Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sing, Sing A Song ...

I have, I dunno, 800 CDs or so. That's a lot of music.

I've been sifting through them again, another material-finding mission. My next recording session is Thursday night. Scheduled for Thursday night. Fingers crossed that nothing happens in my life or Brian's life to screw things up. The fact that we're getting together again for a second session within the same calendar month is monumental. Typically, we have a session and then months - months - go by before we manage to get together again.

March, clearly, is a good month for recording.

Yesterday, L.A. Dave asked me what I'm going to sing Thursday night.

"I dunno," I replied. "Maybe a Diana Krall tune."

I have a couple of her CDs, not because I bought into the massive marketing machine that propelled her far beyond other jazz singers who are much more deserving of fame, if you ask me, but because when I first heard her, I thought, "Hell, I can do better than that."

Brian told me to be sure to bring more CDs if there are more songs I'd like to try on, and I have a hefty stack of discs that I pulled after the last session, but my fervor for some of the tunes has waned. Maybe it'll return if I run through them and hear some playback. Maybe I'll think, "Huh, that doesn't suck" and we'll keep working on them.

But I find myself returning, over and over, to Dianne Reeves' recordings for "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Dianne looks eerily like my friend Marlea, who is also a singer. Are all gorgeous black women great singers?) Almost every song on this album feels right. I've already recorded two of the tracks. There's a third I'm thinking of ("Too Close for Comfort," which happens to be playing right now, and damn but that bass is cool as hell!), but then I think, "Do I want this entire disc to be covers of one artist?"

And then I think, "Well, hell, Beth, if you find a sound and style that works for you, go with it."

As Dave said in a recent e-mail, "You've got to let your style happen."

But it's hard to find stuff that's ripe for covering, the right key, the right arrangement.

So I'm starting to covet a relationship with an arranger. Oh, to develop songs around my voice instead of finding songs to fit. Like having clothes custom tailored versus buying off the rack.

And then I think (yes, I do think a lot), "Baby steps, Beth."

But an exchange this week with my pal Angela reminded me that I've already come a long way. Earlier in my friendship with her, I would talk about singing, would drift into a moony place, all dreamy and wistful about taking a mic. I taped a little bit on my microcassette recorder - could there be worse sound quality? - and let her hear it, down a deserted hallway, far, far away from any other ears.

And here we are, admittedly many years later, but here we are, with me recording an album's worth of songs and then some. (We won't end up using 'em all. As L.A. Dave points out, I can be like Tupac and my estate can continue to release my early recordings long after my death. L.A. Dave is funny.) Here we are, with me not freaking out when Dave walked into the last session, but actually continuing to sing.

So, 48 hours from now, I'll be wrapping my latest session, but as of right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to sing. Which means I should probably stop writing about finding songs to sing and actually find them.

I wrote a post about Dianne just about a year ago after buying this soundtrack. This is part of what I had to say:

"This is the stuff I was born to sing. This music even sounds like it's in black and white. Smoke curling from cigarette tips, sultry hidden eyes, brushes on a snare drum, upright bass, a tuxedo at the piano with a pulled-loose tie.

And ice cubes clinking in a glass of Scotch, not because I need it, but because it's just called for in a smoky club at a sleepy hour.

Oh, hell yeah."

Suggestions in that vein are welcome. Both title and artist, please.


Anonymous girl and dog said...

You HAVE to post some clips of your songs! It all sounds divine!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Aw, thanks.

Ethan offered to host some sound files for me. I'm pretty dense when it comes to all this computer-y stuff, but with his help, I'm sure I'll be able to do it.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Markbnj said...

Beth dear, you ARE going to let us BUY copies of the album when it's done I hope?

Markb in nj

PS: see the other Post about sting for the poem I wrote for you.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thank you for the poem, Mark. I'm very pleased to have gotten tickets, too. A second show has been added for Chicago. Tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. CDT for the July 6 show, FYI.

: o )

As for my "album," as I don't own the rights to any of the songs, I'm quite sure I can't sell it, but I'm sure I can get one to you somehow.

10:41 PM  

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