monday song #99: i’m not lonely


i wrote this song back in 1999, as part of a soundtrack to a movie i was writing called “danny’s inferno.” the screenplay was a loosely autobiographical collection of vignettes showcasing the pain, suffering, and surrealism inherent in trying to “make it” in the local bay area club scene.

as with much of my songwriting, the main character spends his time torn between confidence and self-loathing, enthusiasm and despair: the path to redemption arriving only after a slow and painful stripping of hope and denial. to offset the toil of writing yet another screenplay that i lacked the assuredness or connections to sell, i upped the grandiosity of the project by planning to write the soundtrack, and “i’m not lonely” was a proof of concept.

lyrically it’s a close cousin to one of my all-time favorites, 10cc’s “i’m not in love,” where the title professes the opposite sentiment than the song delivers. musically, i was shooting for a harmonically clever rockabilly song, along the lines of x or the blasters, bands that rocked, but had a certain maturity to their sound. you’d be hard-pressed to find a better debut than x’s “los angeles.”

it can be freeing to write a song for a fictional band, music you would enjoy hearing, even if you might not be comfortable playing the song night after night. the two monday songs “stoopid” and “debbi wallace” share this quality, being written for a fictional band called “chump.” i’m planning to release these as part of an album based around “lowe valley high” and a half dozen other high school themed tunes.

the original version of “i’m not lonely” was done on a tascam reel-to-reel i bought with winnings from my one-and-only screenplay sale. the drums were done on an extremely limited drum machine, which sapped much of the energy from an otherwise inspired pop track. this time i built the track on a spontaneous and live-sounding drum track.

apart from that, i copied the original pretty much note for note: a pair of acoustic guitars, a bass and especially the vocal harmonies, which were pretty inspired on the original. the mix you hear was left a bit unbalanced, in an attempt to capture the feeling of a live tape, rather than a polished cd track. truth of the matter is that mixing with drums makes everything ten times more complex, which is why i started this project out with just a voice and an instrument. very little mixing involved…

i’ll post the 100th monday song on november 24th, which happens to be my 49th birthday, and the kick off of my 50th year. The first ever monday song was posted on the last time my birthday fell on a monday, in 2008. six years, 100 tunes. not quite the song-a-week i’d planned, but an achievement i’m proud of, especially considering the fact i worked more than full-time the entire time.

i had the idea during a brief manic period a couple weeks back that i’d finish the monday songs cycle with two “finished” songs from the late 90s: “i’m not lonely” (ta da!) and “up in the skies,” a song about the birth of my son in 1998. these were among the original monday songs, though i didn’t know what they were at the time.