Back After 5 Years with Recording Too Many Years in the Making

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Skully, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I won't admit to how long or how much I've worked on this track, other than to say before deciding that I was going to finish it once and for all a month or two ago, the last saved version of the file was dated 2015. That was probably two desktop computers ago. Many of the plug-ins I used no longer worked, so it was fortunate that I froze the tracks of the digital instruments to make the file play more smoothly.

    Yesterday, I decided it was time to say it was finished, and posted it in a thread about songwriting in the Bad Dog Cafe. I got maybe one listen. :)

    The song was inspired by a girl from the neighborhood I grew up in. In real life, she was much older than I and there was never a hint of romance. All the other stuff in the song happened pretty much as I describe.

    Musically, it's kind of an odd duck -- a lyrically-dense march that has me attempting some instrumentation that's a bit outside of my skill set (which is limited!) and mixing it up in weird way at times -- but I like to think that awkwardness helps make it interesting and unique.

    Now that it is abandoned -- I mean "done"! -- I'm eager to return to recording projects where I take a less-is-more approach, as opposed to more-is-less. In the meantime, I'm going to try to create a semi-animated lyric video for the track.



    "Mickey Mack" Lyrics

    We moved into the new development
    Easter '71
    Smell new paint on the walls
    Workers laying sod
    A little boy, I knew no one

    Then you appeared to me
    Pigtails and Mary Janes
    You skipped, sang
    and led me on
    To your pink bedroom
    Showed me what to do
    Then mama came
    and you were gone

    (chorus)

    Mickey Mack
    won't you come back home?
    Mickey Mack
    All is forgiven and nothing is wrong

    Like weeds we grew
    You led the crew
    Naughty mischief and good clean fun
    Freeze tag all day
    crank call, teepee and egg
    Truth or dare and touch football

    One night in June
    in your black-bottomed pool
    We kissed under the water
    For that moment
    I held our future
    Then I came up for air
    and you were gone

    (chorus)

    Then next door to me
    a boy from Italy
    moves in with his foreign charms
    Tank top and too-tight jeans
    Your eyes undo the seams
    I knew then that you were lost

    Your parents don't approve
    Capulet and Montague
    You sneak off and meet in Dan's backyard
    Midnight; full moon
    He makes love to you
    The seed planted tears us all apart

    (chorus)

    They say he's underage
    Pregnant, you want your babe
    You're in love and you can't be stopped
    Reno with false IDs
    and head shop wedding rings
    Running from the FBI and the cops

    I was sitting at your kitchen table
    With your sister and your mom
    They say your dad ain't so mad no more
    This is where you belong

    (chorus)

    Won’t you come back, baby, come back home
    Your dad’s put a welcome sign on the garage
    We’ll have a big block party, play your favorite songs
    All is forgiven
    We’ll sing, “All is forgiven”
    All is forgiven
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  2. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    Very good! I started listening to it just through the computer and then half way through put my headphones on. LOL. Not sure why I even tried to listen through the computer speakers cuz I know from my own music it doesn't sound good. LOL.

    The bass and drums were tight and clean and love hearing them. The Rhythm guitar was kind of hard to hear what you're doing but I know that's not usually the star anyways...

    Hopefully you don't take this the wrong way but for some reason your voice reminded me of Midnight Oil. Obviously in a different way but maybe it's your picture cuz that dude was bald back in the day. But there was some sort of similarity to me in the delivery. Which is a good thing. Maybe the emotion....

    But yeah, has a nice retro sound and great job with the recording and writing and playing.

    Those darned dark haired foreigners always getting the girls. LOL. :)
     
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  3. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Ha! Thanks. Indeed, the rhythm guitar is, for better or worse, just part of the wall of sound, blending in with the keyboards. There are a multitude of both! (More-is-less.) But, in the end, it's just not a guitar song. I do like the solo, however. I think it has a sense of humor, if that makes sense.

    I consider the vocal a bit awkward and stiff. I wanted to fix it, but then realized it wasn't a performance problem as much as an issue with the way I wrote it, with so many words, and the fast tempo (135 bpm) of the recording. I like to think I can sing more soulfully, or at least fake it better.
     
