Monday, June 21, 2010

Graduation, the Zen of Louis Armstrong, and the Future of the CoTW.

I was all set to come down to my bomb studio and record a couple of tracks for some new covers for the CoTW. As it was, I was feeling slightly guilty about letting it slide the past few weeks, not so much because I missed a couple of weeks, but because I knew it could be the beginning of a pattern. You know, like I would start thinking, "well, come on now, I did do 80-something of them over a year and a half. So just let me sit here on the couch and watch the Sox and play with my iPad." (oh yes, I did get one of those, in my weakness.) I have not received any cease-and-desist orders from publishers, which in this day of diminishing music biz revenue, is mildly remarkable. I mean, this site is not like Pitchfork or anything in terms of traffic, but is it that far under the radar? Maybe the fact that no one is making money on this except for a few suggested charities helped mitigate the whole deal. I have this romantic vision of some intern at EMI or Warners about to send off a lawyer-written form letter threatening to take my house and Pee Wee Herman doll collection if I do not, at this very instance, take down my Gene Clark cover, only to have his cold heart melted by the loving version and sensitive-guy prose attached thereto, pulling his bony finger away from the return button just as he was just... about... to hit......... "send." In reality, no one could be bothered. This should not be construed as a dare, by the way.

So yes, here I was, Sox on an off-night, Celtics 7 and done, day job intensity starting to dissipate, Buffalo Tom record in the muthafuckin' can, and the mini tour of NY/Boston also complete, so I was left with no real excuses. In fact, I fired off an email to our old friend, Evan Dando, who came up and sang "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"in the early 1990s at the Underworld in London. He was all set to reprise his harmony with me. All I needed to do was get him the goddamned recording.

Well, that ain't gonna happen any time soon. See, I know just enough about technology to get me in trouble. And I am not thorough. I do not like to read instructions, like many non-engineer-type men. An aside -- my father fancies himself more of the instruction-reading-thorough-sort of guy. He sets out all parts and tools methodically. We tried to put together a swing set once about 11 years ago. We were more than halfway through when we realized we had to take the whole thing apart and start over. This, more than any actual genetic/medically explained predisposition, is why I follow in his footsteps to the cocktail shaker.

(For those of you not interested in the actual ins and outs of why my "studio" no longer works, skip forward four paragraphs.)

I had everything computer-wise running pretty smoothly once I switched to a Mac about 6 years ago. Installed Pro Tools software to record on my Macbook. Every once in a while I would upgrade software with no, absolutely no issues.

But I held off. When Snow Leopard, the most recent OS for Mac, was released a year or so ago, I held off. Do I really need it? Everything was working. Why mess with it? Only I did.

But first, I waited a year or more. I went over and read, quickly, the Pro Tools site. Seemed to be in order. Did the Mac OS upgrade and then the subsequent Pro Tools upgrade needed to be compatible with the new OS.

Only, I did not read closely enough. I have an outdated piece of hardware, the interface needed to get the mics into the Pro Tools software. An ancient Mbox that will not work with any of these upgrades. So the only option would be to try an undo everything. Or buy a new $300 piece of hardware.

OK -- You who skipped can pick up again. There is a scale of relationships that people have to digital technology. There are those who are extremists who swear everything off that came after the 13-channel color tube television. And there are less extreme people who just can't be bothered. These are followed by the more average range of users, going from people who know just enough to do your basic web and email passive stuff, to job-specific users, etc. And then on to creative types who see these things as great tools, without necessarily falling in love with the tools themselves. So when the tools fail you, there is no love in store for forgiveness. I want to record some stuff on the system I had rolling along so smoothly. Why, oh, why?! This is when we turn to people further up the range, those who are like us but know more, and then finally to the people who just love digital machines and systems more than they like people.

But maybe this is a sign for the CotW to end for a while. Maybe the project is just "...of the week" in name only henceforth. I could pop in one every once in a while. But it was becoming quite the self-assignment and that was both positive and negative. I never did it when I didn't want to, and lately I have not wanted to as much. I just have not had much energy in reserve. I also understand that readers/listeners were probably overwhelmed by the amount and regularity of them and few have heard them all. But this is what I expected all along, of course.

The writing of the accompanying essays/posts generally take more time, if not physical energy, than the recordings. But oddly, I would like to concentrate just on the writing itself for a while. So keep checking in. I think there are limits,though pretty broad, to my musical energy reserve. But I would like to channel that into the songwriting component for a while. And I am trying to consider what all this writing is meant to lead to, if anything. Some friends and I have been talking about packaging this all up, maybe a CD and book set culling together some of the favorite covers and posts. Maybe a whole other book altogether, taking a start from some of the posts.

Not sure, but I really have to say I have sincerely appreciated everyone listening and reading. If you are so inclined, please keep checking in for more posts and, every once in a while, a cover recording.


Olle said...

You know what? It's your blog - you can do anything you want! Those of us that come here only for the music (which most often is brilliant by the way) may be upset if the music part of the blog stops, but then they will miss out on all the beautiful and personal stuff you share with us. By the way, I really loved your version of "One step up", that's what kept me coming back. Take care!

Lawrence, UK said...

Any fan will understand 100% with your post there, Bill. To be honest, i thought you were spoiling us, giving away free music every week, i would have been delighted with Cover Of The Month, not week. As you say the fans have the new record to look forward to so let's be happy about that. Put yer feet up, Billy, go listen to the remastered Exile and i'll check back in six weeks or six months, it's all good.

Paul Daddario said...

