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Tearing Up Texas

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I wrote this song after a trip to my parents' house a few months ago-- where I got to see firsthand how much unchecked development has transformed the Texas landscape, not for the better. Also informed by a book I read last year by Timothy Egan about the Dust Bowl called "the Worst Hard Time"--a fascinating and engaging account.

I'm getting a "simpler please" vibe from some comments--something I'm feeling myself sometimes. I've tried to record this song a few times with more of an acoustic guitar feel and fuller instrumentation but wasn't too happy with the results. So I tried it slower with just upright piano (Akoustik) and one harmony vocal. Let me know what you think...

There's a particular recording/mixing issue I'm having here too--for some reason the furnace heat was creating a lot of background noise on the vocals, so I'm using noise gates. I tried to set them moderately but I feel like their operation is audible and distracting--is that just me?
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First came the hunters
With their buffalo guns—
They sure had those buffalo herds on the run
They chased them clear out
Of the Indian lands
Why did no one understand

They were tearing up Texas
Blood, trophy and bone
They were tearing up Texas
Just to make it their own

Next came the farmers
With their mechanical plows—
Powered by diesel and modern know-how
They ripped out the carpet
That lay on the plain
Why did nobody complain

They were tearing up Texas
Grass, soil, and stone
They were tearing up Texas
Just to make it their own

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust
I guess change is life
So it's change we must

Now the developers
Come in like a flood
Turning the Hill Country clay into mud
They ripped out the live oaks
To put in some shacks
And you know they never look back

As they're tearing up Texas
Why can’t they leave it alone?
But they're tearing up Texas
Just to make it their own
Just to make it their own
Song Stats
Hits: 3179
Comments: 24
Fans: 25
Plays: 212
Downloads: 78
Votes: 3
Uploaded: Jan 13, 2010 - 10:12:01 PM
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2010 - 10:12:01 PM Last Played: Aug 02, 2019 - 08:09:27 AM
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Feter said 3503 days ago (January 13th, 2010)
Tearing Up Texas
What a powerful dedication ballad ...the piano
so solid stone here ..definitely paving great
road to your great vocal to sing sweetly ...
all the emotions just right there ...I can see
how this would sound with flawing acoustic
guitars ..the production is simple as the two
three tracks you used but then I can feel how
prolific this production is ...kudos ...thnx
alot for sharin !!!!
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jibes said 3503 days ago (January 13th, 2010)
Oh so nice
Michael. Great lyrics. A beautiful harmony as well.
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tempie said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
great tune
i like the simple treatment, you've got a nice easy vocal style that shines when its not competing with all that other stuff. i like the phrasing too and the upper register on "blood trophy and bone/grass soil stone". backups starting in on the 2nd verse are sweet. lyrics are nicely contemplative - i like the way you state the facts in a poetic way and don't preach. modern texas is a heartbreak of what was, and the saddest thing is that sentiment was publicly held by a lot of influential people even in 1890, which doesn't hold much hope for the future of the state. if you're from the hill country then you're lucky, that's a pretty place. FYI Rick Bass has a great book of essays about family land in the hill country called "The Deer Pasture", I recommend all his stuff.
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Jim Bouchard said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
I have a little band with a singer from Texas and we wrote a song about the same subject: http://www.macjams.com/song/55655 and though ours is a bit more indirect than yours, I thought you might find it interesting. She records her vocals and sends them to me, and interestingly run into that same issue about a background noise but in her case it's the constant air conditioning in the summer. I also found the noise gate a bit mechanical sounding as it seems to cut off the smallest little bit of the tails of phrases. I ended up, instead of using the gate, by either cutting out the spaces between or just I ducked the volum edown. Sometimes that doesn't help because of the difference between there being a little bit of noise floor under the vocal to where there's nothing between phrases was noticable. In that case I would use a deesser or a narrow band EQ to minimize the background noise. this is one song where we did all that http://www.macjams.com/song/37424 and I think we probably will just re-record the vocal before we put it on our next CD.
All that said, I didn't notice much problem with your vocals at all (at least on a casual listen on my computer speakers). I like the simpler arrangement on this, and the background vocal part is gorgeous. You're a very good singer!
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DWL said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
Lovely song Mike
Heartfelt and beautifully done.

Nice arrangement and you still managed to inject some effective changes in there.


