Songs are a bit like people in this sense: they grow up. They begin as embryonic ideas and disconnected scraps of sounds that incubate in safe, quiet places and then show up one day on weak, wobbly legs, tentative and uncertain, but ready to be heard.
Playing a song for the first time is one of my favorite aspects of doing music, perhaps a little like showing vacation pictures to a friend (but better because it takes less time and the friend doesn’t have to act polite for too long). It is not unusual, on first performance, to realize that the song is still somehow unfinished, still needing to mature a bit and lose some of its awkwardness, still lacking in balance. But by the time I’ve played it a few dozen times, the song feels like it might survive into adulthood.
I often make the mistake of recording songs shortly after I’ve written them and before I’ve sung them in front of people which explains (1) why they might sound a bit timid and underdeveloped and (2) why the songs often sound quite different ‘live’ than they do on the recordings. And I often think to myself, “I really should go back and record that song again.”
Well … that said …
This past week, Dewayne and I met to do just that. We set up just as we would if we were doing a concert and, with the help of Dean Castile (producer/engineer), ran through 22 songs in about 5 hours time. Twelve or thirteen will make it to the disc. There are all manner of imperfections, timing inaccuracies, and vocal sharps and flats on the recording but there is no way to edit or correct most of those things so they’ll stay as they are. I listened to a good bit of it yesterday and rather enjoyed what I heard. (In some ways, it was the first time for me to fully hear what Dewayne does. Usually, I’m dealing with guitar and singing, which limits my ability to pay close attention to what he’s playing. I’ve always sensed that his parts serve the songs nicely but, until yesterday, I did not know just how true that was.)
The songs I anticipate using will be 20 dollar Dog (on a thousand dollar rug), 1412 and 1420 (the song about two houses), Daddy Who Cares (a parent with teenagers),
Game of Who Has More (two little boys comparing muscles), Love of a Different Kind
(the girl with the blemished face), Meant to Be Found (the Easter egg song), Open Windows (the risk of loving anything), Refrigerator Art (what kids draw and what we are), Running at Her side (the bicycle song), Shoulder to Shoulder (the two one-eyed birds), Santa and Victoria, (Christmas at the Montgomery Mall), and Everything is a Fingerprint (It all points to Something bigger). We’ll use the left over tracks on a future project.
Usually it takes months to complete a CD. We started this one last Wednesday and I fully anticipate having it ready for duplication by the end of this week. That’s got to be a record of some sort. We’ll let you know when it’s available.