I tried doing some more recording last night. Just guitars and vocals this time. Its still not quite what I want. I don’t know. Dylan could strum and sing and it drew you in. That’s what I want. I don’t know if its the songs, but these songs are 100 years old. They’ve stood the test of time. I’m starting to feel like my voice is the problem.
I haven’t really tracked anything now for about a month. I’ve just lost all motivation to work on this project. I’ve been spending more and more time just picking up my guitar and working on improving my arrangements for the songs I want to record. I figure if I can make really good arrangements, then I don’t need a bass guitar and all that jazz. My acoustic guitar and vocals should be able to carry the songs on their own. Its like, when I listen to John Denver, Johnny Cash, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, those guys can hold your attention and draw you into a song with just their voice and guitar. I want to be able to do the same thing with Irish music. I want to be able to own the songs enough that it feels and sounds like I have business singing these songs. I mean, Johnny Cash spent one night in prison. Hardly qualifies him to sing a song like “2o More Minutes to Go” or “Give my love to Rose” yet somehow when he sang those songs, you believed every word he said. Peter Rowan isn’t old enough to remember much about the dustbowl, but I wouldn’t question him when he sings “Dustbowl Children”. If I can somehow bring my influence of American folk music into Irish music, I think I’ll make a much better record.
So that’s where I’m at now.
I actually finished a Christmas track for the Decapolis Christmas album, which will be made available for download soon on decapolis.com. I guess I’m happy with it. I did it in a matter of like, 2 hours. I feel like I could do better, but its fun none the less. Tonight I’m performing 3 Christmas songs at a local coffeehouse. My wife plans on filming it. If it turns out good, I’ll put up the video.
I almost forgot about this blog. Probably because I haven’t been able to work on my album for quite a while. Its been quite the crazy last couple of months. We’ve been making trips up to the mountains, found out we’re having a kid, moved practice spots for The Suburban Sound, and general holiday madness. I’m obviously not going to finish the album before Christmas. Once I lost the bass guitar, I found myself w/out a direction to take. I scrapped the whole album because I knew that the formula I had wasn’t going to work anymore.
On the performance front though, I am performing for a Christmas Coffeehouse at a local church on Dec. 19th (try finding Irish folk songs that are appropriate for that!). I’m doing 3 songs w/ some other musicians. It’ll probably be the closest I’ve gotten live to the recorded stuff. We’ll be able to pull of guitar, mandolin and bodrahn for the songs. I’m pretty excited about that. I’m also going to record a Christmas song for www.decapolis.com (they have a Christmas album where members of the community record tracks at home, send them in and you can download the album every year). I’m going to do the Pogue’s “Fairytale of New York”. I’m sure I’ll have to rework some of the lyrics in the third verse to make it “Decapofriendly”…but I’m still excited to do it. So look for some new recordings coming soon.
Well I’ve worked hard on the 7 songs I do have the bass done on. I’m just kind of layering now. Deciding where I want tin whistles, what kind of mandolin styles I want, that sort of thing. The fun stuff you know? Not that all of it isn’t fun, but I really like trying to play all the different instruments to create the sounds I want.
That being said, I’m taking some time out this weekend to just relax. For once I have a completely free weekend. I cleaned the house a few days ago so that’s done, I don’t have to work, I don’t have any other bands or projects wanting to record, I don’t have any shows to do w/ The Suburban Sound, it’s no nay NOTHING! I plan on relaxing this weekend. There’s lots and lots of football on tomorrow (mostly English Premiership), I have a lot of games DVRed from this week that I haven’t seen yet (Man Utd vs West Ham, Celtic vs Hibs, and Hull City vs Chelsea) that I plan on catching up on, and I just scored the new FIFA 09 for the Wii. The new FIFA is so much better than last year’s edition (at least the Wii version is). The graphics are a step up (still not phenomenal…come on Wii. You haven’t even begun to tap into its possibilities) but the real improvement is in gameplay. It’s more responsive and less complicated. Also, it has a manager’s mode this time around so I plan on taking Sir Andrew Logue’s Manchester United to Treble Glory!
