Happy Purple Desert

A collaborative song written via Instagram


Breaking out of My Comfort Zone…

Brainstorming on different creative ideas I decided it’d be fun to have less control over the creative process and allow others to engage and interact throughout the initial phases of writing a song.

I’d started noticing how my favorite artists interacted with folks online and thought it’d be interesting to try to drive the creative process from my friends and followers online.

Enter Happy Purple Desert. A song written and inspired almost exclusively by input from folks on instagram. In total, over 200 folks contributed to this song by sending ideas, voting on concepts, and writing directly with feedback!

Happy Purple Desert…

The first prompt for this song was to pick a mood, a color, and a place. There were a bunch of really great options (Sad Blue Taj Mahal was my favorite), and to be totally honest Happy Purple Desert was my least favorite of the options, yet it won. The idea of happiness as an emotion in music is something that’s very interesting to me. I find joy in performing songs, love listening to music and seeing live shows, but I wouldn’t consider those songs or performances as “Happy.” To me, happiness is an easy emotion to fall back on when the true experience lacks a proper linguistic classification. It was interesting to approach a song from the perspective of happiness. I think while I aimed for that, I really landed more at content.

After this was chosen I started to think about those words and how that scene might translate to a music part. I worked up a few different chord options that I felt covered the spectrum of what a happy purple desert experience might sound like.

The Guitar Part

After finding two guitar parts that I thought were worthy of pursuing, I decided it was time to head back to the gram and have my friends make the next decision for me.

Guitar Option 1 - Was a finger-picking pattern that sort of had a defined melody under neath a plucky rhythm. I’d originally been messing with this pattern in the key of B but moved it all the way to G after I started developing lyrics.

Guitar Option 2 - This was a more pure musical definition of “happy.” A pretty straight forward blues-based train rhythm.

Option 1 was chosen as the winner and I am super glad about that. I don’t do happy songs well so the melancholy approach to the picked patten lent itself to what I’m more familiar with.

Some Lyrical Concepts

After the guitar part was chosen I’d ask for some more specific visuals that matched the sound and feel of the guitar part. Tons of great visual imagery were presented and I tried to wrangle them into lyrics.

Tumbleweed rolling and old cowboys smoking became -

Cowboys stands in waist high water 
After the flood, all wrongs forgotten 
He sees us swaying and humming a tune 
Takes one last look, smiles, moves on 

Cactus Blossoms -

Out here we bloom 
In violet hue

My wife and I were chatting about these concepts over dinner one night and she mentioned that it’d be fun to write the song from the perspective of a cactus in the desert.

All of these concepts tied together put the idea in my mind that this song was about two cactuses, observing each other for hundreds of years, and growing close together through rain, sun, and desert.

I hope you enjoy.