I am taking requests

Two people asked me this week when I planned to “lay down my next track.” I’m pretty sure this means I’ve “been discovered.” Actually, there was some discussion over how to describe the act of recording a song and then sharing it via social media. I think we landed on a phrase that makes me sound cooler than I actually am, which is always a good thing.

I have been working on a few things. Let’s discuss…

I could record Stay With Me from Into the Woods. It’s ready. But I’m holding off. I don’t really know how to describe why. I’m focusing a lot of energy on staying true to my voice these days.  To work on the kind of music that fits with both my voice type and who I am as a person, the kind of music I connect with. I do love Stay With Me, and it’s not like it’s a total mismatch. But there’s also something about it that just doesn’t fit right now. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m listening and trusting my intuition.

Which tells me to write. Oh writing. It’s so hard. So harder than I thought it would be. A week or two ago I told myself to quit dragging ass and write something already. I thought maybe my desire to write something of absolute genius was preventing me from writing something. Anything. I do think there’s some truth to this.

So I did. I wrote something. It has a vocal melody. With words. And piano to go with it. It’s very, very simple and very short. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’ll try and turn it into something more substantial. Maybe I’ll record it and share it as is. We’ll see.

Of course I have about a dozen other little snippets of ideas for songs and nothing concrete to show for them. While I continue to grope and struggle with writing my own music, I plan to carry on with the covers. I’m feeling really okay with this. There’s a lot of great music out there, and I’m having fun.

After sharing Slow Like Honey a friend of mine asked if I took requests. Not surprisingly that was followed by a request. “Anything by Norah Jones. Turn Me On is my favorite.” And I thought, “Oh my God! How did I forget about Norah Jones???” I listened to her album Come Away With Me on repeat, while commuting between Bakersfield and the Midway/Sunset oil fields, for the better part of the summer of 2004. And Turn Me On happens to be my favorite too. So that will be next. Potentially as early as Monday.

My car has always been my rehearsal studio. And I tend to latch onto good sing-along albums when I find them. This habit is reinforced by the fact that I only have a CD player in my car, no tape player or direct iPod connectivity. So what’s playing these days? A whole lot of Regina Spektor. Hence the next song in the queue. Can you tell what it is?

Piano-Music-Norah-Jones

Third on the list is… drum roll please… a surprise.

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Singing naked

There was going to be more of a post to this, but I’ve shoved so much technology into my brain tonight that my head feels like it’s about to explode. For a while there I was pretty determined to raise the damn volume on the track before sharing. In the end I decided you would better tolerate the pain of raising the volume on your listening device than I would a migraine.

Now that I’m sitting here with a finished (as it’s going to get for now) song, I’m wondering… Which would be less REALLY FUCKING TERRIFYING: posting this song or naked pictures of myself?

Practice makes better

I am becoming reacquainted with the meaning of practice. And you know what they say. Practice makes better. You know, than before you practiced.

It’s funny. I sort of forgot that it worked that way. I played through a few new pieces a few times and said to myself, “Well, my fingers just aren’t going to do that. That’s unfortunate.” Still, I completed the tedious work of repeating those tricky parts infinity times. And now my fingers are sort of starting to do those things.

I also forgot that I actually love this tedious work. It requires such intense focus that I can’t, at the same time, dedicate any brain capacity to other shit. The hamster wheel of other shit that’s usually spinning around in my anxious head. It’s an escape. My form of meditation.

So it’s been fun, and I’m making good progress. I have the piano down for “Slow Like Honey” by Fiona Apple and “Stay With Me” from Into the Woods. 

Today I took the next step and broke out the microphone.

mic-Blue-USB-condenser

I had a couple hours alone and was hoping to have something to show for it in the end. I don’t. Recording with the mic is definitely not as straight forward as the piano. It took that long just to figure out things like:

  • Where to put the mic (Answer: on top of Physics and Organic Chemistry textbooks. I knew I was saving them for a reason!)
  • How close to get to the mic… and when
  • Where to set the gain
  • Why yes, I do need to use a pop filter.
  • How best to hear myself sing (one headphone earpiece on, one half off)
  • Etcetera

The good news is I got far enough along that I can now redirect my energy towards self-doubt…

  • Oh God, is that what I sound like there? That’s bad.
  • Flashes of the American Idol bloopers reel
  • Do I really need to SHARE this? When the time comes, maybe I’ll just forget to link that post on Facebook and Twitter.

I suppose at some point I’ll just have to rip off the Band-Aid and do it. Until then I’m hoping that with a little more practice I’ll magically start sounding like Fiona Apple and Bernadette Peters.*

*Who sound nothing alike. Don’t ask me how that’s supposed to work out.