A song for Robert

My Silver Son is a song I wrote for my second son Declan, just before he turned two. I finally managed, a couple of months ago, to write one for my first son Robert.

First In My Eyes is a song about being a father, making the most of the time we have with our kids, and the hopes we have for them.

Audio only:

I finished writing it in time for Robert’s 5th birthday in October, but between a busy period at work and a troublesome appendix I didn’t manage to record it in time. (They finally took the aforementioned appendix out just last week.)

I spent an evening at Mathieu Siegrist’s K-yak Studio in Gland in late November. He did a really nice job on recording, arranging and mixing the song, with great ideas for the instrumental parts and harmonies. I’m hoping we’ll have a chance to work together more in future.

While I wrote this for Robert, its sentiments apply – of course – equally to Declan… they’ll both be first in my eyes, whatever paths they eventually choose to take. I think/hope the sentiments in this song will resonate with any parent. (And I’m not just saying that in case Declan is reading this text many years from now! Don’t forget, Declan, you got your song first!!)

You can download the song from Soundcloud here.

First In My Eyes

You fell off the swing that day; it seems just like yesterday,
I pushed you too hard, I rushed you too soon.
Now you like flying high, a big boy, a bigger smile,
Maybe someday you’ll fly to the moon.

I’ll keep holding your hand for as long as you want to hold mine,
I’ll be reading you stories as long as you think that’s alright.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I love singing songs with you, or playing a board game too,
We can hop on the bikes, go for a ride.
I think now I understand how the child makes the man,
From father to son and on down the line.

I’m teaching you things but I’m learning from you all the while,
So I’ll tie your laces and maybe one day you’ll tie mine.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

I won’t forget the day we met, they put you in my arms, I tried not to break you;
I buttoned up your tiny vest, cradled you against my chest, we made you, we made you.

I know in time you will live your own life,
And I hope you’ll be strong and be happy, be honest, be kind,
You’ll go your own way, and you’ll run your own race,
But wherever you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes,
I don’t care where you finish you’ll always be first in my eyes.

In search of the Perfect Christmas video

A quick recap:

In the last post I wrote about the whole experience back in February, I suggested that I was finished with this particular project:

That, I think, brings the curtain down on this little project of ours. From this point on A Perfect Christmas will have to fend for itself in the musical wilderness. I retain the slim hope that some intern tasked with finding the perfect track for a movie soundtrack or Christmas advert will stumble upon it some day, rescuing it from obscurity and making David and I rich beyond our wildest dreams. Or at least recoup the money we’ve spent on recording, releasing and promoting it.

But….with Christmas approaching again I haven’t been able to resist trying a few more things to increase the chances of the aforementioned intern stumbling upon our song at some stage. We’re not spending any more money on it, but I’m still on the lookout for places to post a link and spread the word. You never know…

Video #3

The original video has chalked up thousands of YouTube views, albeit many of them via some advertising dollars that came our way. The fact that the original video wasn’t quite finished off fully bothered us a bit, particularly when we decided to spend some money on promoting the song in 2014, which is what led us to having a second video made, very cheaply via fiverr.com, with just the song lyrics featuring.

This past weekend a musical friend posted his own Christmas song to Facebook. It’s a lovely song – worth a listen – but the video also caught my eye. He used a very early film by Georges Méliès called The Christmas Angel, now in the public domain and so free to use in this way. It’s very effective.

 

It just so happens that I had been thinking last week about putting together a new video for our song and was planning to revisit one of our early ideas to use some stock footage of Christmas scenes, maybe cheesy jumpers from the 1970s or suchlike. Seeing Gus’s video prompted me to search for older footage and in the end it was a search for that same director, Georges Méliès, that threw up another Christmas-themed work of his, Rêve de Noël (The Christmas Dream).

To cut a long story short, we now have a third video for A Perfect Christmas.

