music | video | bio | photos | shows | buy | blog | press | epk | contact | home

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recording - Day 1

I woke up at 6:00 am, and went downstairs for a hit of vitamin C to keep away the virus that’s floating around. I paused at the bottom of the stairs in the half-light. The instruments, microphones, and wires reminded me of . . . Christmas morning when I was little. Something magical had descended on our little home.

After a bit more sleep and an easy start to the day, Nik swung by at 11:00 am and fired up the gear. We started working on the first song, a solo instrumental entitled Chapter Eleven (Peace), which refers not to US bankruptcy law, but to a chapter in the I Ching:

“This hexagram denotes a time in nature when heaven seems to be on earth. Heaven has placed itself beneath the earth, and so their powers unite in deep harmony. Then peace and blessing descend upon all living things.”

Those unfamiliar with the I Ching and ancient Chinese philosophy may still be familiar with the song “Chapter 24” from Pink Floyd’s debut album “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” Syd Barrett based his lyrics on lines from the same book.

When I first got my National resonator guitar, I was mesmerized by the symphony of resonant harmonics that would ring out when I played the slide. I eventually developed a meditative solo based on that experience. It seemed a fitting way to begin.

Nik’s depth of sonic knowledge began to dawn on me as he set up a number of different mics to capture those delicate resonations. Recorded, it sounded like my ears were inside the guitar—absolutely transfixing. After a few takes we were done. We had achieved lift off!

We called Jesse over from next door and we prepared to track a duet with upright bass and slide, called “I’d Rather Be With You.” It’s a love song for Jane that listeners have been requesting for some time. I needed to really relax and let the richer side of my voice flow out. Deep breath, grounded feet, and a warm heart (Jane was perched on the stairs with a camera and a smile).

My National (Estralita Deluxe) is so resonant that it acoustically amplifies every little sound, including bumps, scratches and rattles. So I wasn’t sure I had the technical proficiency to pull off such a gentle song. But in this patient and supportive environment, I managed to surpass my expectations. It doesn’t hurt to have a son who plays bass like a big old tree. Thanks, Jes.

Time for lunch—homemade California rolls, hummous, veggies, and carrot/coconut soup with free-range hard-boiled eggs on the side. Filling but light—perfect prep for singing. Oh, I almost forgot the chocolate bunny from Lewis Melville!

Which reminds me to say thanks right now to members of our Guelph musical family who graced us with their recording gear—Lewis Melville, Andrew McPherson, Scott Merritt, and James Gordon. I love this town!

Tannis arrived at 2:00 pm and we got ready for the last song of the day—our slow version of “Oh Susannah.” Jane is getting over a cold, and luckily, it gave her voice a richness that suited the lower harmony part. Tannis is an angel, so we know how she sounded!

This one has an intricate counterpoint instrumental section, so I figured I’d need a click track (metronome) in my headphones to keep me steady. After a few takes, however, I realized that the added sound was keeping me from being fully in my body. So I dropped the click and the instrumental began to gel. We paced ourselves, stuck with it, and before long, it was wrapped with a bow.

I think it is Christmas—we had three songs done, live and organic, right “At Home.”

1 comment: