The Line

  • Submitted on time! Feb 25, 2024
Dream Weaver

What a cool experience this assignment was. Had a hard time finding the right corner to peel for the first week. Took a bunch of notes, wrote down some lyric fragments about a bunch of dreams but none of them felt authentic to write about—nothing needed saying. But then I started thinking about liminal spaces and the inspiration showed up. I can be an existentially preoccupied person, and my partner can sometimes be preoccupied by her sleeplessness (actual, diagnosed insomnia), and therefore we can both sometimes exist in a bit of a liminal dream space. But we still want to be good to each other, and we practice that, despite where our heads might be at. First verse is from my perspective, second is from hers, and the chorus is “I’m always on the line / but I’m always on your side” as a sort of shared mantra.

Fun fact: this song was born of a busy guitar riff that didn’t make the song, but the line was vaguely tracing some chords, so I extracted those and that became the verse.

Notes: Some of the melodic moves feel nascent, mostly in the instruments, some in the voice. Took a while to write the actual song, so this arrangement is suffering a little extra from being a demo made with virtual instruments. Happy to hear what you’d change!



I return

I tend to take some time

Filling out

an emptiness

Waiting on sight

It never was gonna happen your way

But hey—

how’s a little change?

Will that do?


I’m always on the line,

But I’m always on your side.



Rare enough a thing

That I can’t

Tell you when I’m here

Scratching at

A loneliness

And my familiar fears

You never were gonna be the answer

But hey—

I’ll take what I can get

In comfort 


I’m always on the line,

But I’m always on your side.

Looking for feedback on

Take your pick: Arrangement tweaks? Do we need a harmony on the chorus instead of just the octave? Do you like "The Line" or "On Your Side" better as the title?


Rmal March 4, 2024 8:22pm

wow – superb production. Love the intro – grabs me right away. Takes that gravity to allow the remainder to sink it. The first few notes let the rest in. The beat is beyond my capacity to create but love how it’s weaves around. love how the piano parts play off each other at 1:11

alechutson March 2, 2024 6:47pm

Agree with Julia — I think a string arrangement for the chorus would be really impactful. Love the spacey verby drop out. This track feels like it could belong in the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Very lovely, comforting song, and I appreciated reading about your process

juliapiker March 2, 2024 3:04pm

I hear an entire full throttle string arrangement here in the chorus. I really love when the bass comes in and we start to really hear where the track is about to lead. I think absolutely a harmony can be added to “I’m always on the line”. I do think On your side is a better title- because that actually is remarking on how you want to be in your relationship- regardless of where you are within yourself. I think that the meaning behind this track is really sitting with me in a special way. It’s so hard to balance being a good human to yourself and to your partner when you feel unwell- or when you body doesn’t give you the opportunity to. So I really appreciate that.

EliasSZ February 29, 2024 6:48pm

Really enjoyed this one, Ryan. Arrangement-wise, there’s a few moments where you use those distant background vocals really effectively before that outro section – I wanted a few more moments of that; they felt really dreamy and in the space of the assignment in a really nice way (i’m thinking like 1:52 for example). I could take a chorus harmony, but don’t feel the need for it entirely.

I don’t know exactly what I wanted or where, but I wanted some ambient sounds in the space you’re creating with some movement/filter/swirl/something, essentially to contrast with the strong rhythmic feel of the 5 throughout the tune. Maybe its cause I wanted to feel sleep/dreams in the distance even more, but think it could add some depth.

nick March 2, 2024 9:55am

I agree with some extended sounds that roll over the 5, that would be nice. They show up a little bit at the end of the chorus, so maybe just being a little less subtle with some of them.

Ryan March 2, 2024 12:54pm

Yeah heck yeah good call-outs Elias.. That synth sound at 1:52 was something I was stoked to find. You’re right, that needs to be brought out more. I was happy with the plinky piano stuff that’s not directly on the 5 as well. But I think what’s gonna help most is a less strict drum part and a bass line that doesn’t outline the 5 so directly, as Nick had suggested.

EliasSZ March 3, 2024 12:51am

Yeah Nick is right on the money with the bass line concept. Love it.

nick February 26, 2024 3:11pm

had a very enjoyable first listen to this in the car. just enjoyed another listen at the comp reading along. Maybe this is one of those “The Line (On Your Side)” eh? I wouldn’t vote for a harmony in the chorus, im happy with it nice and underdone. The only thing that I want is a bass line that doesn’t follow along too strictly to the kick drum. Feels a touch heavy handed outlining the five so straightly. I’m thinking Johnny Greenwood in, well most songs, but like the verse in 15 step—sparse, melodic, weaving in standout riffs here and there. And yeah, this is such an airy piece that I think it could leave a lot of space. v strong track. love it. 3:18 nice fill 😉

Ryan March 2, 2024 12:51pm

Yes! Agreed on the bass line call out. I couldn’t find one! Perhaps you wanna give it a crack?

3:18 is a proud moment for me, ngl. Also that’s funny, that’s the exactly title I wanted, but @@zoya swayed me.

Ben February 26, 2024 1:21pm

I love this—especially the unique timing of the chord changes. It almost feels like your instruments are in 6/8 and the drums are in 4/4, which is really cool. I hear you on the limitations of the software instruments—I don’t feel like the drum is exactly in the groove. I think a few early/unpredictable snare hits would align it (the drummer for The National does this really well). And I’d bring up the octave vocals in the mix at the end to separate the section out—I don’t think they need harmonies, but a little more presence.

Ryan March 2, 2024 12:50pm

Haha funny you should mention the early hits — I programmed some ghost hits but just didn’t bring them up in the mix enough. In other words, I agree with your suggestion. What this (and every single demo I make) needs is a live drummer haha

Carseat February 26, 2024 11:33am

Yo — I love that writing constraint of deleting the initial motif idea… Honestly might make for quite a writing assignment…

Love the space you created in this one. Made me feel like I was a little blade of hay swinging in some warm wind.

Ryan March 2, 2024 12:48pm

Making people feel like a little blade of hay swinging in warm wind might be my ultimate aim with music-making. So thank you for finally putting words to that for me. <3

stonewindow February 26, 2024 8:33am

Catchy tune. I like “On your side” but both work. Always dig your songs.