Shades of Grey

A song inspired by something a little different...

'If you stand for nothing, Burr - what will you fall for?'

There’s no doubt that 2019 is a remarkable time to be alive. Looking back, it’s hard to recall a morning where I’ve woken up and there hasn’t been a headline that hasn’t stirred or surprised me in some way. Every notification seems to bring a piece of news that I could never have anticipated. In a landscape like this, it’s sometimes hard to know where you fit in to it all. If I want to change things, can I? Does this impact on my life and others? Is it all nothing in the grand scheme of things?
One day, as I was contemplating this, the idea for the song which became ‘Shades of Grey’ came to me. My reflections made me think of the two main characters in ‘Hamilton’ - the American Musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr represent two opposing approaches to solving the same problems in life. Hamilton always speaks his mind and stands up for what he believes in, regardless of the outcome. Burr is more reserved and is quite literally willing to ‘wait for it’ and never reveal how he feels about a particular issue.

To me there’s no simple answer as to which approach is better. Hamilton never holds back, but he makes a lot of enemies and draws heavy criticism in the process. Burr on the other hand hides his opinions and comes across as having no viewpoint whatsoever - as Hamilton literally says - ‘If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?’.

A bit of a departure from what I'm used to writing...

I started writing the lyrics, feeling as though I was somewhere between the two characters. The chorus was the first thing I wrote - a bit of a stream of consciousness outpour…

“You’re talking to a man who doesn’t know
When it’s right to take a seat
Or if it’s right to make a stand for nothing
Fall for everything they say
Or take the hit and walk away
And say ‘black and white are just two shades of grey’”
I built the musical parts of the song around the guitar part in the intro. I knew I wanted to change between two chords, but I didn’t want to voice them as I played them in the first demo of the song - they need a little something else to liven them up. As I do at any time I’m attempting to change up a guitar part, I channelled John Mayer…

After that, the rest of the track started to appear. I knew I wanted to keep the mix quite simple - most of it just being guitar bass and drums. This was the first track I played drums on, with ABC guiding me through the track as we went along. It was strange to be sat down at the kit again to play on my own stuff. The last time it had happened was on ‘The April Fool’ in #ASongInSevenDays - it definitely took some getting used to!

Now that it’s finished, the song feels like a bit of a departure from what I’m used to writing…
Let me hear the song!

So, what do you think?

Now that you've heard the song and got to know what it's all about, I'd love to know what you think! Let's get a discussion going!