Friday, June 25, 2010

Cover of the Week 84

Thanks to all of you for your kind words regarding the Cover of the Week project in the most recent previous post. But its demise might have been exaggerated -- by me. I was tired and pissed off about some recording equipment killing itself. What kind of company provides you a software update that purposefully and literally makes obsolete the hardware it is supposed to run? Digidesign, that is who. They want to make you go buy some new piece. Which is what I did, though I bought it used, so, perhaps that is some small come-comeuppance. It at least took some of the financial sting for me, though I did have to go spend dough I had no intention of spending.

Well, I upgraded begrudgingly so now everything is up and running again. I still do not expect to keep up the weekly pace I was very good about keeping over a year and a half. Finding the energy and time is a challenge lately. So, maybe not the Cover of the Week. But I will still call it CoTW -- Cover of the Whatever.

Breaking in the new (used) piece, I wanted to quickly cobble together a song acknowledging the passing of Pete Quaife, the Kink's bassist during their early heyday. Perhaps one of his most famous bass lines is the descending intro line on one of pop music's most beautiful songs, "Waterloo Sunset." In a lovely appreciation of Pete, Geoff Edgers, auteur of the recent film, Do it Again, about being a Kinks fan, calls it, "the most important bass line of my life." On his Facebook page, Geoff also provides links to other tributes, including one from Dave Davies. Geoff has been known to jump up and sing "Waterloo Sunset" with the Crown Vic/BillyBillyMattAndPhilly residencies at Toad.

Yeah, I know. Who needs yet another cover of "Waterloo Sunset," right? I don't care; it is one of my favorite songs of all time. That descending Em chord will hitcha ev'ry time. So this one is for Pete, for all my old buddies that I used to cruise around Huntington Bay with in little Boston Whaler boats, listening to the Kinks -- the Dannys, Stu, Trevor, Jeff, Dennis, Larry, Chris, Dave et. al.-- and it is for my brothers, with whom I played it that very nice Christmas Jano Brothers show a few years back.

Waterloo Sunset mp3

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.