Earlier this week I spent a couple days recording all my guitar solos, both acoustic and electric, and singing some harmony parts on a few of the songs. And although it’s frustrating at times, at least the duration of each take is only 30-40 seconds. I will admit I was surprised when Chris told me I had done 39 takes for one particular solo, though. It turned out well, but it took some doing, that’s for sure. I’m relatively new to electric guitar playing, and while I’m totally comfortable with my rhythm playing I still find the electric solo to be a daunting task at times. In a live setting you have the luxury of the energy in the room and the ability to fool around some, but in the studio it’s more like a 30 second composition that has to have body and flow and melody and direction. I’m not saying that acoustic solos don’t have to have that same recipe, but in my particular style you can just throw a lot of notes at it and usually come out on top. With the acoustic it’s generally a lot of staccato notes, too, whereas the electric has the added quality of sustain that can be used (or abused). At any rate, I put my best into it, and I think it came out fairly well. I have a long way to go, but I’m on the path. And the solos are recorded.
The vocal harmonies were no problem, really, except that some of the parts you think will be great sound like barbershop when you hear them recorded. And that’s not quite what I’m going for. Will is going to come in and record one of the harmonies he has been singing live on “The Simplest Things” in the next couple weeks. And we also have a guest artist coming in to play on 2 or 3 of the songs in a couple weeks. I’m not going to disclose any details, I assure you it will be worth the wait!
So unless something goes awry, all my parts are completely recorded for the new disc. Everything it’s going to have from me is down in the bits and the bytes. I did make the decision to stop working on one of the songs that was lagging behind a bit. I have certainly put out a few songs in the past that I wish I hadn’t. And in hindsight I had a funny feeling all along that I wasn’t comfortable with the tune or lyrics of each of those in one way or another, but left it in and forced the song onto the CD. So I decided to go ahead and honor that feeling this time and act on it. At least that way I get the opportunity to fix it and keep it for a later project and road test it live. There are also a couple more that I think will be cut just because there’s too much material and they might not fit in with the others well, but we’ll go ahead and mix and finish those and stash them away for some later use. The songs are sound, in those cases, but they just don’t seem at home on this album. As my friend Mr. Rosser says, “too many songs is a good problem to have”.
I got the first four final mixes yesterday, and Chris will be mixing the other 8 or 9 late next week. By next weekend I should be able to start putting it all together and thinking about song order and final cuts and all, in addition to the dozens of little tweaks to the sound we’ll be making before the final audio mastering is done. It’s like each song is a chapter in a book that you can’t put into perspective properly until it’s printed. I know that was the case with the last CD, and I’m sure it will be with this one, as well. As much time as you put into crafting something in minute detail, it’s true significance and nature is often only apparent when you can step back from it and look objectively, or as objectively as any artist can view their own work, and take in the bigger picture. And even though I am reaching that part where I can sort or turn a corner in my mind as far as the intense creative work is concerned, I’m still very much immersed in the details and unable to step back too far. But the glimpses I do get from time to time bode well for the final product. I think this will be the most representative recording I’ve made to date, and one I can proudly hand to anyone, anywhere and say “here’s what I do”.
That’s the real goal as far as I’m concerned, to put out a quality product that I can be proud of and stand behind. There are bajillions of details and tasks that need to be attended to in order to make a living of making music or any kind of art (and even to release this CD), but the biggest and first task is to create a quality product, with your whole heart in it. I am told that all the other stuff will line up behind that of its own accord and in just the right time. I’m looking into lots of those details now, leaning forward into the CD release time frame later this summer, but doing everything I can to stay here in the moment with the music I’m creating and producing. There’s a lot of work to be done yet, but it’s starting to come together, and take on its own life. My job, as always, is to do my part, do my homework, believe in my abilities, but also let things happen as they will and trust in the process and the outcome.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll check back in soon.