The Recording Devil

This past weekend we had the great pleasure of hosting my good buddy Astra. She and I have been sending recordings back and forth for a while now and it seemed like a good idea to import her from her native land of Canada for a jam session and to hang out in general. She’s a lot of fun and aside despite having my son fall in love with her and follow her everywhere she went, we got some recording done. The best part was that we were able to get together with my buddy Jason of Cloxco fame (if there is any fame there…which there isn’t, but it’s my blog and I make the rules). Having two great singers in one room was an amazing experience. There’s nothing like the exquisite pleasure of making music with good friends who happen to be very talented musicians.


The way that Jason and I work is simple. We have two rules: three takes maximum for any track and nothing is allowed to be perfect. We’re really good at adhering to both of them. Astra did a great job of hanging with us on that.

What I find funny, and what prompted this line of thought, is that the three of us are pretty good with the whole performance thing and yet are so very self-deprecating. It’s difficult to listen to yourself and not be incredibly critical. I’ve done it for years. There were hours and hours spent recording myself in front of my little pocket tape recorder and listening to the playback so that I could get some idea of how I sounded so that I could improve. It floors me that today I could use my iPhone and get 100 times the quality and recording time out of it. Hell, when I was in college the idea of a cell phone for regular people wasn’t real yet. In any case, those recordings were a way to get better. They were a way to be critical of my performance in a positive way.

The recordings we made this weekend captured something that has never happened before and might not happen again for a long time. It’s impossible for me to treat it as a musical recording in any critical sense. It was our first exposure to the material and the first time we’d all been in the same room together. Great things happened and I’m very happy that I captured it. The recordings are documents. It doesn’t make them devoid of musicality or immune to criticism; that would miss the point entirely. What it does is imbue them with something special. Something extra. The feeling that fingers slipping around or missed down beats are unimportant in that context. The recordings capture an energy and a moment.

By all accounts we had a great time. The resulting recordings are awesome and the future work that will come from them has me bouncing with excitement.

  1. You're right of course. I go through phases when listening to things I've recorded, it usually begins with, wow I suck. Then the second time through, I think, wait now, that's actually kinda cool, there are only minor errors. Then there is waffling back and forth. When I am tired I think pretty much everything I do sucks the big one.
    I must also say that I have made music with others before (mind you a long time ago) and I have felt the most comfortable with you ever. You have just the right balance of honest criticism and telling me I'm great so I don't get dissuaded. It was so cool that Jason also was just the easiest guy to sing with, and I know that we all felt that feeling in the room, the feeling you feel when the music is just sweet and right. I also greatly look forward to the future work that comes from this, because I really loved some of the sounds that we got.

  2. I think we're going to get a lot of mileage out of that session. I have a
    race against time going on right now with the weather and my guitar
    building. I pretty much have to be ready to apply the finish by this
    weekend so my studio time is now shop time. But after this week, I am going
    to go back over the material and see what we can do with it. I have some
    really cool (I think) ideas for arrangements. I also know that Jason is
    working on some things with what we did. This is good. Really, really

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