I can't believe its been the better part of 1 and 1/2 years. I know it is gushing fanboi stuff, but seriously, this whole blog has been a dream,a priceless commodity for fans, a very cool insight into an indie rock hero's mind. The music is terrific and gives great insight into your influences and appreciations, and like many, I started coming for the songs. However, I found the writing, stories, rants, fantastic and entertaining; The insight into music influences was really great, and the real life emotion filled stories; the saga of your uncle's passing, stories of life and children and insight into your childhood were all well written and appreciated. In fact, since I share the same political sensibilities I never minded those stories as well.

So, I'm glad to hear you are continuing, albeit less frequently; I'm sorry if this came of as an obit- that was unintended. I guess I also just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to interact with you and leave thoughts comments. As a listener, we spend hours over many years listening to bands and perhaps we have a feeling that we know the performer when we really don't know a thing- but here, we "get to know" the voice on the stereo, and let that voice know how much the much means.
For that, for all the content of this blog, thank you, and thanks for continuing.


Mark said...

Thanks for all the music and blogs. I can relate to the school event emotions. I get the same way myself. Chandler Travis has a Song Of The Weak (yes I spelled that right) posting he does as well. He started off doing them weekly, but we're lucky to see one every two months now. I'm grateful to hear whatever you are willing to share. And thanks for sharing so much!

Earthdog70 said...

Bill-thanks for all the great songs and posts. I will still check in and glad to hear a new BT record is coming.

stewrat said...

Do what feels right, and I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open for your return. Thanks for waht you've done and what's to come. Cheers

ArnyZona said...

Also a gratefull thanxs from the Netherlands, it's been a swell ride! But sometimes the old car needs a rest and only comes out when the weather is nice...

Ghost said...

Thanks so much Bill.Like some of the other posts,I couldn't believe how lucky we were.Some of my favourites:Boots of Spanish Leather,Little Mascera,Rocket Man,Slip Slidin Away and the slower versions of White Paint Morning and Florida really allowed the songwriting to shine.A book is great idea.The link between the covered song and your personal reflections is what made this thing interesting.Perhaps a mixture of this and your more straight ahead review/critique type stuff.Anyway,hopefully you'll have time to work on all that after the Australian leg of your tour to promote the new record!
All the best to you and your family

bubba said...

Thanks for everything, so far!
Sorry about the OSX/hardware issue...
Looking forward to the upcoming Buffalo Tom album!
Cheers from Sweden, go Red Sox!

Whirling House said...

If you continue with the occasional written blog, that will keep me coming back to the Part Time Man of Rock - my friends and I are always impressed with the quality of the essays. The music was the hook to get us in, but not necessarily why we stayed.

And like everyone - I will happily scoop up any new audio product you all put out...solo, BT, CV, BB, whatever. Have a wonderful summer!

Whirling House said...

If you continue with the occasional written blog, that will keep me coming back to the Part Time Man of Rock - my friends and I are always impressed with the quality of the essays. The music was the hook to get us in, but not necessarily why we stayed.

And like everyone - I will happily scoop up any new audio product you all put out...solo, BT, CV, BB, whatever. Have a wonderful summer!

rich L. said...

These posts and covers have been a treat for us and yeah, we probobly have gotten spoiled by both. You are one of a kind, Bill, in that have let us all into your life to some extent with your posts and stories and then tied it into the cover of the week. There is no other artist out there that I know of who has been so open with their fans.

It says a lot about you as an artist but even more about you as a person. To get to sit and sip a beer in front of the ol' pc after the kids are all in bed and listen to 'One Step Up' or 'Brown Eyed Women' or 'Tuesdays Gone' while reading a well written and meaningful post by one of your favorite musicians is...well...just a damn treat.

I made a post on the BT page about the L. brothers finally getting to meet the great Bill J. at the Mercury Lounge last month and how cool (for lack of a better term) that was for us. My oldest brother, Steve, the most outgoing ape by a long shot commented that what struck him about meeting you was what a passionate guy you are. I agree with him and that comes across in you music and your posts.

Thanks for the words and music.

Randy Reichardt said...

.: Hi Bill. I'm late to this post, but pretty much agree with what everyone has said here. It has indeed been a priceless experience, especially for me, given how much you have influenced my playing and listening for 20 years. As Paul puts it, you are an Indie rock hero to many of us, certainly to me, and to have had the opportunity to listen to these covers and read the accompanying backstories has been the most amazing continuing experience for me. I continue to run out of words, as I sound like the fanboy I am.

Having met you in NYC was a dream come true, never mind also seeing those two brilliant shows at the Mercury Lounge. I died and went to heaven those two nights. The CoTW Project has let us see into how your mind works, what motivates you, what influences you, what your passions are, and as such, knowing this enriches listening to your original material. When I listen to Buff T or CV or SP or BJ-solo material, it just sounds all that much better, because we know more about you. No greater gift can a musician of your influence give his fan base, those of us blessed to be following you here.

How fitting is it in this post that you mention "What a Wonderful World." Your CotW offerings have contributed to that wonderful world.

If it's time to take a break, or spread out the tunes over a longer period of time, what's wrong with that? I can't believe you've given us >80 songs! What's that, maybe 5 or 6 full albums? This is like discovering treasure on a weekly basis.

I'll stop gushing now, and just say thank you, again.

Randy Reichardt said...
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Michael Moore said...
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Michael Moore said...

Hi Bill, I'm a long-time Australian fan of Buffalo Tom, but only recently discovered this blog - your posts and covers resonate with me, so thanks heaps. Anyway, the post about your daughter's graduation prompted me to share this tale. Our son, also Bill, has autism so a couple of years ago my wife Lauren, me and a few others started Abacus Learning Centre, a not-for-profit providing therapy for children. Anyway, last year we had our first presentation to the community for which my duaghter Ramona pulled together a great slideshow. We put it to "Three Easy Pieces" (we were going to use "You'll Never Catch Him", but the sentiment wasn't quite right)... it went down a treat and there were quite a few moist eyes in the room.
All power to you Bill,