Skies, Sunny Smiles
The times with you
I had it all
I thought you too
I made you laugh
You made me smile
And since you smiled
I couldn’t tell you’d cry
don’t go away
There’s a storm coming
skies have changed
The night’s so very late
And you can’t think straight
The tides are stirring
hold you through the night
Till the sun strikes
The biting void
The cold may seep in
But I’ll do all I can
To tuck you in tight
Some people can
Make small things great
Make moments last
When you pushed me in
I took you with me
You picked me a flower
And I stuck it in my hair
throw yourself in
The storm is deadly
And the skies now black
The rain is pounding down
And you’re so wet
The winds are wailing
me hold you through your night
I won’t let you die
Please let me in
Don’t you know what you’re worth
And how much more life will give
In time, give it time
I knew all along
I felt something was wrong
Please tell me
Is something on your mind
Don’t leave me
time, it will be alright
Even stormy skies turn warm and blue again
And forever is a long time
To be away from someone who loves you dear
if I ever lost you
I would stop to care
Cuz all that I loved so dear
Would have disappeared
I know now the night is dark
And the cold still creeps in
Trust God, and love yourself
The emptiness will disappear
about Gray Skies, Sunny Smiles
this song was a major project.
It was not like anything I had ever written
the time I sat down to begin Gray
Skies, Sunny Smiles, I knew I wanted to write a
lengthy sort of epic that would not only go through
different stages lyrically, but musically as well.
Gun’s N Roses Estranged
served as my inspiration.
Completing it took about 3 ½
weeks—July 15, 2000 to August 9, 2000.
I wanted these lyrics to really be powerful with
meaning, so I made sure I spent time with them.
During the course of the 3 weeks, I brought more
and more of the past musical ideas I had reserved for
other songs, and put them together to use in this song.
I was so surprised at how well everything worked
and sounded as one.
The changes in tune and melody gave the song a
lot more depth and dimension.
When writing the lyrics, I would
think about what I’d want a certain section to be
about, and then I’d try to write about that.
Since this song had so many parts, I was able to
not only write about the specific subject, but also
about the viewpoints and aspects of life surrounding
that subject. Everything
just seemed to fit perfectly into place, giving a unique
feel to the whole thing. When I was done, I was surprised I pulled it off.
It was not like I thought it was some huge
masterpiece or anything, but in my mind, it was a huge
having the finished product in my hands felt good.
When it came time to record Gray Skies, Sunny Smiles
in the studio, another challenge lay ahead.
Mario and I looked at the length of the song and
wondered how we would ever get through it without giving
ourselves ulcers in the process!
The stress of recording a regular 3-minute song
was bad enough—especially if you were the drummer.
You could be on the 5th minute of a
6-minute song, but if you messed up—even missed just
one small beat—you would be forced to record the whole
song all over again. While picking up where you left off, or “punching in” a
good part over a bad, is fine to do with guitar, bass,
vocals, and every other instrument of the world, doing
so with drums would sound too noticeable and inaccurate,
and in effect, cannot be done.
But one thing this song had was lots of short
pauses in-between tempo and style changes.
So for every pause that I approached and passed
successfully, I was relieved to know that if I did
happen to mess up, I would at least be able to pick up
from after the pause, rather than from the very
beginning of the entire song.
I can’t remember exactly how the
drum recording for Gray
Skies, Sunny Smiles played out, but I remember
it being a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would
entire song may have actually been one take—I can’t
I do know that by the time I got to the very end where
the song does that instrumental sort of outro as it
fades into the wind, my arms were about ready to fall
off from playing so hard and being so tense.
When it was over though, I rejoiced.
Then it was time for Mario to
record his guitar parts, overlapping every guitar track
two times for a fuller sound.
He first laid down all the rhythm guitars (the
basic background guitars), and then recorded all his
lead guitar parts.
When he finished that, it was then time to record
Before we even stepped foot in the
recording studio, we spent about a year just preparing
for it. During
that time, we practiced a lot and developed all our
songs by adding more backgrounds, extra guitars, new
parts, etc. However,
one thing Mario and I didn’t really decide on was how
the bass would go during the instrumental ending of Gray
Skies, Sunny Smiles.
Mario thought the bass should follow the root
notes of the guitar, while I thought the bass should do
its own thing, and also hold out the same note for
several measures as the guitar changed. Since
we couldn’t agree during the song development
pre-studio phase, we decided to just move on to other
things and come back to it a little bit down the road.
Well one thing led to another, and I guess we
forgot to go back and work on deciding which version
sounded better… well,
until we were in the studio ready to record the part.
Then we remembered.
Not knowing what to do, and totally
against making forced decisions under pressure, we
decided to just record both versions, and later pick the
one to use during mixing—the part of the recording
phase where all the recorded parts (drums, guitar, bass,
vocals, etc.) are mixed together.
So that’s what we did.
That part was so tiring because it did the same
exact thing over and over and over again, and I had to
move my fingers pretty fast around the fret board.
Anyway, after both parts were recorded, we ended
up picking the one I liked more.
I was happy!
There were some last minute ideas I
wish could have been added to the song—mainly
background clips I was going to ask Jami to act
out—but there just wasn’t enough time for
everything. We were in the studio till about 3AM that July 9th,
that final day, putting the last touches of special
effects over the ending.
The wind turned out a lot scarier than I actually
intended it to, and the ending a little shorter than I
in the end, it was perfect.
However, we didn’t realize how perfect till
some time later, when we tried uploading our CD to
was then we discovered that if we had gone even one
second longer on that ending, or one second longer
anywhere else on the CD for that matter, we would have
had to cut out an entire song!
You see, regular CD’s fit 74 minutes of music.
But MP3.com CD’s only fit 61 minutes and 17
they are supposed to only fit 60 minutes exactly, but I
guess no one’s really counting.
What happened was when we first tried uploading
our music, it got denied because our CD was too long.
We were bummed and thought we’d have to kick a
song off our album, but then Mario thought he could give
cutting a few seconds off the CD a try.
The only part he could cut off was just before Memories
Made, Times Forgotten where we had a clip of
rain falling for six-seconds before the actual song
length of the rain wasn’t planned.
It was just how long it ended up being.
When he cut the entire 6-second part out and
tried uploading the CD again, it got accepted.
We couldn’t believe it because we didn’t
think it would really work.
Then, just for curiosities sake, Mario tried
adding one second of rain at a time and uploading the
album to see how close we had made it by.
To our surprise, even adding just one extra
second to the album got the entire CD denied!
Playing one song just a hair slower, or fading
out just a little longer, or anything just a little
different would have totally messed everything up.
It’s so crazy to think how perfect every single
beat and every single thing had to be played and
recorded in order to make the CD fit without even one
second to spare. That’s just way too crazy to be coincidence.
Gray Skies, Sunny Smiles is a song I’m really glad I had
enough motivation to write, and a song that I feel gives
this album a lasting finish.
It’s the song that I wanted my all to go
into—from the days I began writing, to the last
minutes of the recording process.
Though Dave (our mix engineer) did call it an
“instrumental masterpiece,” I’d rather not flatter
all I know, it may end up being everybody’s least
favorite song for one reason or other.
But whatever happens, that song will always be an
achievement for me, and something I’ll always be proud
Well, I guess it’s time to wrap
this thing up. Sorry
for going on so long.
I just wanted to make sure I spent time writing
about all the processes that went into putting this song
on our very first CD, Memories Made, Times Forgotten. And with that, I’ll let you go now. That’s the whole story.
I hope it was worth telling.
Lyrics & Story Selection