An update on the (lack of a) new recording

Just wanted to explain what happened with my attempt to record a new version of the song. I recorded it with a friend of mine, a professional musician, at his place in Raleigh, NC at the end of March, 2009. We only had a day to work, and I wasn’t at all happy with the session, for a few reasons. First, my friend asked me beforehand to figure out a tempo for the song using a metronome, since he wanted me to play with a click track during the recording. That made sense to me, since having a consistent tempo is pretty important when you want to add other instruments. But the tempo I had figured out turned out to be a hair too slow — it gave the song a much more lugubrious feel than I had wanted. Also, I hate trying to play to a metronome or click track; it feels so unnatural.

Making the unnaturalness worse was that we tracked the vocal and the guitar separately, which, again, was meant to make mixing and adding other instruments easier, but which I hated. I’m used to playing and singing at the same time, which means that my vocal inadequacies are covered by the guitar and vice versa. Hearing my voice alone much more clearly than usual (what with headphones) only made me nervous and self-conscious, which came right on through, clear as a bell, in the vocal performance. It’s a shame, too, because my friend said that he’d have been all in favor of having me play and sing at the same time — I mistakenly assumed that we should do it like the “real” musicians do.

Still, I thought that my friend might be able to work some magic on it — he’s a multi-instrumentalist and a terrific arranger of songs, and I thought that the recording might not sound so bad once it had other stuff mixed into it, stuff like bass and drums and lead guitar parts and maybe even some adorable plinky thumb piano. But my friend’s computer had some kind of problem (ironic, right?), and so he couldn’t get into the sessions. Eventually, he got it fixed, but I didn’t get the track until early December 2009, more than eight months after we recorded it. He had done a little work on it, such as double-tracking my voice, but he hadn’t added any other instrumentation. I don’t know whether I wasn’t clear enough about what I wanted him to do in production or whether he just didn’t bother because of all the technical issues he had, but after eight months I just didn’t want to pursue it any further.

I hate the new recording. It sounds “better” in the sense that it’s better audio quality, but it’s a much worse performance on my part (my voice is wobbly and off-key at many points), and the ever-so-slightly slower tempo makes it sound pretty depressing, and it hasn’t been tarted up at all in production with other instruments and whatnot. Bleah. It will never see the light of day, I vow.

My Raleigh friend has offered to let me do the session again for free, but even if I did want to spend the money to travel to Raleigh again, I would much rather either do it myself or do it with my buddy Jeff Romano of Greenwood Studio in Charlottesville, a professional engineer I’ve worked with before who’s made me some good demos.

Unfortunately, the money I made from donations went to my Raleigh friend, and, what with unemployment and what with more pressing uses for my money, I can’t afford either equipment or studio fees anytime soon. Maybe someday. But, I’ve gotta be honest, probably not — the song is now more than a year old, and people seem to enjoy the original version well enough.

Thanks for your support, though, and if I ever do make a better recording, all my internet friends will be the first to know. Meanwhile, share and play that free crappy home recording as much as you like! 🙂

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