A Contemporary Adult

Going Through Emotions by Brian Woodbury & John thomas Oaks.

Unlike the other co-writes on my Anthems & Antithets project, the idea for “Going Through Emotions” originated wholly with my collaborator John thomas Oaks. 

Jt sent me a fascinating lyric with a volatile first person narrator. A guy who has split with his significant other after experiencing the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. I was intrigued by this not altogether sympathetic protagonist caught up in denial, guilt and anger. Unable to heal. The combination of fragility, obsessive thinking and disaffection seemed a common enough condition. 

So, I set Jt’s lyrics to music, adding a few lyrics of my own for a chorus and bridge. Jt then refined and expanded on those words, wrote a musical extension for the last chorus, and made a lovely piano arrangement. 

While writing the music for the verse I recognized my melody shared some DNA with a song I loved by the Like called “In the End” (written by Z Berg). The songs weren’t similar enough to worry about plagiarism, but close enough to get me thinking about the kind of melodic shape they shared. 

I don’t know what the term for it would be but I think of it as a “Colors of the Wind” melodic pattern: 1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5, etc. In “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas, Alan Mencken and Stephen Schwartz were evoking a well-worn American Indian musical cliche (however anachronistic or musicology inaccurate); whereas in “Going Through Emotions” I was trying to evoke someone talking himself in circles.

We recorded it remotely, with me singing and playing bass to Jt’s piano, and the superlative Mark Pardy adding drums and percussion. It seemed to fit nicely with the confessional and story songs of “Balladry & Soliloquy,” Anthems & Antithets Volume 2.   

John thomas Oaks is one of my favorite people to collaborate with. He has a very different musical background from mine: his Christianity informs his outlook and his music; I and my music are pretty darn secular. Yet Jt and I both embrace a wide eclecticism and share a theatrical bent and a whimsical sense of humor. 

When we collaborate, we usually each pick a lane, either lyricist or composer. Yet, no matter who does what, I think the songs we’ve written together have a stylistic unity. 

With “Going Through Emotions,” we’ve made an adult contemporary power ballad about a contemporary adult.


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1 thought on “A Contemporary Adult”

  1. This one always reminds me of Warren Zevon–and I mean that as the highest compliment possible. Love the entirety of this quadruple opus!

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