With a bit more time and patience on my part to get the timing just right it could be even better, but I think it works well as it is. (In case you’re interested, I edited the video using WeVideo.com.) I can’t help smiling each time the chorus starts and the guy with the violin comes goose-stepping across the stage. They must have had lots of fun making that film way back in 1900.

Selling myself

I’m excited about a gig I have coming up on Friday this week, when I’ll play at Le Box, in Carouge. I’m one of two support acts, with a duo called Zepless at the head of the bill. It’s a dedicated music venue with a proper audio and lighting set-up, dedicated sound engineer and – hopefully – a nice warm atmosphere.

As most of the people who’ve seen me play regularly in Geneva know me primarily as a covers act, I put together the montage below to give an idea of what can be expected from a set of my own songs. It has served its purpose well I think as the Facebook upload has been (relatively speaking) widely shared. (Top tip: if you want a video to be popular on Facebook, upload it directly yourself rather than just sharing a YouTube link. Facebook will serve up videos on its platform to more people than those on other platforms, as it wants to keep people on its own site for as long as possible.)

In case you’re wondering, I used WeVideo.com, a really cool online video editor, to put this together. It’s free to use, but I paid USD $5 to remove the WeVideo watermark. Highly recommended.

Making this video made me realise how little decent quality live footage I have, but I guess the homemade feel gives a fairly accurate impression of the way I tend to approach my performances, so it’s quite honest.

What ever happened to Mulled? Rich? Famous?

Update: Three Stars and the Truth (February 2015)

I’ve been meaning to write a summary of how the whole “release a Christmas single and never have to work again” project went. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that last summer David Graham and I recorded a song called A Perfect Christmas that we wrote together some years ago. We released it as a single via Tunecore, which meant it was available on pretty much every digital platform you can think of.

We made a bit of an effort – albeit unprofessional and scattergun – to promote it, concentrating on Ireland and Switzerland, plus a bit in the UK. Some young animators in Dublin, Lovely Toons, generously made a nice little video for the song, so we were all set.

Did we get rich?

In short, no. Not by a long shot. Recording the song at the excellent Orphan Recording in Dublin had already set us back €1,100, plus another €100 to realease it on Tunecore and have them take care of the publishing administration.

All told we sold 37 downloads, mostly on iTunes, with one each on Amazon MP3 and Google Play. The 35 downloads on iTunes, plus 11 streams, earned us $31.27. Amazon paid us $0.80 for the download, whereas Google Play only paid us $0.19.

185 streams on Spotify earned us $1.85, and the combined handful of streams on a few other random platforms earned us a further $0.21. Are you getting the picture?

So our total Tunecore earnings were $34.21. Clearly we weren’t in it for the money.

We also had about 450 streams on Bandcamp, which was the first place we made the song available. We sold a few copies there too, making another few quid. (There are links to the song on all of these platforms here.)

Did we become famous?

Um, not really. But I think we came close to being a little bit famous, in Ireland at least. We emailed a whole heap of contacts at local and national radio stations around Ireland, with a link to a free download of the single. I think just one of the downloads was actually activated, which tells me that you need to work much harder just to get the attention of those folks.

But we had more success with entering the song for the ChristmasFM song competition. We made it to the longlist of 20, but failed to make it to the final shortlist of six songs. I truly believe we deserved to be on that list; as a new Christmas song it was at least as good as most of the others that did make it. I don’t know what other factors came into play, but I believe we had at least one or two of the judging panel fighting our corner.

A site called RadioAirplay chose us out of over 1,000 songs as one of the top 20 new holiday songs for 2013; and we got some really nice support from Tony Johnston, a DJ on the local English language station here in Switzerland. He played the single quite a few times over Christmas and even had us into the studio to perform an acoustic version. That was lots of fun.

What about all those YouTube views?

