monday song #4: walking away
after starting with three heavy songs in a row, number four is something of a palette cleanser.
it’s an homage to homages: a kind of 20s music hall number that was a favorite of the psychedelic popsters of the later 60s. mccartney was a master of the style (“when i’m 64,” “honey pie”), as was harry nilsson (“1941”). in the 70s, queen followed suit with authentic oldies, tongue firmly in cheek (“lazing on a sunday afternoon,” “seaside rendezvous”).
the song started as a simple little ditty, with just the line “you love me when i’m walking away.” when i got the second line (“you haven’t a clue what to do when i stay”), i found I had dropped a beat. i think this bit of strangeness inspired me to experiment a bit more than i had planned, tweaking the structure, trying to add variations in each repeated section.
at times i felt like i was writing a sitcom, making sure that i didn’t go more than three lines without a punch line. my first vocal passes were more straightforward, but i found that the more old-timey singing style suited the piece better, giving it a more consistent feel. it was a lot of fun to record, but there were times early on when i didn’t think i had a song, so much as a collection of gags.
the piano arrangement owes a lot to randy newman and his bluesy raggy bounce. as i work on piano/vocal songs, i aspire to the economy of his arrangements, and his ability to make tricky music sound simple.