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Column Archive

August, 2009

"Preconceptions"

by Webmaster

Last month I wrote about writing story songs. My advice was to make it up as you go along.

I'm recording a CD of original and co-written songs. I've been lucky: I know people who are phenomenally talented, and they have helped tremendously with the songwriting and recording processes.

My philosophy regarding the songwriting and recording process is the same is it was when I worked in the corporate world: get the best people you can, give them what they need to get their work done, and then get out of their way. In most cases, I did not "visualize" the final recording of any song.

As a result, my songs have come to life in totally unexpected but completely wonderful ways. Talented co-writers, advisors and musicians (Ernie Martinez, B. J. Suter, J.J. Fraser, Christy Wessler, Jim Ratts of Runaway Express Runaway Express: Bands, Singers, Songwriters / Composers, Solo Performers, Sidemen, Instrumentalists, Performers, Entertainers, Musicians, Cowboy Poets, Bill Barwick, Bob Turner, Michi Regier, Jon Chandler, Brandy Herbert, Jeff Ingram, Peter Schwimmer, Hannah Alkire, Tim Hawkins) have contributed so much to the final product: lyrics, music, instrumental breaks, arrangements, harmonies, etc.

During each step of the process, with help of all of these people, more elements of the song have revealed themselves in ways I could not have "visualized." I've been watching small buds open and grow into incredible blooms.

We're down to recording a few more tracks and finishing the mixing / mastering process. I'm discovering how creative the mixing process can be.

The day before I wrote last month's column, I spent time with Jim Ratts, my recording engineer / mentor who is helping me create the best CD that I can make. Jim said that we have a fantasy about what our CD will be when we begin the recording process. When the CD is done, we don't have a fantasy any more. We have a reality, which probably won't match the fantasy. What we need then, is a new fantasy, a new CD to work on.

I love his idea.

I didn't want to admit to him (though I'm sure he knew) that I didn't have a fantasy about what my CD would be like. I started with the idea of recording a song or two almost four years ago, including my friends on the recordings, and then meeting some interim deadlines. But, some of the songs that were on my list to record are still on my list to record, and won't be on this CD. New songs were written and added to the list.

Like creating characters and settings for story songs, and letting the story reveal itself to me in the writing process, I've let my CD reveal itself to me during the writing / co-writing and recording process. The final product will be a surprise to me.

Recently I was asked about art work for my CD. Argh! I've been taking it one step at a time and hadn't even given a thought to artwork. I'm not even sure what I should call the CD. Perhaps the name of the CD and the artwork should relate in some way. I think I'll wait and see what happens. Mollie O'Brien recorded a song may years ago that has a line that stuck with me: "In the middle of the night, with your covers pulled up tight, it's gonna come to you."

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