  4. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    Nice track. Sounds fine on my monitor system. My preference would be for more guitars and less synthesizers, but it's your song, right? BTW, the vocals sound fine to me, but if you want it to sound like a Europop tune, some digital echo would help.
     
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  5. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I should note that the drumming and the percussion is all real/acoustic.
     
  6. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Nice piece of work, Skully! Good to see you back in the neighborhood, old friend.
     
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  7. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    As someone once said to me, "it sounds like you know what a song should sound like." I was happy.
     
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  8. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks! And it's good to be back in this neighborhood to see you. I was thinking to myself, "I hope Woodman is still around on this forum."
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  9. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, I thought the drums and bass sounded real. Which I liked hearing. Way to go!!!! I am without a band in my old age and the few super simple recordings I've done recently I've used the drum machine on my son's keyboard. LOL. I have a tenancy to speed up so I like having something keep me on track. But it's sure not the same. Did you do the drums yourself? I have not had my own kit since the 90's. Truth, I had a clear ludwig like Bonham. LOL. IMHO they were not the best sounding. LOL.
     
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  10. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I do the drums myself. I'm not a good drummer by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I have a good ear and I'm anal and willing to endure endless repetition, although I've been trying to temper that now that I've started recording again. Real drummers aren't willing to work that hard for me for nothing, and I can't trust them to be disciplined about their timing.

    I'm sure I've told this story here before... More than two decades ago (could it really be that long? I'm gonna go kill myself), I was casually looking through the Recycler for I don't know what -- probably guitars -- and I spotted an ad for a sound-proofed (more or less) drum enclosure. It turned out it was a drummer going through a divorce. He was asking $75 for it, but he was so happy to get rid of it and get his soon-to-be-ex off his back, he gave it to me for free. After all, I had to disassemble it and rent a giant stake truck to haul it away. It's made of 4x4s, fiberboard and different types of insulation, and my wife and I nearly killed ourselves moving it in sections from the truck into our garage. In the ensuing years, I mic'd it and hooked it up to a DAW, which I upgraded piece by piece over time. I started out with a vintage Ludwig kit that I bought for a song back in the '80s in the Bay Area, took with me to Los Angeles and didn't set up for years. [Note: Vintage drums aren't as valuable as vintage guitars. This is a white oyster pearl set that looks like something Ringo would've played. Via the badges, I traced the production date to 1963. Still, not worth much.] I upgraded to a new Gretsch kit and replaced the snare on that.

    I'm not sure what set-up the drums were recorded with. The only new drumming is in the "slow" (same BPM) sections.
     
  11. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I wanted to go all Robert Hilburn on it... but I dig it... love the organ parts and I think the vocals have that cool jerky devo thing going on mixed with that early 80's pop thing...

    it is a tune to be proud of!
     
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  12. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    Smart pop...I like it.
     
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  13. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks! And feel free to go Hillburn on me. If you put out the work, you gotta be prepared to take the shots.

    The organ was recorded years ago. The part I worked on most in finishing it up was the "slow" part before the chorus before it goes out of the march. I had a more aggressive drum part in there, probably like the section before the guitar solo, and it was bugging me. (When I listen to the vocal in some of those pre-choruses, I can tell that they were recorded to a more aggressive drum part.) It was a struggle getting it to a point where I felt I could let it go. It needed to be lighter and looser, but not too spare. I mean, it's not hard for me to do something less tight-assed than the main beat, but it's not like I can expertly drop in ghost notes where they need to be.

    Anyway...

    The key to getting that section right was cutting the original acoustic rhythm part, then turning up the organ and adding a Leslie speaker effect to it. I didn't play one new organ note. I don't know if it's a Santana thing (it's not like I'm much of a fan), but when I hear an organ with a Leslie, it suggests congas. So I added some, which you probably can't hear. Then I added acoustic 12-string. That you also can't hear, but the one-string descending line I played leading into the chorus (actually, two-string since it was a 12-string guitar), while not distinctly audible, really sharpened the focus on that section, depending how high I turned it up in the mix. I also added a shaker part played with a quart half & half carton partially filled with quinoa, along with hand claps, which I feel dubious about mentioning, because I'm still not sure they belong there.
     
