The concept is simple; when we fall in love with a record and cover it on herohill we reach out to the artist and ask for a song-by-song breakdown of their latest release, hoping to give the reader a window into the creative process. Whether it’s about the lyrics, the timing, or finding the sound, we like to think these post offer up some inside intel and make the best records sound even better.
This time up, it’s a closer look at Gabriel Minnikin’s majestic and incredibly ambitious record, Parakeets with Parasouls. It’s a remarkable record, one that aims to refresh your country palette with new textures and scope. Enjoy.
“Land of Language” – It was a poem I wrote using alliteration. I later added the piano chords to make it a song.
Machine Guest – This song started out as kind of a letter to a friend. Being in awe and inspired by this wonderful artist made me want to express what a fan sometimes witnesses.
“The Hand That Feeds You” – One day while visiting my Mom, our dog Casey would not let me play the piano. She would come and sit next to me as I played. She would try and put her head in-between my leg and the piano, making it impossible for me to use the sustain pedal. I had the chord progression down and as Casey whined about me not paying her any attention, I wrote this song about her. I later took her out for a nice long walk.
Arkansas – The three verses are three different scenarios, each one having nothing to do with the next. Change was inevitable. As I got into bed one night, and laid down beside her, I watched her sleep, repeating in my head ”the silk of her breath was as soft as her hair, her unforgiving eyes were wrapped in a sideways stare”. I got out of bed and wrote this song. The music ended up reminding me of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, so I called it ‘Arkansas’.
“Cold Day” – I rented an apartment in Halifax that had a very cold back room area off from the rest of the house. Someone gave me a piano, and unfortunately in that very cold back room is where the piano had to live. Every morning that winter I would make my tea and sit in the back room playing the piano as I froze.
New Orleans – Growing up, I listened to a lot of blues music. Canadian, David Wilcox’s music was (and still is) one of my favorites. His slide guitar playing is phenomenal, and his songs were always in my head. New Orleans was romanticized about it one of his songs. It made me want to go to New Orleans and experience the things he sang about. I went for my 21st birthday.
“A Christmas at Sea” – One night in England, I awoke to a storm. It was pouring down, trees were bending over from the wind. I stood in the dark, safely behind the long windows and tried to describe the disorder Mother Nature was producing.
A Tune – It’s one of my more jazzier numbers. This tune is really just about the environment where the song was wrote. The third verse I directed towards a certain someone who I know appreciates song writing & is a music lover, but then gives back handed compliments to sound clever or something.
“Three” – It is the most dense & epic song on the album. It’s a cry for help really. Feeling confused about the things an artist has to do to get recognized and appreciated. I thought to myself, I’ll create something so big and impressive that people won’t have any choice but to listen. That doesn’t seem to work either.
“Sleepy Dreamy Time” – This is a lullaby of sorts. The state of mind one tries to get themselves into in order to fall asleep is an interesting one. Sometimes you just can’t seem to get there. The rituals some insomniacs might go through every night like counting sheep or perhaps repeating a positive mantra are what inspired me to write this.
“Song and Dance” – I once made a bad decision to live with an old friend after spending years apart. It seemed like a good idea at the time.