It’s been an odd day. I woke to a feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, which isn’t common for me at all. Likely it stemmed from lack of sleep and a developing issue of an eyelid with irritation. The one thing that brightened my morning was a random tweet by Lisa Loeb. She appreciated my tweet about Ed Cherney passing yesterday (Tuesday). I wrote a tweet to her in appreciation and she responded. That little gesture from her was super sweet.
Mind you, she doesn’t follow me on twitter. It’s highly likely she doesn’t remember me auditioning to play guitar for her on a tour. She also probably doesn’t remember when we bumped into each at NAMM talking to a mutual friend. Either way, she’s a lovely person and it brightened my day.
I felt like a task master getting rolling. Chris Hellstrom and I got our second podcast/broadcast recording in the can today. Compared to the first episode last week, this episode went substantially smoother. I pretty much had the outputs of the audio and video within an hour of finishing the recording. Compared to the 8 hours it took last week. that’s a huge savings in time. Massive creative time cut.
My goal for next weeks episode is to have everything output and ready for releasing within 30 minutes of getting all files. But that might be a little optimistic, as it does take time for Final Cut to export the video. Then for me to upload it to YouTube. And we’re only doing episodes in 1080. Imagine if it were 2k or 4k. It’d probably take a bit longer.
As I was waiting for Final Cut to export the video and Logic to export the audio for the podcast, I worked on yet another lyric video output for the vertical lyric video version for Hero Unexpected.
Once all those outputs were done, I shifted gears back to checking the mix for another single. A song that I co-wrote with Manda Mosher. I made a couple of minor tweaks to my mix and deemed it done. Thanks to some new mixing templates, I was able to output multiple mixes at the same time. Passed it over to mastering and got a master back shortly thereafter.
I sent a copy of the song to Manda and another friend Jesse Stern who played bass on the recording. Both of them enjoyed the mix and the song. I’m looking forward to getting the song into the release schedule for next year. We’ll see when. I’m also looking forward to hearing Manda do an Americana version in her style. I think she’d do a killer rendition of it too.
No, I’m not using something like LANDR for mastering, I think that it’s a joke and I don’t believe in it – and no I wouldn’t recommend using it. But I am working with a mastering setup that can do a fairly quick turnaround with a great sound.
When I look back at the work output for this day, a podcast, a podcast video (both of which are an hour long), a lyric video, and a song single. It feels like a pretty damn productive after a late start for a day where I didn’t want to get out of bed. That seems pretty impressive as I’m looking back on the day. And I’d like to thank Lisa for the kind words and response that helped set the day on a good path.
A Perfect Man exists
Something so simple, yet so complex has been created by Claude J Woods Jr and myself. The idea of a perfect man isn’t something new. No. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there chasing the concept of a perfect man.
Claude and I have done several tracks together and he came to me wanting to do more of a ballad type of song. So I decided I wanted to reimagine the idea of a ballad. Not the typical ballad or power ballad, but rather a stripped down and barebones bare the soul kind of thing. I came up with a very simple yet rhythmic solo electric guitar part that expressed that vibe. Claude responded with a melody and lyric idea that transformed into what you hear now.
In Claude’s words: “The song turned out to be an introspective of being a man basically in charge of his world. Where he’s not egotistical enough to think that he is invulnerable or infallible in his endeavor to be the man that he was taught to be. He’s able be strong in his conviction and responsibility, while still keeping his self esteem and self confidence. This man has a strong desire to be good whilst at the same time staying honest and humble.”
For me, it became about how a man could be put on a pedestal by his significant other. He realizes he’s been put there. That he wants to let them know about his imperfections and despite the possibility he might let them down, he’s still there for them, to the best of his abilities.
The journey of getting the song tracked initially went very different from how I had expected to do it. The simplicity of the guitar part took a lot more work than it what the auditory sound like. I spent a couple of days playing thru various amp and mic combos to get the right vibe with the guitar I was playing.
Once I had the guitar sound and got it tracked, I fought with my arranger & producer self to keep from putting too many instruments or layers into the production. In doing so, I really had to pay attention to how much emotion was coming thru the minimal amount of parts. A lot of attention to the detail of being able to propel the song forward came in to play. Usually I can throw the kitchen sink at a song and keep it interesting by sheer number of noises and layers I put in. The concept here thwarted that notion and made it more difficult to achieve.
