Romance and Cheap Tacos - Who Knew?

Birth of a Song

I have a virtual friend in Minnesota, USA, who is my favorite songwriter who is at least as obscure I am. He writes some lovely stuff (see "Flowers Under the Snow" on Soundcloud). In late autumn of 2015 he posted a songwriting challenge on one of the musician sites were we hang out: write a song around the words "who knew". Now I've learned to pay attention when Mr. Greg Connor does that because a couple of my favorite tunes I've written in recent years stem from one of his challenges (see "Irish for a Day"). So when I came across his post I thought, OK, I'll have at it.

Influence #1: Petty Morons on Facebook

empty headYou just never know what's going to influence the writing of a song. Before I could get to working on the challenge, I was over on Facebook where a couple of morons in some group were having one of those idiotic debates on the general female attractiveness of Alison Krauss. One of these morons said, "...her eyes are too little and beady and her nose is huge". (I can only imagine the pot-bellied Adonis that jerk probably is!) Now that l'il fiddlin' bluegrass woman has won more Grammy Awards than any other artist on the planet. Who cares if she looks like a slug if she still does what she does?!

My brain, in wrapping itself around that absurd bit of petty nonsense, went something like this: "oh... her eyes are too beady, too large is her snoot... big freaking deal!" Then it hit me that I had the first line of a song in that thought... and maybe I could work it into something for the "Who Knew?" challenge.

Influence #2: The Challenger

RosieOnce I got the first line penned and started to buckle down, I knew right off that I wanted to include some of the characteristics of Greg's songs: romance, humor (the man wrote a romantic song about plucking a chicken - and made it work!), and (for some obscure reason) Las Cruces, New Mexico (his Rose of Las Cruces is about a 300-pound apron-wearing lover of banjo-playing men - you gotta hear it to get it - check out the Rosie playlist sometime!) Anyway, once I got going, the song fell out in about 30 minutes.

Influence #3: Evil Subversive Russia

I think my 20-years living in Russia is having some effect on me as an arranger. In the Total Chaos studio, I got all the tracks laid down, with several tracks of the solo played on different guitars. But I didn’t like any of them. I tried banjo... blechh! Mandolin: #fail! I struggled. I got nowhere. I had hit arranger/producer block on a romantic song with Valentine's Day right around the corner - блин!

Then I woke up one night at 3 a.m. thinking: “accordion!” As my conscious mind came awake it shrieked “NO! NOT THAT! ARE YOU NUTS?” But sure as hell nothing else was working, so I tried a solo using an accordion plugin with my keyboard. And dogged if I didn't like it. Folks, the evil subversive influence of Russia is the only way to account for this!

The track would be better with a button accordion played by someone like Fausto Beccalossi (who plays with Al Di Meola). But Al is Al and I is me, and this is what it is: a corny romantic ditty for anyone who has been hitched, spliced, or otherwise hanging out with someone for more than a couple of years... or anyone who's ever sampled the taco special in a Las Cruces honky tonk.

Break out the hot sauce and enjoy!

"Who Knew?" is written, performed and produced by Robert Palomo
Song art photo: flickr/debaird (Creative Commons license)
Thanks to Greg Connor for the songwriting challenge!

Copyright © 2016 Robert Palomo Jr. All rights reserved.

Buy Who Knew on CD Baby

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