#322: The Song “Voices”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #322, on the subject of The Song “Voices”.

I ranked this number 11 as far as best songs go, and number 7 on quality of recording and performance, and Tristan had it tied at thirteen, which brought it to number 7 on our combined list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with previous web log song posts, linked below.)  I complain to myself that I omitted one voice part on the choruses, and that since I made this recording I added a third vocal to the bridge, but that’s a story in itself.  The recording is here.

Voices.

It must have been around 1986.  I was out of work and getting a bit of money working with the husband of the sister of a childhood friend of my wife, who did mostly drywall and some painting.  I don’t recall whether it was drywall or painting we were doing, but it struck me as I was working that believers often speak of hearing God’s voice.  I have never heard the audible voice of God, but I have known some who have, and I do beleive that God has given me direction by less dynamic leading.  Still, when we say that God told us or God directed us, unbelievers have a reasonable right to question our sanity.

That was what was going through my head that day, that we–and not only believers–in a sense are hearing voices telling us what to do.  We see it in cartoons and comics, with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other arguing about what someone should do.  I thought I should capture that in a song.

I thought, though, that the song should having something of the sound of a crazy person, and as I wrote the chorus in my head I was chording it to create a melody that stepped out of key constantly.  I wanted weird, and my out-of-key chords and cascading tonality gave me something that I, at least, thought sounded like a crazy person.  I also included the background vocals from the beginning, because I wanted the juxtaposition of the soloist who “hears voices” and the voices that he hears.

The verses were considerably less crazy, but they do shift out of key and back more than once.

I wrote the bridge after most of the rest of the song was completed, and worked out the two parts that are on this recording.  We did the song, very like this although with one more vocal part on the choruses, in TerraNova in the mid 80s.  My wife said that the bridge was the most beautiful passage she had ever heard, which had two effects.  The first was that I added the instrumental verse (I played the part which here is done as a midi on a tenor saxophone) so that I could repeat the bridge.  The other was that in the years which followed I imagined a third vocal part for the bridge but did not record it because I didn’t want to ruin “the most beautiful passage” she had ever heard.  It turns out that long after I made this recording she heard me singing the third part to it, and liked it even more, but I no longer have the equipment to record.

As originally written the song ends with the vocalists repeating “ces-ces-ces….” as written below.  Jerry Kregger, lead guitarist and vocalist in TerraNova, was annoyed that several of my songs ended with variations on a fade–Time Bomb (linked below) notable among them, but I think he thought that the endings of Walkin’ In the Woods and Holocaust were fades because they weren’t hard cold endings.  Thus to please him I added the stinger at the end.  I still don’t like it, and I shouldn’t have included it in the recording, but it’s there.  I would omit it if I had another chance to record or perform the song.  I would also add some backup vocals to the last verse.

So here are the words:

I’m hearing voices, it’s crazy but it’s true,
I’m hearing voices, they tell me what to do.
One voice knows the way of light,
It tells me things I know are right,
So when I need to make a choice,
I listen for the voice.
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah) and you can hear them, too,
I’m hearing voices, voices, voices.

I’m in the drug store when the clerk is in the back,
Pickin’ up a paper and some candies off the rack.
They’ll never miss it if some candies disappear–
I look around, and I can see the coast is clear.
Although I’m sure that no one can see,
I hear a voice inside of me.

I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), it’s crazy but it’s true,
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), they tell me what to do.
One voice knows the way of light,
It tells me things I know are right,
So when I need to make a choice,
I listen for the voice.
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah) and you can hear them, too,
I’m hearing voices, voices, voices.

I meet my girlfriend for le rendezvous d’amour.
We’re secret lovers, it’s a true l’affaire des cour.
I hear those voices saying, “Take it all the way.
“Ev’rybody does it, just enjoy yourself today.”
But I hear one voice clear and strong–
I can’t explain, but I know it’s wrong.

I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), it’s crazy but it’s true,
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), they tell me what to do.
One voice knows the way of light,
It tells me things I know are right,
So when I need to make a choice,
I listen for the voice.
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah) and you can hear them, too,
I’m hearing voices, voices, voices.

Choose me now and you will find the way.
I will come to you, and I will tell you what to say.
Open up your eyes and see your part.
Give to me your soul, give me your strength, your life, your heart,
Your all.

Choose me now and you will find the way.
I will come to you, and I will tell you what to say.
Open up your eyes and see your part.
Give to me your soul, give me your strength, your life, your heart,
Your all.

I’ve found the answer to the choices I must make.
List’ning to the Shepherd, I can find the path to take.
I am His sheep, and so I recognize His voice.
He has got the answer when I need to make a choice.
So as I follow His command
I know my life is in His hand.

I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), it’s crazy but it’s true,
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah), they tell me what to do.
One voice knows the way of light,
It tells me things I know are right,
So when I need to make a choice,
I listen for the voice.
I’m hearing voices (Voices, ah) and you can hear them, too,
I’m hearing voices, voices, voices-ces-ces-ces-ces-ces-ces-ces.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free”

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