This song is fairly old at this point - in fact, this is the only song of anything that I've recorded for the past few years that was still recorded on Apple's free recording software Garageband. Three years ago (shortly before I got ProTools) I began drafting an album based off of general topics - a kind of ripoff of The Kinks, really, who's "man detached from his surroundings and simply commenting" lyrical style was fully in my mind at that point. The music industry happened to be a topic, and so I wrote this kind of mock-but-actually-trying-to-be-real hiphop song on acoustic guitar as a part of that would-be album. Too many hyphens in the previous sentence.
I don't know how much I agree with the lyrics of this now. I'm not nearly that cynical about the music industry now, as it seems to being taking some interesting steps in the right direction. But it was written at a different time, ya... ya know?
Anyway, I wanted a really gritty sounding riff, because not many songs have a down and dirty feel to them. Too clean. So I added some chromaticism into the riff. The thing I'm actually proud of is the chord progression, which begins very simply (I-IV again, which I use too much) to mirror the perceived 'musical simplicities' of hiphop music (in reality that's really not that common for hiphop in comparison to other genres), but this slowly unravels to a point where the key gets largely thrown out by the chorus. Other than it's a really straightforward song, not even a bridge.
I don't really ever want to discuss the literal meanings of things, though the lyrics and feeling of this song should paint a fairly clear picture. This song came to mind initially after I had been listening to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks over and over. His songs, to me, were kind of like a fusion of mid-60's Dylan songs with all these little jazzy influences and far greater reaching instrumentation. I liked how his songs pull you in by being misleadingly calm at first, usually with some sort of play off turning the tonic into a 7th or inserting a diminished chord where you might think the relative minor would go in a Dylan song. Originally, the main riff in "Occupy Oscar" was in triple meter (as it is now) but a chord progression of A-Major Amaj7 A7. The bridge was filled with all these weird jazz chords which somewhat clumsily used the open A string as a sort of drone, the idea being that the return to the tonic would be very welcome after a period of dissonance. I fucked around with this for a while, but as the lyrics began to take shape the song felt more and more like a dead hippy's dream with all the seventh chords. I needed the music to be stronger, more like a punk song with revolution-laden lyrics that were taking shape. Therefore the seventh chords were dropped in favor of big ole' major chords, I - IV just like any other song ever has. Taking the more tragic sounding relative minor and slapping it into a major chord was the only real harmonic change (other than the passing chords in the refrain/riff thing), which is done in a million punk or grunge songs to sort of give a more sinister quality.
From a recording perspective, the drums were recorded with a toy dinosaur and a pen instead of actual drumsticks, as the studio at my university had broken the sticks they usually had. It was a serious pain in the ass to get them to sound like they had any life in them. Also, the many layers of production created an issue for being able to hear the vocals - as the instruments are generally doubletracked and panned hard left and right, and the vocals are dead center with just one track. At times it still dips under everything more than I would optimally like.