Sunday, June 7, 2009

Email To My Brother

Originally Posted on myspace December 16 2007

My brother Allison recently sent me an email in which he suggested that I might try recording my song "Where Will You Sleep Tonight?" in a more upbeat, urgent way. He felt it had "rock hit" potential if recorded that way. You can listen to and/or download "Where Will You Sleep Tonight?" at my site

This is my reply and my first blog entry.

Interesting idea. For me the essence of the song is witnessing without emotional involvement. The older, more world weary guy. Interested but not committed. It's sad that he is out of her reach and she is out of his but that's the way it is. (By the way, everything in that song happened nearly exactly as I put it down in the song. I didn't say one word to her.)

But I hear what you're missing there. Probably not a direction I'll go with that tune, but if you ever cross paths with someone you could recommend cover it that way, please do so. Some of my newest stuff, the stuff I'm just about to record, might be more up the alley you're suggesting.

I've never heard of Chris Daughtry. ( My brother suggested that if this guy recorded the song in the way he suggested that it would be a hit...) I hardly listen to music that isn't local live music anymore. My tastes run to old favorites anyway. I have a CD player in my bedroom with 6 Steely Dan CD's in it permanently. I hardly ever hear anything compelling from any new singers anymore. No one "new" who's big or mainstream seems to write or sing like they have to. It's all 'cause they WANT to.

It's weird there's SO much music out there now. It's never been easier to record and get your stuff out there. AND the old stuff doesn't go away. Not only are the Beatles, Dylan, James Taylor, etc...still out there but they're right next to you in someone's iPod. So while it's never been easier to produce music, it's never been harder to stand out.

And among younger people what stands out is always how it sounds. People always rave about Dylan's lyrics but it wasn't his lyrics that initially "made" him, it was his SOUND. That voice, with it's sneering contempt mixed with child-like innocence mixed with unearned world weariness. It was his sound that was so new and striking.

My sound is almost as not-new as you can get. So I mainly get the attention of older people, people my age. I don't like playing for young people as much as I used to. For one thing they generally have the attention span of a hummingbird. They are so used to "switching" channels or clicking to a new site that they have almost no tolerance for anything the least bit uncomfortable or challenging. And you can't refer to something you sang earlier in the song because that's gone now. Every phrase has to be a mini song in itself because they've already forgotten what I said 40 seconds ago. They seem to like rapid fire hip-hopstuff or collages of vague emotional imagery which mainly communicate--"I am disoriented." I know there's lots of exceptions to this but I find it generally to be the case.

I have no interest at all in "modernizing" my sound.This is because I don't like the modern sound. I like the old sound, the sound that came of age in the 70's. I don't even produce my CD's with the fullness of that sound because not only can I not afford it but I know it's a "dead" sound anyway.

So what I do is "produce" the songs solo. It's still an old dead sound, but there's still something timeless about a person with one instrument singing their song. The bare skeleton of the song does get through and if a person is willing to pay attention, they might get what's "new" about it, namely the lyrics. I know some people will object to me calling my music an "old dead sound." What I mean by that is that it is not fresh and exciting. If you heard it on the radio you would not snap your head around and say, "Wow! What is that?!"

I have nothing against some other band or artist re-doing any of my tunes in a contemporary way, because that's their thing and they like it. It would sound at least a bit authentic because of that. But if I did it, it would sound like posing crap.

So I think I'll keep on doing it the way I'm doing it and see what happens. I know I love my sound and I'm so happy to create songs I'm proud of and put them upon my site. When someone likes it or buys it I'm excited but it's not really satisfying. The creating and the offering are what's most satisfying to me.The response is gravy.

I can't wait to record this next bunch of songs. I think a few of them are really strong. Hopefully, I'll get that done pretty soon.

Thanks for your suggestion and for reading this impromptu "blog" entry.

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