Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just a Shy Guy

A direct link to the above video is at

As we continue to look at songs from my 1983 concept album Alcohol and Other Drugs, the song this time is called Just a Shy Guy. Alcohol is sometimes referred to as a "social lubricant": for somebody who's Just a Shy Guy, alcohol or other drugs can be what they use to get themselves loosened up enough to be more outgoing in potentially tense social situations. As the middle section of this song discusses though, sometimes the popular media's portrayal of the effectiveness of these substances is not realistic (despite what Charlie Sheen may be trying to tell us): no big surprise there!

Many of the songs on this album tie into my approach to visualizing how our reality is formed, which as I've said before began for me when I read Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful book "A Wrinkle in Time" at the edge of eight. Both this song and the next one we'll be looking at (Trying to Escape) tie nicely into the idea that we are each navigating through a fifth-dimensional probability space, gradually becoming one version or another of ourselves through chance, choice and the actions of others. These songs, written for a show aimed at teenagers, are about how for teens that probability space may seem more obvious - we go through our adolescence trying on different hats, different personas, trying to decide which version of ourselves we are going to try to be. This probability space is a constant theme in my book and this blog: read Are Bees More Sixth Dimensional and Entangled Awareness and OBEs for some of the more recent explorations of this concept.

Let's talk about the process of creating these songs a bit. They were recorded back in 1983 on a Tascam 244 and a Tascam 144 Portastudio: this was an innovative four-track mixer/recorder that used standard cassette tapes. I had become convinced at the time that this was the breakthrough everyone was looking for: finally, a machine with good enough recording quality that it would allow you to record in your basement or living room and create something that could be good enough to play on the radio! Nowadays, with people making high quality digital multi-track recordings in their bedrooms using powerful but inexpensive computer-based systems, this accomplishment may not seem as notable. But back then, in a pre-midi, pre-ProTools world, attempting to record fully-produced pop music without going into a recording studio was still pretty much unheard of. Recording a full band with multiple overdubs to four track also required lots of "bouncing" from track to track or machine to machine, and of course every "bounce" adds to the tape hiss, so this is not an easy thing to do! The fact that songs like Just a Shy Guy and Courage actually made it to being playlisted on our local FM rock station back then is still an accomplishment that I'm very proud of.

These songs feature myself on vocals and keyboards, Cal Harle on drums, and Jack Semple on guitars and bass. The three of us have played together in a number of bands over the years, and we're still good friends. Cal is also one of the best foley artists I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and he continues to do foley for all of my studio's film and television work. Jack has built a very successful career for himself as a guitarist and composer, check out his website at Recording these songs took many hours and I'm grateful for the time these guys put into this ambitious project. Here's the lyrics:

- words and music by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

Sometimes I don’t know what to say
Sometimes I don’t know what to do
Sometimes I don’t know how to act
And the fact is I’m scared that you’ll find out too
I don’t wanna be a big star, but I
Don’t wanna have to play the clown
Tell me why can’t they see that I am just a shy guy
(He’s just a shy guy)
I’m just a shy guy
The other people in my neighbourhood
They same to do just fine
Everything seems understood
There’s no one wastin time

But I just don’t know where I stand
And when I stand it’s always wrong
And when I try to play it cool
As a rule it’ll end up I don’t belong
There’ll be someone with a new name
That they made up to hang on me
Tell me why can’t they see that I am just a shy guy
(He’s just a shy guy)
I’m just a shy guy
What if I was a little more
Like all those TV shows?
The kind of guy that the girls adore
The guy sayin anything goes

It’s a different world on my TV
They’re all working on some new cocaine deal
Life’s a never-endin party
Fine wines with their Cheerios
Sometimes I just can’t believe it’s real

And so I guess I’ll carry on
I’ll keep on runnin in the race
To a space where I feel like I really belong
I’ll keep on looking for myself now, tryin to
Find the one I think is me
Someday I might find out who I am
Someday I might find out who I am

Next: Trying to Escape

1 comment:

Jay said...

First, I love the things discussed in this blog entry. As a rising Mass Communications and Music Technology student, the place where you were making these songs back then is what inspired me to go into Music Tech. Editing back then was a pain because it was linear. You rock!

Secondly, if you don't mind answering, what kind of shows does your studio produce/show?

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