From the Top

I smile over my left shoulder at my friend who is hunched over his bass guitar, creating a progression we had only dreamed of. He stops for a moment after letting the last E note ring out from the depth of his instrument. Glancing up at me quickly, a huge smiles envelops both of our faces and we know: We’ve got it.

Mackin playing bass during a soundcheck.

I quickly put my guitar down on the stand next to the amplifier I was sitting on and dive for the open notebook and pen that are lying on the floor.

“What was the progression you just did, Mackin?” I ask, my eyes gleaming with excitement.
“E, E, G, A and on the fourth I added the high D,” He said, playing the notes as he dictated them for me.
“Brilliant,” I tell him, sitting down with the paper in front of me, “I’ve got all the lyrics down, should we take it from the top?”
“Absolutely,” he says, placing my microphone in front of me before he grabs his own.

He counts in the song with a new upbeat tempo that we had been discussing the previous day. I start strumming my guitar to the new tempo and smile against the Shure 58 microphone in front of me. Mackin glances up from his own sheet of music to stare at me, giving me my cue to start singing.

“We walk the same road same thing every single day but we don’t know what it means.
See the smile see the very way she looks but it always remains the same.”

We smile wider as the song progresses, adding in our ideas about drums through soft murmurs into the microphones. I tilt my head forewords and close my eyes as we repeat the final chorus, his harmonies accompanying my own voice.

“When did life get so repetitive?
When did quiet,”
our instruments quickly become palm muted as our voices attempt a crescendo, “become the way we want to live?
When did you get so far away?
Since when,”
Mackin adds in a slide on his bass, effecting the feel of the room as well as the song, “is today yesterday?”

We end on a low E and let it hover in the air for a couple of seconds before our rambunctious cheers pierce through the soundproofed band room.

“We’ve got it!” He cheers, standing up and enveloping me in a hug, “We’ve got it!”

It was a monumental occasion for us, writing and completing a song together in under two days. It was the first time either of us had written something that did not embody the typical 4/4 count and had added bass and guitar fills instead of a boring monotonous hum from the instruments. We had finally completed what we had set out to do, and it was one of the most elating moments of my life.

That first song we wrote, “Count Me Out,” was the first of many in our time as a two-man band, and it will always be the one we play with the most feeling and presence. Even when we attempt playing it on bongo drums and my ukulele, it reminds us of the feeling we had when we completed it. I was once told that it’s incredibly difficult to forget your first song, but that’s not true. You never forget your first song.

And it’s impossible to forget the first song you write with your best friend.


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