wednesday, I listened to them in amazement. I can’t describe the feeling in words. It was absolutely surreal to hear one of my favorite rock performers of all time, singing a song I wrote. And then another! And another! I told him that the only thing that would make this more amazing is if I could travel back in time to play them for the 23-year-old version of myself. At the time I was writing these songs, in the early 1990s, I was listening to The Northern Pikes constantly, probably every day. If you had told me in those days that Jay Semko would one day sing a song (or three!) written by me, I think I would have had a heart attack.

The song I present to you today is actually a dialogue between a creator and his creation. It could be God creating Adam; or a parent creating a child; or an artist creating a work of art. There is the moment of creation, and the love and gratitude the creation feels towards its creator for giving it life. But one day, the creation will seek its freedom. The creator will resist letting go — but will eventually set his creation free, out of love. Finally, the creator will die — but will still achieve a certain immortality, as long as the creation remains alive.

I will publish the lyrics tomorrow — and if my courage holds up, I may publish my original recording (which has piano and harmonies, all done poorly on primitive equipment) on Wednesday . . . just for grins.

For now, though, sit back and enjoy the strange but hopefully pleasant experience of listening to a professional rock musician sing a song that I wrote over 20 years ago:

18 Responses to “Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 1: Creation”

  1. The guy can sing, huh?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. i got the snow in june one so I’m a probably spend the morning with that and check out the creation song after i got me a better sense of these canadian people

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  3. Very very nice. I look forward to seeing the lyrics tomorrow.

    elissa (2e819b)

  4. I wondered why his style sounded familiar.

    He was the composer for one of my favorite television shows, “Due South.”

    Here is the theme song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AJyb4lMXkg

    And Semko performing it live:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEzcFpjakpQ

    More mixed:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsAAIF33VtY

    How wonderful to have someone whose art you love make your music, sir!

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  5. I just listened to it at work, on my crappy laptop speakers and realized I needed to wait until I could listen to it on a GOOD sound system in order properly appreciate the musicianship. So I’ll have to wait until later to give you my impression. Besides, I think this deserves several listenings. Obviously Jay thought so, too. Otherwise he would have politely declined.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  6. Mr. Semko has a wonderful voice and what an exciting compliment to have someone of his talent sing your songs. I listened to them several times this morning and I like them all. I want to hear you sing them before I decide which is my favorite.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  7. it’d be fun to listen to this in Jeb’s dorm room after a couple bowls

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  8. I’ve finally listened to your song on a good system. I like it, very much. It screams out for a solo in the “middle”(after 24 bars, not counting the 4 bar intro). I like the fermata Jay executes on bar 24 which, Interestingly, gives it six beats.

    I must say that on the first listening, I thought Jay was playing the wrong chord on bar 21 (“but I , knew I’d, have to leave you”), but when I listened to it again, on a good system, I heard the notes as a suspension – a very nice suspension – which conveyed the emotional tension of the words. Well done.

    felipe (56556d)

  9. It must be a good feeling having a professional that you know perform your song.
    The closest I have come to a professional musician was at the Caboose Bar in Mpls. Dylan was passed out drunk at the bar.

    mg (31009b)

  10. It’s got a lovely haunting quality to it, and it’s likely just me, but I hear the echoes of an ELP acoustic sound to it. Looking forward to seeing the lyrics and putting it altogether. Congratulations on having your work beautifully delivered by a professional. That’s got to be be pretty darned exciting for you.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  11. I’m not sure we should encourage him. He’s liable to grow his hair long and start hanging out in cafes in a paisley shirt and love beads with a peace symbol. And then we won’t have a blog.

    nk (dbc370)

  12. Very clever, DRJ — you found the Soundcloud posts before I made the next two songs private. (I had them public for a couple of days while I emailed links to friends and family, but with the publication of this post, I decided to make the next two songs private until they officially debut.)

    Patterico (9c670f)

  13. I’m not sure we should encourage him. He’s liable to grow his hair long and start hanging out in cafes in a paisley shirt…

    Again?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  14. Thank you, everyone, for the kind comments. I really appreciate them, and I’m sure Jay does too.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  15. I must say that on the first listening, I thought Jay was playing the wrong chord on bar 21 (“but I , knew I’d, have to leave you”), but when I listened to it again, on a good system, I heard the notes as a suspension – a very nice suspension – which conveyed the emotional tension of the words.

    Interesting comment. When you listen to my version, you will likely notice that I play a slightly different chord for those words — perhaps one more in line with what you expected.

    Jay’s interpretation is not totally note for note (although it’s quite close). It’s a cover. His fingerpicking style is different than mine, for one thing. But the chords are almost the same — with, oddly enough, one notable exception: the very chord you mentioned in your comment, felipe.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  16. Great song and superb performance. Well done.

    Funeral Guy (2b0c22)

  17. Thank you!

    Patterico (9c670f)

  18. My initial reaction was that the song was very Harry Chapinesque – which is high praise indeed. I do agree with an earlier commenter that the song could use a “solo in the middle”, an instrumental bridge. I also love that THAT chord doesn’t go where I think it’s going to go in the new version. Excellent hook. Well done. Haven’t had the chance to listen to your original version, hopefully later tonight.

    Terry Wolf (4b0af3)


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