SAC Challenge Week #3 – Writing for Advertising

The first thought I had after reading the creative brief was “considering I’m the father of 6 and 7 year old boys, something’s wrong if I can’t write a half-way decent song about the joy of childhood.” Another layer of challenge added to the challenge.

I’d written a song a few years ago about my boys growing up called Little Hand, definitely a tear-jerker ballad. I think it’s a natural pull for songwriters to go to that sentimental place when talking about kids, especially their own. This challenge would be another good impetus to stretch out beyond where I normally might tend to go on a song like this.

We used to sing all kinds of nursery rhymes to the boys when they were younger, so I played through them in my head. When I got to “one, two, buckle my shoe” it morphed into “one, two I can tie my shoe now,” followed by “three, four, out the back door.” That seemed like an interesting path to go on, put the child out in his yard and see what happens. Normally I work from a title first, but I figured one would show itself eventually. A melody had popped into my head with the buckle-my-shoe line, so I used that as a scaffold to hang more verse words on.

The boy’s backyard would be a rich place to mine sense bound images. So what does he see? How about a dog — he could throw a bone or stick to him. He could also play in the sandbox, ride a pogo stick, look for bugs, all the standard-issue boy stuff. Maybe a little too standard…bordering on run-of-the-mill. The phrase “beautiful day” came to mind for the chorus. A nice sentiment, a little too familiar to be a keeper but it would work for now.

Back to the verses. I spent some time thinking like a young boy (much more familiar ground than thinking like a teenage girl for week #2), both from my own childhood and through the eyes of my own kids. I’m still struck by how imaginative they can be at that innocent age and how blurry the line is between fantasy and reality. I wanted to tap into that wild, unfettered imagination that easily turns a box into a car, or spaceship, or house. So if a kid can do all that, it’s pretty much anything goes, which became my title.

James Lindemann had suggested to someone in this challenge that they have a child sing on their demo which seemed like a good idea, so I taught my boys the song and recorded them in my studio. For the track I started with a steady kick drum, which gave the chorus a marching feel. The reference tracks gave license for quirky instruments, and you can’t have a marching band without a tuba. Or a piccolo, for that matter. Before I knew it, the track was in full marching mode which really gave it a feeling of energy and fun. And like the song says…anything goes.

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