Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Clay Aiken iTunes Podcasts, Part Three: Selecting the Original Songs for “A Thousand Different Ways”


UNICEF Ambassador Clay Aiken Visits Afghanistan. Details from today's press conference HERE.

Performing "A Thousand Days" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live", September 26, 2006.

Today's blog features Clay Aiken talking about the process of selecting the four original songs for his album “A Thousand Different Ways”, which also includes ten classic songs as reinterpreted by Clay for this project. This interview is the third of five podcasts available for free download on iTunes.

If you are interested in hearing Clay’s work as a songwriter and perhaps gaining a glimpse into his future direction, I recommend buying the iTunes exclusive version of "A Thousand Different Ways" featuring "Lover All Alone", Clay’s fantastic collaboration with his friend, Grammy-winning producer and composer David Foster. The CD, minus that track, is also available at

Songwriters for “A Thousand Days” are Christian Leuzzi, Aldo Nova and Emanuel Olsson. It was produced by John Fields.

Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child wrote “These Open Arms”, which was also produced by John Fields.

“Lonely No More” was written by Andreas Carlsson (also producer), Samuel Waermo (also producer), Mimmi Waermo and Clay Aiken.

Jeremy Bose and Paul Robert Evans were songwriters for “Everything I Have”, which was produced by Humberto Gatica. This was the song Clay performed live for the characters of Steve and Kayla (actors Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans) when he appeared as a guest star on “Days of Our Lives" in December 2006.

A final note before the transcript: there are five podcast interviews with Clay available on iTunes, but each of them is labeled “one of six”. That could be nothing more than a clerical error, but if not… I wonder if there is an interview out there somewhere where Clay discusses the writing of “Lover All Alone”? This is what Clay said about the song in a November 2006 press pool interview:
We chose not to include that song on the album because it didn't fit the concept of the album. We wanted to maintain the ‘love’ theme, and so a song about being lonely and alone wouldn't really fit. I am not sure what any future plans for the song might be. It is an exclusive for iTunes now. I'm not sure how long that lasts, or if anything can be done with it afterwards.

David Foster wrote the music for the song in early May and gave it to me with the instruction that I should write some lyrics for it. I had never really written before, and Jaymes [Foster, Executive Producer for A Thousand Different Ways] had been trying for a while to get me to write. I sat on the music for three months before I had any idea about what to write about. Then when it came it came. I finished the lyrics to the whole song in about three hours. Eman [Kiriakou] made some significant changes in the music when he produced it, so David and I both felt that he should get credit for writing on the song. I'm not sure what my songwriting future holds. Again, I like to be open to what comes my way, and not force anything.

Since the beginning of the singer/songwriter era, there has been significant debate about what it takes to be called an artist. At this point, Clay is mainly known as an interpreter of songs, and I think he has one of the finest voices of his generation. The tradition of great pop vocalists goes back to Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, and it could be that Clay will become a modern master of that art.

But with “Lover All Alone”, Clay created a significant, profound and beautiful lyric, far ahead of his known experience as a lyricist. It is a work of great promise. I hope it will be first of many “Clay Aiken songs.”

(Excerpt: Clay Aiken,“A Thousand Days” from "A Thousand Different Ways")

We came along “A Thousand Days” last year when we were considering doing an album of all new songs. We recorded it and finished it and I sang it on tour, and when we changed the concept we decided to just shelve it and not come back to it, and find other new songs that we thought really stood up to these covers, and stood up the potential greatness of these covers, and that one kind of fell in the background.

And we found “These Open Arms”, which was to me is one of my --- is probably my favorite original song on the album. I love that song, so I signed up for it right away.

“Lonely No More” I actually helped to write on and so Jaymes [Foster, the album’s Executive Producer] was pretty adamant that we put that on the album, (laughs) and it’s some of my friends’ favorite song because it’s really got a modern kind of vibe to it and it’s kind of a pop radio friendly, I guess.

“Everything I Have” was a song that Jaymes found and Jaymes loved and really just pushed for it and pushed for it and pushed for it. I always liked it but I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to make it one of our four, we only got four, to make it one of the four I wasn’t completely sure. But every time I played three or four songs for friends, every single time a girl was sitting in the room, if she didn’t cry during the demo --- just to the demo of the song --- she would say "I want that song at my wedding" or "That’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard" or "That’s the best song ever, I want that song, you’ve got to do that one.”

It got to the point every single female in my life, or not in my life, has said this is the song to sing, and I said, “Well, so we will put it on.” I’ve always needed help with the ladies so might as well just put it on, too. (laughs) So “Everything I Have” got on in that way.

“A Thousand Days”, after we got those three songs chosen, we probably actually had a fourth that was potentially going to be on the album. We were trying to go through some of these blank CD's that were sitting in the car or sitting around and figure out what was on them so we’d know what to throw away or whatnot --- and “A Thousand Days” popped in. We listened to it, and we listened to it again, and we listened to it again, and we could not get away from the fact that no matter what, no matter how long it had been, that song had really, really stuck with us… a song that we remembered back then, and we just still loved and it was just, in our opinion, great. So we put it on, and it actually turned out to be a favorite at the label, so it’s going to be the next single, I believe, and we’re hoping to have that heard at the beginning of next year.

(End with excerpt from “A Thousand Days”)

Tomorrow: Part Four: The Bubel/Aiken Foundation --- A Passion for Inclusion

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