What's Real

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[Digital Download]

Track 20 from Plaid On Flannel's 2013 album Vol. II: Mission Of Mercy

Performed and produced by Nolan Randall

Mixed and mastered by Hector Viola

Words and music by Nolan Randall

Take home everything you wanted
And see where it will go
Moral codes are never haunted
As far as you will know

Places to remind us of what's real
First you lie, and then you try to steal
Try to hide, there's nothing to conceal
Places to remind us of what's real

You wake up from a dream you had
And realized so well
Life is an illusion of bad
You've come to break the spell

Places to remind us of what's real
Every scar in time is gonna heal
Dream about your life if it's ideal
Places to remind us of what's real

Evil spells that you think have happened
Are not what you think they are
There's just one thing I will recommend
Look at what's really bizarre

All the obscure things you've seen now
Are what's expected here
Place a bet on things you allow
And never shed a tear

Places to remind us of what's real
First you lie and then you try to steal
Dream about your life if it's ideal
Places to remind us of what's real

© Copyright 2013 Plaid On Flannel

*Song Description By Noles*

There are some songs that feel like they're simply meant to close out albums. Having an appropriate exclamation mark for an album's finale! "What's Real" is the closing track from both the Mission Of Mercy album and the Rising Above EP from Plaid On Flannel. With the finishing guitar solo, it just feels like a proper send-off song. A pertinent conclusion to the album listening experience. The music for "What's Real" was written on July 11, 2012, shortly after Plaid On Flannel's debut album Fairbairn Meadows was released. My initial inspiration when writing "What's Real" was Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box". With it's minor-based guitar riff that plays arpeggios. For this style, I was also influenced by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck when coming up with the guitar riff for "What's Real". My intention was to have a tune with lots of grunge and alternative to it.

I wrote the lyrics for "What's Real" on July 25, 2012. It's a song with the subject matter of dreams. Not the kind of dreams that we have about life's desires, but the dreams we actually have while we're sleeping. The ones that always surprise us. And the juxtaposition of reality when we wake up. I've been very interested in the study of dreams since I was a little kid. I even read a book on dreams as a child, and I learned a lot from it. Something I've always remembered from that book is how to prevent nightmares. Because of this, I haven't had a nightmare since the 1990s. When it came to writing the lyrics for "What's Real", I was inspired by Radiohead's "(Nice Dream)". Because "What's Real" is about the nice dreams that we wish we could have in our real lives as soon as we wake up.

After writing a big batch of songs in the summer of 2012, I began producing Plaid On Flannel's sophomore album Mission Of Mercy on September 4, 2012. Following the production of 6 tunes for the album, I started recording "What's Real" on December 7, 2012. There were originally lyrics for a bridge in this song. However, the lyrics I wrote weren't "melodically friendly" in context to the chord progression of the bridge. And it's different from any other section of the tune. So I kept that part, and turned it into a guitar solo. There are a lot more backup vocals in the Mission Of Mercy version of "What's Real" compared to the Rising Above rendition. These vocal harmonies can be heard prominently on the choruses, bridge and 2nd guitar riff of the song.

I finished recording the Mission Of Mercy version of "What's Real" on December 20, 2012, and the entire Mission Of Mercy album was released on May 20, 2013. I moved to Toronto from Peterborough in September of 2013, and the Plaid On Flannel band was subsequently formed on February 15, 2014 as a 3-piece. "What's Real" was part of the first batch of my original songs that I brought to the band. It quickly became a staple at our live shows. Keyboardist Jen Doyon joined Plaid On Flannel the next year on February 22, 2015. It was great to finally have backup vocal harmonies in the tune. And her organ really captured the minor-based character of "What's Real". When it came time to record our Rising Above EP on November 28, 2015, we made sure to include "What's Real" on the record. We released the Rising Above EP on May 14, 2016. I've performed "What's Real" regularly as a solo acoustic act since Mission Of Mercy was released. Here's an acoustic version of me playing "What's Real"... https://youtu.be/xjYI9QINX0E "What's Real" is a song I feel will live on in POF's live repertoire for years to come.