As of today the video has more than 17,300 views on YouTube. Impressive, eh? Well not so much. Thanks to one member of Mulled having some YouTube advertising credit to spend on an ongoing basis – a dollar a day or so – we’ve racked up a huge number of views where the video is played automatically before or after some other content. 70% of those 17,400 views have come via this route, and mostly in countries that wouldn’t be all that interesting to us.

Still, the remaining 4,500 or so views came from other sources, including people finding us via search, social networks, suggested videos on YouTube, etc. And the biggest portion of those views were in Ireland, followed by the USA, Switzerland, the UK and France. So perhaps some of our promotional work did hit home.

We also made a little money from YouTube, with $2.83 coming our way for the advertising served up around our video. It all counts, right?

So you failed?

We failed to make money or to make much of an impact. But we succeeded when it came to having lots of fun making the record, working with Stephen and the boys at Lovely Tunes on the video, and playing the make-believe game of being one-hit-wonder popstars for a little while. The couple of gigs we did in Geneva were fun too – although we may have played the “hit” one or three times too many!

And we’ll be back. The thing about Christmas songs is they come back year after year. Perhaps some advertising exec will stumble on the song this summer when trying to pick the music for the next John Lewis advert; or some pop impresario will decide it’s the right song for his new act to record for Christmas 2014. Who knows?

What I can say for sure is that the people who hear the song seem to really like it. The reactions have been positive, and often very positive. Certainly our friends said nice things about the song, and many of them helped to spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. But the ones that really counted for us were the people that owed us nothing, but still took the time to say nice things…like the poster on Digital Spy who said:

As someone who owns something near 100,000 Christmas songs (no – don’t ask), could I just say that this is one of the finest indie happy Christmas songs I have ever heard. It’s not destined to be a money making Christmas classic, yet it should be considered in Indie terms at least as good as the legendary Belle and Sebastian John Peel Christmas session. Don’t be modest. Just take a bow.

Or the user on reddit who said:

I love it! it’s catchy, full of hope, and it warms my heart. Good job!

Or on the MyMerryChristmas forums where one guy who runs a holiday-themed internet radio station said:

That’s a good analogy, “New song with a classic feel.” Definitely a catchy Christmas tune! Listen for “A Perfect Christmas” soon on Kringle Radio, but you don’t have to wait! Download from above link or purchase from most online music sources. I got it from iTunes.

To which another user responded:

I agree with RadioJonD, very catchy tune. I like the clever use of the rhymes joyfully with back to me and ridiculously with all I need. Good job!

And also on the Christmas forum:

I just listened to your song at Bandcamp. A very happy, bouncy, foot-tapping Christmas tune with excellent pop lyrics! I hope it goes big for you!

Was it worth it?

Yes. Totally. I’m very proud of the song, and I know David is too. It was genuinely heartwarming to watch peoples’ faces when they listened for the first time and see the smiles start to appear. If it can keep bringing that kind of happiness to friends and strangers alike around the festive season in the years ahead, then I’ll be happy.

And there’s always that tiny chance that somehow, someday, something more will come of it all.

I won’t embed the video this time…but you know where to find it in case you’re in need of a dash of out-of-season cheer.

A perfect video for A Perfect Christmas

The video for our Christmas single is finally ready.

With HUGE thanks to Stephen, John and friends at Lovely Toons, who have put in countless long hours over the last month or so, mostly out of the goodness of their hearts, we now have a really nice animation to go with the song. This will make it much easier for us to push the song out to the world, and the promo effort will start in earnest now.

 

He’s walkin’

Having put a little video together to capture the period when Robert was dragging himself around the apartment during the summer, I couldn’t resist doing the same now that he’s just started walking. It was shot and edited in the couple of hours either side of his bedtime this evening. The soundtrack is old school again, with a Fats Domino song being the first one that popped into my head for this video. Enjoy!

And while I’m playing the proud father role, here’s 20 seconds of him having a post-bathtime giggle one evening last week. He really does like his books!

