Cliff Hillis

'Love Not War Stories' SONG FOUR

SONG FOUR- "A Boy Downtown"

Me, Me, Me!!! Enough about me, let's talk about me! Okay, so I have always aspired to one day write & record a song start to finish all by myself & put it on a record. I've done countless demos that way, but I finally was able to realize my dream with "A Boy Downtown".

So, it occurred to me after the fact that five of the seven songs on this EP were born from weekly songwriting groups and this one is no different. The phrase that pays for the week was "a boy downtown" and I was kinda stumped on how to write a serious song with those lyrics in it. I started imagining an over-the-top power pop song with the age old story of a guy pining after a girl he can't have, or at least keep. I've been trying to veer away from the power pop & perhaps more into the "serious singer songwriter" world lately, but this song is clearly the former.

The week that I had to write this song, as fate would have it I went to go see Todd Rundgren with his ace band (including that John Ferenzik fella!) doing their "nothing but the hits" tour. Beth Lennon, Michael Kropp & I caught the them in Harrisburg and it was a stellar show. I sang a little idea for "A Boy Downtown" into my phone during the intermission & the next day I fleshed out the music & lyrics and got to working on "my version of a Todd song" complete with me recording all the parts. That would include drums, and I'm a terrible drummer (although I love to try!). Through the miracle of modern editing I put down a demo during the day that as I built it started to sound scarily legitimate, or so I hoped. I quadruple tracked all the background vocals, squashed the hell out of the drums & guitars with compression. I cut all the parts (aside from the drums) in pretty much one take recording fast & furious. I did start to realize that the song was sounding as Rick Springfield as it did Todd, but in my book that's not a bad thing. And hopefully it was sounding a bit like Cliff Hillis too!

I got everything done start to finish in a few hours, just before my lovely wife got home & I proudly played it for her. She quickly pointed out that it kinda sounded like Rick Springfield. wink emoticon


Fast forward to the mid-to-late recording process of the "Love Not War" EP, and after having played my glorified demo to a handful of friends & getting a good response (thanks for the kind words, Tom Ransom) I decided to include it. I re-sang some of the vocals and tightened up the drums a bit (thanks Pro Tools!), and then added a few last bells & whistles. Finished the mix & sent to Steve Turnidge for mastering (who pointed out that it was pretty darn bright & loud when I sent it to him), and "voilà!", track four was complete.

I hope the listener gets half as much joy out of this song as I did recording it!