I gotta wonder if the feelings I ran thru working on accomplishing the goal of simplicity runs anywhere similar in nature to how Apple designs their iconic products.
It’s my pleasure to present this song to you. I’ve already had some female friends tell me it makes them feel super sentimental to the point of bringing a tear to their eyes. To me, that’s the ultimate in compliments when a song can move a person to such strong emotions.
Let me know how it moves you. I know Claude and I will appreciate hearing your connection.
p.s. you can read more about the song here.
We’re quickly coming on the end of summer.
If the trees are any indication, we’ve already hit fall. If you’re a student, summer has ended as school is back in session. Which means you’re summer romance, the fling of your life has also recently dissipated or is about to dissolve into the ether.
Enter my new single “Till We Meet Again“, a candid song about those loves we’ve had in life that we hope to rekindle somewhere down the road.
The journey of this song is one of several start and stops and finally a go.
Originally the intent was to write an upbeat tune for a TV show and for a library. I pulled in a bass player friend of mine to co-write it with me. However, there was a bit of miscommunication and he got miffed about the situation, which ended the direction of the song as I had envisioned.
Next I approached another bass player friend of mine, Jesse Stern, and we started working on the music. As a direction it was still to be a library track, however as we got going with it, lyrics started pouring out. He was going thru some dark stuff and was spitting out darker lyrics. Musically as it was speaking to me it had to be a bit more positive, maybe a little more longing. Suddenly we got a song that embraced all of that along with the sounds we were laying down.
During the process of the demo we got to a section of the song and were discussing how to change one bar for it’s time signature. We spent a good deal of time trying to work out if we’d stick to the song’s common time signature (which happens to be 4/4), or go with either 7/4, 6/4, or 5/4.
Multiple different drum fills were tried out. It was a songwriter’s producing exploration into the wild blue yonder until we finally settled on one particular fill in 5/4 that provided such a sly feel to the section of the song that it was as natural as an organic ripe tomato.
Tracking the occurred in several studios. Namely mine for the acoustic guitars, synths, additional background vocals and drum programming. Yes, those are programmed drums. Jesse’s studio was were the bass was tracked and some additional synths as well. Finally the vocals were tracked at George Leger’s studio (Utopia Parkway Music) when it was located in Los Angeles.
One moment during tracking stands out to me. At one point George turned around in his producer’s chair to show me his arms. The hair was standing straight up. He says to me, while Jesse is sitting there:
“This is your Purple Rain. You’re giving me goosebumps.”
Chances are you don’t know George. He is a massive Prince fan. So much so, that he once took me to see Prince perform when I was down in the dumps going thru some tough shit in life. It was a shining moment. I digress. George was so taken aback by the vocal we were laying down and the quality of the song that he felt it would be my equivalent to Purple Rain. My reaction was “I sure hope you’re right.” Damn right, I’d love to have a song be as popular as Purple Rain. Hell, even half as popular would be ideal.
Another memorable moment came when George first noticed the bar of 5/4. He asked who the drummer was that recorded the part and who came up with the fill, he thought it was amazing. When I responded with, I programmed it, he thought I did a hell of a job. Very few people notice because of how natural it feels, it doesn’t feel like a bar of 5/4. This prompted a discussion between myself, George and Jesse, mainly because it was George who originally gave me the idea of adding an odd measure in a song.
After getting all the vocals tracked, George and Jesse also sang some backgrounds. Once back in my studio, I felt I needed some additional voices for the backgrounds, so I enlisted the help of Val and Julia to sing some more parts.
George and I tackled the mix and eventually George did the mastering (as he’s also a fantastic mastering engineer as well).
Now it’s finally been released and is ready for your listening pleasure. I hope it gives you goosebumps like it did for George. Cause that would mean you’d tell others they need to hear and playlist it, like you will.
More music coming soon.
Let’s Just Go Starts Streaming Today
My new single titled Let’s Just Go went live early this morning on all the major streaming and digital services. Think of being in a Tesla launching into ludicrous speed while having Gal Gadot riding shotgun as you go into the wild blue yonder. A whole lot of fun for the blacktop adventure that awaits for the summer.
