a good sunday

liz came over and we worked on some of the recordings we have been tracking. things really gelled well on a couple of them today, we are at the end of the process, adding things really carefully for flavor. it’s amazing how much of a difference little tweaks here and there can make to songs. harmonies and backup vocals are so unbelievably powerful when it comes to making a great lead vocal line shine.

here’s a little taste. the song is called “sunday” (mp3) , written by liz ross, with pat spurgeon on drums, liz playing guitar and singing, and me on guitar, bass and keys.

(this is a rough mix….)

hobo’s lullaby

i was sitting here just now strumming the guitar and saw a dvd that i am going to watch soon, bound for glory, about woody guthrie. i remembered one of my favorite songs that guthrie sang, hobo’s lullaby, pulled up the lyrics on the computer, set the microphone in front of myself and this is the first take (mp3).

the song was actually not written by woody, but goebel reeves, a songwriter with an amazing story.

to protect the innocence

to protect the innocence is the provisional title for a work in progress (mp3). i watched fellini’s 8 1/2 a couple weeks ago, and there is a great scene where guido’s (marcello mastroianni) stunningly beautiful wife luisa (anouk aimie) calls him on his shit for writing about their relationship and putting it up on the screen and playing it off like he’s just being creative. then i was thinking about people i have known who do the same thing (they are called….writers). one of our friends sold a treatment for a TV sitcom based on my brother and me, and another friend would open his notebook when he came over, ready to write down any pearls of anti-wisdom that might pop up in conversation. and of course i have been writing songs for a long time.
this is making a short story long, but in any case i was thinking about the whole dance that you go through when you are writing a book or a script or a song. you can’t help but place people who are close to you in the picture, but if you paint them in an unflattering light, reveal their secrets, or you have been dishonest with someone and try to tell them about it in a “story”…look out!! (and that’s a very incomplete list of ways to fuck up).
i keep turning my songs into existential treatises. the song file is an edit with the scratch vox mostly taken out, but do listen through to the vocoder idea i had for the chorus…..

UPDATE: i put the skratch vox back in the mix and reupped it. not sure where i’m going with this. another version had me rowing down the grand canal because i could not sit idly by. there’s a bluebird in there, and one day he’ll find his way into my songs.

out of my own way

i wrote and tracked some vocals to the song that i recorded last week. it’s called out of my own way (mp3). i didn’t really mix it, sorta slapped it together, but i think most of the parts are there.

out of my own way

words rush by and i try to make sense of the cries
and the dreams in the words become clear on the back of my eyes
it’s so easy but it seems so hard sometimes
all this thinking is making this all so lame
i’ll just get out of my own way
don’t second guess when you know that the first was the best
and don’t make a home for fear and sadness get them off of your chest
it’s so easy but it seems so hard sometimes
all this thinking is making this all so lame
i’ll just get out of my own way
keep your focus don’t get blinded forest from the trees
play the record through to the center
steer clear of the stormy seas
all this thinking is making this all so lame
i need a thoughtectomy
my own sweet brain drain
i’ll just get out of my own way

have i mentioned what a chore it is to write lyrics?

i like this new song that i have been working on (mp3) but i can’t seem to settle on the lyrics. i think i just have to keep working at it until it feels right, but in the meantime that means a lot of time spent with the microphone on, the track rolling, and me sitting in a chair with my eyes closed thinking with a pen in my hand.

i thought at first that it would be about volatility of imagination. i was running a couple days ago and the smell of wet sidewalk and chimney smoke was sending my mind out on four or five concurrent trains of imagination and remembrance. i had been reading and thinking about technical analysis of stocks all afternoon, and was drawing a paralell to how, when a range-bound stock finally breaks in one direction or the other, you hop on for the ride. i wrote this line:

lately my mood has made tight little moves
in a narrow range of emotions

i’m still working on it.

funny how time slips away

many years ago my friend and one-time manager mike halle turned me on to a willie nelson song. this afternoon, with a little time to kill before running out to a dinner party for my 40th, i remembered the song, it seemed to fit my mood, and decided to give it a shot. i recorded it, and this is the first take (mp3), so forgive me the roughness. i threw a little extra reverb on there, because it is after all, country music.

cat cover

i wanted to sing a cat stevens song the other day, so i did a google search for the lyrics and wound up on his site. there is an area where fans submit their cover versions of his songs, so i recorded into white tonight.
my dad was the production designer on harold and maude, and as a kid i listened to probably more cat stevens than any developing mind should be allowed. i tracked this one without having to listen to the original again.

why and why not

so i tracked some vox for the song i came up with last night. give it a listen.

it’s about my favorite parable by kafka and phil’s theory that the man from the country awaiting entry could have passed through the gate to the law at any time, and it was only fear that caused him to die waiting outside. i kind of gave the song a happy ending with the notion of promise being behind the mystery door. this is kafka, so you know it’s probably a never-ending russian doll behind that door. i still need to do more drum programming (i’ve been listening to some porno for pyros, and i put the stephen perkins dual snare setup in this one), but i am feeling pretty wiped from lack of sleep and staying at this in manic mode seems stressful to me right now. so….fly, be free.

it’s only fear that’s kept me out here for years in the snow and rain
stare at fleas in a tartar’s beard, a man whose meaning is never clear
i can’t see a reason why not
then why not
not now maybe later, this guard’s my personal savior
did he just say that anything’s possible? that prohibition seems kind of improbable
i can’t see a reason why not
then why not
i’ll be here til the day i die unless i find the reason why
so should i wait here or just go in
beyond this gateway the mystery door
everything here’s familiar and on the other side there is only promise
i can’t see a reason why not
then why not