Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Background Vocal Mania

This week in the studio has consisted of a steady diet of inexpensive Mexican food, expensive Straybucks coffee, snappy one-liners, new commercial jingles, and, of course, lots of background vocals ("BGVs", as they are often called). With headphones stirrupped atop my noggin, "Ben, I need more reverb." became a common phrase ushering forth from my mouth as I wailed and whispered my way across six of the eleven songs. Ben has monster ears for the task - this is a compliment - and has no fear of layering vocal pads (the long, sometimes subtle "ooohs" and "aaahs") so rich and thick that they might as well be glue holding the entire thing together. I like this.

Like recording the main vocals, I am equally worn out from the creative aspect of the ornate and sometimes delicate process of singing background vocals. We are making a lot of the parts up as we go along, and it is, like singing the main melody, intense in its acute focus and concentration. Part of my problem is that I don't like to work, but part of it is that my overall energy level is already running near empty what with a two-month, and a two-year old at home. I'm lame for passing the buck, I know. I'm not sure that I possess the mental capacity of late to take a step back to see my life, my everyday life, for the mystery, the fathomless chasm, that it is. Lately, I'm all too eager to crawl into bed by day's end.

If ever I thought I was a great singer, recording background vocals is a firm reminder that I am most certainly not. Walking away from our Wednesday session - our last one for a couple of weeks - I was humbled by my lack of talent in this department. There are notes of a chord that Ben hears that I simply cannot hear, and cannot get my voice to manufacture without much help and guidance, without much ado, and without much consternation and frustration on my part. I departed the scene on Wednesday feeling pretty beat up, not by Ben, but by my own mean, perfectionist self. Hello, acedia. Nice to see you again.

So goes the process of making this, my first album, as a full-fledged parent (Scarce [2006] was recorded and released before our oldest boy, Ellis, was born). For this reason, Chrome carries a grittier weight to it that I have never known in the making of any of the previous albums. Now more than ever, I sense a focused desire for the album to "succeed" (both monetarily and artistically), with a gut feeling that if the thing should fail, then so too goeth my career of holding on, and holding on, and hoping. The economy is a joke, and I'm certainly guilty of paranoia and melodrama - this is only music, after all - but I can only hope that the kind, believing and generous folks who have held up my arms in this process, who have patroned this project with their hard-earned cash, will be proud of me, and will be glad they invested the money they did (we reached the halfway point = $7700!) once it is all said and done. Here's hoping for a June release...

2 comments:

Geof F. Morris said...

Keep struggling ... and I think you have a beautiful voice, Pappy.

Tony said...

Don't listen to Satan's lies. You are doing God's work and following His plan. Persevere and you'll soon see the finish line - the released CD! I can't wait to hear your new songs.