Five years later…

Hi. This is Brian. So…the Technology and the Arts podcast ended close to five years ago. At the time, John LeMasney and I were in the middle of a season in which we were taking viewers/listeners behind the scenes as we tried to collaborate on writing a song together remotely.

We started by sharing some ideas we had worked on independently. My contribution was the simple chorus below and a potential title, “Lay It On The Line.” The lyrics reflected how I felt, as a privileged white male, in the wake of Ferguson and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. I wanted to express the importance of not being silent about racial injustice and to be vocal in support of BLM.

bktandem · TechArts – LayItOnTheLine 10-29-2015

John shared some guitar riffs and I soon realized the one at the start of this clip might work as a verse with my chorus.

John William LeMasney · First Draft

Shortly before the podcast came to an end in December 2015, I used a piece of John’s guitar riff in this rough demo to see if the two pieces could work together.

bktandem · FirstDraft LIOTL_mockup

This “draft” version of the song was to be a framework for us to construct a final version. Obviously, it still needed a bridge section, which is why it ends abruptly after the second chorus. Even after the podcast ended, I wanted to complete the song, but a bridge remained elusive and I moved on.

Fast forward five years to 2020 and police brutality and injustices against Black people continue. Black Lives Matter protests flood the nation’s streets again, and it brought me back to “Lay It On The Line.”

Instead of working from the original “framework” GarageBand file, I decided to rebuild the song from scratch, which resulted in a bit of a key change and some rearranging. I didn’t use John’s guitar riff this time, but it still heavily influenced the verse sections.

In my head, I always thought the bridge would just be a simple breakdown into a solo section before one last chorus. But I could never get it to sound right. Then, I thought about Todd Rundgren’s “Just One Victory” and the “Hold that line, baby, hold that line…” backing vocals, and hit upon a new idea for the elusive bridge.

I decided to incorporate similar melodic backing vocals into the bridge, introducing a key change and some new chords in the process. Suddenly, the simple breakdown section I had envisioned became a bit more complex. But with the bridge complete, I was now able to complete the framework of the song. It’s still really a demo, but the song John and I started writing together nearly five years ago is finally finished, structurally.

bktandem · Lay It On The Line (2020 Demo)

And then, because I wanted to give a nod to that original stripped-down draft recording of the chorus, I also created a “quiet mix” version.

bktandem · Lay It On The Line (Quiet Mix Demo)

LAY IT ON THE LINE

Music by Brian Kelley & John LeMasney
Lyrics by Brian Kelley
Arranged by Brian Kelley

Look all around you
And see what’s at stake
A movement is coming
Which side will you take
Battle injustice
Or stay on the side
Will you stand up and fight
Or will you just run and hide?

Take a look at yourself
Are you doing anything that can help
Take a look in your heart
It’s time that you start doing your part

Life’s not worth living
If you don’t take a stand
And champion the causes
Of your fellow ‘man
Your apathy’s weakness
Your silence a joke
How can you sit there
When the system is broke
Time to wake up your mind
And lay it on the line
Gotta lay it on the line

How can you keep saying
That nothing is wrong
When what’s come to light
Has been like this all along
The shield has been broken
The trust is betrayed
Lives have been stolen
By the system we made

Take a look at yourself
Are you doing anything that can help
Take a look in your heart
It’s time that you start doing your part

Life’s not worth living
If you don’t take a stand
And champion the causes
Of your fellow ‘man
Your apathy’s weakness
Your silence a joke
How can you sit there
When the system is broke
Time to wake up your mind
And lay it on the line
Gotta lay it on the line

Bridge
It’s time to wake up and understand. It’s time to support your fellow ‘man
(Now is the time)
It’s time to step up and do what’s right. It’s time to get up and join the fight.
(For us to understand)
It’s time to wake up and understand. It’s time to support your fellow ‘man
(We must unite)
It’s time to step up and do what’s right. It’s time to get up and join the fight.
(as one common ‘man)

Take a stand

(Instrumental-solo)

Take a look at yourself
Are you doing anything that can help
Take a look in your heart
It’s time that you start doing your part

Life’s not worth living
If you don’t take a stand
And champion the causes
Of your fellow ‘man
Your apathy’s weakness
Your silence a joke
How can you sit there
When the system is broke
Time to wake up your mind
And lay it on the line
Gotta lay it on the line

© 2020 Brian J. Kelley/John W. LeMasney

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s