Begun In Earnest

Seven hours, six tracks, five beers and one Quizno’s sub later, Benjamin Wagner has left the building. Control One Studios, that is.

Forgive me the derivative and self-referential lead (you won’t oft catch me referring to myself in the third person; I’m plenty comfortable with ‘I’), but it was a good day in the studio. Nay, a great day.

Long story short: my new record is begun in earnest.

Recording works like this: you lay down rhythm tracks (bass and drums), then overdub guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion, etc. So the trick today was to get solid, dynamic, well-recorded rhythm tracks — everything else is ‘scratch.’ We got it, in record time and with minimal angst.

Kevin, God bless ’em, was ready to rock when I walked in the door. Rosa was already setting up, and Tony showed up via Metro North moments later. We started with ‘I’ll Be Waiting,’ the most uptempo, raucous tune in the set, and knocked it out on the third pass. The rest of the afternoon — breaking only for lunch, quick discussions on intros, breaks and bridges, as well as extended bouts of complimenting Kevin’s efficiency — went the as well. By 5:57 we had recorded ‘California,’ ‘Never (Be The Same),’ ‘Intent On St. Paul,’ ‘Hollywood Arms,’ and ‘Radio.’

We paid extra attention to time signatures, assuring that every track was distinctly up, mid, or down tempo. We recorded to click track (a metranome, basicilly) with BPM (beats per minute) rates of roughly 50 (‘Hollywood Arms’) to 125 (‘I’ll Be Waiting’).

Most importantly, though, we had a great time. Which is unusual for recording. It can be anxiety provoking, calculating the minutes to dollars, and tense, managing the relationships. But so far, so good.

It has to have helped that a) I was inspired by seeing Springsteen last week, b) I spent Friday reading under a shade tree on the Princeton campus and c) Saturday running and swimming with my buddy Jeff along Connecticut’s Hoosetonic River. Remind me of these days when I’m tired and gray. If I’m not smiling, shoot me. ‘Cuz these are the best of times. And I’m grateful for them.

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