Many different tries and several empty files later: Four tracks of tenor uke sped up though I might some day be able to play like this in real time. I am oddly soothed by this one. Gives me the same feeling I experience when watching a wood working or cooking show…or a scalp massage. Hey: I said oddly soothing…
Sounds a bit better with headphones… good thing it’s only 1:06 (yes, I changed it) because I think it might drive my mother crazy.
This is an email my mother sent me recently. Yeah. I’m singin’ an email. She will update me on various happenings in my hometown and such. She used to work for the mayor but has since retired and is now a librarian: a dream she’s had a for a long time, and I think she is very happy. She has a really funny way of writing her messages to me, and I love getting them. (I’m now wondering if this is the last email I’ll get since I’m using it for a song… yikes…).
Russ has a manager for the hotel and he noticed that the dead man stopped collecting his mail, so the manager stuck it under the door. Days went by and the dead guy didn’t get his mail from under the door so Russ and the manager unlocked the apartment door and found it was chained on the inside. They were very afraid of what was inside so Russ called the police. What they found inside was the dead guy in a little room among all his hoarded junk. Russ says he was a packrat. Anyway, they think he was dead at least seven days. Russ said the smell wasn’t bad but the mess he is cleaning up is. They could find no relatives or friends, so the state took over and buried his body. That’s sad. Russ said he was a “cipher.” But he loved to collect frogs – all types of frogs– big little stuffed ceramic. And then he finally croaked…
The guitar part I have STOLEN from a FREAKING awesome song off of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper’s seven-inch record (and slowed by my record player) called Sunday Shoes. I recorded the intro, cut and looped it to create the base for this song. Slowing Lady Lambs voice on this recording is awesome, by the way: she sounds like some sweet old gospel singer.
(And someone told me once that, quote: “Fade outs are for people who can’t write endings.” I will let you ponder on that.)
This is an important experience for me lyrically. Lots of words. And a story. Unusual for me.
This American Life has done a story about this very topic… it’s so sad to leave this world and have no family or friends to take care of your final business… the state has to clean you up and bury you. The people who show up at the graveside are a few city workers. I’ve tried to find a link to the episode but can’t remember what it’s called.
May you have a beautiful Memorial Day remembering those you’ve loved and lost…
I’ve been giving myself a little trouble for “being behind”… but what I’ve realized is that “behind” depends on how you look at it. My general rule is to write a post the day before so it goes up and is available to listen to throughout the day… but I’ve now fallen so that writing is just all the time (it has become thus) but posting has been moving from the day before, to the day of, to the day after (i.e. today). I realize it’s all a matter of how you think about it (day before, day of, day after), but have stopped worrying about the mechanics of how things have been working as it’s causing me to lose sleep and security.
This is a simple sketch of sound involving a happy accident of a spinning ring on a desktop and treated cello pizzicato. It’s repetitive, but it’s a sketch. I’m thinking it might put you into a state of hypnosis…? My initial idea was to use this for something else, but in creating it, and knowing I have other things to work on (today’s song), I left it as a sketch…
What’s up in your day today? Manhattan is gloriously cloudy and cool today as opposed to yesterday’s heat and suffocation.
One track of a recording of sounds outside the window of my bedroom
One track of pizzicato cello
One track of arco cello
One track of percussion on cello
All but the percussion track is unaffected. I’m playing with a new mic, so this is the sound of things without any affect on them. I called my mom and she said, “There will be good things that happen as you go. They won’t last that long, but there will always be another good thing on its way.”
I don’t like delay much. It just has this effect on me that makes me feel like it’s saying, “I’m a lot of sound, and I’m in your face right now.” Delay just seems very made up to me, but here it is today in the 365 for the first time. I like what it means, just not always what it actually ends up doing.
This was recorded in my hallway using:
2 metal pot lids
2 voice tracks
metal water bottle with water in it
empty metal water bottle
ambient apartment building noises (elevator, talking, etc.)
This is practice. I’m working on coming up with sounds that might describe a scene without being too obvious about it. If I was only going to say one critiquing thing to myself it would be the want of space in this exercise. Space, as discussed before, is very important, and I often leave it out.
Their words about the piece: So after our conversation the other night about your friend whose Brad Pitt dream you made come true – I ended up having a dream about writing a song – about you writing a song …so of course I have to make my dream come true. Emily
I struggled with whether or not to post this one. This a live performance song from Boston with Guy Capecelatro at the Armory show, but next to the recorder that was recording the song was a cell phone… so interference occurred through the entire song. I realized that if I panned everything to the left you couldn’t hear the interference… which in and of itself is kind of dumb. Post a song that only plays from the left!?
Well, good luck! Both Guy and I were improvising our parts melodically and harmonically. Guy had these lyrics in his book and wrote them out for me to sing in a quiet voice. The funny thing was (or sad actually) that the Armory in Boston is having trouble with neighbors constantly telling them they are too loud (which is unfortunate because the venue is so awesome), so we decided to do a very quiet improvised song on my set.
