Unnecessary tremolo.

Got another song finished today, and it came together much easier this time. There’s this tune called “Blue Cheese Necklace” that’s been hanging out on the mixer for a few months now in rough form. It’s probably my favourite thing I’ve written on the six-string banjo in the year that I’ve had the thing.

It just hit me that it’s been that long. I had no idea. Crazy, man. Time for my first banjoversary.

Writing the song came naturally enough — it pretty much wrote itself while I was waiting for someone to show up at the old house (they stood me up) — but the recording process was a little funky at first. I had some ideas about how I wanted things to sound, with stomping and clapping and a dancing electric guitar line or two. After recording the banjo and some rough guide vocals back in March or April, I didn’t feel up to adding any of that stuff, so I just left the song alone.

Today I thought I’d give it another shot. Within about half an hour it was finished. I didn’t see that coming. Instead of stomp-claps, I gave that old snare drum some more love and attacked it with the brushes. And instead of the fiddly guitar bits I originally planned to add, I ended up recording these weird single-note runs using the Teisco electric guitar. The somewhat twangy sound suits the song so well it’s ridiculous.

The end result is quite a bit different from what I intended the song to be, but it’s probably a good deal better and more interesting because of it. What was supposed to be a pretty peppy banjo tune now sounds more like something out of a surprisingly accessible western directed by David Lynch. I dig it. It’s like my slightly sinister unconscious take on alt-country or something. I tried adding some tambourine as well. It made a lot of sense in theory but didn’t quite fit in the mix.

What’s funny about it is that the structure of the song is very repetitive. It’s the opposite of everything I’ve been trying to do as a writer for the past few years, really. But it feels right, and there still isn’t a proper chorus in there or anything. It’s sort of akin to walking somewhere and gradually getting the feeling that you’re traveling in circles, but once in a while you see a landmark or something that seems unfamiliar, so you tell yourself you must really be going somewhere. Then, when you’ve reached what seems to be your destination, you have no idea where you are at all. Not that this analogy makes any sense at all, but…yeah.

I’m really tempted to put the song up here and share it right now, even though I literally just mixed it, because it isn’t really like anything I’ve ever done before. But it’s probably going to be the first song on the album, and I’d rather it be a surprise. I’m sure there will be some out-takes, so once the album is finished I’ll post some of the songs that didn’t make the cut.

That makes ten CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN songs that are finished, mixed, and CD-ready, and at least three more that will join them once I tweak them a bit and add a few things. Most of the tiny songs and things I’ve been recording over the past few months (a few of which I’ve posted here) will be held back and saved for something else, because they wouldn’t make a lot of sense on TCAWWAT (now there’s a weird-looking acronym for an album title), and they weren’t recorded with this album in mind in the first place.

Progress! There’s much more to do, but an album is actually starting to take shape before my eyes, and that hasn’t happened in quite some time. I mean, there are several albums I’ve been brainstorming about for a while and sporadically recording things for, as addressed in my first post way back in the infancy of this blog-thing. But this is different, because instead of being somewhat directionless and lamenting the insane pile of songs I need to somehow record before my hair turns purple (and that pile is still there and getting more intimidating all the time), I’m working toward something that’s quickly coming into focus.

Figuring out what to do for album cover art will be tricky. What does a Chicken Angel Woman even look like? I can’t quite form that image in my head. But some woman named Ruth will set me free, I’m sure. Not that I know anybody named Ruth.

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