Story behind the song: il sole e le palme
This post describes the songwriting process behind the song “il sole e le palme” written by Dario Margeli.
I am writing this article on March 01, 2014. Four and a half months earlier, around October 10, 2013 I decided to start organizing the writing for my seventh song, which ended up becoming “il sole e le palme” (The sun and the palm trees). The vocal melody of each one of my previous six songs had been based on a different Middle Eastern musical scale. I knew that this new one had to be based on a scale called “Chahargah”. Pre-selecting a musical scale is good as it restricts you and forces you to be creative. I researched the musical scale and chose the chords, decided that the western key of F Harmonic Minor was the best suited for the song. Before I could write a melody, I needed raw text or lyrics. At this point I was already working my day job 9am to 6pm at an office. I only had a couple of hours free in the evenings, plus the weekends. Starting October 13 and for two or three weeks I wrote endless letters trying to find a lyricist without success. I approached writing forums of non-famous authors. Still no luck. People had a hard time understanding copyright issues as well as expecting money not understanding that independent recordings don’t generate sufficient earnings. Couple of guys did send something, when I opened the files I was horrified to find only 10 lines of text in it. I wrote back saying, I’m sorry you are not made for this. To write a song, we would need to interact heavily and we need to have a lot of text to start with. I didn’t know what to do, but one rule of life that I have learned is that you cannot sit and wait. You have to have mini schedules and plans even when things are not perfect. Things need to move ahead even if perfection is not there. So plan B was that I would write the lyrics myself, initially in English. But what?
I had moved to a town in Central-Northern Europe. During Fall and Winter the town is completely dark and the skies covered with clouds. I was new at my job and not sure how things would work out. These events meant that I had some anxiety. I had to figure out a quick way to meditate to make it bearable. The solution I found was a form of meditation that is called WICCA. I started using one of the techniques which consisted of staring at a photo that brings you nice feelings from the past and concentrate on every detail of it. Unlike, just looking at something, in this technique you must describe to yourself, colors, corners, distances, edges, ligtht… You must ask questions? Was the weather cold or warm. How did it smell? What did you hear? So I would get to work, wanting to be dead and I would sit there with my monitor visible to everyone staring for 15 minutes at a vacation picture. Still I’m glad I did that because at least it gave results. One day at the office, I was meditating to these 3 pictures taken in Capri, Italy in summer 2001. One of the pictures shows me posing with the Faraglioni’s, one other picture is of the harbor of Capri: “Marina Grande”. In that instance it occurred to me that I should write a song about the WICCA meditation paractice. The following lyrics line -in English – was born in that instance:
“Marina grande in capri faraglioni behind me – all these beautiful memories are back here to visit me ”
This would later be transformed to the Italian lyrics:
“Marina grande e i faraglioni di Capri viaggiano con me – i pensieri felici ritornano a me”
(images from Capri 2001)
So the lyrics of the song got started while sitting behind my desk at my office job. For the next few weeks I worked on writing the melody of the song. Improvisations, keyboards and more. By December 20th, the song was written both in music and lyrics. The lyrics was “in English”. When I came back from the Christmas holidays it was already 2014. Now I had 2 problems, finding a producer-arranger and finding someone to help me adapt the lyrics to Italian. Fortunately after some e-mails I found a producer in Milan. He also helped with the correction of the Italian. The voice was recorded in Northern Europe and tuned by myself. I provided the song to him without arrangements. So it was a surprise to hear what came back a few weeks later. He had arranged it 80’s rock style similar to 10,000 Maniacs, Swing Out Sister and 80’s R.E.M. This is why it is interesting to work with external people, because they push you out of your narrow mindset. The arrangements were completely different than my personal approach and that was fine. It was an addition to my musical vocabulary.
It was then time to make the video. Another nightmare. How do you find the people to make a video in a country where you don’t understand the language? After much hassle, an actress was found which was the only nice thing happening at the time. I was looking for a director of photography and I would get all sorts of insulting replies: they wanted high prices for their service even more than in Western Europe. It is funny because companies hiring here pay less than in Western Europe to employee’s, so why should an independent person like a director of photography insult you when you try to offer something proportional to them. Bunch of insults here and there. Eventually I was so desperate that I was willing to pay “extra” and bring a guy that had said yes from 100 KM far away. And that at above what I had paid in the past. I had reserved 2 guys and when the weekend in which we were to film approached, they both bailed out with excuses and non of them showed up. Originally the video was to be filmed outdoors. So, video making plans were changed. I used option B which was to film with Renata (the model) alone and apply this idea that I had for the video from some time ago.
The italian “indie-rock” press functions with albums not singles. Therefore my chances were slim or non with just a video which on top of that is not punk or shoe-gazer or heavy metal or psychedelic rock. Given that no money is made and I am poor, I cannot spend any much more. So far I had spent a bit already. However, I approached Italian Press Agencies to help promote the song. I was hoping to find one that would be able to help me “somewhat” for a certain price, but there was no luck. Despite the supposed crisis, these agencies wouldn’t even bother to answer back. Some of them wanted 400 Euros just to send a bunch of e-mails without providing and guarantee’s. I am not willing to pay that and I need some guaranteed results. So a good 2 weeks was lost with that and eventually I was left on my own to deal with the annoying task of email sending: “only 10% of the e-mails to the press are opened or viewed”.
The song, il sole e le palme, was released February 12, 2014. It was premiered the day before by Vice Magazine Italy. Work on the song was far from over after release. I had to create advertisement and do promotion, a task that continued until today March 01, 2014. Just because one is not famous and is not from Universal Music, Warner or Sony, they treat you as a s*p*a*m*mer, insult you and more.
So this is how 5 months of my life was spent in addition to my regular office job. This also meant having no life at all because any instant of free time that I had in the past 5 months other than my office job, I had to spend it on the music project. I could not go out to bars or excursions during the weekends or do any sort of recreational activities.
For the next 3 months I will not do anything relating to music, so that I can try other activities on the weekends. During the week, the office job does’nt let me breath much. Including an 8 pm work meeting every Tuesday because the department head is in California.
The image used for the cover of “il sole e le palme” is a photo taken in 2010 in Faro, Portugal.
Technical Details of the release:
Title: il sole e le palme
Date: February 12, 2014
Catalogue #/ Barcaode: 888174565255
Publishing Administrator (Rights society): SIAE
BPM : 112
Key : F Harmonic Minor
youtube video URL:
Press Release (Comunicato Stampa): http://tiny.cc/ilsolecomu
Copyright owner (p) & (c) 2014 Dario Margeli