The Story Behind Frank Iva's Song -"More"
Just like everyone else in the world, the events of this season have greatly impacted my life…and I’m not only talking about the COVID19 pandemic. I also mean racial injustices caught on tape for the umpteenth time, the political tension, the apocalyptic socio-economic outlook on modern day life as we know it... These things have shaken me to the core. They have made me re-examine my life and reprioritize. In the last six months, I’ve had two back injuries that took me out of work for over a month, I’ve lost two separate incomes, and have resigned to living off of savings- something I’ve never done before.
At first, when the pandemic shelter-in-place order hit, it felt good to take a break from work and all – a little extended vacay you know?! But it grew very old very quickly. I got extremely emotional when, for the first time in 12 years, it was ‘payday’ and there was no paycheck for me. See, in the era of the COVID19 #covid19 pandemic I have had to make some drastic adjustments to protect myself and the people I love. My wife has a compromised immune system. Without going into details, this means if I catch a cold, I might get over it in a week, but if she catches the same cold, she could be sick for a month, as well as activate a slew of other diseases currently in remission within her system. Given that my main day job is a field job that exposes me to a plethora of people at close proximity, in various geographical locations in a given day, you can see why I can’t take the risk.
So I was (and still am) in the thick of contemplating what this season would mean for me. Obviously, I was inevitably unemployed, so I was able to take a bird's-eye view of my life and ask myself “What does this all mean to me?” I found that the various series of mental dialogues all defaulted to one word: “RESET”. Yet, this is a very discomforting feeling, having lived my current lifestyle in its current way for over ten years. The feeling of walking from the known into the unknown is completely nerve wracking. I am grateful for the stability and certainty of income, but the mental and physical toll that my job has put on me is practically unsustainable. For example, up until the last two years, I had never sustained a single work injury. In the last two years, I have been severely injured three times. Once through a major fall, and twice in my back.
Could this be life’s way of telling me to re-examine my status-quo?
The Writing Process of “More”
It is from this place of contemplation and reflection that my new song "More" was birthed. It first came into my head as a wonderful melody and chords. I hummed it and recorded it on my iPhone's voice memos, as I usually do with all my musical ideas. At first, I thought the chords were too traditional/old school, but I didn't care because they conveyed the emotion that I was feeling. The original melody was at much slower tempo than the final version. The audio below is of clips of recordings from my phone.
I wanted to write a ballad, but with an anthemic feel on the chorus. I was greatly inspired by the song "Glory" from the movie Selma. #selma #glory Later on in the creative process, I increased the tempo and decided to go for a more electro-pop/hip-hop bouncy feel to contrast the somberness of the first half of the song.
Oh, fun fact: I had never written a full song with lyrics and music that I was confident enough to release.
So this was a debut in many respects, including singing and shooting my first music video (which is a blog for another day). Concurrently, the themes that were going on in my life were uncertainty, confusion, darkness, desolation, defeat, helplessness, out of control, desperation, etc. I felt all these emotions flowing through me when I started to write the verse. At the same time, I wanted to find a center, some sense of grounding that answers the question, “Is this it?, Is this how we all die? Is it all indefinite gloom and doom?”
My sincere take on the subject was (and still is) that this can’t be it. I started looking at what good could come from all this, for myself and everyone at large. Already, I was spending way more time with my wife than I had ever before. Maybe, the answer could be that I grow stronger in love, patience, and kindness towards my wife and family; OR, the answer is that I should not be afraid of growing my music career and business. Perhaps, the answer is that I write more music to bring a message of hope to the world during these uncertain times. The answer was that there is more to this season than meets the eye. That yes- it might be tough, it might be wild, but let’s look for the reset that we inevitably need to live a more fulfilled and holistic life.
In retrospect, I think about how this season has brought out a lot of good in people. I think about the elderly lady who posted a sign on her window that she was running out of beer and got a free beer donation; the throngs of people who showed up and volunteered to distribute food and run errands for the vulnerable. I reflect on how the world has come together to speak out against racial injustice, including big corporations and people who have stayed quiet in the past. #blackouttuesday I will always be thankful for the extra time that I’ve spent with my wife and kids because of this season. Yes, “we’ve been through so much, but we’re not done”! There is MORE, we just need to look for it and we will find it!