FREE MP3 "I Got a Problem (acoustic demo)" and commentary

Here's me in the studio of my former home a few years ago. 'Twas in that room and on that chair back in 2003 that I made this acoustic demo recording of the song "I Got a Problem."

CLICK HERE to download a free MP3 of "I Got a Problem (acoustic demo)"

The journey of this song has been a strange one. Below are all the details, plus the lyrics.

"I Got a Problem" was written on May 31, 2003, in the same creative cycle that resulted in "Librarian," "Every Town's the Same," "List of Things to Do," and "You Never Last Where You Land." I was riding a nice songwriting wave, and submitting dozens of tunes to producer Walter Salas-Humara, who was assembling the final songs for what would become my album Public Library. In August of that Summer I recorded acoustic demos of my final group of songs for Walter to consider. All the songs listed above went out together. I loved them all, and was sure they were destined for that unfolding album project. Much to my surprise, some of my "assumed hits" that I had written did not make the cut for the new recording project, and so a group of songs from that era ended up homeless ("List of Things To Do" and "You Never Last Where You Land" found a place on the duet album Tennesota that I recorded with Beki Hemingway). "I Got a Problem" didn't really fit anywhere at the time, so it sat unheard and unplayed for a couple years.

Public Library came out in 2004, and by 2005 I was finalizing a pile of church-related songs for my forthcoming Protestant Rock Ethic double-CD. I really really really wanted an outlet for "I Got A Problem," but alas, the song had no church-music connection at all, so it seemed like another album would come and go, leaving this tasty little song unreleased yet again. Undeterred, I decided to stick it on the Protestant Rock Ethic album anyway, and I justified its inclusion by attaching a Bible verse to it in the album liner notes, Romans 7:15: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." I had felt a connection to this verse when writing the song, so it seemed like a good connection to make, in order to include this church-free song on a church-heavy album.

The recording of the full-band version was tedious, to say the least, but it resulted in one of my proudest moments as an arranger and instrumentalist. Once the song missed the cut for Public Library, I knew that someday I wanted to have a killer full-band recording of it. Later in 2004 I was digging through my vault of unused drum recordings and stumbled upon a MiniDisc of a speedy and rocking drum-kit performance by my long-time musical collaborator Lowell Michelson. The drum track was a leftover idea from the sessions I did with Lowell for the Lost And Found album Something Different, and my own experimenting with Styx covers for 2003 Styx Tribute Album project.

Lowell had drummed along with me on a hyperactive attempt at the Styx song "Lorelei," but I never finished the song because (amazingly) no other artists wanted to record "Come Sail Away" so I ended up covering that song myself (you can't have a Styx Tribute album without "Come Sail Away"!). Therefore, the drum track for "Lorelei" was left untouched and available. The tempo of the track was just what I needed for "I Got A Problem," so I dumped the audio from MiniDisc into ProTools, chopped up the drum part to fit what I needed, and ended up with an awesome foundation for my song. Over the course of a year or so I added all the other instruments, including my all-time proudest moment as a keyboard player. Making a connection to the track's Styx-y beginnings, I dialed up a totally Dennis DeYoungish monophonic analog synthesizer sound on my keyboard and had ridiculous amounts of fun constructing the most grandiose solo I could muster. You can hear it for yourself on the Protestant Rock Ethic album.

So finally, "I Got A Problem" had found a home, and is now running free out in public. Two years after its release on CD, I've realized that Walter's initial "ehhh" reaction to the song way back in 2003 was an accurate one, from a public perspective. Of the thousands of people who have heard that song, not one of them has ever commented to me on it, or requested it. Now, that's okay with me...not every song can connect with listeners. BUT, it proves again something that I've learned before: the songs that I like the most, personally, are often NOT the ones that my listeners enjoy that much. Weird.

Ahh, but that's the way it goes in the creative biz. Some things hit, and others don't. But I'm very happy with the song myself, and I particularly enjoy playing the riff in the key of E, and especially the recurring minor-7 chords throughout. Here's the original 2003 acoustic demo, recorded in one take, and mixed earlier this week by engineer Micah Taylor. The lyrics are below...hope you like it!


i got a problem, it's making me cry
don't understand it as much as I try
i got a problem and i don't know what to do
my face is fixed in a permanent frown
all of this trouble has been wearing me down
i got a problem and it's got me feeling blue

when people see me they ask "what's going on?"
they can tell just by looking that something is wrong
i say "yes, there's a problem, that's obvious
and I'm trying to find my way out of this"
i got a problem

i got a problem i'm trying to solve
i'm thinking of what all that may involve
i got a problem but i ain't got a clue
my mind is racing but with nowhere to go
i'm losing sleep but with nothing to show
i got a problem and I'm trying to make it through


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