Friday, February 12, 2010

The 404 Error Blues

A few months back, we did some re-design and re-populating of our web pages at my place of employment, Marketing Messages. At that time, we tossed around ideas concerning original content; interesting stuff we could put on the site to make folk's visits more entertaining. Perhaps we could more often generate return visits, or maybe have folks tell their friends, "Hey, go to that website! It's pretty neat!"

One of the ideas we had was...

Well, before I tell you about the idea, and how it was finally fleshed out, let me see if you're familiar with what I'm going to talk about. Have you ever encountered a "404 error" while surfing? What happens is that you somehow land on a page that doesn't actually exist, usually via a spelling mistake in what you typed in as an address or perhaps because the page you were trying to visit was made inaccessible by the web administrator for one reason or another. Here's an example...

Sometimes the page you end up on will actually say "404 error", like this example...

Wikipedia example of 404 Error

As you might imagine - actually, as you no doubt know - it's aggravating to encounter one of those pages. Well, some folks have become inventive in their ways to make those mistakes entertaining rather than aggravating. Check out these examples of how wrong turns on teh intertubes were made into what were probably pleasant (or, at least, not boring) experiences for the unlucky surfer...

100 Funny Or Unusual 404 Messages

Okay. With all of that in mind, here's what we did. My production buddy, Dan, figured that, since we specialize in sound, we should probably have a 404 page that featured some. The further idea was put forth that perhaps I could compose a song to be used on the page, said song being entitled "The 404 Error Blues".

I thought it was a fun idea, so I said I'd write some lyrics. And so I did write them. The next day, I showed the lyrics to Dan. He liked them, so all was swell so far.

I then wrote a simple blues-based tune to go along with the lyrics. I showed Dan the basics of it - bass line, rhythm guitar part one, rhythm guitar part two, etc. - and suggested we record the basic tracks so that whomever we had to sing the song could have some skeleton of it to reference.

After I had most of the tune recorded, I threw down a sample vocal on top of the backing tracks. That way, the real singer could listen to the whole thing and know exactly what we were going for in terms of style. I had in mind a hard-rock-cum-proto-metal sort of vibe. I growled out the lyric.

I gave the semi-finished product to another member of our staff, the person we were hoping might record the lead vocal. However, when he heard my growling, he leaped through a window and we haven't seen him since. No, actually, when he heard my vocal, he said that he liked it and probably couldn't do much better himself. That was a surprise to me, but a pleasant one. My singing voice isn't what it used to be. During my time in actual bands, I had a better range. I can't hit too many highs now. However, that was 25 or 30 years ago, so I accepted the compliment concerning my growling and decided that there would be no other musicians involved. I'd finish it up myself.

In the meantime, while I was finishing up the song, it seemed to me that the project was sort of tabled. Whenever I'd bring it up to Dan, he'd say something faintly encouraging, but the song never did get put out on the website. Which is cool, by the way. I understand. Maybe my finished product is a bit raw for our company website. We don't want to do anything that might rub folks the wrong way. If someone heard the song and said, "Well, I don't want my Message-On-Hold to sound like that!", then it would cost the company some business and, no matter how I might feel about the artistry of my song, that wouldn't be cool.

But I'll be damned if I'm not going to at least get a blog post out of it. So, here are the lyrics, and if you follow the link at the end you'll be able to hear a mix of the song as it is at present. While talking to Dan this morning, we decided to do some more work with it and actually put it out on the company website at some future time. So, at a later date, I'll probably have multiple mixes, with differing endings and whatnot, for you to listen to, and I may then ask for your opinions concerning which of those you prefer.

Final Note: Every sound you'll hear is mine; nobody else played any of the instruments or did any of the vocals. The only "cheat" was the use of a drum track. I can play some rudimentary drums, but I don't have a drum kit at present, so...

The 404 Error Blues (Sullivan)

You’re at a page that doesn’t exist
You’re at a page that doesn’t exist
When you typed it in, there was something you missed
Or maybe something extra; in any case, you’re dissed
You could click the “BACK” button, but you wanna know why
Don’t it make you just wanna cry?
Roll over Steven Jobs and tell Bill Gates the news
You’ve got the 404 error blues

404! 404! 404! 404!

Lost on the information superhighway
Lost on the information superhighway
You swear you were at this page just yesterday
Did somebody evil come and take it away?
The URL you requested was not found
It’s buried six feet underground
Face it, Bub, your brain took a short little snooze
You’ve got the 404 error blues

Blue screen of death! Don’t hold your breath!

[guitar solo]

That page is forbidden! Go take some Ritalin!

[repeat first verse]

404! 404! 404! 404!

