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"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - Goethe
The hardest part of any creative endeavor is beginning it. Beginnings have their own energy, and if we're lucky we can harness some of that and create some momentum. Because the second hardest part of any creative endeavor is finishing it. On that note I was back at Cloud9 Recording recently finishing up the guitar tracks and starting on lead vocals for my upcoming CD.
There were five songs that needed guitar overdubs. The first task was to record acoustic guitar for two songs, "A Girl of Nineteen" and "Rise and Shine". Joe Napoli selected a great microphone for my Lowden acoustic. I forget which mic we used but my Lowden, which is a sweet sounding guitar with a unique personality, sounds particularly excellent in these tracks. Its always a pleasure to work with a recording engineer who knows how to mic instruments. My parts for both of these songs were straightforward. I played through them, we had good performances, and we moved on.
For electric guitars the primary amp for the day was the 1960's Fender Vibrolux which I've used on a number of the other guitar tracks for this project. This amp has the ability to sound warm and clean at lower volumes and then break up into a very pleasing distortion when the volume is turned up. I added a second rhythm guitar to the chorus of "Another Wasted Day". I played a Gretsch Silver Jet guitar for this part. It sounded great, and added another color to the song's chorus.
"Sympathetic" needed a second rhythm guitar and a lead guitar part. I think I played a Telecaster for the second rhythm part. I sometimes played the same part the acoustic rhythm guitar played and sometimes played fills off that original part. I'm pleased with the way the two parts sound together. The lead guitar part for "Sympathetic" was also played on a Telecaster. This song has a great groove and it was fun to solo on. I used with a very clean guitar sound for this track using the Fender amp. I'm looking forward to playing this one live.
A dirty sounding guitar was needed for the chorus of "A Girl of Nineteen". I played a Telecaster again, but this time with a Klon Distortion pedal adding a bit of drive to the Fender Amp. For the guitar solo in the middle of the song I played the Gretsch Silver Jet through an old VOX amp with the tremelo on. The Gretsch guitar with the Vox amp was the perfect combination for this guitar solo. In addition to these heavier rock guitar sounds, I played a mandolin on the chorus. All of these textures make for a really nice vibe where the song alternates between these pensive, folky sections with acoustic guitar and mandolin, and harder rocking sections with loud guitars.
I was happy to have my friend John Sadocha, no stranger to the NY music scene, playing guitar on "Sacred Place". When I attempted to put a band together a few years back John was my second guitarist and he had come up with some very cool guitar parts for "Sacred Place" that I wanted him to play again for the recording. He brought a Strat with him, but it sounded a little bright in the track. He tried a few more guitars and we ended up settling on a Telecaster thinline with humbuckers. John played some great guitar, a sort of cross between Keith Richards and Robbie Robertson. I then added a solo to the middle of the song to complete the music tracks. We were back with the Fender Vibrolux amp for these parts.
The other song I wanted to add some lead guitar to was the ending section of "Rise and Shine". I played my Gibson ES-Artist here through the Fender Vibrolux, and we got some really singing sustain using the Analog Alien FuzzBubble Pedal. (see prior blogs for more info on this cool pedal) In fact, in listening back to Joe Napoli's excellent rough mixes I may go back and re-do one guitar solo I'm not thrilled with on a different song with this great lead sound. I also played a mandolin part on the ending section of this song. It mixed in very well with the guitars on the track.
With guitar tracks complete it was time to get started on the lead vocals. The only song I had time for at this session was "Brooklyn, 1964". This song grew out of a few memories I have from my first years. I was born in Brooklyn, but by the time I was about three years old my parents had moved the family out to the suburbs of Long Island. Somehow some very vivid memories survived of those early years as well as a feel for the optimism of that time and this inspired the song.
My next step is to record keyboards on a few songs. Nothing artificial sounding, I'm looking to play organ on two tracks and will probably have Geoffrey Armes play electric piano on one. I'll give you the details in the next blog.