There’s a song Gord and I have been playing for almost half our lives. First we played it to explore its newness. Then we played it to add to it. Then we played it to make sure we wouldn’t forget all the different pieces of it. It’s an instrumental guitar piece that always sounded evocative to me, in a way that set it apart from anything else we’d done.
We never gave it a proper recording. We never knew where to put it, or where it wanted to go.
After years of letting our lives take us different places, we brought ourselves back together and found the spark we first created as teenagers was still there. It never left. He remembered pieces of the song but not the whole thing, so I jogged his memory a little, and we decided it was time to create some permanent record of the thing.
I’ve been playing bits of this song, with Gord and on my own, here and there, for twelve years. And when I sat down to record my part a little over a week ago, I couldn’t get it right to save my life. Somehow I kept getting in my own way. In all the years I’ve been recording music, this has almost never happened to me. Most of the time I get what I want within a few takes. This time it just wasn’t happening.
He went out on the porch for a smoke, to give me some privacy, but that didn’t do it. I tried changing the tempo. That didn’t do it. I swore a lot. That didn’t do it. After about ten failed takes I was sweating. It was strange. I’m not someone who sweats easily.
Gord came back inside after a while. I still had nothing to show for myself but sweat and frustration. I told him I would try one more time, and then I was giving up. So he sat and watched me try, and played air guitar, and in my peripheral vision it looked like he was doing something else. It looked like he was conducting me. In a weird way that encouraged me, relaxed me, and finally I got a take that was good all the way through, and we could move on to his part (which he nailed in two or three takes, of course).
I guess when things aren’t going my way sometimes I need to believe someone’s waving an imaginary baton in my direction.
After all these years the song still doesn’t have a name, but we’ll come up with something.