Friday, June 25, 2010

Rockin' for Jesus redux

Interesting couple of days.  Yesterday I put in a lot of work on a custom song project, the one overdue item on my agenda that still was hanging fire from when I was busy producing Adam Exler's album.  "Custom song" can mean just about anything but in this case it was putting music to someone else's lyrics and then making a demo record of it.  I was really pleased with how this came out, partly because it was much more efficient than some of my previous tries, although I made one really comical mistake by accidentally bringing 22 drum tracks into ProTools all playing simultaneously.  It all sounded so cool, though, that I left it in and I had this big thunderous T-Rex kind of thing going.  I layered a bunch of keyboards over it and it wound up sounding a bit Beach Boys Love You-ish. 

I was especially pleased with the harmony vocals...since I've got this new regimen that's clearing out my head, I am really on fire with cutting backup vocals.  I did them all in just over an hour and it's some of the best multi-tracked harmony singing I've ever done.  I, of course, immediately sent mixes off to Alan Boyd and Earle Mankey and said, "check this out, suckers!"  Alan had sent me a working mix of his version of the Beach Boys' "Child of Winter" for the upcoming Steve Kalinich tribute album and I called him and said, "I just one upped you in the Brian Wilson sweepstakes!"  Then I took his girlfriend out and she got me drunk.  (This is actually true...but his girlfriend and I are old pals [I actually introduced them], so it's not as rude as it sounds!  Still, my day was more interesting than Alan's I bet!)

The song doctoring continued today as Jerry White asked me to help him rework one of the songs he'd been asked to polish up and record.  This is the first time I've been in at the ground floor of this process and when Jerry asked me I said, "are you sure you want me to do this?  You hate all my ideas!"  And we did indeed butt heads quite a bit but surprisingly we wound up with something we were both satisfied with.

The song was called "Christmas Has Begun" and it was even more Jesus-oriented than my session earlier this week, but because had more of a traditional Christmas hymn thing going on I resonated more with it, and whereas the old version was a ballad in 3/4, the new version is more uptempo in 4/4.  Jerry sped up the tempo to the point where it was almost an Irish shanty!  It was also kind of cool to have input on the songwriting part of it.  It wasn't something I would have written, but I did succeed in knocking out all the parts of the song that either were boring or didn't work to my ears, and that's plenty.  Once we had it all together, I sat down with the guitar and bashed the thing out, demo'ing it in three different tempos.  And then I was done, not a bad three hours' work. 

At the end I told Jerry I had an idea for another song.  I picked up the guitar and started singing:

To my surprise
One hundred stories high
People, gettin' loose y'all
Gettin' down on the roof...

For some reason Jerry did not rush to record my new Christmas hymn.

That wraps the projects on the table for now.  It's been a slow month, though not as bad as I originally feared.  The one nice thing is it gives me a chance to exercise, drop some more weight, socialize and reach out for some new and different projects.  Nothing's turned up yet, but it's still early days.  I'm enjoying having the extra free time.  I do seem to spend a whole lot of it drinking red wine, though.

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