George Fetner’s Some Things We’ll Change cerebral compositions bridge a perfect gap between modern pop song and melodic complexity. “It Goes On” is an austere meditation on loss and gesture towards acceptance. Fetner’s music is music of transition and is created for the in-between. Be it the in-betweens of a relationship, a career, or even a season. Listen to Some Things We’ll Change on a long drive with your windows down and reflect on what good you have done and what remains for you to accomplish.
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SC: How do you view the refrain of “it goes on”? Is it a response to the natural imagery the speaker describes in the verses—“what I thought would endure / is no now longer here”? Or is it deliberately refuting the claim made in the verses?
GF: When I sing the song, the refrain feels like an affirmation of the hindsight gained through the verses. It's a simplification of all the things the subject is working through: yes, you were wrong about something that you once were sure about, but that's life. It goes on.
SC: Your work reminds me of how The Beatles blended baroque music (“high art”) with the Blues (viewed as “low art”). How do you view the relationship between these two styles genres in your work?
GF: Thanks! That's a huge compliment. My output has always been a balancing act involving deliberate composition and a more visceral approach to performing and songwriting. I feel most artistically satisfied when both of those components appear in my music. In the concert hall setting, that might be a groove or a more diatonic passage in a composed piece. In my songs, it's those unexpected moments that venture away from the progression or groove.
SC: What was your writing process like for "It Goes On"?
GF: It happened almost exclusively in one night, the kind of song that writes itself after you feel like you've tapped into a portal that constantly feeds you the notes and words. Those nights do happen. I had a friend listen to it and he suggested I shorten the verses to get to the point. He also liked the interlude and kindly told me it reminded him of Elliot Smith, so who wouldn't make changes after a bait like that?
SC: What is your writing process like? Do you keep a schedule, or wait to be inspired?
GF: When I write songs, I'm just following leads. I come up with short melodies, phrases, or chord progressions during the day and either write them down or record them on my phone. Then I follow that lead and sometimes it becomes a song within a few days or a week or so. I like to let it breathe and live a little. Sometimes that means ignoring it for a while, and sometimes that means driving it a little. When I compose for a chamber group or soloist, I have to sit down and make myself do it. Making decisions about every single mark on the page and trying to imagine it as sound is overwhelming. It's not something I naturally want to do, and by the time I'm starting to enjoy it, the piece is usually almost done. But I like composing, overall. The psychology of writing music for someone else is intoxicating.
SC: How does your community of songwriters influence your work?
GF: I really think the more musicians you meet and perform with, and especially songwriters or bandleaders, the easier it is to be yourself, even if you meet people who don't like your music. Most everyone in Columbia that I've worked with or performed with have encouraged me to pursue my strengths in some way or another, and I hope I do the same for them. The push to cultivate your own uniqueness in this town is really strong.
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