I am falling asleep after driving all day back to New York from New England on tour with Pearl and the Beard… looking forward to getting some rest and getting some good work done on some projects (many of them for the 365).
One thing I totally forgot to mention is that a few days ago a blog called All Our Noise mentioned The 365 Project and has made 3 songs from the project available for download… which ones are they? Well… read the blog and go see for yourself! Yay!
Midi: Several tracks of treated beats and one track of treated grand piano
Vocals: treated (vocal transformer)
Finished track: slowed down 10 BPMs from original recording tempo.
Lyrics: Inspired from old set lists from other bands found at Hog Farm Annex when Pearl and the Beard played there last night. Jocelyn found three different set lists from nameless bands to use as scrap paper for our set, and, as we read through them, she mentioned they might work well as a 365 song. So, here it is an old set list put to good 365 use. The only rule was that I couldn’t change any of the words to fit the tense. I had to use what was there though I could combine them or split them up. In my original versions of this exercise (I did several), I used all the words, but for this song, I decided to cut a bunch out of it to simplify the piece as a whole.
This is how the set list I ended up using read… (if this is your band, or if you know who this might be: thanks!)
Shot n Shot
Show Me Ole Texas
Show me ole Texas
The one we knew when we were younger
An acreless vision
Send me to El Gusano
A shot in the dark
I have super vision
She will see through me
She will see through me
Like your favorite dress
Show me ole Texas
Throw me a label of pills
We’ll drive through the night
Pearl and the Beard is goin’ home tomorrow! It’s been a fun mini tour, and it’s been very relaxing. Thanks to all who made it out to the shows! See you soon!
These words were worked on a few weeks ago with String Theorist Lara Anderson when I was touring in Philadelphia. She is a dear friend of mine from back home now living in the City of Brotherly Love doing a post doc. I stayed with her whilst visiting and we gathered these lyrics together. We had eaten lunch at a Thai restaurant, and the table we sat at had a wicker frog next to it. This wicker frog had its mouth wide open, and inside its belly contained dozens of little strips of paper, each having scribblings of a strangers wish written upon it. I inquired about it to the waiter who told me there was no precedent set by any formal tradition, but that people just started placing wishes one day randomly inside this frog’s mouth for a good time. Lara and I used this frog as a subject for our song together.
Writing: I struggled with this melody having done a totally different melody on cello while we were writing it. I wasn’t quite happy enough with it and have been waiting to use they lyrics until something else came along. Here it is, weeks later, and I find that Aly of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper has an autoharp sitting at her house with which I quickly found a different melody. (Pearl and the Beard stayed with her for our Portland show last night… we are off to Biddeford, Maine tonight).
Recording: What a bother it is sometimes. I thought I had brought all of my equipment to record, but I left an essential piece home, so I have to improvise a bit. I recorded the harpsichord part of this song with my headphones, plugging them into my line-in on my computer. I had been told a few years ago that you can us your headphones as a stereo mic but I never tried it. Well, here it is. I found the vocals to be much more troublesome using the headphone method, so I just used the external mic on the computer (which I hate) and treated it until it was only slightly less annoying to me.
Someone made a comment that I use a lot of descending lines in my work… so here, I used… DESCENDING LINES! Yay! But threw in some ascending, too. As far as vocals go, I’ve been slowly working on increasing the use of range and movement… one song at a time.
Both takes of harp and vocal are the first takes… Now, off to Hog Farm!
Autoharp singer/songwriter that you MUST know about: Elizabeth Devlin, a dear friend of mine with an unbelievable voice. Unbelievable.
If Wishes Were Fishes
If wishes were fishes the frog would have fewer
Than you or of I or the lazy wrongdoer
A coaster of wicker with well-hopes that flicker
We welcome a paper of folded desire
If wishes were fishes to give to the suitor
A feasting of flies he’d be ten times the richer
To spend it on testing the waist-coated decor
Made from a corduroy cloth to keep warmer
If wishes were fishes this frog would be fatter
A poly and roly cooked up for the frier
To douse him with lust: or to quench or to hunger
We’ll prod and will poke while he prays to his maker
If wishes were fishes, the frog could have mine…
(Pearl and the Beard on tour!) Tour is a relatively easy place to write a song, but really difficult to record and post…if it’s not finding a good place to record, it’s not being able to find proper internet to post. Here’s one for your back pocket:
For your listening pleasure, I offer up to you a two-minute and one second look into… I’m not sure, actually. Jonathan and I set up a challenge for ourselves: put together a song as quickly as possible (hence the rough edges and less than stellar mic technique) with odd references but without compromising the building blocks of a good dance song.
Used in this song: scissors, Jonathan, Emily, and the never-failing Garageband.
Encounters with a Drunken Landlord
“Wherever the spirit tells you to go, you go.”
“The system is down.”
“I’m in my underwear.”