Happy Reformation Day and see you next week.
Well I lost my bass guitar. I didn’t actually loose it, but the person I was borrowing it from needed it back. I’ll go on a quest to find another one to use. I’m sure someone somewhere has one I can use.
Despite losing the bass guitar, I am really pleased w/ the progress I made these last few days. I was able to track a take of “The Foggy Dew” that I’m fairly happy with. This in my opinion is probably the most difficult song that I’ll be recording. There are many ways to perform the song and dangers w/ each take on it. For instance, if I do it too slow, the the temptation to recreate the famous version by the Chieftains is there. If I do it too fast, it’ll start sounding like the more punk rock version that the Young Dubliners have done. I don’t want it to sound like I was trying to recreate someone else’s version of the song. Al that is to say, I’m happy w/ how it turned out. I won’t reveal how I approached it, but its banging. I think that w/in the next week or two, I may leak some rough mixes. We’ll see.
I’m finding out that I’m only good for about one song per session ha! Any time I end up trying to sing and play more than one song, I end up scrapping the second song. Anyway, this morning as well as Monday I got several more songs finished. I believe I have about 7 songs tracked. Slow progress I guess, but I like to record a song, then walk away from it for several hours, come back and listen to it again. I know that if it sounds good to me several hours later, then its a take I want to keep.
Here’s a run down of the songs I’ve recorded (and am definitely keeping):
The Fields of Athenry
The Stuttering Lovers
Tim Finnigan’s Wake (the best track so far)
Big Strong Man
Jug O Punch
I feel like I made the most progress last night that I’ve made so far on this project. The biggest thing thats holding me back right now? I really think its fear. I’m so used to playing rock and roll and even the most laid back and loose rock and roll has to have a sense of musical “tightness”. I would never dare to record my band w/out a click track for instance. If our lead vocalist’s voice shakes or waivers, we’d do another take. We certainly would never track vocals at the same time as ANY other instrument. Yet I’m breaking every single one of those rules with this project. The tempos are all over the place, my voice can move in and out of pitch at times, and isolation is far from a major issue w/ this project. Its completely unnatural for me to record this way which is ironic because I want a natural sound. To get a natural sound I have to do what is unnatural? I love it. Last night I felt like I just got over the fears of being sloppy. I sat down in front of some mics and banged out 4 songs in about 30 minutes. This morning after listening back to them while getting ready for work, I have to say I am fairly pleased with how they turned out.
I need to just keep them this way and move on.
First off, I’m happy to say that yesterday I seemed to “crack the code” concerning how to track this album. I recorded the guitar and vocals live (so like, if I messed up, I had to do the whole song over again because of bleeding on the mics) but it got the feel I wanted. I then went and did the bass track on the song before I forgot how I performed it. Seemed to work fairly well. Gave things a nice live “pub” feel, which is what I want.
Speaking of that pub feel, I was severely disappointed by the music at Celtic Fest in Bethlehem PA. I spent a good part of Saturday evening checking out the acts. It seems that nobody there, apart from the famous Seamus Kennedy, was playing drinking music or Irish folk music. Everything there was that new age Celtic shit. I hate that crap. Some of the bands had really good musicians. They could bust out mad reels. However, when they would start singing, it was always that breathy Enya type singing…even for the men singers. Come on Celtic Fest.
I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. I think there is ONE right way to track this album and I simply haven’t found it yet. I really want to avoid the whole “use a click track, lock in the tempo, keep everything in a nice neat box” that I had on the last album. I found that tracking the guitar and vocal at once really gets a nice sound and a great feeling, however when I try to get the bass track tight w/ the guitar and vocal, because I’m not using a click, it’s virtually impossible to get the bass locked in. I know its folk music and super tightness isn’t a concern but I don’t want things to sound sloppy either. I have yet to unlock the right combination for tracking this thing.