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magnatone said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
Michael, it's getting so all I have to do is see your name on the music page, and I know I'm going to love it before I even get to the song. There's something about your voice that particularly appeals to me, the harmonies in here are just lovely. Gorgeous lyrics (as always), and the piano kind of in the background there sounds very cool to me. thanks for finding MJ!
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st_victor said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
I may not have a lot of musical experience, but as in art - I know what I like and this flows over and around me like a warm sweater that flaps at the edges in a soft wind. Beautiful falsetto. Thank you for this - it stays with me.
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jiguma said 3502 days ago (January 14th, 2010)
Excellent post Michael
This has the lot (well, except for a band of course) - beautiful vocals (I can't hear any problems from the noise gate at all), excellent lyrics (it's OK, they're tearing up everywhere from what I can see) and perfect playing. The harmony is just wonderful in an Eagles kind of way (not at all a bad thing). In fact, this sounds like it could have easily been an Eagles song. This would work really well with a sympathetic band behind it, but works equally well as it is. Love the production on your vocal.
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lengold said 3501 days ago (January 15th, 2010)
Great real sounding
piano and playing, Lovely song and really well sung vocals, the only thing I hear is a very slight sibilance on them. Always think that it takes a really good song to stand up to just one instrument and voice and this one does stand up very well.

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MarkHolbrook said 3501 days ago (January 15th, 2010)
Gorgeous song
If I were you I would back the vocals down a tad... They come in really loud and pretty much cover everything... I think they need to laid back into the music a tiny bit...

Excellent cool song!
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Relic67 said 3500 days ago (January 17th, 2010)
I can relate to the home heating / recording conflict. Actually my furnace/air conditioner is the only instrument that appears on all my songs.
However, on your song I don't hear any problems with it at all.
Great song. Wonderfully written, sung and played. I like that akoustik piano sound.
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Bob Rodgers said 3500 days ago (January 17th, 2010)
beautiful song Michael, love your piano and the wonderful arrangement to this song.
I really love your vocals and the lyrics are superb, great harmonies too.


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Outtaorbit said 3499 days ago (January 18th, 2010)
Reminds me of Lyle....... Sad to think about the progress...... If that's what it is.
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PaddyNavinCaryatid said 3497 days ago (January 19th, 2010)
Sepia tinted dream ...
... what a fabulous paen to a great land rapidly being lost to our need to "improve". Great vocal delivery, honest and soulful. I think the piano accompaniment is very well judged. The harmony vocal is stunningly effective.
This is a real hit.
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awigze said 3497 days ago (January 19th, 2010)
The Worst HardTime
My mother grew up in Tahoka during the Dust Bowl days. She never fully recovered from it and died because of the emphysema and other complications. When I was a boy we went to Friday Mountain boys Camp near Austin. That area is now unrecognizable. Nice sound. You hit this one out of the, uhm, field!
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scofugate said 3497 days ago (January 19th, 2010)
Your song writing abilities are top notch!!
Please keep um' comming!
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dave_b said 3496 days ago (January 20th, 2010)
Tearing Up Texas
I like the lone piano here for this song - it suits the lyric and the plaintive melody.
This lyric is well-structured. The song develops the story over time, and parallel structure (blood, trophy, bone, Grass, soil stone) adds to the sense of continuity.
Nice chord change over the last word in the chorus.
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davisamerica said 3496 days ago (January 20th, 2010)
..wow great track
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TERRAPLANE said 3496 days ago (January 20th, 2010)
performance of a well written song.. I didn't hear any furnace, but I thought the piano rung out a little much in the mix. I backed off the volume & it seemed better for me. Great harmony Michael..
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Skean said 3496 days ago (January 21st, 2010)
You've have a nice voice, I really love this.
Thanks for sharing.
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johnwhitehead said 3495 days ago (January 21st, 2010)
Really nicely written and sung. Love the piano--shades of 1971 Neil Young ("Birds"). Very organic and right-sounding. I envy your piano playing. This has a directness and simplicity that packs a punch.
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FrankAxtell said 3494 days ago (January 22nd, 2010)
a very beautiful and well crafted melody
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CrazeeFlootGrrl said 3488 days ago (January 28th, 2010)
beautiful! I love the vox & lyrics & piano! It's all so lovely with a great message!
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hackneybloke said 3479 days ago (February 7th, 2010)
tearing up texas
hey michael. jesus - your voice is amazing. i thought you had a girl in for the harmonies..but it's you. i can hear popping on some words...but it's nitpicking. who's telling you to be simpler? it's all subjective....now here's my subjective opinion; more complicated please! i wanted the vocal to kick in much earlier because the intro wasn't intricate enough to stand alone for so long. um...and this is pure nit-picking in its most anal form - how could they be tearing up texas when texas wasn't there until much later? sorry....i've been readin too many tobin mueller comments and i've been infected. anyway, all said and done...you're an amazing talent and i worship at your shrine.
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Name: michaelkoppenheffer
Location: Washington DC United States
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Compulsive songwriter, occasional performer, novice-but-improving recordist... [see more]

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