Don’t Fence Him In

A little video I shot of Robert one day (the first one in the video, as it happens) inspired me to make this montage. He was in pre-crawling phase where he was dragging himself around the apartment noisily and enthusiastically. As you’ll see in the video, he had a habit of stopping just as he reached a room and peering around the corner before going on. And watch out for the little twirl towards the end.

I had a lot of fun a couple of mornings getting the rest of the shots – he was a little late to his childminder those mornings and I was late-ish for work…but it was worth it!

I love this Bing Crosby recording of Don’t Fence Me In. It comes from an album of Cole Porter songs where the original recordings from the 1940s have been cleaned up.

In case you’re wondering, I put it together using the Movie Maker software that comes bundled with Windows. It’s pretty basic but perfect for quickly throwing something like this together. Unfortunately the digital camera I used to shoot the videos was set to take quite low resolution videos, so it doesn’t blow up to full screen well.

When I uploaded it to YouTube I immediately got an email from them:

Dear eoghan1,

Your video “Don’t Fence Him In“, may have content that is owned or licensed by The Orchard Music, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.

This claim is not penalising your account status. Visit your Copyright Notice page for more details on the policy applied to your video.

Yours sincerely,
– The YouTube Team

The Copyright Notice page further stated:

Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases, ads may appear next to your video. Please note that the video’s status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change. Learn more about copyright on YouTube.

This claim does not affect your account status.

I’m not sure whether they have a deal with The Orchard Music already or whether this is more of a preemptive thing in case a problem arises with that label. In any case it seems like a fair approach to me – they publish the video but let me know that the music is copyright protected.

My Minority Report moment

I’ve never actually seen the Tom Cruise movie in question, but I knew what my colleagues from the comms department were talking about when they asked me whether I would help out with a Minority Report style corporate video. They were looking for a native English speaker, perhaps a little bit of acting experience, and ideally a young attractive female. As Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.

The video was used at last week’s EBU General Assembly in Strasbourg. The European Broadcasting Union, for which I work, is the organisation that represents all of the public service broadcasters in Europe, i.e. the BBCs and RTEs of this world. It does a lot of things covering everything from technology research and guidance to legal advice and lobbying, exchange of news and other content, and the purchase of sports rights. Oh, and it runs the Eurovision Song Contest.

Over the last couple of years the EBU has been undergoing a process to try to clearly define the values that public service media should strive to embody. I think they’ve done a pretty good job in summing up the things that should differentiate public broadcasters from their commercial counterparts. The video below is a summary of a longer declaration.

It was shot in the building where I work. I was standing in front of a window that looks out onto a corridor from a meeting room. This made it easier for the graphics guy to map the graphics onto my gestures. I’ve been informed that the graphics were animated frame by frame. The video was produced by Jeroen Depraetere.

It’s a bit odd for me to watch it, as I don’t really look or sound like me to myself, if you know what I mean. But it was fun to be involved in it, and I happen to agree fully with the values themselves. While I think we’d all be better off if everyone watched less TV, it’s really important that public broadcasters continue to exist and have the support of people and governments. You only need to look to the USA to see what can happen to media in the absence of strong support for public broadcasting.

Fête de la musique 2012

I was really pleased that my application to play at the Fête de la musique 2012 in Geneva was accepted. I played last Saturday evening on the lake stage in Parc des Cropettes. The sun shone, there were lots of familiar faces in a reasonable sized crowd, and it was really great to sing my own songs on a big stage with a professional audio set-up.

Here’s a short clip from my final song, The Night Before.

My friend Sam took this photo of his son Ara in the mosh pit.

ara and eoghan

And here’s a shot of the audience, including one-year old Aoife Foley, her mum and dad Ruth and Damian, Basak, Phil, Mairéad, Doddsie, Lynne (just!), Kaiya, Matthew, Mathias and Félix. I really appreciated the effort everyone made to come along.

Audience at FM2012 Geneva

It took a while for the crowd to build up!

big stage small crowd