Happy People song by song track 2: Name in a File

Part 1: Happy People
Part 2: Name in a File
Part 3: Satellites
Part 4: Flow my tears, the policeman said
Part 5: Even then we’re Scared
Part 6: Fire Flower Heart
Part 7: Tracking Signals ;

Name in a File is the second track from Happy People. As the second track its job is to keep the pace and theme of the album going – now isn’t the time for a massive change in direction – while still giving us something to get our teeth into.

The first track was about our protagonist escaping the clutches of the totalitarian government he found himself living under. Here he’s searching for his lost love, a woman he knew from before everything went wrong. but everyone keeps telling him that it is impossible, that once you’re gone you will stay disappeared.

They’re never gonna come back
No matter how hard I shout and I cry
They’re never gonna come back
Now they’re nothing but a name in a file

Composition

Like Happy People, this song was composed in one sitting in 2012 with a guitar and a click track in less than half an hour. As a consequence the structure is a bit odd. We start with a verse built around a six bar sequence with the chords B minor B major and G major. The B major chord there is a bit of an anomaly, but i do often use major chords a major third apart, and those chords aren’t a billion miles away from Creep by Radiohead either which might be why I chose them.

Then a chorus in E minor that changes time signature a little bit and uses similar chords to happy people. Then we get an instrumental section followed by a build up with monks.

After the build up with monks there’s a solo over the chorus, a vocal chorus, and an outro based on the previous instrumental section.

The whole thing is:

  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Instrumental
  • Solo
  • Chorus
  • Instrumental

To me it feels quite improvisatory, with the second chorus a different length to the first for no reason at all.

Lyrically it’s very different to the original demo, though much of the music has changed. Here’s the earliest version of the song I could find, from back when it was called ‘Augur and Scry’ and was a song about the idiocy of superstition.

***It’s a rushed songwriting demo, please forgive any performance fluffs of which there are many***

As you can hear, quite a lot changed. The lyrics were completely rewritten to make it fit with the album’s themes and the intro was completely removed. Of course much of the instrumentation is different, there are no monks in the demo or real drums. Interestingly the guitar solo is basically the same in the demo, though I think I played it a little better in the final version.

Most of those changes I made myself for a second draft so by the time it came to Jordan there wasn’t much for him to add in terms of basic songwriting. What Dan and Jordan did add was all the great little details that make this a great track. The monks you can hear in the instrumental section were Jordan’s idea. Originally I wasn’t convinced but the guys stuck to their guns and they were right to do so.

Similarly the phrasing of the verse melody was worked out collectively in the studio and the slide guitar in the instrumental section is Dan’s playing. That section went through a few different versions too with several different string parts being tried before we settled on the final version.

As we were recording I found myself saying ‘this is probably my favourite song.’ I’ve said it about every track at one time or another, but as I write, this really is my favourite song on the album.

4 thoughts on “Happy People song by song track 2: Name in a File

  1. Pingback: Happy People song by song track 3: Satellites | Tom Slatter

  2. Pingback: Happy People song by song 5: Even then we’re scared | Tom Slatter

  3. Pingback: Happy People song by song 4: Flow my tears, the policeman said | Tom Slatter

  4. Pingback: Happy People song by song 6: Fire Flower Heart | Tom Slatter

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