Creative Vision for the Track: This is based on the version of the song recorded by Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker for the album “The Last Of Us Part II: Covers and Rarities” that accompanied the release of the game. They did the song “in character” as Ellie and Joel (they are the voice actors in the game).
I like to record a song with my kids around Halloween. When I heard the album recording I thought this would be perfect. I knew I wanted to do the Joel part at the end like Troy does. For the Ellie parts I figured my kids and I could trade off. And I knew I wanted harmonies, which the album version has none.
Composition Details (Tempo, Key, Main Chords etc):
It’s a slow folk tune, around 65 bpm. Main key is G minor. Guitar is capoed on the 3rd fret. Verse chords are Gm, Cm/Csus, and D. Chorus is Eb, Bb, and D before going back to the verse pattern.
I added a solo violin/fiddle doing some slow, bendy lines. During the 2nd chorus I added a plucking pattern on a ronroco, paying homage to Gustavo Santaolalla, the composer for The Last of Us games and tv series. On the 3rd chorus there is also a mandolin part adding texture.
My son Fisher sings the 1st verse. I thought at first that he and I might trade lines back and forth, but I ended up liking just him alone best. On the 1st chorus I sing with him on the melody, with some harmonies added on the line endings.
For the 2nd verse and chorus I sing the melody in a rock style voice. I tried a few different vocal styles on this and settled on a raspy rock style. My sons Fisher and Roman sing some background Ooo’s. In the 2nd chorus the vocals open up a lot with the melody going up and Fisher, Roman, my other son Stone, and me singing a 6-part harmony grouping.
The low part in this harmony group was recorded when I had a cold with a really sore throat. All of the coughing from my cold had given me an extra deep voice, so I took the opportunity to record the low vocal while my voice could reach several notes deeper than it normally could.
The 3rd verse is the one that Joel sings, so I did my best Troy Baker impression. It strips down to just guitar and vocal for the verse. The 3rd chorus has Joel still singing the melody and the big harmonies are back with an extra high 7th part. Then the song scales back again for the outro and ends on an unresolved D.
Main Instruments used:
Acoustic guitar (live)
Violin (sample: Joshua Bell)
Ronroco (sample: not sure where it’s from)
Mandolin (sample: Spitfire Labs)