Manhattan Lullaby

“The look of love
It’s on your face
A look that time can’t erase
Be mine tonight
Let this be just the start
Of so many nights like this
Let’s take a lover’s vow
And then seal it with a kiss.”

“I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you,
How long I have waited,
Waited just to love you,
Now that I have found you,
Don’t ever go, don’t ever go…..”

(c) Burt Bacharach/Hal David, “The Look Of Love”, 1967

This was written in about half an hour on an afternoon in July 2015 and re-written in about two hours in December 2016, to make it less lyrically dark (yes, I did really say that!)

The original lyrics, at their core, were based on a dream sequence of a couple, meeting an Angel of Death on a street corner in Lower Manhattan (interestingly enough, very close to a favourite guitar shop of mine) on a winter’s evening.  But, I have to admit that looking back on these songs that were at the time, very cathartic no longer serve their purpose because the need I had for catharsis was no longer necessary. So, along with a couple of other tracks that were particularly… opaquely dark, were rewritten/updated very late in 2016. And this was one of them, the other being Let It Go. Primarily because that musically, they were too strong to completely recycle or abandon or chop up and use elsewhere.

It was conceived originally as a song for a crooner, in the style of Matt Munro or similar – and funnily enough, when I say “similar”, the name of the late Karen Carpenter has also come to mind. So, its not so much the range of the voice, but the richness of the tone, the feel, the phrasing and the power behind it, that will be the key to unlocking this song… the idea that I had was for the track to be backed by an orchestral or big band arrangement. Not in any way ambitious then, he added, dryly…

It was one of those rare songs of mine that I’ve had just walk into my imagination in that semi-slumbering gap between sleep and alertness at about 5.30 in the morning, fully formed, vocal melody, arrangement, the whole lot. I know exactly how it should sound and the music has been written so far with that in mind. There are particularly tricky aspects of it, going from the verses into the big crescendos and what the chords linking those parts will be and how they will work.

The descending chord pattern for the Pre-chorus, Chorus and Coda were particularly difficult to work out for a non-theory computer-based writer. Thanks to two particular things – Cubase’s Chord Track (which has saved my bacon on countless occasions, I freely admit it) and the Bacharach & David classic One Less Bell To Answer, that pattern was finally found.

The chords have absolutely not been plagiarized, but are very heavily influenced by this track because it was exactly the feel that I was searching a long time for. The challenge, as is often the case for those who are music-theory lite like me, has been stitching those pieces together.

And, I readily admit that it has been (for a non-reading, non professional arranger/composer like me) at times, fiendishly challenging to breathe life into, it genuinely has; there were many times where I wondered how the hell I was going to get the feel that I wanted, how the hell to get the idea out of my head and on to disk – especially in the chorus/crescendo/Coda parts –  even resorting to borrowing another idea from Mr Bacharach from This Guy’s In Love With You for the big dramatic cliff-hanger just before the end. Afficionados will recognise it as soon as they get to hear it, how this particular idea of using different inversions of the same chord has been used.

The finished track will definitely end up on the KOAS No Expectations album.

The majority of the hard work has already been done and virtually all of the song barring the vocals is on disk already. I think I’ll be very pleased with it once it is all done and finished. I think that one thing I am particularly pleased about with regard to the lyrical rewrite is that theres enough of the original for it to have its emotional meaning to me as the writer, but its now loose enough to be delivered by anyone… Should anyone out there in the industry have a requirement for a 6 minute big band song for a crooner, that is. Somebody must do, surely. *grin*

Manhattan Lullaby

Verse 1/
On the corner of Greene St and Broome,
Walking home on a late winter afternoon,
Pools of vanilla streetlights in the rain
In the hours before a rising moon
Arm in arm as the world walks on by,
Heart to heart and a love thats only yours and mine
The start of the night, but not the end of the line…

Verse 2/
Its getting cold maybe theres snow in the air,
The sound of the city is all around is us everywhere
On the streets of Manhattan, without a single care…

I look at you girl, and your beautiful smile
A sense of wonder in your eyes,  just like a child
These precious moments I’ll hold onto for all of our time

Pre Chorus:/
So why now we’re here do we seem so alone?
In this place where we have made our home
Darling, let us stay here til the end of our time
This time will aways be mine
When I hear her lullaby…


CODA/ (crescendo)

At night this city is the most beautiful in the world
And there’s no better place for me and my girl,
Darling, we’ll be here til the end of our time

(sotto voce & piano/orchestration)

This time will always be mine
When I hear her lullaby…

(c) Words & Music Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2015


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