Click HERE and be taken to the actual song (unless the gods of irony are working overtime and you actually end up at a 404 error page.)

Soon, with less sonically disruptive stuff.


Ruth and Glen said...

That was hysterical !

You are quite the creative genius.

Heading over to check out the 100 funny or unusual 404 messages link now.

Buck said...

The tune is pretty danged good, Jim. A bit long, but good! And Mr. Machine's first name? Aloysius? André? or is it Ms. Machine?

That 100 Best site is a serious time killer and GOOD, as well.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Far out!!!
That's gotta be the theme for my blog. If I could steal it, I would.
You don't need anyone else to record it.

verification word = atedisal

Shrinky said...

Jim, it's official, you're a genuius - and for the record (no pun, harrrrr) I just LOOOVE your voice. Tell your boss he's an idiot, Shrinky says so. (Still smiling and rocking..)

Cricket said...

I was wondering whatever became of this one... now I know. Much cleaner mix.

Suldog said...

Shrinky - Whoa, there, little lady! I truly LOOOOOOVE the compliments you just sent my way, but I think you misunderstood something. My Boss hadn't necessarily heard any of this yet. It was Dan and my doing that has kept it from the website thus far. Just to clarify - My Boss is a nice guy, and no idiot by a far stretch, and we'll now probably play some of this for him after a few more tweaks.

Anonymous said...




Unknown said...

I love it! Especially the 'Don't it just make you want to cry?'
A great beat as well!

Ananda girl said...

What a hoot! That made my day.

Angie Ledbetter said...

You're singing my tune with all the puter problems I've had lately. By the title, I thought you were going to lament another "ID ten T"-type problem. (IDI0T)

You're just overflowing with...talent. :)

Hey, the Word Verification is accomodating the subject of blues melodies today too -- "train" was my word.

Angela Christensen said...

This really did make me laugh out loud. However, since your "It was twenty years ago today" line baited me into the obvious conclusion (which was umm, wrong!) I have to comment on the use of the word "swell". There is an especially hilarious I Love Lucy eispode (which you may recall, as you are a Guy of A Certain Age) in which the gang decides to hire an eoluction teacher, because Lucy is pregnant, and they're horrified at the idea of Ricky's English being visited upon another generation. The guy teaches them never to use two words and says, "One of these is 'swell' and other is 'lousy'". There is a moment is silence, and finally someone says, more or less, No problem! Which one is swell and which one is lousy??

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I got da blues in mornin'
I got da blues at night
I got da blues all over
jes' been in a fight

Mose Allison's got nothin' on you.

Glorification word is froplnem. TWBAGNFWBB (that would be a good name for a blues band)

Chuck said...

Nice song. My favorite 404 messages are the ones that come in haiku poetry.

jvc113 said...

Put that on iTunes so I can download a copy for my iPod and freak my students out!

Michelle H. said...

I soooo love this (but you already know that. I see where you did shorten the lyrics. I hope this does get out on the website (told you that your vocals were spot on).

Maggie May said...

That was funny.
It is horrid when you get onto the 404 Error Page..... not sure if a tune would help!
I am going over to hear it though!

Nuts in May

Maggie May said...

You are a very talented person! Very Good!

Nuts in May

Merisi said...

404. Forgettable number!
No? *aaaarghhh*

Karen said...

Super creative! I think your voice is perfect for this song!

Jeni said...

Well, the 404 error would still exist and we'd still be dissed and all that, but ya know what? I damned sure rather get a message like that instead of just the non-working regular 404 dull, irritating and extremely bland message we all get now. Cool thing, Jim!

Chris Stone said...

LOL! that was great!

Hilary said...

You're a man of many talents.. my favourite of which is that you make me laugh. Thanks always for the entertainment.

Jazz said...

This kicks major ass. You are a man of many talents Sully.

Lisa Johnson said...

Cool song! Definitely different than Pointy The Poinsettia. ; )

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day to you! ♥

Unknown said...

I can not stop laughing, oh man, this should be the official 404 Error theme song. "Blue screen of death, don't hold your breath" is the best line lol! Great guitar playing and excellent lyrics. I'm off to share the link with everyone I know :-)

lime said...


and a disturbed genius

which is one of your endearing qualities.

i want this on my iPod.

Chris said...

"Face it Bub, your brain took a short little snooze..."


Anonymous said...

Spot. On. Perfect!

Love it!

Unknown said...

Hysterical!!! And that's just what we need... one more error message.

GreenJello said...

This will generate a LOT of traffic to your website, should you make it live. Most excellent!!!

Emon said...

Lol! Love it!!

FHB said...

Hilarious. Excellent tune.