On a particular milestone birthday a few years ago I decided to celebrate the actual day doing what I love: hiding in a studio creating music. I rented out (the wonderful and friendly) New, Improved Recording facility in Oakland for the day and set forth to generate a whole album from scratch - no previous ideas or concepts - just raw inspiration and being in the moment. Over 10 hours I tracked drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and (very out of practice) vocals. Several songs of disparate varieties took shape, but all united in being musical (or lyrical) reflections of my current life and unclear plans for the shrinking future.
Towards the end of the day I was running out of steam, finding myself at the piano plucking out chords and seeing if anything stuck. Then I had one of those "muse moments" - while improvising I randomly landed on a Dsus2/F# then reflexively stumbled toward a good ol' A half-diminished 7/Eb and the floodgates opened. I grabbed my notebook, and jotted down those two chords and the thing basically wrote itself after that. The chords gave birth to a melody, and lyrics were written on the spot about the mixed blessing of having a day job as a musician. One piano take, one bass guitar take, one pass at the drums, and then some shaky vocal delivery, and "Benefits" was born.
That's pretty much it. By the day's end I had almost an hour of music, which I whittled down to 30 cohesive, bittersweet minutes and put up on my bandcamp page. You can hear the results of my toils (and this proto-version of Benefits) here: http://mattlebofsky.bandcamp.com/album/grow-up