Saturday In The Studio With Brian ...
Well, actually, there are probably plenty of things like a Saturday morning in a recording studio. But none of them are coming to me right now.
The point is, it was good to get back behind a mic. Still a tad nerve-wracking – I guess it will always be – but after a wobbly start out of the gate, I quickly found my groove.
Today's effort? Diana Krall's cover of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are."
I did one take and stepped out of the booth to listen to it. My voice sounded shaky. No, my voice was shaky. It's a very intimate rendition, almost whispery with a hint of moan. I stood behind Brian's chair, wincing, saying, "I don't know if I like this tune."
Beth, Beth, Beth ... I have no patience with myself. Honestly. The first take after nearly a year away from recording and I'm ready to throw in the towel because it's not perfect? Yes, I annoy even myself sometimes.
I kept listening. As the track continued, my voice got stronger, the nerves faded. "Maybe it's like the first pancake," I said.
Back into the booth I went, and asked Brian to amp up Diana in my headphones. At home, I sing along with my stereo at a decent volume, so that's how I'm comfortable. Her vocal is like an aural security blanket.
He obliged and I was able to sing stronger yet softer. Yep, I know it doesn't make a lot of sense. But that's this sultry jazz business for you. We're not supposed to sound like Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem.
All together, I laid down three takes. We listened through the third take and took phrases from the other two where we liked them better. I called my patchwork song Franken-music. But that's the digital age for you. Where we didn't like any of our choices, I went back into the booth to punch in those phrases.
Back at the console, we listened through the track again. At one phrase we had just rerecorded, Brian turned his head to the side as if to listen to what I was going to say. When I didn't say anything, he said, "I thought you were going to say, 'I don't like it!' " But no, I liked it after all. Though, as he knows, and I mentioned for good measure, I'm hypercritical enough for 10 people.
He did all sorts of nifty digital things – raising the level in places where I hum a little or my voice is very soft, just so it comes through, for example – and ripped a CD for me.
I listened to it the whole way home and found plenty of things that I want to tweak – I don't call them works in progress for nothing – but all in all, it's a decent outcome for two hours of effort.
And if you need it, the direct URL is