These days, being a right-brained musician is not enough. You have to be a left-brained engineer too. Want to record? You need a good laptop, a digital audio interface, Digital Audio Workstation plugins for compression, EQ, reverb, MIDI instruments, etc. etc. etc. Mastering? That’s something else entirely.
Fortunately, I am an engineer. So no worries.
It’s been really fun to learn about all that stuff in the course of working on TWO upcoming albums. My band No Worries will soon release Downstream, including 12 songs of mine. They sound great, I’m very excited. As soon as that’s in the can, any day now, I’ll return to finishing my third (and first digital) solo album, as yet unnamed.
Valentine’s Day Dinner at Georgina’s will be a chance to reach way back and play all the love songs I learned (and wrote) over the years. Lots of variety here, from the exquisitely lovely If I Needed You by Townes Van Zandt
If I needed you, would you come to me
would you come to me and ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you
I’d swim the seas for to ease your pain
to the wistful Christmas in Prison by John Prine, which I learned when I fell in love for the first time:
I dream of her always, even when I don’t dream
Her name’s on my tongue, and her blood’s in my stream
Her heart is as big as this whole goddamn jail
And she’s sweeter than saccarine at a drug store sale
I’ll be performing solo at Raleigh’s new Moore Square Market on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 28. My band, No Worries, will play for your dining pleasure at Georgina’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant in Morrisville the previous Saturday evening, Aug. 24.
Both ways, it’s great to get out there and play music for the folks!
Writing songs is fun when a good one comes without too much struggle. That happened in the last week.
Last January I finished two songs in one day (unheard of for me). But that was 14 months ago. It was time. I came up with an OK melody and chord progression, but couldn’t figure out what the song was about. I wrote a whole page of lyrics that didn’t really mean anything.
I sat down with my guitar a week ago Wednesday and played it again. Then I thought about writing a straight 12-bar blues instead, and started playing 7th chords. A melody kind of jumped out of the guitar, so I recorded it on my phone. I liked it enough to keep it playing in my head. In the car on Saturday morning I thought of a refrain to fit the last line: “I wouldn’t know, that’s way before my time.” Wouldn’t know what?
Hmm. I’m a middle aged (yes) white guy. I wouldn’t know what other people go through. A black man driving through the south. A young aspiring actress having to please a creepy producer. It took a couple of hours, but I by 3 pm I had the whole dang song. It basically flowed.
That was six days ago. I’ve been learning to play it, tweaking the lyrics here and there, and deciding on an arrangement. This song has played in my head about 10,000 times already. I’m ready to record it tomorrow! It’s a good one. Look for it.
Is that an oxymoron? No Worries band was featured last month on WHUP-FM’s Pass the Hat show. Now live videos of four of our songs, including two of mine, are published on their YouTube channel:
Backwards Upside Down
Must Be Dyin’
Rise from the Ruins (by Mark Heard)
Oh Mama (by Aoife O’Donovan)
Check them out!
Last month my band No Worries was a featured guest on the Pass the Hat radio show on WHUP-FM. They were kind enough to record the entire hour here (we’re in the second hour, so skip to 1:07). There are also videos of individual songs available on my Youtube channel, to be released in coming weeks.
After the Beatles stopped touring in 1966, they spent a LOT more time than they ever had before in the studio on Abbey Road, recording a little LP they called Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rumours started in the press that the long delay meant they had must have run out of ideas, musically. That was fake news.
In recent months my band No Worries has played only a few gigs, because we’ve all been busy with other projects. In my case, it’s recording. In November I spent a whole day recording a bunch of songs at the Powow Fun Room in Los Angeles. Since then I’ve been adding parts and experimenting with different mixes. A couple are close to ready: Hope and Pulling Me In. I’m looking forward to sharing them soon!
I’m learning a lot, but I really need a producer …
At John Campbell’s suggestion, I’ve added lyrics and chords for most of the songs. Maybe that’ll make it easier for those lazy musicians in LA and Nashberg to learn them!
I’ve got a couple of goals with this website.
First: I’ve written maybe 70 songs over the years, that I remember and still play sometimes. A few I’ve forgotten because they were forgettable, but usually I don’t bother to invest the time and effort to finish a song unless I think it’s a keeper. Then I keep it. Some songwriters write “throwaway” songs for “practice,” a new one every day or something silly like that. Not I.
It’s about time I made a list of these great songs (editorial comment) and a collection of audio and video to go with it. For some there are recordings: older or newer, solo or with other musicians, video or audio only, professional studio or home studio or simple demo. Others, I’ve never recorded at all. It’s about time I catalogued them and made sure each one has a decent recording. Otherwise, how would my friends and family ever hear them, except live when I picked up a guitar felt like playing one of them?
Second: maybe somebody beyond my dear friends and family might like some of these songs. How would they ever hear them if I kept them squirreled away, secrets in my private collection, cassettes in my closet?