34 (Eisenhower)


Tascam 788 Digital Portastudio, HP Pavilion dv1000 with Lexicon Alpha, Olympus VN-6200PC or Sony ICD-PX820, Dell Quietkey
W. Winona, Chicago, IL
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Circle M Farm, WI

This one is a continuation of similar ideas found on 35: Guitar led songs, banjo led songs, Rhodes keyboard backup, dueling drumsets, and a banjo instrumental. This was also a similar process for writing, recording, producing, etc and all the same equipment was used but recorded in a different location. Like most of these recordings, I think the execution could be better but I am more interested in getting the sketches out there than practicing forever to get them perfect. Every track was recorded from start to finish with no punch in/out or digital editing so you are hearing the best I could do at the time after a million or so mis-takes. The lyrics are just a continued attempt to mix old and new ideas into some kind of a character that may or may not be me.

The Economy was designed around the way that JLAH and I were performing live. The Rhodes is just mimicking what would be played on guitar (and/or bass). The guitar that you don't hear was actually written first in a "talkin-blues" style and then the banjo/Rhodes off of that. Last, Lost, Least, and Lifted was supposed to be the hit single off this. And maybe it still is or maybe it would be if someone else redid it in a radio-ready style. The lyrics are not perfect but I still think pretty good. It can be applied to Katrina but wasn't specifically written for that disaster. I could have got some better banjo sound if I had played the high parts closer to the neck. Calling was recorded with two digital recorders in a farmhouse but couldn't use both because they recorded at different sample rate or something. And then the main vocals were a little too quiet so I had to overdub second set of vocals to make sure it could be heard. The idea was to create an old fashioned song using common new technology. It may have worked if I was a better performer. You have to try real hard to make an old-timey sounding recording these days. You cannot just use a bad mic and hope to capture something amazing. But it is still a worthwhile document. Singing Nearby is another example of using bad equipment on purpose. This one was probably some sort of HAM radio mic. It might be cool if an actual choir sang this song but there are no good places to breathe and I was embarrassed to try and teach it. Often I want to have an acoustic song with heavier elements in it so Executive Decision was that song this time. I really like the two drumsets recorded with a couple of mics. They sound great alone hard panned left and right. I didn't have the right microphone to capture fingerpicking and had a lot of trouble balancing all the elements that I wanted to be heard. If someone else mixed this maybe the whole thing could have come out cleaner. I probably shouldn't be playing a horn but why not. Having some kind of brass or wind instrument in at least one song seems to be another recurring theme. Making Contact is a combination of an old set of lyrics with an old guitar riff. It ended up sounding better with piano instead of Rhodes even though I would have rather used Rhodes for continuity. Classic Maxel Toft beginning-middle-end style song. This is what happens when I only have verses and no chorus. Late To Work is just me deciding that this banjo lick will never become a song with words. The rest just kind of follows. I had lent out my microphones during the time that I wanted to record these drums so I decided to record each part separately. I found an old mic that had this weird hum and recorded ride, hi-hat, snare, and bass all on separate tracks start to finish. And then since I was separating things, I also split the banjo into two parts so it could be like a call and response type thing. Maybe these decisions are artistic. Maybe it is just easier to play. But then again I could just punch in/out and digitally edit everything if I was really that self conscious.