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SpinTunes Songwriting Contest #1

I was invited to be a part of a fun online songwriting contest this summer called SpinTunes. You can hear and download all the entries on the contest's Bandcamp page. There are going to be 4 rounds with eliminations, so we'll see how far I get...


Round 1: Superhero/Supervillain Song (due June 23, 2010)


I decided to write from the perspective of The Flash. It just seemed interesting that he was one of the few superheroes who actually dies. My song ended up a little less dark than I originally thought it might. So here it is, enjoy!

"Faster Than Superman" by Charlie McCarron (featuring Rob Carmichael on drums)

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I run like lightning
Faster than Superman
At speeds unseen I
Cross the country
Round the Earth in one heartbeat
A physical mystery
But over the oceans and back
There's nothing left to see
Where's the mystery for me?

My mind is restless
My legs are strong
I pray for patience
To calm my soul and
Hold me back but I still run

I run like lightning
At speeds unheard I
See the ending
The point where time and I must meet
All that I've loved and I've lost
They're calling me to come
Where there's mystery for me

Round 2: Song that changes time signatures (due July 12, 2010)


"Sleep On It"

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(3/4 time)

(4/4 time)
I wrote us a sweet song
Where the rhythms and the melodies
Never needed to change

With words so beautiful they'd make you
Say you'd give up everything and
Decide to stay

Drifted off to sleep that night
Thinking I had captured us
In a perfect light
Of a future life

Woke up the next day
Excited to listen to the
Recording I'd made

So I played it back to myself
But the story I'd invented was
It was boring as hell
So thank God
(3/4 time)
This is not that song
No, this is not that song

(4/4 time)
Lesson learned today
No matter how I write it down
It won't stay the same
We're all built to change
So thank God
(3/4 time)
Life is not one song
No, life is not one song

Round 3: Sad song about birth (due July 26, 2010)

"A Song For Sam Bell"

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The moon is a lonely home
No one's been here for three long years
Three long years
But now I'm seeing things
A man walks by who looks just like me
Just like me
So welcome my friend
Wherever you came from I can't tell
If you're real or a dream
So why don't you just shake my hand

So you have a daughter
And a wife who longs for you back on Earth
Well I do, too
But you know when they come for us
Only one can go, one must stay
One must stay
We can't flip a coin
For something like this we'd need a gun
Cause to stay would be
Like suicide of your sanity

But your heart is the same
It's in the same damn place
Sounds a lot like mine as it beats away
We were born as one man
With memories of one mind
You're the same as me

I want to believe you
When you say there's a way to get us home
Get us home
But the truth is much stranger
And the suits on Earth don't want us to know
But I know
We were born as grown men
Preserved in a tank beneath our feet
And when one of us dies
Another awakes and the cycle repeats

But our hearts are the same
They're just locked away
Eternally far from our family
And the tragedy of this grand charade
our wife has been dead and her messages faked
And our daughter has grown
She never knew her father's face

If you make it back
Tell them what we know
It will ease my weary mind and give me hope
As I go
As I go...

SpinTunes Songwriting Contest #2

After a fun experience in SpinTunes #1 (see above) I decided to enter again. And this time I convinced my housemates, too! You can hear and download all the entries on the contest's Bandcamp page.


Round 1: Hometown Song (due October 10, 2010)

"Stillwater MN Air" by Charlie McCarron (featuring Ryan Ruff Smith and Mitchell Adam Johnson on backing vocals)

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Let's make our move
Down to the river
Where life will float by slowly

We'll trade our cars
In for a house boat
You've always said we work too hard

Just take a breath, inhale
It's Stillwater, MN air
You turn up your nose, but to me
Dead fish never smelled so sweet

We'll raise our kids
Here on the river
They'll learn to swim like dolphins

You teach them to read
And I'll teach them skills that
All little lumberjacks need

Just dip your toes in first
The water is safe and warm
You ask, "Why's it yellow and brown?"
Well it's honey and chocolate to me

When times are tough we pull
Up anchor and follow the rising tide
But as we float along
Our friends and family pass us by

So let's not be hasty

Let's find another town
And a house anchored to the ground
The river life was serene
But only for one daydream

Round 2: The Musician Strikes Back - "We want you to write a sequel. A song that picks up where another famous song left off." (due October 24, 2010)

This ended up being my favorite SpinTunes challenge so far. But it took a long while of racking my brains to find a good starting point. I checked the list of number 1 hits from about 1980 to 2010 and was sorely disappointed with my options. Luckily I dug a little deeper and found out "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers hit #2 on the charts.

I've been a Chili Peppers fan since Californication came out, and I thought they would be a fun band to try and emulate. I started soaking in their music and listening in a much different way than normal - actually using my brain! I usually turn their music on and tune out, but this time I went at it as a music theorist. Some things I learned:

Taking all these things into account, and channeling some subconscious RHCP quirks that I probably already have in my own songwriting, I came up with the sequel "Over the Bridge"...


"Over the Bridge" by Charlie McCarron (sequel to "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers)

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I sold my soul where
Only lonely angels would go
Beneath the street to
Lift my spirit high off my feet
But while I take my daily dose of liquid mistake
I feel the sun set
Under my skin

And as the night falls
I hear the pulse of the devil
Beating out his

With a bridge over my head
I keep my dirty secrets hid
Til one day they cut their way to you

Connect my dots
Shake myself and untie my knots
I want to be free from these
Chemical dreams

I know my band of
Patient friends are waiting for me
So I turn my back on
Hollow release

And as the night falls
I hear the wolves of the city
Howl and I sing

With a bridge over my head
The call of the moon I soon forget
Mystical lantern light the dark path through
The song our ancestors once knew
It's calling me back to you

Round 3: Secondary Historical Figures - "Write a song about an unknown character from history, and what connection they had to a major historical event" (due November 7, 2010)

I decided to write from the perspective of a man on the same bus as Rosa Parks.

Queen of Heart by Charlie McCarron (Featuring Rob Carmichael on drums and Mitchell Johnson on trumpet)

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I was on the bus home
When you stepped into my life
I'd never known
Such fire in a woman's eyes

You're a queen of heart
From a kingdom far
Above this cruel charade
There's a place where love will reign
Where the laws are paper thin
And you would not be named
By the color of your skin

I saw out the window
As the driver pulled away
He stole your pride
And left you in the rain 

I'm an honest man
On my word I stand
But I froze and could not speak
And the blame weighs down on me
For the color of my skin
Should have stood up from my seat
And be the one who let you in

So I rode the bus home
As a quiet man would do
My face will fade
But they'll all remember you

The queen of heart
From a kingdom far
Above this cruel charade
In a place where love will reign
Where the laws are paper thin
And you will not be named
By the color of your skin