Take It or Leave It

Another Monday, but a Monday with seven – SEVEN! – new songs under my belt. While I wasn’t happy with everything, on the whole, the first week was a success. I’d proven to myself that I could write on a daily pace, and I was pleasantly surprised at the overall quality of the compositions.

But back to the workplace, back to a shortened schedule for writing. When I got home after work, I wasn’t sure what to write about. That got me thinking about what made things worth writing about in the first place. I’ve always been an avid reader, mostly science fiction and fantasy, and also have a huge appreciation for good storytelling in movies and television.

I jotted down some of the more famous works that have made an impression on me and tried to write a line about each of them. It almost immediately turned humorous, and I went with it. I think I had the first four lines written when I started playing the piano trying to find a melody and figure out where the chorus would go, and that’s when the surprise came: it turned into a sideways love song.

  1. Take It or Leave It Ray Toler 3:26

I don’t write love songs. I’ve tried, but I can never seem to write anything that seems “true” to me, plus I have an aversion to things that come across (to me) as corny or sappy. I suspect that in reality, that’s kind of the point of most love songs, and they certainly remain popular, so I know it’s just my hangup. Maybe someday…

In any case, I was pretty happy with the chorus, both lyrically and melodically. It’s real, rings true, and quietly expresses what ended up being the whole point of the song.

Like most musicians, I do have the occasional daydream about having a successful career both in recording and live performance. This song is a bit out of character for what I always think I’d end up doing (some sort of electronic act, probably), but I had this fantasy that this song would be that never-released rarity that I only did as an encore. I also thought it would be fun to add new stanzas every so often, or possibly even to make it an audience participation thing and try to do new stanzas on the fly with character suggestions from the crowd.

I’m not crazy about the Prometheus / Old Man stanza, and if I were ever to redo this song, I’d probably rewrite them, either with better lines or completely different characters. I still laugh at my own jokes for the rest of them, though. I’m happy with the bridge – I’d been playing that chord progression on the piano for about two years without anything to put it in, and it just seemed to fit. I’m also probably more pleased with the “lack of shame” line than I should be, but I really like it.

Production was, obviously, pretty simple – just me, a piano, and giant multi-track harmony parts. The piano playing is my standard “accompaniment style” that I always did when rehearsing musical theater stuff, and I suppose this track has a little bit of that vibe to it.

I have no idea what the real destination for this song might be, but I like it and it’s really fun to sing in the car. 


That little dude with the golden ring had pretty hairy feet
 The barber guy with the cook downstairs was killing folks for meat
 Muad'dib liked riding worms and fighting for his spice
 Oedipus really loved his mom, but wasn't very nice
 These people all had lives worth writing down
 Might be nice, but I doubt that I'll achieve it
 As long as I know that you'll be around
 I can take it or leave it
 Professor Snape had a broken heart and took it out on the kids
 The same thing happened to Anakin, and Severus he outdid
 Prometheus would have been just fine if he could have found a match
 The old man that cast out his line should not have made that catch
 Don't get me wrong, I'd love wealth and fame
 All I need is one hit song and a lack of shame
 But if being written about means Big Brother or getting my eyes poked out,
 I'd rather play a different game
 Lara Croft liked finding old stuff by breaking into tombs
 Alice fell right down that hole, and might have had some shrooms.

Copyright © Ray E. Toler, Jr. All rights reserved.


  • Piano: Kurzweil K2600XS

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