If You Still Want Me (ft. @zoya)

  • Submitted on time! Oct 22, 2023

In many ways, we failed this assignment! In many other ways, we prevailed!

Lyric: “If you still want me, tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” from this terrible song. Thought it would be funny to tell a story about a guy who thought this was a romantic thing to do (as the original does) but a girl who says “please don’t, that would actually cut the tree’s nutrients off and kill it.” But every time we used the lyric we hated it lol. So it got cut down (ha) to just the “if you still want me” bit.

Melody: Utter failure here. Was gonna be the melody from the Barbara Streisand song, but it was so insanely forced. Borrowing melody is hard for me. Bailed.

Vibe: Spirit of the group vocals and male/female split was from The Mamas and The Papas. Fun to go for, though I certainly wouldn’t say their vibe was achieved. Some other vibe was though, because I do find this vibey.

Anyhow, I’m thrilled to submit this demo because it reminded me that half of what makes an NCBC assignment special is that it makes you finish a song. Regardless of whether you nail each parameter, the assignment is a jumping off point to a song that might otherwise not exist.

Also, this is the first time Zoya and I have done some co-writing and it was a blast.



I don’t think

you’ll be waiting around—

It’s a big old town

Full of ghosts and pretty things

Like me

It won’t take too long, honey

You’ll see

But if you still want me…


I’m not sure

you’ll be thinkin’ bout me—

There’s a lot of worry

And much to grieve

All through the night

That’s fine

I could feel you slipping

When we said goodnight

But if you still want me (want me)

Did you see my face in the silver of the sea?


Like I said,

I’ll be getting home soon

And when I do,

I wanna see you.

Don’t go crying.

Don’t go killing time

And acting like you’re dying.

But if you still want me (want me)

Did you hear my name in the chaos of the street?



I can’t say

Quite what it’s like

In the first good wind

Of the rest of my life

And where are you?

Oh right.

You’re on the hillside

And feeling just fine.

But I can feel you

like a phantom limb

I can tell the future

I could hold it in

or say it all.

Yeah I know

If we’re lucky,

It goes on

But it still goes.

But if you still want me (want me)

say you saw my face

in the silver of the sea.

Say you heard my name

in the chaos of the street.

That you’ll go again

but you won’t wanna leave.

Looking for feedback on

What do you think of the storytelling mechanism? Is it working? Clear/unclear? Also, for any mixing cats out there—how do I make the acoustics warmer? They sound like aluminum to me.


Ben November 1, 2023 11:40am

still pretty in awe of the acoustic guitar work.

nurphgun October 24, 2023 10:46am (edited)

I love this. I think it’s so gorgeous and sweet. In terms of the lyrics and story: I am getting from it a sweet dialogue/collection of unfinished thoughts from two people who like each other a lot and are a little uncertain about how to say it/what to do next. She’s trying to reassure him. I’m not sure it’s “storytelling” in the like, Decemberists song sense where there are very defined characters and a distinct setting of the stage, conflict, then resolution, etc. But knowing the backstory – yes, I think the idea of “please don’t do anything dramatic for me” comes through. My fav line is “Don’t go crying/Don’t go killing time/And acting like you’re dying.”

Ben October 23, 2023 2:08pm

right on: “it makes you finish a song.”

The acoustics sound good. Slightly aluminumy i guess, but still warm. How’d you record it?

This song has a really soft warmth to it. Really crafty guitar playing. This sounds like it’s harder to play that it sounds, if that makes sense. Tasteful bass too.

Drums sound great too, nice and quiet and simple. Maybe it could be cool to introduce one more tiny subtle percussion layer starting the moment that dark chord comes in at 2:42, like either an extremely light shuffled tamb/shaker (which is like the hardest instrument in the world to play, especially lightly and shuffledly) OR take a washier approach to this layer and just have a gentle brush on a ride cymbal every 4 or 8 beats, not for a rhythmic element, but for the light extra layer of sound to elevate the feel when that note comes in at 2:42.

Great work, both of yous.

Ryan November 3, 2023 2:11pm

Recorded it with a big class A condenser, same things I use for vocals. I actually think it’s that I should’ve used a warmer reverb, now that I listen back.

Mm, yeah I like the idea of a brush on a ride starting there! That’s a great call. I was actually chatting with @@Kyle about this track and he was pointing out that it could expand in general — particularly in the chorus and also at the 2:58 mark. Looking forward to trying out some ways to expand the structure.