(Go back and read Parts 1 - 3 to get caught up, then read Part 4. Or not.)
Saturday, August 31, continued:
10:00 a.m.: We’re in our little home studio, the “Prickly Brick,” aptly named since it’s made of brick and there are several prickly pear cacti outside, not to mention that I can get quite prickly during recording sessions. But this one’s going smoothly. Chuck asks me to strum a few bars so he can get a feel for the tempo. Then, using a computer, a piano keyboard, and a software program called Logic that turns his keyboard into a multi-instrument recording studio, he lays down a drum track. Next, he puts a microphone in front of me, hands me the headphones, and I record the guitar part while listening to the drums. We listen. Not too bad, but it could be better. We delete it and try again (and again). The third time it seems to work, so we keep it. Then I record a vocal track over the guitar and drums (still listening through headphones). The headphones help me to hear everything, but, more importantly, they make me feel like I’m starring in an episode of “Behind the Music.” After the vocal track is done, Chuck adds a light electric piano track. It’s a nice touch. He also tries adding bass and tambourine (using the keyboard again), but we decide to keep it simple, even deleting the drums. We end up with a spare but earnest recording with just three tracks: guitar, voice, and piano. After all, this is for a cat shelter contest, not a Grammy!
Sunday, September 1: I wake early, go to the studio, and discover that Chuck’s already turned everything on. I listen to the song once, knowing that the day after recording I usually wonder what I was thinking, delete everything, and start over. But this time (maybe because the stakes aren’t that high) I decide that it’s pretty cool as is. I wonder about a few of the lyrics and I hear a few chords that may be out of tune, but we’re busy today so we decide we’ll tweak things tomorrow.
Monday, September 2: I go for a walk at sunrise, shower, and then face the music, literally. I listen again, and yesterday's instincts were right. A word or two should be changed, which means re-recording the vocal track, and the guitar part needs work. Chuck gets the studio ready while I warm up my fingers.
I re-do the guitar part from start to finish in one take (which never happens) and now it’s on to the vocal. I sing it through three times for practice. Although it’s still morning, I feel ready. I record the vocal track once, and I manage to get through it without any major bloopers. We listen all the way through, and I don’t think I want to mess with it. After all, I’ve heard worse on American Idol (during the early part of the season). I’m satisfied that I gave it my best shot.
Chuck mixes the song so that the tracks are balanced. I now have the finished song, “My Name is Romeo,” on a flash drive. Amazing!
There’s one more step: I need to copyright it, just in case. After stealing my ideas from John Denver, Mark Knopfler, Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, Robert Frost, and some guy named William, I sure don’t want Justin Bieber to get ahold of it.
September 2: I log on to the U.S. Copyright Office website and upload the song (and then submit it to the contest). So, Justin Bieber, if you’re reading this, you’re out of luck. You can’t steal my song.
On second thought, Justin – please steal my song! Knowing that someone else wants to sing it would be all the prize I need. But if you get nominated for a Grammy, I'm going straight to the tabloids!
September 15: Still not satisfied, I just spent four hours in the studio. I added harmony, strings, and some other strange sounds to the song. I hope you like it.
You can hear and download the song by clicking on the Music link on our menu.
The contest deadline isn’t until October 1, and winners will be notified on October 14, so I have a long wait ahead of me. But regardless of the outcome, this has been a fun challenge, and an interesting “tail” to tell.