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Dogtown and G-Boyz
posted: 03/27/07

Many things, many things.

I finished my album, dammit. My effort, as it were. I had really wanted to avoid lugging all of my gear over to my very kind friend Brian's house, which he and his wife Jennifer offered to me while they vacationed abroad. I didn't want to deal. But after setting up in my living room and giving it my best shot, I just didn't get anything worth keeping. So I resolved, with no small amount of reluctance (I'm tired, yo), to have one more go.

Brian and Jennifer have this labrador retreiver, Nutmeg. My duty while they were away was to feed and walk said animal.

It's funny. I don't really blog. I mean, I have this little thing where I type away here and there, but I'm not really Of The Blog. I don't use Moveable Type (I still do everything by hand and there's no db involved; the slickest I've gotten is my labyrinth of server-side includes, which is so 1997, I know) and I don't have a really crisp little layout and I don't talk overly cute and I don't link to all of my bloggy friends and I don't have a function here where folks can comment, because I'm lazy and chicken and I would spend all my time inefficiently checking back to see if anyone anywhere had anything to say back to me. And they most probably wouldn't, and if they did, I'd be worried they'd slag me. Because I have a thinnish skin. I am trying to grow a husk. It's coming along okay.

So yeah, the dog. Right. If I was a good little bloggy-type I'd probably write about dogs. Because that's what dog owners with blogs do. They write about their dogs. Like how their dog is just the bestest ever. And stuff.

I'm not anti-blog, by the way. I read, fairly religiously, the following:,, Harrumph,, House of Chen (almost all of which I got off of, because Kevin's just the coolest). Okay, that's out of the way. And if I didn't mention your blog, don't feel bad. I've probably read it. It's just that often these days, I can't even remember my own name.

If I owned Nutmeg I would write about her, and I'd probably, as a result, have a more bloggified blog, because you gotta do it up right. Because Nutmeg is the bestest dog ever. It's true. She's the best-behaved dog I've been around. And I've been around a lot of dogs. And one particularly poorly-behaved cat.

Things I found impressive about Nutmeg:
  • Fluent in French.
  • Big winner at the track, longshot at 70-1.
  • Despite opportunity to perpetuate stereotype, completely uninterested in peeing on fire hydrant, passed at least 12 times. Impressive. Poise. Above it all.

Yep. So I took all of my crap over to Brian and Jennifer's place. And I set up. And I did a little bit of cheating to get a good sound, which I'll detail at a later date, which turned out, I think, just freakin' gorgeous results, actually. I hope. I had a bit of a hard time getting going, to be honest. I had already gotten the whole of my effort done, but I wanted to give a couple of tunes another go. The takes I had in the can were pretty good, so everything I did over the weekend had to be better, and, as such, I drove myself pretty much insane. Not that I had far to travel.

I set up Friday night, walked Nutmeg, came home and had dinner, played a little, went to bed.

On Saturday I came in, and the temperature in the house was 58 degrees. A tad nipply, it was. Brian and Jennifer have this thermostat control straight out of Star Trek, and after twiddling and quizzically depressing buttons for a couple of minutes I finally succeeded in turning the heat on and bringing temps up to ~68 degrees. That's a little better. I'd nearly lost me fingers.

I spent the better part of the morning on Beverly Jane, which is my trickiest tune from a performance standpoint. The take I had was good but I wanted better, and I beat it to a pulp, to tell you the truth. The whole thing is just... perched is the word I'm looking for. It's teetering, ready to collapse at any moment. I tuned all the way down to Bbsus2 and capoed up to C. After about three hours of starting and stopping and heavily sighing and meat tenderizing, I finally got it. I'm happy. Really I am.

I walked Nutmeg. She played with her chew toy, which is a big - as in jumbo - pink and purple squeaky pacifier. It's really sort of noisy. Would you like to hear? I think you should. Here's a bit of advice: if you have any headphones, and it's best if they're kinda nice, put them on. I was using two condenser mics panned left and right, stereo-style. So at the end of the clip, when Nutmeg sniffs the mic, it sounds like she's right behind your left ear. It rocks. The clip is 21 seconds, 341kb. That's her chewing on the toy, not me squeaking it.