“The system is down, man. It’s bringing me down. It’s bring him down. It’s bring us all down…Bring it back up. Yeah!”
Pearl and the Beard is on the road, again! We played our show in Providence tonight and got back to where we are staying, and Jocelyn and I worked on a song for my sick late face today…
I have been listening to come songwriters who write songs with very intelligent but “direct” and to the point text. I have tried a direct word song before, but I still feel like I compromised the exercise by going back and redoing it and hiding some of the true meaning in it.
In this exercise, Jocelyn and I wrote just a few lines a piece. I handed my lyrics to her and she gave hers to me, and we each formed a quickly melody based on each others’ words. These were both done in less than 3 minutes a piece, I’d say. In my version of Joc’s words, I was hearing different chords on the uke than I could play and since I don’t actually know all the chords on the uke, I had to guess. This is a good incentive to learn this instrument.
This was a really helpful exercise. There will be more of these. This kind of thing also helps relax us and eases us into the writing process together. Even though Joc and I love each other and respect each other immensely as musicians, writing openly in front of one another can still be a challenge because of a little insecurity here and there. This is a good thing to test and try to rid oneself of, I say.
The lyrics you see below are just how they appeared on our pages when we traded them with each other. We took the exact amount of time on them: between 30 seconds and a minute. We spent only a few minutes alone devising a strategy for melody and structure.
The Only One For Me (Emily melody, Joc lyrics)
Sitting by the fire in a tent down by the sea,
Here I see my honey comin’ down the shore to me.
And heaven knows that he has been the one I’m dreaming of
Cause he’s the only one for me, the only one I love!
I Love You, But I’m Angry (Joc melody/Emily lyrics)
I love you
But I’m angry.
You knew that.
I wrote it in my letter to you.
The note I sent, it got lost.
But, in it I said that I loved you.
In my letter I said I was angry
But in it I said that I love you.
This is a song with lyrics written by Guy Capecelatro, vocals by Anna Vogelzang (sung into a mini-bull horn kind of thing) with harmonies by Guy and me!
Guy wrote these lyrics, handed them to me and I devised a kind of chord pattern and ideas for some of the melody and picked “Hand of God” to be the chorus . I handed that to Anna who added her own main melody and sang the main vocal parts AND the crazy opera vocals at the end. Cool! We didn’t have time to finish this in Portsmouth, so we left it in Guy’s hands to finesse it into being – I’m always pleased with the miracles he can form with something I might consider a bit of a challenge. I was left to my own devices after we did all the vocals, and I saw fit to add cello arco lines, a quartet and MUSICAL SAW! I can’t play it to save my life, but I’d like to learn: what a fantastic instrument… and someone has already mentioned putting saw on something on the Paper Moon posting (I have not forgotten!). After adding all that stuff without any organization, I got a bit frustrated, which is why I liked leaving it to Guy to suss out. Hooray!
Keene, NH sessions… with the iPhone mic! Guy Capecelatro delivers, yet again, in only a few minutes. I have a tiny back log of songs from this session in Keene (of which I think this is the last), which is great, but it means other things get back logged, too…so everything gets logged back. In any case, I have been frantically getting ready for a Pearl and the Beard mini-tour and finishing up my solo tour tonight as well… phew.
Today’s working song that will get posted later is: a song about yellow fever, yellow sheets, and death. Hooray!!!
Meet Sonya Cotton. This is a bit unconventional, but since my rules for the 365 don’t stop me from covers, I really wanted to play this song. This last Friday, I played a Washington, D.C. show with musician Sonya Cotton and Ugly Purple Sweater (And much to my satisfaction, Sam McCormally agreed to play A Thousand Thousands with me on my set for the first public performance of the song ever).
A week or so before the DC show, I wrote Sonya and asked her if she would consider playing a song with me for the 365…since she is on the road and very busy, as really wonderful musicians tend to be, we weren’t able to actually write anything together, but she did send me a song of hers she says she rarely gets to play. I learned the song and on the day of the show, and at soundcheck we ran through it. We did a simple version of it and I added a pizz cello part. I thought, since I learned this song, I would do a version of it. I like to twist covers around usually and make them my own, but this song in and of itself is lyrically and chordally intertwined, so I just kept it as it is seeing as it’s really beautiful that way anyway. This is similar to how we did it live.
I would highly suggest watching this video of Sonya and her band. I’m telling you right now: this is exactly how it sounds live. Amazing harmonies, intonation, and just simply beautiful music. It was a total pleasure to meet Sonya, Anna and Gabe…
Recording: Yep. Woke up and recorded this. There is morning in this voice, my friend. MORNING!
Churchbells by Sonya Cotton
Ghost weeping, broken city, buries completely the glory of the sound that we found in our hands and over our bed. But seasons change. What remains in porcelain walls miles from the ground? I am beckoning the sound of church bells to carry me home. Oh church bells, carry me home. Oh church bells. Oh climbing vines. Oh wooden walls. Oh glorious sound.