What I got

Lovin’. Lovin’ is what I got. Also I got a bunch of quasicompleted semirecorded tracks. More than I can shake a stick at; then again, I’ve never been one of those wide-arc stick shakers. I’ll leave that sort of thing to the medicine men.

At the moment, the Glyph drive to my immediate left contains nine new songs recorded with Michael Flannery at a studio in rural Pennsylvania, a couple of sessions’ worth of material cut at Water Music in Hoboken with Brett Whitmoyer on drums, Justin Braun on bass, and Jay Braun in the producer’s chair, and about ten other demos of songs that I’m not sure would benefit from a band treatment. The law of indiepop suggests that some of this stuff is no good at all, though as I’ve written elsewhere, I couldn’t tell you right now what’s worth developing further and what isn’t. But unless I’ve completely lost my touch, some of it is also bound to be pretty good, too.

Exactly how half-baked are these pies we are half-baking? Golden brown and flakey with steam piping out a heart-shaped hole in the crust, or still a little wet on the bottom? To be honest, they’re not quite ready for the oven yet: I am still adding some ingredients. I spent the weekend overdubbing synthesizer — Mike was kind enough to set my Korg and the Moog up in his studio on 29th Street and leave me be to go wild. (He hasn’t heard the results yet; when he does, I wonder if he’ll still be so nice.) At home, I’ve been adding synth to the Water Music tracks, in a process that oscillates between methodical and crazed, while watching opening day baseball. Jay has yet to apply his Stratocaster to anything, and we’ll probably want to add horns to a couple of these songs. I haven’t done any of the backing vocals yet, so stand ready to be called, singer. I’m also not sure I’m done with my own lead vocals — some of what I did still makes me cringe, but I’m assured that there are ways to digitally decrockify my performances. Chances are I’ll be back in the vocal booth before long in a desperate, flailing attempt to improve the palatability of some of these numbers, so wish me well, pal.

But the basics are all there. The drums on the songs I’m doing with Mike Flannery were done by a guy named Eric Tait at a studio called The Farm. It’s Eric’s own place: a big barn converted into a recording studio. I’d only met Eric once — he was behind the kit at the second Mr. Flannery & His Feelings show — but he learned my goofy songs very quickly, and we motored through a bunch of them with very little trouble. Mike did most of the bass himself, and I, god help us all, contributed some acoustic and electric guitar, too. Brett and Justin played as beautifully, and empathetically, as they always do, and I tried my best to keep up with their inventiveness on the Water Music grand piano. My one regret so far is that I haven’t roped Matt Houser or Sarah Brockett into playing at any of these sessions, but they’re pretty busy with Overlord and other projects, and there’s still lots of time.

None of this is very interesting yet, and won’t be until I’m ready to release some of this music. But I’m leaving it here as a signpost to myself, and maybe to my collaborators, on the long and wide Llano Estacado of record-making. I’ve got some radical but vague ideas about how I want to begin making these songs public, but I’m trying as hard as I can not to get ahead of myself. If the crucial task of the moment is to get a synthesizer sound that suits the tenor of a song, I don’t want to start daydreaming about bigger plans. Recording original music is one of the most humbling things that a poor clod like me can do, but even at its worst, it’s also a lot of fun. Very little puts me in a better mood, so if I seem giddy at the moment, I apologize for that. It’ll all become clear soon enough.