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Category: Songwriting

  1. Tierra del Fuego

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    Tierra del Fuego is one of those songs that took a long time to mature…

    Lyric & Chorus

    The song started with a lyric from Joel Rockman, who recalls: “In my geography studies at school we covered South America. I always thought ”Tierra del Fuego” was a very romantic name and decided to write a lyric about it.”

    Most of the original lines made it in the final song, but together we restructured it to a more clearly defined verse-chorus structure and later changed some lines to better fit the music.

    The lyric did inspire a Latin feel, Spanish guitars, percussions, love, passion… and I very quickly came up with the chorus melody/musical hook for “Tierra del Fuego”.

    Very early on, I sampled the drum/percussion part from Toto’s “Africa” to help me establish the “feel” and direction of the music (the sample was later removed and replaced by all-original parts).

    While the chorus came together quickly, I got stuck for the verse and could not find a suitable part.  The song got shelved…

    Verse & Structure

    A couple of years later, I dusted off the original idea for “Tierra del Fuego” and somehow I found the verse, just by sitting at the keyboard and singing the lines.  The song structure flowed naturally from there.


    The track was recorded at my home, with Ben Treeby on rhythm guitars. 

    I had lots of ideas for Spanish guitar licks throughout and ended up playing the whole thing on the keyboard, with a patch from my trusted Roland XV-3080 (as you can see from the midi session capture below and on YouTube).  I think it came out really well and most listeners probably wouldn’t this isn’t an actual guitar playing!

    I also programmed the brass parts and we recorded them at my friend’s Viceroy.

    For the vocals, we were very lucky to get PJ Lequerica, who was perfect for the song.  I had worked on a couple of tracks with PJ previously while in New York.  The vocals were recorded at the New York studio of my friend Harold Stefan, and the stems sent back to me for mixing with the backing tracks.

    Final Mix

    I redid the mix from scratch for the “Back In The Groove” album.

    One of the main things I re-did was play all original drum/percussion parts, trying to emulate the parts from Toto’s “Africa” but without any of the original samples.  That was an interesting and difficult challenge.  First because the style of playing is very different from the pop-rock style I am most used to.  Second because, let’s face it: it doesn’t get any better than Jeff Porcaro, Lenny Castro and Joe Porcaro!  Given that I would never be able to do as well as those guys, I think the result came out alright…

    I also added some new synth pad parts to build up the song, and some sound effects for added excitement. 

    Jon Astley provided the final mastering sheen, as he did with all tracks on the album.


    Words by Joel Rockman & A. Robin / Music by A. Robin
    Vocals by PJ Lequerica
    Produced by SuperCool-Guy

    © 2012 – All rights reserved

    Enchanted isle
    Embraced by the sea
    Magical wonderland
    You’re calling out to me 

    Lightning will flash
    Reflect in your eyes 


    Tierra del Fuego
    Burning inside
    Burning right inside of me (Right inside of me)
    Tierra del Fuego
    My passion’s on fire (Flames leap up)
    Flames leap up
    They go higher 

    When we make love
    Stars shine above
    Stirring the passion below
    The whole world is turned to fire 

    Lightning will flash
    Reflect in your eyes 


    Tierra del Fuego…
    (Burning right inside of me) 

    [Repeat chorus] 


    Out of the sky
    This heavenly fire
    Brought down to Earth just for me
    Just for me


    Tierra del Fuego… 
    (Burning right inside of me)

    [Repeat chorus]

  2. Interview with Greig Watts, DWB Music

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    120227-DWBI caught up today with Greig Watts, my co-writer on “One Of The Days” and the “W” in the “DWB Music” songwriting, production and publishing group.  Greig told me about his latest hit with Korean superstar BoA, offered some great insights on writing and producing for the “Idol” market, and advice for songwriters trying to break in the business…

    (Pictured from left to right: Greig Watts, Pete Barringer, Paul Drew)


  3. One Of These Days

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    The story behind “One Of These Days” starts in 2003, shortly after I moved from New York to London.  Singer Katie Lewis had been a contestant on series 1 of the BBC’s “Fame Academy” (Oct-Dec 2002) and her fan club had summoned a group of up-and-coming songwriters to Katie’s home in Bristol to audition some songs and songwriters for a tentative album.  Somehow, I had been invited to join in and made the trip to Bristol.  One of the writers there was a young lyricist from London, Greig Watts.

