Friday, November 10, 2006

Of Me I Sing ...

Well, no, I'm not singing about me. The only "Beth" song I know of is by Kiss. Not exactly my sound.

But last night I had a session at KP with my all-time favorite sound guy Brian. He's so sweet, and sticks around after hours so I can come in and play. Studio time don't come cheap, so I'm fabulously lucky to be able to record on state-of-the-art equipment for the grand sum of nothing. Well, I mean, I'll think of something to do to thank Brian for all of this, but I'm not dolin' out cash by the hour.

Making my way to the building, I was driving north on Franklin past Gene & Georgetti's when I spied a man in a golf shirt and chinos exiting the restaurant. He was wearing two fanny packs. And he got behind the wheel of the Rolls Royce at the curb. Huh? OK, boys, here's the thing: Fanny packs are a bad idea unless you're engaged in some sort of long-distance sporting event. If you're a man and you need to carry so much stuff that it won't fit in your pockets, for the love of God get a messenger bag or a briefcase, depending on which suits your scene.

But I digress. I got to KP and found a spot right in front of the building. Except that there are parking restrictions in that area now. After 6 p.m., the meters are off limits unless you have a residential parking sticker. Oh, that's just annoying. I'm sure Scoozi! is thrilled about that. People can't park near the restaurant? Does that mean they have to valet? Or park several blocks away? Or pay for an over-priced lot? Sheesh. A couple high-rises go up in River North and suddenly we can't park where we've always parked? I could see a parking restriction after 9 p.m., maybe, but 6 p.m.?

Oh, but I digress again. We pulled some new songs into the computer and Brian asked which one I'd like to try first. Nervous, I picked the most up-tempo of the bunch, thinking that it would be too hard to sing something slow and smoky while nervous. But it's a rather bold song, and the last thing I am when I step behind a microphone after a long spell is bold. So that song wasn't working. We set it aside. I told Brian that my first take of any song is like the first crepe: It's meant to be scrapped. It's purely preparatory. Still, I wasn't feelin' it. Maybe next time.

Reviewing the list of songs, I realized that most everything I've picked is slow. Well, there are a couple of potential duets, but I need to recruit Dave into doing them with me. But I picked a song and we tried it and Brian played it back. I turn off the lights in the booth, singing in the dark, the only light coming through the studio window from Brian's room. (I like it that way, especially for the slow, smoky stuff. It doesn't feel right to sing those songs under track lights.) I liked what I heard. So we tried another, then another, then another. Brian thought it would be good, since I was antsy last night, to get bases down for as many songs as we could, and then refine them during another session.

When I sing, I'm listening to the track I'm singing to in the headphones, but also listening to my own voice, to replicate how I sing at home or in the car. I sing along with tracks. During playback, I hear both tracks, too.

I have an ability to mimic singers very closely, so that when I'm singing a Sting tune, I sing like Sting. When I'm singing a Diane Reeves tune, I sing like Dianne Reeves. When I sing an Iva Davies tune, I sing like Iva Davies. (I once recorded me singing with Iva on my home computer and sent it to John, who replied that he couldn't hear me. My voice was actually more pronounced than Iva's, I just sounded exactly like him.) So last night, listening, there were moments in which I couldn't detect my voice from the original vocal.

On the one hand, I think this is cool, that I can make my voice do whatever the song is doing. On the other hand, it leaves me wondering what *my* voice truly is.

Time flies by in the booth, and before I knew it, it was 8 p.m. Two hours is plenty. Not that I was singing for two solid hours, but we covered a lot of ground, and I wanted Brian to be able to go home to his wife. So I stepped out of the booth and Brian played my vocal from the last time I was there, my cut of "Gotta Be This or That."

I paced back and forth a bit behind his chair. Hearing my voice on its own is a bit unnerving for me at first, but then I stopped behind him and stared at my voiceprint on the screen while I listened.

"Did you do anything to this track?" I asked.

"Nope, it's just you," he said. "It sounds really good!"

"You know, my mom raised me to be humble, but yeah it does!"

That was probably the time I should have gone right back in the studio and laid down the first track we tried last night, with that boost of confidence. But we called it a night.

And Brian and I walked to my car (the very least I can do is drive him home), and wouldn't you know it, I had a ticket. Never saw the No Parking sign. I'm gonna fight it with the city (the sign faces east, the cars, parked, face northwest), but even if I have to pay it, $50 is pretty cheap for two hours in a studio.


Anonymous Doreen said...

Fanny pack man at Gene & Georgetti's is the one & only valet parking person working for the establishment ... so - tickets, money, keys (also get hung up on the rings inside a big wooden box). In this case it is excusable - it is for a job ;)

9:19 AM  

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