Saturday, April 12, 2008

learning how to dance

it was a beautiful sunny cool morning in austin
billy and i met at 11
over at his house
he rolled up on a little black scooter
laughing right away about his entrance
we talked a bit in the front room
of his house
and then went to grab some breakfast
it was fun for me to finally hear
what songs he liked
and his thoughts on what kind of record
we were gonna try and make
a lot of the things he said
i'd already thought
like about not making it center
around the bass and drums
trying alternative methods of recording
starting with just voice and guitar
and building the recordings from there
when we got back to his house
he had me play "stranger in my own skin"
to me this one feels like a centerpiece
of the record
kind of like how i felt about "hang on" on snowing
and "the world is full of people" on BN
we spent about an hour tweaking the song structure
i'd wrestled a lot with it over the past few months
interestingly billy had me return to the structure
i'd originally come up with when i wrote the song
i like the way he tracks the emotion of a song
when he listens
that's what i'm always looking for
after that he set up a couple of mics
and had me play it live
right off the bat one funny moment was when i asked
"where's the click track?"
and he said "uh...i never use a click"
the "click" is a metronome or time keeper
i use them religiously
it's my sonic brassiere!
so immediately i was blasted outta my comfort zone
and although it felt strange
like walking around a mall no pants on
this is exactly what i've been looking forward to
breaking out of my comfort zone
and shaking up my way of doing things
after a few takes of "stranger..." billy asked me to play
"endless dream days"
which is another one of the "big" ones
i knew from the moment i wrote it that it was a good one
but was also probably going to be an absolute bitch
to record
so we waded into to it
trying to figure out the best way for the acoustic guitar to go
i think billy read my reaction to the no click thing
and tried to put me at ease by making a tambourine loop
for me to play along with on this one
i put down a couple of gingerly played acoustic guitars
and then sang
it felt really good to sing
and although this is the hardest vocal part of all of the songs
i felt good
and sang pretty well
billy then started playing his piano
which is strangely just like mine
a black yamaha upright
the melody he came up with immediately blew the doors
off of the arrangement
it was obvious to me that this was where the song needed to go
a whole world was opening up for it
since the piano was pretty outta tune
we put down a scratch track
to remember his ideas
and decided to call it a day
while we were waiting for my ride to come
we jammed on "pictures collected"
a jaunty number about our obsession with photos
billy played the funmaker wurlitzer in his living room
i think we should maybe try this one on day 2
something lighter and easier
we went right out of the gate with the monsters
even though we're kinda like
two people learning how to dance with each other
for the first time


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