I’ve recorded and posted an MP3 of 8th Grade Graduation as well as lyrics. As I said last week, it’s inspired by Barak Obama’s courageous stance against 8th grade graduations. I played it last Wednesday, and I think it went quite well. Afterward, a man at the bar said he liked it, but hadn’t heard it before. So I guess he thought it was a cover of some radio musician he might have heard. Maybe that’s just because it sounds more like a pop songs than my other music, but I prefer to think it’s because of my excellent songwriting abilities.
New songs you would hear tonight if you were there:
- Come Pick Me Up — Ryan Adams
- At My Window, Sad and Lonely — Billy Bragg and Wilco (written by Woody Guthrie)
- Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key — Billy Bragg and Wilco (written by Woody Guthrie)
I’m going to try to record live tonight, to quickly fill the numerous (one, and counting!) requests for CDs.
It's been a long time since I've posted a new recording. In the meantime, I've acquired a new mic and audio input box. I've also been teaching myself how to do multi-track recording: playing with a click track, re-recording specific sections without redoing the whole song, adding filters, fades, etc.
I have a lot left to learn, but I think I'm comfortable enough now that I can sit down for a couple hours and end up with something that doesn't sound altogether awful and could be easily improved in the future. For example, a song I did today called "Better Bye," in MP3 and lyrics. I wrote it in the car after listening to a song by Jackie Greene. I think the original recording was on my cell phone. This is version one hundred and something. I have a fantasy that someday I'll record and post songs the day I write them. I'm not there quite yet.
So I took my newly acquired recording skills and applied them to a song I wrote way back in high school, Emily (lyrics, MP3). I'm pretty sure I recorded it previously, but I can't find any recording of it, so I made a new one, and added a new verse on the end that totally changes what the song is about. (Before Emily was the antagonist — now she's the protagonist.)
I'm sure there's more I could improve, but after spending over two hours on one song, I'm done with it for now. I could have played two dozen songs in that time and instead I just played the same one over and over and over. This recording stuff is hard work. I guess that's why pros pay other people to do it.
I don't think I significantly slowed the song down, but it ended up over seven minutes, so hopefully it's not awful, or it will be a whole lot of awful. I probably went overboard on the instrumentation: rhythm guitar, lead guitar, drum, harmonica, and voice. It's hard to listen to it after playing it so much, but I think it turned out okay. In any case, it's good practice, and maybe the next song won't take so long.
It's a twelve string (with only six strings currently) Framus, which is a brand I'd never heard of before seeing this guitar. In the picture, you'll note some holes in the front of the body. That's where the pickup knobs are going to go once I have my soon-to-be professional luthier friend JJ put them in and do some other repairs to it.
I never had a pickup put into my six string Ibanez guitar because I dropped it in Taiwan, ironically while exiting the airport after a long trip spent worrying about my guitar getting damaged on the plane. So now it has an unrepairable dent in the back, and even though it plays fine it seems a waste of money to give it a pickup.
After I get a pickup in the new Framus, I'll just need a mic and I'll be ready to play out somewhere. And then I just need to find somewhere out to play. I recently discovered the Ritual Café in Des Moines, which is unfortunately lacking a website of any sort. It has vegetarian food, wifi, and according to Google, is host a lot of musicians I like. So that's my long-term music goal: get the guitar fixed up, get a mic, and get a gig at the Ritual Café.
Meanwhile, I have a bunch of songs to record. I just figured out how to use Tracktion to do real-time editing or whatever you call it where you twiddle the knobs and sliders while playing through the recording to have different volume or other settings in different parts of the song. So that should improve the quality of recordings a bit. Now I just need to learn how to keep time with a click track. I think I'll Ask MetaFilter about that.
I just posted Not Gonna Rain (MP3 , lyrics), a song I started singing in the car last week on my way to work after reading something about weather on Shelley's weblog and thinking about how complaining about rain is cliche, but complaining about dryness isn't. Of course, since then, it has rained a plenty. As Shelley said in her most recent weather post,
weather is so wonderfully ironic.
I think this is slightly better recording quality than much of my recordings on the music server currently, but it's just a rough cut, done all in one take. It's the kind of thing I'd like to make the time to use as a scratch track to listen to while recording each instrument separately and then mixing them, raising the vocals a bit here and the guitar a bit there. Maybe adding some percussion and a soft accordion in the background. But for now, this is the recording I've done. I'm going to call this a release early, release often model for music, and hope that means I'll eventually get back to a better version of this and other songs.