while I was hanging yet another shelf in my tiny but increasingly intricate work-space, I heard the word “bloviate” for the first time. The word was uttered by Sam Harris in his latest podcast with Andrew Yang. According to google search results it means to “talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way”. Well here I am with an update to my last post sincerely hoping to not bloviate all over you guys in the process.
The last time we spoke I had just finished actualizing the “album” cover for my upcoming music-single Magnetic Fields. Well wouldn’t you know that as soon as the pixels were dry up springs this white-hot idea slap on a “B-Side”. In truth I was feeling a bit high from having completed something that would soon be public. It’s a rare feeling for me to experience considering most of what I’ve worked on over the last five years hasn’t traveled beyond my studio computer.
I am a completionist at heart…
For instance, when I find an author that I love I have to own and read everything they have ever written. Through 2018-19 I read every Jon Ronson book with the exception of The Elephant in the Room; which i didn’t know existed until right now because I just googled his bibliography to make sure I wasn’t lying to you. Another example of this tendency, that I haven’t acted on, is wanting every size viewing lens for my huge backyard telescope. Even though the moon hardly offers the opportunity for a peak I still want all the sizes so when I do have a window to ogle at the moon I am not distracted by wanting an even closer look. The more pragmatic portion of my mind knows this isn’t even close to a good place to throw the little money I have so it stays buried a few pages deep in the “wish-list”. And anyways the included lenses work great and blow the moon up to truly breathtaking proportions. But even though I know it’s impossible to see the disbanded lunar-rover from Earth I still wanna try.
So it goes with shop-tools and music-gear, all of which I can usually justify as essential and then write-off for taxes. If something allows me to expand my creative options and happens to be part of a “set” promising more of the same then there will hang an lingering incompleteness until I hunt down the missing parts.
What started kicking up dust after I “finalized” everything with the Magnetic Fields art (and then told you all about it) was this same nagging completionist impulse. Magnetic Fields all the sudden needed a second side; some sonic subtly to counterbalance it’s fully-produced weightiness. For some reason the thought never occurred to me to include a B-Side for The General Store, my latest release. It’s not like I didn’t have enough music dying to be born it’s just that the idea never occurred to me as far as I can remember.
In retrospect it all seems obvious…
Traditionally all singles have a flip side. This started in the 50’s when record labels began to using 45’s as teasers for larger upcoming LP’s. The B-sides were often the best part. The number #1 song Paperback Writer by the Beatles, for example, is a cool song but the lesser know Rain is the shit. (BTW I just posted my own folky version of this to my YouTube [click here]).
Lately though I have been much more inclined to trade perfectionism for accomplishment…
And it’s been a longtime coming. More and more I have been feeling the deep-seated urge to just get stuff done and out there. As I’ve rambled about at length before I am positively pregnant with music trapped in state of hard-drive purgatory and most of it is mostly ready. I sense a great purge in the making…
In the case of padding the Magnetic Fields release I decided to use my song Lost in the Woods which I’ve been playing live over the last few years. I have an almost completed, full-band version of this but it’s one of the many that are stalled a few yards short of the end-zone. I’ve since kicked to the back-burner but I do plan on digging back in and wrestling it into some sort of respectability after my next LP drops. In the meantime I developed an acousticy arrangement to suit my solo performance needs and lightened it up with some finger-picking and a slower tempo. In the end it’s a different song and doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m treading the same ground.
I realize that you haven’t heard this full-band version I speak of but it’s “heavy” in much the same way Magnetic Fields is “heavy”. [which you can hear if you read the last post]. I became so invested in my full-band recording that I pushed away the desire to record the solo version as well. Putting in this effort felt a lot like buying those expensive lenses for a telescope I never use.
But a few days ago, with excuses in hand, I was determined to start the song from scratch and be DONE with it in a few days time. This is something I’ve never attempted on any serious level. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that recording and mixing has to be akin to torture and take forever. Enough of that.
Start to finish it ran about four days of work at maybe 3-5hrs per day…
I can only work on this stuff for so long before I get ear fatigue and everything begins sounding blurry. Mike Meadows, one of my favorite drummers in Austin, has a baller studio setup and recording chops like the pros. He cut me a great deal and after supplying him with the basic bones he worked his magic. A few days later I was seamlessly able to fly his tracks into my flies and continued working. Recording technology is really quite slick these days.
So to summarize: fast-tracking was the name of my game here. I’m already way too excited to share Magnetic Fields with the world and a little irritated it’s not out yet. But I think taking the time to finish Lost in the Woods was the right move. Or anyways at least my inner completionist isn’t barking at me. My inner perfectionist, however, is grumbling but I ain’t got the time to listen to that.
So in a rare moment of artistic vulnerability...
…(helped in part by not having a huge readership) I’m deciding to share what I have so far… This version was spit out last night and after listening this morning I don’t hate it. That’s an unbelievably good sign in my world. Chances are that I rounded an elusive but important corner in the finalization process and I’m 95% sure that what is eventually saddled to the underside of Magnetic Fields will look and sound very much like what is posted below.
Lost in the Woods (Unfinished Version/Unmastered)