Posts Tagged ‘new song’

I wrote this song several years ago as a fun, foot-stompin’, rockin’ blues crowd-pleaser to close out church services, and like my previous song, The Way The Truth The Life, finally got around to recording it – actually I attempted to record it a lot over the years, but just couldn’t get a good vibe with it. Most of it had to do with how I was singing it, which was kind of straight up. But last year, I decided to have some fun with it, and do kind of an “Elvis” voice, and that’s when it changed the whole song and got me over the hump. 🙂 Here’s the song:

I just used my Fender American Deluxe Strat in this one for all guitar parts, and ran it through my Roland Cube 30 set to “Classic British Stack” so I could get that mid-rangy Marshall tone. I cheated a little with the lead and added a software overdrive plug-in to give the lead even more bite and sustain. Ahhh! The wonders of software! 🙂

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I’ve written about this with respect to gear before, but that also applies to lots of things in life. For instance, I just put the finishing touches on a new contemporary christian song demo this morning. I was thinking about adding all sorts of percussion, another guitar, perhaps some keys. But in the end, all I did was replace my original click track, and added another guitar. I just found that the simple, straight-forward sound just worked better. Here’s the finished demo:

After I finished the production, I thought to myself that this arrangement can stand on its own. Besides, it’s what I’d have available at Mass, as I’m the only keyboard player and also the lead guitarist – but I default to guitar. 🙂 In any case, we played this song at Mass yesterday, and I was very pleased to see people nodding to the song. We put it in a place in the service where singing is typically optional, though encouraged, and it was great to see people singing a song they never heard before!

But back to the original topic, to me, sometimes the most beautiful things are really simple; no frills, no bling, nothing extra.

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My older sons have gotten a lot into Reggae over the past couple of years, and it has sort of rubbed off on me. So while I was jammin’ to a song in the car a few days ago, I got an idea for a praise and worship song with a Reggae theme. Here’s the initial sketch of the song (I have to add the rest of instrumentation, but here it is with just a three-piece combo arrangement):

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Never Trade is about a working mother whose life is busy and chaotic, and she just wants to get away, but her devotion to her family overrides her sense of breaking free; thus, as I say in the song: She’ll never trade in her life…

It’s also the first song that I’ve written and recorded in a LONG, LONG time, and this time, I finally figured out how to properly master in Logic Express. Really satisfied with this recording. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t use any electric guitars in this. I wanted to kind of leave Alt-Poppish. Give it a listen let me know what you think.

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My church bandmates were a bit tired of this bluegrass-style “Joy to the World” that we’ve done for the past few years at Christmas Mass, and they asked if we could do a new song. Well… in keeping with our much more straight-ahead rock style, I came up with an 80’s punk version of Angels We Have Heard On High. 🙂 That’ll wake everyone up!

By the way, the guitar (my R8 Les Paul) was recorded in the bridge position through the AWESOME VHT Special 6. I used a 1 X 12 external speaker cab loaded with a Jensen Jet Falcon. The amp was cranked, in the high input, high output, with the booster engaged! HA! It has a much bigger sound than its 6 Watts! It was actually pretty loud in my studio!


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Wow! Been a long time since I’ve written a song – worship or otherwise – so I’m pretty jazzed about getting the inspiration to be able to get something down. I was getting a bit worried about not coming up with any ideas, but this one just came to me yesterday, so I worked out a simple arrangement. My band performed it at Mass this evening, and it went over real well. Can’t wait until we get the full compliment of instrumentation together to do this number again. In any case, give it a listen and let me know what you think.

As far as guitars are concerned, there’s a single one in this initial recording, and that’s my Squier CV Tele. For my amp, I’m using my ’58 Fender Champ that Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps fixed for me and put into a gorgeous tweed cabinet with a Weber 10″ speaker. We’re talking about actually making a head cabinet for the amp so I can hook it up to any cabinet.

While it’s just a single guitar, I recorded the amp off-axis with the microphone placed at the edge of the speaker along the line of speaker cone so I’d pick up more lows. And unlike most of my recordings, I EQ’d the guitar to bring out the bass a little more (not much bass with a single 10″ speaker).

Mind you, this is purely spec right now. I just wanted to get the idea and basic arrangement down so I wouldn’t lose it, so excuse the little mistakes I made; they’ll be fixed in the final version of the song. 🙂

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Since I’ve gotten it, I’ve been absolutely digging the VHT Special 6. It’s such a versatile little amp, with bright cleans and capable of creating some gorgeous, sustaining overdrive. And while I do certainly appreciate its clean tone, this amp totally shines when it’s cranked to hilt.

