For the 2nd edition of Song Stories, I thought I’d talk about my song “If You Leave”. I’ve recorded this song with a full band in the studio three times, the first time was way back in 2006 (or so – my memory isn’t what it used to be)… The first time, I went to my friend Chris Thayer’s studio and played while he recorded a drum track, which I took back to my studio to record my parts over. I used his drum track on two versions I recorded – I can’t find the first one (that’s probably for the best!) – but here’s the second one, which I recorded in 2012…

If You Leave (2012 Demo)

Last year, I sat down and recorded another version – this time with me playing all the instruments. Here’s the latest version…

If You Leave (2019 Demo)

This new version is faster, which I think helps a lot, but it’s still not quite right. The difficult thing about being a song writer and recording your own stuff is sometimes you just can’t get the sound that you hear in your head to come out of your equipment. I’ll probably keep working on it and record a new version in the coming months.

So what’s the song about??
The song is about a time when my girlfriend (a long time ago) had broken up but were still friends and still a big part of each other’s lives. I reached a point where I didn’t feel like I could move on unless something changed – unless she was less a part of my life. So the song is about that search for independence which follows a friendly break up… I’ll leave it at that, you know – in case she’s reading… 🙂

I thought I’d kick off my blog by writing about one of my original songs – “Stay”. I like writing about music and the creative process behind it, so I plan on making this a common theme on this blog. Hopefully anyone who reads this is into that sort of thing…

This song actually started when I was in High School. The lines “If you love me, I’m not sure/Love’s a disease and there’s no cure.” and the chorus “If I promised you the world, would you share it with me?” actually came from a poem I wrote for an English assignment in high school. (oh so many years ago…) The rest of the song came about in roughly 2008 while I was thinking about an old break up and remembering how I felt at the time.

The chorus on this song has gone back and forth between “If I promised you the world, would you share it with me? Would you give it all away – just to let me stay?” and “Like a whisper on the wind, I can feel it coming in. Please don’t come my way, unless you think you’re gonna stay.” Although I like both choruses for different reasons, ultimately I decided to keep the original chorus. Here’s a really old demo with the “whisper” chorus…

Stay (“Whisper” chorus demo)

Unhappy with that version, I sat down last year (2018) and decided to re-record the song with the original chorus. For this version, I wanted a more gritty, electric guitar driven sound. I liked the original guitar solo, so I went back and listened to the solo on the version above and re-learned it to record again…

Stay (Kepi Jensen Version)

Late last year, my good friend and musical guru Daniel Small and I sat down and recorded this song again at his studio (which is much nicer than mine). The result is the version below, which is by far my favorite recording of the song.

Stay – Swamp Yankee Version

This version has me singing, playing acoustic guitar, and keys – Daniel playing drums, bass, singing, mixing, and whatever else he felt the song needed – my musical partner in crime, Joanne Elmoznino singing backing vocals – Jim Rizzo playing electric guitar – and “the other” Jim (who doesn’t have an online presence, so I’ll leave his last name off) playing that incredible guitar solo…
I call this the “Swamp Yankee” version because everyone who appears on this song is also in Daniel’s band Dan and the Swamp Yankees. (Check them out on Spotify when you get the chance…)