Mics are cool.

Somewhere in there I did another take of Jack of Hearts, which I may use. The sound I was getting using the new mic and this sort of cheating thing I did which I'll detail at a later date sounded so very, very much better than the sound that I got in Baltimore, I have to be honest. And I was tempted to re-do the whole album, and I probably would have, but for time and energy and flagging talent.

I love The Sundays. The band. Would you like to hear my gorgeous mic'd sound and me fiddling around between takes, trying to remember how to play "My Finest Hour," my all-time fave Sundays tune, one that someday I hope to record, probably as a medley with "24 Hours," my second-favorite Sundays tune? I knew that you would. The clip is 1:44, 1.6MB.

Tuned it down low, I did. DADGAD down a whole step and capoed at II. Pleasantly flabby.

I worked out a really simple little harmonic intro to Baby With a Hammer and after a good hour of merciless flogging, I had that one down too.

Dinner for the dog and I, a walk, then one more. I had done Morning Prayer as a multitrack trio, with a nylon string, the steel and a high-strung guitar. The mix I have of that tune from Baltimore is a bit flawed. I didn't feel up for multi-tracking, so I capoed my Taylor at VII and got a nice little take of the piece, solo. That'll do.


Sunday came and dog duties commenced and I decided to live with a few of the takes from Baltimore and focus on two tunes. If I got good takes, fine. If not... balls.

Here's something. I have this stool, which I got at Pottery Barn. It's called a Tibetan Stool. I also have a Tibetan Table. They're nice. They're also both Made in China. God I feel guilty about it. When I saw the stool in the store I sat down on it and I thought, "Holy shiznit, this would be a great guitar stool. Please take my money." And the fact of the matter is that it would be a great guitar stool. If I was half a foot taller. And I'm not. So when I play on this stool I have to plant my body at this horribly unnatural angle. Which is like: feet off floor, one resting heavily on foot brace of stool, other just sort of dangling. And I have to, to balance my miniscule frame while holding the guitar, hunch way over like Quasimodo, then dangle my ass off the backside of the stool, like a whole 12 inches of ass is dangling, and I'm suspended there, like some sort of Lloyd Wright cantilevered extravaganza, sciatic nerve taking it hard. And there's only so long I can do it before my spine starts making noises and my foot develops an outrageously painful cramp.

And I probably deserve it, on account of this "Tibetan" stool made in China. I consume, I suck.

Chincoteague Drive-In Saturday Night is a fun tune to play. It's also easy to get carried away on, and I did, for about two hours. The secret in recording this one is to stay relaxed and just barely play. Which is hard, because there's all of this smacking about going down, and it's so easy and deliciously satisfying to just beat it the hell up. I tuned to DADGAD, then down a half-step, then capoed up at V. Which gives me the same key I originally did the thing in, the very odd Gb suspended. I managed to keep it together and got what is probably [I only found out much later on listening, as I didn't listen back much at all] the best of the lot. I'm strongly considering laying a hand percussion part down with it. I may or may not do this at Scott's studio. We'll see.

Lunch, coffee, dog walk. And I did this one little cutesy thing that when and if Brian discovers it, he's gonna laaaaaffff. It's all subtle, see? And my reward for that thing? I turned around really fast, all pleased with myself, and I smacked my forehead on a light, hard, and now I have a big knot on my forehead.

I reset the mics for the dobro and got to work on Jerry Said, a piece I wrote for my dad. I got three takes and am going to go with one that's at a slightly faster tempo than I had previously recorded the tune. I was ... yes ... I believe happy is the current emotional state. Happy and beat.

And I was done.

Sorta. Tonight I have to edit everything down, get all the tracks together and backed up. And sometime soon, maybe as early as this week, I'll head over to Scott's and we'll mix this sucka and get all Masta Blasta on its ass. And then I will tiddle over typefaces and things and eventually, soon, hopefully, it will stick its nose out of the door and creep on down the sidewalk, and maybe it might even come to your house for tea.

High tea.

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Last updated, fixified, or otherwise jiggered: 03/27/07.