What We Did for "Did For You"
The song “Did For You,” now available on our BandCamp page, has a long history. It was actually written in 2002 when Beemo was an electric rock/punk quartet featuring founding members Dan and Sean, plus bassist Mike Krill and drummer Patrick Livezy.
Dan wrote the song about a narrator who has been continuously bending over backwards for someone and not getting anything remotely reciprocal in return. Based on this, Tony designed the album art with the image of a horrible tattoo that the narrator totally regrets, symbolizing all the bad decisions the they have made for the subject of the song.
It’s not really about any one person in particular; it’s more of a thought experiment about how a person might react to what sounds like a pretty horrible person. Hence the chorus:
You know I try to understand but I believe the opposite of everything you tell me
I don't have a reason here
Now why should I believe what I already knows a lie
I know, whatever I did wrong
I did for you
Vintage Beemo, Left to right: Sean, Dan, Drummer Pat, bassist Mike Krill
Dan, Sean, Tony, and I reworked the song with Beemo’s acoustic incarnation in 2013 while getting ready to play at Quantum Leap Winery for the first time. (Justin was not part of the band yet). We have a deep catalogue now but at the time we were really grasping for anything we could play fairly easily in order to fill out our first 3 hour gig. Dan and Sean obviously already knew the song so Tony and I worked to catch up.
Original electric demo: New acoustic version
The biggest change was adapting the distinctive high electric guitar part that happens during the intro of the original version to the mandolin and using that as a repeated motif throughout. The same basic pattern repeats during the choruses an octave lower, and then returns to the high register in the interludes and in the last chorus. The repeated figure ties the different parts of the song together, with the familiar pattern helping it stick in the ear.
The song itself is fairly straightforward harmonically. The verse and chorus actually have the same chords, a I-vi-V profession in C.* The variation in the rhythm of the main guitar and the difference between the verse melody and the melody of the chorus, in my opinion one of Dan’s best, prevents most listeners from really noticing the chords are the same.
* We play with our instruments tuned a half-step down, so it’s really in B, but from a chord shape perspective we call it C.
Live, the song hews pretty closely in structure to the original version. Because of all the space in the song during the verses, adding Justin on percussion really made it come into its own. (Before he was onboard, during the second verse I would do the muted chops on the mandolin to simulate a snare drum to give it a bit more of a build)
My mandolin part in this song is the most amalgamative (Mac Pages is telling me that’s a real word, by the way) of any part I play. My intro figure is based on Sean’s original electric part, my verse part is based on something Justin almost absentmindedly picked out on the guitar while we were listening to an early take, and my bridge part is a quote of the chorus vocal melody in the first half followed by a foreshadow of the bridge vocal melody in the second.
(I’m not, personality and perhaps skill-wise, either a natural lead player or a particularly skilled improvisor. Consequently I stick pretty close to the best melody in the song when I write solos.)
The biggest structural change to the new recorded version is the intro and the outro (Mac Pages doesn’t think “outro” is a real word, by the way). The idea was kind of an exercise in convergent evolution. Dan had originally suggested we start the song off with the chorus, maybe a-capella, to which I proposed doing an instrumental rendition of the chorus. Basically simultaneously, our producer Matt Tonner gave us the note that the chorus melody was so good we should lead the song off with it with the mandolin and a piano. I learned the chorus on the mandolin and wrote some harmony guitar parts while Matt laid down the piano. (His first instrument was the piano and he’s really, really, impressively good at it)
Tonner pitched the idea of having Dan repeat “I did for you” in an extra last chorus at the end of the song, and it worked out great. Dan got a chance to hammer home the tagline and really cut loose vocally. We decided with the addition of the extra chorus and the new intro to not return to the final figure that we play live and that is on the original electric recording. The song ends on an unresolved IV chord, which I think is appropriate for a song featuring a narrator who realizes things probably aren’t ever going to change.
Dan made a few minor lyric tweaks during his recording session and then along with Justin and Tony laid down some harmony vocals, Then Sean came in and tracked the harmony guitar parts at the beginning as well as some great riffs to trade with the mandolin during the verses in between vocal lines. After a mix and a master it was done.
Did For You is one of the few songs we have that is pretty different live than on the recording. I don’t know if we’ll eventually perform the song the way we recorded it. I kind of like having two versions, but we’ll see.
The song is on BandCamp now and you can name your price. If you sign up for our mailing list the download is free. Just put in $0 for the amount you want to pay and it will prompt you for your email. It’s also on SoundCloud and will be on Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora in the next few days.
Hope you enjoy it!