    Greig and I had complementary skills – he was better at lyrics and I better at music – and both lived in the London area, so we agreed to keep in touch and try to co-write a few songs for Katie.

    One of these songs was “One Of These Days”.

    Unfortunately, nothing happened with Katie or with any of the songs we co-wrote, and after a few months Greig and I drifted apart...


    Fast-forward to 2011 – I was going through old demos to see if there were any good ideas worth dusting off.  I rediscovered “One Of These Days” – which I had completely forgotten about...  Listening to it with a completely fresh ear, I thought it was really good...

    Well, it had great potential, but there were a number of problems with the demo, and it was very obvious why nothing had happened with it: for one, the vocal track was awful – it was just impossible to hear past it.  The rest of production (for which I take full responsibility) wasn’t great either – it wasn’t bad, but it sounded like a demo... and as everyone in the business knows, a good demo sounds like a record. 

    Finally, I felt that some of the words were a little rough.  But the core of the song was all there, and I felt it was very strong: the title, the story, the message, the melody and song structure were all there, and over the following days, the song kind of got stuck in my head...  I thought it would be a shame not to do anything with it, so I decided to track down Greig.

    DWB & Maria Willson

    As it turns out, Greig had become really successful as part of the DWB Music songwriting and production team, scoring a string of hits, particularly in European and Asian markets (Japan, Korea).

    I sent Greig the old demo and he agreed that the song had potential, but wasn’t sure how much time he’d be able to commit.  Originally, I wanted us to rework the lyrics to make them really great, and I was prepared to take over the rest.  Greig and I did re-write a good portion of the lyrics together, via back-and-forth emails, and got it to the point where we had a great song.

    What ended up happening is that Greig and his production partners re-recorded the song from scratch (I sent them the original midi files but not sure whether any of it was used) and recruited Maria Willson to sing it.

    This is the only song where I had nothing to do with the production, and it was a real kick for me to discover the finished track.

    DWB stayed true to the original melody, chords and song structure, but their arrangement and sound engineering was a major improvement over the original.  They also came up with a new intro and introduced modulations that make it more dynamic.  Maria delivered a great vocal and some cool ad-libs, including the repetition on “one of these, one of these days” in the final section.  I couldn’t be happier with it... now I just hope people hear it and enjoy it.

    Here’s a video of the original demo MIDI tracks against the final recording:

    Words by Greig Watts & A. Robin / Music by A. Robin
    Vocals by Maria Willson
    Produced by Paul Drew, Greig Watts and Pete Barringer for DWB MUSIC LTD
    © 2012 – All rights reserved

    I kissed away all the fears
    They were just holding me down
    But I’m too strong to shed a tear
    And I ain’t sticking around

    One of these days I will show you
    That I’ve got what it takes
    Cause even when I go wrong
    I learn from my mistakes

    One of these days, just wait and see
    Our voice will light up the world
    Make this dream reality
    One of these days, I’ll make you see
    That if I can be myself
    I‘ll find my destiny

    I know that I’ve been given
    A gift that I must use
    I’ve worked to make it happen
    I’ll keep on pushing through

    One of these days I will get there 
    And finally you will see
    Why I had to keep on going 
    When you said just let it be

    One of these days...

    And I will keep on going even when I fall down
    I will keep believing till my future is found
    Cause everything I’m learning helps me on the way
    I’m getting so close now, so hear me when I say

    One of these days...

    (One of these days, I will be the one)
    (Living the dream, lighting up the world)
    (One of these days, I will be the one)