How many country music videos do you figure there are in which the artist is seen standing on the stage of an empty theater, atmospherically lit, emoting to an audience that isn’t there? My somewhat conservative estimate would be eight hundred and ninety-three. It’s gotta be up there with “parties while the parents are away” in pop-punk videos and “shirtless abdominal flexing in the rain” in videos for R&B ballads.
Today wasn’t as productive as I thought it might be, but Sundays are generally lazy, do-nothing days for me, so I guess it was to be expected. I did get three songs pretty much finished. They may need a few tiny vocal touch-ups, but otherwise they’re fine, and one of them is four minutes long, which feels like twenty minutes compared to the tiny things I’ve been recording lately. I also recorded banjo and guide vocals for one of my favourite songs I’ve written on that instrument. It still needs stomping, clapping, and maybe bass and electric guitar, along with final vocals, but at least the bed of the song is there.
There were some fun little unexpected touches/moments. For one of the songs I felt like something was missing, so I recorded two tracks of the spiral notebook the lyrics were written in, striking it like a snare drum with brushes, and it seemed to work. I switched my vocal mic into the omnidirectional pattern to record the Hilroy makeshift snare from a bit of a distance, and then forgot to switch it back to cardioid when I went to overdub some harmonies. I wondered why the vocals suddenly sounded less present, but didn’t think too much of it. Then I found out what the problem was when I went to record vocals for a different song.
It was nothing compared to the profound goof I managed during the unexpected Papa Ghostface session in late January, when I spent the better part of ten minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t get any sound out of my bass, only to realize it had already been set up before I did a thing — I unplugged the patch cord going into the compressor right off the bat, thinking it was the cord for something else, and kept trying to figure out why the meters on the preamp were lighting up but nothing was coming out of the monitors. There was a reason none of the other cords nearby did the trick. None of them had the bass in their signal path.
Fortunately I figured out what was going on before too many baby iguanas were eaten. Fun times. Almost as fun as recording “stomping” on a recent song by using only the balls of my feet because I didn’t feel like standing up and really committing to the stomping, and then after about two minutes feeling the burn of ligaments screaming at me to stop torturing them.
I recorded bass for one of the banjo songs, but even though it adds some low end it seems wrong somehow. Like putting a cat in a three-piece suit. I don’t know what it is exactly. These songs just feel better left relatively naked, for whatever reason. I always think it would be interesting to try doing something more layered and “produced”, because most of my music ends up coming out pretty austere one way or another. But every time, it seems like the songs get wind of what I’m planning and they all say, “It ain’t gonna happen.”
They sound just like Charles Bronson when they speak, too. What can I do? I mean, you don’t argue with Charles Bronson.
Here’s a medium-tiny song recorded way back at the old house during one of those quiet periods when the crackheads were recovering from the night before and hadn’t quite started partying again yet.
I never mixed it back then because I wanted to overdub some more guitar bits at the end, but when I listened to it again the other day I decided that might make things a bit too cluttered, so I just mixed it as it was. Sadly, the MP3 makes the vocals sound kind of distorted in places when they really aren’t on CD. A pox upon you, MP3, for being a compromised and mediocre medium through which to relay music. I hope your digital penis shrivels and dies.
Once I get drum-related things squared away I’ll start posting songs that aren’t so stripped-down and acoustic in nature. Songs with distorted electric guitars and bass! Songs with toy piano and Fender Rhodes! Songs with my chord organ that sounds like an accordion with a chest cold! I can sense the blog nearly exploding from the anticipation already.