Track by Track: Diving Bell
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
In this blog series, I'm going track by track through the songs on my new album Never Enough Flowers! I'll be talking about the story behind the song, production tricks, etc!
So we start with the first track and the first song to be written: Diving Bell.
The genesis of this song was a conversation with my best friend. We were talking about how we've been dealing our perspectives on human nature changing as we get older. I did specifically write this about one person, someone who is still a big part of my life and who love dearly, but who I've often had internal conflicts with, though they don't know it.
I kept thinking about that conversation all day, even while I was at work. At the time, I was teaching at a local homeschool group. While my students worked on their warm-up exercises, I began writing some lyric ideas on another piece of paper. I'm a big believer in always having a piece of paper handy in case something comes out and you can't get to your phone fast enough!
Later that day, I came home and began working out melodies for the words I started writing during my students' warm-up exercises. It was me at my trusty Yamaha keyboard. At that time, my songs were starting to become actually catchy and memorable. It had taken years of writing terrible songs to get there, but it was slowly coming along.
This song was no exception.
Later that day, the same day I wrote Diving Bell, I played this all the way through for the first time for my then-husband. I didn't tell him it was an original. So when I was finished, he said wasn't even sure it was an original song or not because it sounded kind of like me but also "the person you're trying to be."
Because of how proud of the song I was and because I knew it was a memorable and good song, Diving Bell became my go-to song for songwriter showcases and open mic nights. I have a recording somewhere of an intense version I sang for a songwriter contest in late 2017, but I haven't found it yet!
My understanding of people has grown even more since I wrote this song in my early 30s. Even more, I have come to understand myself. It can be scary when you go more into yourself to figure out who you really are. I think most people are afraid of going there. They don't want to do anything more than wake up, go to work, come back home, rinse and repeat until they retire. I'm not like that.
I'm a watery person. So the image of a diving bell really stuck with me. I thought of a protective vessel around you as you go deeper into who you are. Something that will allow you to get there, but which can keep you safe when you need it.
And when it came to the production for this song, I wanted the production to reflect that.
The first few demoes of this song were..... not good. At that time, I would write the song girl-and-piano style, then I would overlay beats and whatnot on the computer. Which often meant that the songs didn't work with the beats. It felt like the song I'd come up with acoustically was competing with the extra production.
So this song originally had some sort of big beat to it. But it just didn't work. The song wanted to be more sparse.
Then at the suggestion of my voice teacher and friend Charlotte Martin, I stripped it all back. And instead, I redid the arrangement so there were NO drums. Instead, it was piano, lead vocal, and spacey pads panning all over the place, making you feel like you were there under the water and the waves were falling around your head.
Then I added one last flourish: a field recording of actual waves!
I went to a nearby river where I often meditated after work, and I recorded the sounds of the waves coming in to the shore, and I used that recording at the beginning and end of the song! Something that really puts you there, as you're standing on the shores of who you are. You're afraid to dive in to see what you find, but you go there anyway.