On the 24th we recorded "Ember" and "Bygones." We ran out of time for the tenth track, "Stuff and Such," (our scheduling issue. not the studio's.) Rather than book another day, I've decided to just call it finished at 9 songs instead of 10. Is that an EP? An LP? A BM? These are not the kinds of things I know. What I do know is that the tracking is done.
Now we mix.
You know, they can fix just about anything. Cutting and pasting and cleaning and polishing. If I wanted to, I could ask Ryan (Sound Farm) or Jonny C (Cedar Falls) to shine these suckers down to their liquid glass center and reshape them. Streamlined, clear and flawless, piercing exactly center of target every single second. Or I could just keep it real.
But how real is too real? Who wants to listen to a big nasty mess?
One of my favorite songs is "Let Him Fly" by Patty Griffin off Living with Ghosts. Toward the end of the second verse, if you listen closely, you can hear a siren--environmental noise that bled through. To me, this imperfection makes it real and accessible--a reminder that she's just a person in a room singing and playing a guitar. And I like that a whole lot.
We recorded "Rotary Dial" in 3 live takes with Kat and Aaron from The High Crest (djembe and harmonica, respectively). That is to say, we all played all together in a live room, start to finish, three times. No click track. No punch-ins. No nothing. It felt very alive. But also nerve wracking.
I loved everything about the third take except my vocals on the second verse. So... badaboom badabing. Captain Ryan will lift the second verse out of the second take and plop it into the third take. And you'd never know it if I didn't tell you.
Is that cheating? Or is it just utilizing resources?
The last song I recorded in Cedar Falls in March was "Messenger." It was also a live take, just me and the guitar. No harmonies. No other instrumentation. I'd been fighting a cold. Every cold goes straight to my throat. I'd started the day raw anyway; so by the end of the night, my voice was totally shot.
Despite my gravely throat, we recorded anyway...basically, because we had time and it seemed simple enough. A small recording budget means minutes of studio time are packed sardines. Know what you're doing ahead of time and fill every space. On the track, my voice is noticeably strained, but I feel like it fits the song, a plea for help. I slip off pitch noticeably toward the end, but we're keeping it. There will be no fixing.
"Bygones" features a piano slip. Subtle. I don't even want to tell you about it. Nevermind. It's perfect.
But I don't want things too perfect.
Take Joey Lawrence, for example. He's too damn handsome. He's too perfectly hairless. Too perfectly chiseled. Too evenly tanned. Too symmetrical. His hairline is too consistent. I think he was carved out of candle wax. There is something upsetting about his level of aesthetic precision. I'm sure he's a lovely person; but I don't want my songs to be Joey Lawrence.
You know what else I do imperfectly? End blog posts.