To demonstrate, here’s a clip I recorded this evening with the VHT Special 6:

Now here’s the thing about recording with a low-wattage amp. I’ve found that almost invariably, it’s difficult to get a big sound out of the stock speaker, no matter where I place the microphone. People recommend recording from an angle lined up along the outside of the speaker cone. I’ve never had much success with that, considering I’m not using any high-end mics. So my solution is to use larger speakers to get that bigger sound.

For this clip, I used two different 1 X 12 speaker cabinets: The rhythm track was recorded using a Fane Medusa 150 speaker to get a bigger bottom end. The lead was recorded with a Jensen Jet Falcon – that’s my favorite speaker at the moment. And of course, because even 6 Watts cranked is very loud, I ran the amp through my Aracom PRX150-Pro and recorded each track at about loud conversation level. It’s just loud enough to move the speaker cone a bit, but not so loud that I’d wake up the neighbors. 🙂

For both parts, I used my Les Paul R8. For the rhythm, I recorded in the middle selector switch biased towards the bridge, and for the lead, I recorded with the bridge pickup only. To make the guitar tone sound even bigger, I added just a tiny bit of compression to each track and added a touch of small room reverb to add some dimension. I didn’t EQ the guitar parts at all. That’s the natural sound of the amp through the speakers I used. The compression keeps the sound focused. At least to my ears, the guitar parts sound like they’re coming from a much bigger amp.

As far as the amp setting were concerned, I was plugged into the hi input with the amp set to high-power mode. Tone and volume were at 3pm, and I engaged the Boost. Even at these cranked settings, the amp will clean up very nicely! That’s how responsive this amp is!

Admittedly, if I were to rewind and go back to when I bought the amp, I’d probably go with the head. The stock speaker is great for practicing, but for gigging and recording, it just sounds much better with at least a 1 X 12. But hey! A handwired amp for $199? Geez! I can live with its shortcomings as what it brings to the table tonally is fabulous!

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…to get me inspired.

I’m on vacation right now up at Clear Lake, CA. It’s one of those family vacations where we do pretty much nothing but chill out. Our resort is on the lake, and it’s absolutely gorgeous! We don’t have any plans, no itinerary; there are places to go, but we have 10 days of just clearing out our minds.

This afternoon after attending morning Mass, we headed back to our resort. The rest of the family went to the pool, while my oldest son and I hung out in our room. He was “PhotoShop-ing” some pictures, and I was just tooling around on my acoustic. I was just messing around when I came upon a chord progression that kind of stuck. So I pulled out my IK Multimedia StealthPlug (it goes everywhere with me), opened up GarageBand, laid down the chord progression, then laid down a melody with a counter-melody.

This was total stream-of-consciousness. I LOVE THAT! I told myself when I started my vacation that my aim was to chill. Not think about work, not think about stuff to do around the house, and not think about music to write. Clearing out my mind made room for some creative juices to flow. So here’s a rough cut of the song I came up with; it’s called “Down Highway 29:”

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Funny how my studio tests and practice jams seem to turn into songs. This song, entitled, “The Long Way Home” is about that deep longing and melancholy when you’ve been away from home for a long time. I wrote the chord progression several weeks ago and saved it, then when I returned to it last night to record a studio test of the 1959 Les Paul Replica, I started thinking of being 40 or 50 years back in time at train station, looking down the tracks, and getting that longing feeling for home while I was constructing the melody lines. The painting above by Jeff Burgess captures that melancholy perfectly.

Tonight, after listening to the original test, I scrapped everything, both guitar parts and bass and re-recorded them. This time, I recorded my 2 X 12 with a pair of mics so I could get both speakers’ tones. That was actually pretty tough, as I spent about two hours getting the right mic positions. My cab has a Celestion Gold and Blue in it. I placed the Gold’s mic right at the seam of the cone and center “button” and placed the Blue’s mic head-on at the edge of the speaker cone to get more low end. Oh well… that’s just one of the challenges of capturing decent tone.

What amazed me about the recording wasn’t the lead, but the rhythm part. The neck pickup of the ’59 played clean sounds like an acoustic. It’s absolutely lush and gorgeous without being at all boomy.

Here’s the finished product:

Amp: VRX22

Guitar: 1959 Les Paul Replica

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This is a song that I just wrote this evening. I’ve been wanting to write a song about my family’s obsession with Facebook for awhile, but couldn’t come up with lyrics nor the genre. So I decided to try country western, but with a bit of a twist. Then the words just kind of came. My studio isn’t up right now, which is why I recorded this on video to start out with. I’ll do a regular recording once I have my studio set up again. BTW, I used my wonderful Yamaha APX900 acoustic.

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