I wrote “Can You Love a Landmine” in March 2016, and played it as an acoustic rock song at open mics a few times. One of the requirements I have for any Aristotle’s Hope songs is that I must be able to play and sing it at the same time, and that it should come across OK if I were to play it by myself.
This video below was recorded after the song was recorded, but it is the way the song was at the point of when I started working on the recording.
Now, compare that against the 10.5-minute version below:
I knew, going into the recording, that there was to be a longer intro and then extended middle section. To me a song is like a Lego fortress or starship that my son builds. I get excited about realizing the full potential of different ideas, and the song gets longer the more I work on it. I really enjoy these longer songs — to me it feels akin to enjoying a three-course meal instead of just having the main dish. But at the same time I work hard on keeping the composition focused and not extending it for the length’s sake.
Knowing how the full production version turned out, now the solo acoustic version feels like a trailer of a longer movie. It is playable by myself, but barely. The impact of the song doesn’t really come through in the stripped-down format, and the climax loses its punch without the longer road the song travels to get there.
I am grateful that modern technology gives me the tools to realize more of the potential of the song on my own. 20 years ago I wouldn’t have had the capacity to do this by myself. Not that I want to do this alone forever, but it is nice to be self-reliant and self-contained, too. There is something about doing everything oneself, with all the limitations that brings — for better or worse this music and this production is all me, and that’s simply a different kind of expression from a creation made by a group of people. It’s somehow more personal.
Anyway, I enjoyed revisiting the “before” version after making the full production recording. It’s a bit like seeing pictures of your kids when they were younger. I hope it deepens your enjoyment of the song as well.