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  14. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I dig it.
    Lots of ear candy!
     
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  15. suthol

    suthol Friend of Leo's

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    Don't mind this at all, a bit of room there for everything to breathe.

    To me it sounds like 1980s Brian Ferry/Roxy Music, not hearing anything remotely like The Oils ( Peter Garret was and still is bald as an egg )
     
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  16. stantheman

    stantheman Doctor of Teleocity

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    Skully, welcome back! Hope it was a fun trip!!!:D:D
    Nice tune, I look forward to hearing it in the car driving
    on Route 1A.
     
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  17. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    The Ferry observation is interesting. Now that you mention it, I can hear it. Sadly, I hear more the '70s-era "Do the Strand'/"Love is the Drug" Ferry, which makes me shudder :p, rather than the "Avalon"-era Ferry, which I love. Of course, if I tried to sound like "Avalon"-era Ferry it would be a disastrous embarrassment. And that speaks to the eternal gulf between our self-image and our aspirations and what we really are. My sounding like Ferry has nothing to do with intent. It's a product of my limitations and, perhaps, genetics.

    My general philosophy about limitations when it comes to art -- and it's self-serving when it circles back to me -- is that they can greatly benefit the work, whether they're limitations of talent, time or resources. For instance, the Rolling Stones tried to authentically interpret the blues, and they couldn't quite pull it off (the recent "Blue & Lonesome," notwithstanding), and they ended up producing much more interesting work.

    It's hard to remember what my original intent was. (I misremembered what effect I applied to the organ just a week or two ago -- it was vibrato, not Leslie speaker.) I think I was going for a mix of '70s soul mixed with a bit of Madness. I probably got closer to the latter, which was definitely not my intent.
     
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  18. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    Cool song. Very unusual, and I mean that in a good way.
    Love your outlook of just declaring it done. That's pretty much how all my guitar builds end: just declared done.
     
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  19. FortyEight

    FortyEight Tele-Meister

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    The drums were righteous. I thought. Great job man. I thought the organ was a hair too loud but seeins how other people liked it, pay no mind to me. LOL. Do I dare ask what kind of program you use?

    I'm wanting to set myself up on a shoestring budget. LOL. Ugh. I have some mics I could borrow from church. SM58's, but I know everyone likes 57s for recording more. I'm worried about crashing my computer. I had a dell laptop and about a month after I installed audacity, it crashed and burned. And it seemed too coincidental. That was almost 10 years ago though so maybe my current laptop could handle it better. Another guy I know said reaper is a good choice... If you wanna pay. Haven't priced it out yet.
     
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  20. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Which program are you asking about? The organ (would have to check)? The recording program (Cakewalk)?

    You may be right about the organ. Bringing up the organ volume and adding vibrato to it was the key to tackling the final problematic sections of the recording, but that doesn't mean I didn't overdo it. It could also depend on what system one is listening on. I test it recordings of different sound delivery systems -- phones, computers, powered speakers, systems with and without subwoofers, etc Ideally, they'll sound good and essentially the same on every device, but it's a struggle to get to that place.

    I've never had much luck recording multi-track musical projects on laptops. I used to get super-duper laptops, just in case I wanted that capability. But it just never worked out well. Now, I get laptops that are just adequate. The good news is that powerful desktops are much cheaper.

    I recently replaced my desktop computer. At the same time, I decided to look into refreshing my recording software and I discovered that the DAW I've used for years, Cakewalk, is now available for free. After setting up my newer, faster desktop, I was chagrined to discover that my recordings were stuttering and dropping out. The solution was installing a secondary solid state hard drive. I want to make sure to transfer copies to other drives at regular intervals, because I understand that they aren't as hardy when it comes to repeated rewriting.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
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