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One Sweet Caress
Author: Robert Force
Date/Studio: 2013 Synergy, Port Townsend, WA
Engineer: Neville Pearsall
Producer: Robert Force
Original Release: Did You (BSR151)
Current Release: Did You (BSR151)

one sweetSometimes a chord progression sticks in my head. This one uses a “walk-down” so that each chord is voiced lower than the one previous. The 1-4-5 cycle may “read” as using the same chords but because the voicing gets lower it has the effect of letting in melancholy. On the Did You cd I recorded a version with lyrics but when my friends and I were going through the initial rough-cut listening, the words did not fit the direction in which the disc was flowing. I went back in and recut it as an instrumental.

I have a friend who I watched struggle mightily in a loveless marriage for over five years. Whatever she tried to do make the relationship better, simply didn't. This wasn't a marriage in which obvious reasons like abuse or neglect or infidelity were the issues. Rather, the connection wasn't there-- the attention that comes with being involved and concerned and wishing for the best for your partner.

There came a day when she had to call it quits after all she tried to do to make it better. I knew this person's heart and I knew how hard it was for her to have to give up. I also knew, that in her struggle, having to let go was not based on anger or despair. The love that had been there was lost but she still loved. I wanted to write a song about that moment of decision, about how hard it was for her to do.

This song is one of those subjects that once you have lived the experience, hearing about it only reawakens those years of loneliness. I told her I had written a song for her and what it was about but she did not want to hear it. That was fine. I did sing it in very private moments to several people who were stunned by it. Unfortunately, it is a relevant song in far too many lives.

It is my custom with a new tune to play it 20 or 30 times a day for four or five days as I try to get the feel of the song. After I have learned the words and can play the chords there is still the fine tuning of the vocal nuances of inflection and volume to explore. Doing this, the song got me in a little trouble at home. My wife, Janette, knows I usually write tunes from the perspective of what is happening to me.

I finally noticed she had been tiptoeing around the house and casting these weird glances over at me. (That is the other side of songwriting for me, I get wrapped up in the song until I feel I have it and don't pay attention to much else.) The penny dropped. “You think I am writing about us! Oh no. I am so sorry.” I explained to her about our mutual friend, what she was going through and how I wanted to try to catch that moment-- that one moment in which she knew it had to change.

I put the tune away for a number of years. Although it affects a significant part of the population, it is very personal. There was no way to include the song in concert sets. I like the song. It is a good example of having learned the craft. I was able to write it true to my intention of capturing that one moment of painful decision that manifests without anger or rancor-- one that transcends regret.

A few years later an instrument builder friend of mine, Rod Mathieson, put an electric dulcimer into my hands. One Sweet Caress came back immediately. The long decay and tremolo possible with electrics combined with the stately, power chord walk-down was a natural fit. There's nothing wrong with a sad song especially if it's dressed up for rock n' roll, so it got a new life with heavy vibrato.

But still, it didn't make the cut. The vocal take went to bit heaven. There is no longer a place for it in my life-- just like there wasn't (and isn't) one in the life of the friend for whom the song was written. She'll read this and know. Daubie and Mary and Janette were all correct. This song is unlike the others on Did You. It's a good instrumental, though, even without all the backstory and a Buddy Holly echo.

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