TL;DR: For those who want to know more…
A Little History
A few years back I got invited to perform at a songwriter’s in the round event. I was placed on stage with some heavyweight songwriters who have written for acts you’ve heard of.
Was I intimidated? No. Well… No.
I had already met several of them before. But there was one guy who I hadn’t met and he had the biggest cred list of the bunch.
Pre show I had asked the two I did know, James Grey and Warren Sellars, if they would play rhythm on one of my songs so I could go and kick into a solo. They agreed. Yippee!
Fortunately during the song the guy you see in the background Kevin Fisher also jumped in.
After the set I was greeted by Kevin who came up and said “We need to do some writing together.” You have no idea how cool that made me feel in that moment.
Forward A Few Years
Kevin is a busy guy. We kept touching base but had a hard time finding time to connect to sit and write. Thanks to technology, we used FaceTime when I finally found an idea and we both had time to flesh out a song.
Over the course of a couple of FaceTime sessions we cobbled Let’s Just Go into a full acoustic guitar and vocal tune that we both enjoyed. From there I took on the task of producing it into the sonic vision that would be released with me at the helm.
Originally my girlfriend at the time sang the female backing vocals. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned, we split up and even more unfortunate – she’s not on speaking terms. Of course I made the mistake of not getting written permission to use her vocal. Mostly due to thinking I’d have permanent permission via marriage. You live and learn, right?
That version of the song had Kevin’s publisher thinking we’d be able to get a car commercial. Exciting to envision.
New Female Singer
Rather than attempting to get someone with no desire to speak with me to agree to sign off on her voice, I opted to hire another vocalist and remove the ex’s voice altogether. Off I went to the local musician’s hang to ask around for quality female singers. This led me to Amy Lynn Whitcomb.
There is the possibility you’ve heard of her. Provided you’re a fan of The Voice, or have seen the a cappella group JANE.
I listened to the tracks she sent me as examples, in return sent Let’s Just Go over to her to see if she was up for it. Bingo, she loved it.
We found a time for her to come over to the studio and replace the previous female vocals.
Amy did an awesome job. She took direction and was even able to hit notes that seemed near impossible, you can hear a seriously high octave harmony in the chorus. That’s Amy, not a pitch shifter, I’m impressed. NAILED IT – would be the catch phrase I’d use.
I sent the revised version to Kevin and he loved it. With two thumbs up from Amy and Kevin it was time to get it out to you.
I’m excited to see the journey this song takes from here on out. Hit me back when you add it to your road trip playlists, I’d love to know.
New Single Thump Thump Thump
Thump Thump Thump dropped Friday August 19th 2016.
A labor of love that took a long road to fruition. I’m excited to finally have it out free in the world for you to enjoy. Interested in the lyrics and reading the liner notes? Click here.
Here’s the Spotify link:
See you on the road soon!
BTW – It features Jesse Stern on bass, and Erez Ginat on drums.
Sometimes the best laid plans don’t go as envisioned. I was hoping that the label and the distributor would get both versions of Touch released in due time that all services would have it on launch day. Maybe that’s only reserved for the big boys and girls like Taylor Swift or Imagine Dragons. We all start somewhere right?
What am I referencing? Spotify.
Yes, I’m an advocate for Spotify, and other streaming services that are on the up and up for paying artists. Today marks the day that Spotify got one of the versions of Touch on their site. A week late from the actual release. Apparently they windowed themselves with their own plan. So far it’s only the explicit version that has reached the Spotify service. Better late than never. Though now I wonder if Spotify’s plan to wait another week to release the ‘clean’ version of Touch. Who knows?
If you’re a Spotify user I apologize for the delay, it was out of my hands. Hopefully you’ll be into sending the song out to all your friends and Spotify network.
My next step is working on getting into Rhapsody’s hands. I’m very interested in the new plan they’ve got going with Twitter. Instant audio cards that can be shared on Twitter without the need for a Rhapsody account, and somehow we artists still get paid. Someone finally cracked the nut on making music a more sociable sharing event via Twitter. Makes me wonder if Spotify will follow suit.
Time will tell.
Enjoy Touch on Spotify!