The 12 Weeks of Fate Line (aka Fate Line Fridays) – Making the Fruit Fall

Off on our hols on the 401 headed for Montreal and turning my mind to the 4th track on our album, Making the Fruit Fall. This is the one co-write on the record – a joint effort in words and music with my bandmate, producer and partner Simon Law. For my part, I was asked to flesh out Simon’s lyrical idea “make or breaking it down, shaking the tree, making the fruit fall, whys and wherefores fall to the floor.” What unfolded was a look at what happens when you summon up the strength to do just that – shake the tree. Annoyingly (as pointed out by John) Peter Gabriel had already claimed that title so the song became the result of shaking the tree – Making the Fruit Fall. The tune was a welcomed challenge for me to sing – Simon’s jumping and multi-noted melody took me away from my own approach to melody writing. The octave leaps capture the ear and evoke the fragility of courage. The melody compliments the message.

Simon says:
This song originated from a melody, which kept coming back to me and stays intact in the song as the vocal melody. On a street car ride downtown the words Jen quoted earlier came to me fully formed. The song developed from that – Jen, a more prolific lyricist than I, developed the song and added the music for the bridge. The chords, harmony instrumentation, developed over many weeks of playing the song with the band. It’s one of the first songs we did with Jon playing mandolin. And the harmonies created by Jon’s mando and John’s acoustic guitar with Jen’s guitar part layered on top creates a delicate weaving quality which only breaks in the bridge.

The good doctor says:
This song has a familiar descending chord progression that you will hear variations of in everything from Pachelbel’s Canon in D to A Whiter Shade of Pale (and Fate Line for that matter). In rehearsals, Jonathan and I would sometimes play the melody of any handy tune that fits in with this progression.

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The 12 Weeks of Fate Line (aka Fate Line Fridays) – He Once

The Fate Line Friday today looks at the second song on the record – He Once. This is one of the older songs, written by me a couple of years ago and arrangements musically and vocally finessed over many rehearsals and performances. It is an observational plaintive love song – nothing ever straight ahead for me, it has both bitter and tender sentiments. 

I love how the bridge has evolved, with five-part harmonies blasting in, first with the band in full flight and then in an a cappella version. “How many flights will he take to get back home, to ramble or to roam….” At one point the harmonies then strip away to just two soft voices singing “across the unforgiving seas.” The bridge finally ends with a lone plea – “…this once elusive love is waiting here with me.”
The mando and guitar duet from the Jo(h)ns is also a fave, particularly in the instrumental coda when we repeat the musical phrase in a more unhinged way – the boys let loose and my rhythm guitar strumming shifts into 5th gear. Too much fun!The Good Doctor John’s Take:The musical thread that runs through this song is the lovely melody that Jonathan and I play together, which was written by Simon. Even though the song has an obvious English folk feel, I keep thinking of Greek bouzoukis whenever I listen to Jonathan and me playing. I particularly like the end section, when Jonathan and I break away from the melody into what sounds like inspired soloing (which in reality for me was a painstakingly constructed part). I also encourage you to listen to Astrid’s bass on this track, which is some of her most fluid and melodic playing on the album.

Simon says:

For some strange reason this song elicits the most Spinal Tap quoting of any other. Perhaps it is the Druid-like melody section, particularly at the end, when someone at rehearsal can often be heard uttering the immortal words: “…and oh how they danced, the little children of Stone’enge.” (see 2:47 on clip below)


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The 12 Weeks of Fate Line (aka Fate Line Fridays) – Fate Line

I had the bright idea after the release party to keep going with our Facebook band page postings – Fate Line Fridays – but instead of songs and music that influenced the record, we’d feature a track a week and give background and Shiner perspective on each tune.

So to start things off, the first and title track of the record is Fate Line. Written on the shores of Lake Skootamata a few summers ago, this song was an exercise in unpacking what it meant to have been told by a palmist that I had a long fate line. What evolved lyrically was a study of the forces at play on our lives – and the compulsion to seek or flee the ghosts that haunt us now.

And Lord knows I love alliterations and word play, hence the bridge:

I can’t escape
Those escapades
That I eschew too late
I’m preordained
And predisposed
To predicate my fate

One musical detail or influence I remember, perhaps if only by osmosis, was that that summer I was listening quite obsessively to a new release from Elvis Costello – his bluegrass or old timey country album Secret, Profane and Sugarcane. I feel that the stripped down mood of Fate Line (at least at the start of the song and in the bridge) emanates a bit from that steeping.

The Good Doctor John’s take:

Fate Line is a relatively old song, so I originally started off playing bass on it. When I switched over to guitar, I had to come up with something that fit into what was a fairly established arrangement by that point. I particularly didn’t want to take away from Jonathan’s lovely violin parts – both the serene harmonized sections in the chorus and his melodic lines elsewhere.

I decided that it might sound nice to have a very repetitive pattern on high notes to complement a fairly mobile, often descending bass line. Initially I just played the high notes, but that started to get a bit lame. So I decided to double up the descending bass line and play the high notes at the same time. And that is what I play now. My only moment of doubt came recently when I realized that what I play veers fairly closely to the guitar part in Tal Bachman’s She’s So High. But since no one else appears to have noticed the similarity, we’ll just keep that our little secret.

Simon says:

Fate Line (or Phattalina as it’s known in our band?!) evolved over quite a few years, with each member of the band finding their parts as it developed. We did a demo of it in 2009, Jon’s beautiful Bach-like violin part he created was there at that stage but the groove and feel wasn’t defined until later. The rhythm section vibes came later as we played it live, honed the feel and Astrid and I found our flavour on Bass and Drums.

There are three interesting peaks in the song structure: I love the way it drops into the groove for the first verse (this moment always feels good live, the sound of the Shiners getting down to business!)…then the movement into the bridge after Jon’s solo for a big change in mood and then when remerges into the broken down exposed chorus: Jen and her guitar, harmonies and the Violin theme. It’s also special that the song starts with just Jen’s guitar, as all of her songs are written on her acoustic guitar!

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Fate Line Friday for November 7th, 2014

Fate Line Friday:

Jen here with my turn again to share a musical love or passion or influence – and the obvious choice for me this week, particularly in light of her own release and impending Toronto gig, is Lucinda Williams!

I’ve long listened and been a fan – had the honor of meeting her at Merlefest in North Carolina some 15 years ago. I was very pregnant with my daughter at the time and so in addition to sharing my admiration for her music, we talked about my large belly and why I had given my baby the in utero name “spudnik.” I still have the autographed Car Wheels on a Gravel Road CD which states: “spudnik – hurry up and come soon.”

It is her poetic plain spoken lyric, her gravel voice, her Gurf Morlix and her moody southern sound that always got me. Seems her new album shows that she’s still got it – but I’m choosing an old one I use to cover all the time. “Hard Road” is a jaunty tune for her but equally edgy poignant lyrics – a cry out to a friend in need.

I’ll be missing her show on the 20th as we’ll happily be performing at the Justice for Children and Youth Benefit that night – but I’ll be sure to dedicate my song “Living Out Loud” to her, as she is referenced in the tune and lives out loud as a songwriter in a way that always inspires.

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