Sometimes I am haunted by songworms. Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for hours or days on end? I have a close musical compadre’ who has coined the name “songworm” for this phenomenon. Some researchers use the term “earworm.”
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm: sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, which is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. For full article, click here.
Can’t Get it Out of My Head
As I’ve described to my wife, I have an internal jukebox that plays back any song I remember. While this may save on my CD purchases or downloads, it backfires when I can’t seem to “get it out of my head.” I’ve read of at least one psychological study that states this is more common for musicians.
Most of the time, I find that a songworm that’s got a hold on me includes both music and lyrics and it usually has an upbeat rhythm. Sometimes, it’s a catchy lyrical phrase that gets my attention. Here’s a classic example.
More Adventures in the Studio
I’m now on the last leg of completing my album, In a Circle. This past week, I began the mixing process. I’m learning that when a drum kit is involved, it takes longer to complete mixing the song. Due to the nature of drum kits and microphone placement, it’s necessary to edit out the “bleed through” that happens during recording (ex., between the cymbals and the toms). Since half of the songs on the album have drum tracks, the mixing process will go more quickly after those have been done.
It’s All in the Mix
I know it’s important to get the sound I want, so I’ll be satisfied down the road. I look forward to listening to a completed album much later and being happy with a job well done. While it’s a tedious task, the mixing process is what can make or break an enjoyable listening experience. Since my songs are strongly based on the lyrics, I need to pay attention to make sure the vocals aren’t buried by the instrumental tracks.
An important part of the mixing process is playing the mixed song on different audio devices (car stereo, PC, tablet, and boom box). The folks listening to the final product will appreciate the ability to play the album in different environments. And, I definitely want listeners to enjoy and connect with the music. So, hang in there, everyone! I will keep you posted.
This week, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate gratitude with a song written by one of my favorite children’s songwriters/performers, Raffi. It’s called Thanks a Lot. I appreciate the meditative quality to the singing and guitar playing. It’s a simple chant that kids (and adults) can sing anytime with gratitude for another day of life. May you have a peaceful and joyous time with your family this Thanksgiving season!
Adventures in Music Producing
Over two decades ago, I worked in a studio for the first time to record my original tunes. I had my friend, Christian Heilman at Bender Studio, on the journey with me as my musical cohort. He was my co-producer, engineer, and resident drummer. It was great fun to bounce musical arrangement ideas off of him and also listen to and put his musically creative ideas into action on those songs. We had a great time working with each other. Looking back at what transpired back then, I see what a blessing it was for me as a musician/songwriter, as well as a person. I’m grateful that my first adventures in recording were blessed by a good friend who encouraged me to explore and take chances with my music. That definitely empowered me to follow my own vision of what I wanted to manifest in the studio for future musical exploits.
More Thank Just Singing a Song
As most of you know, during this past year, I’ve been in the process of recording my new album, In a Circle. I’ve come to realize that I’m not just the songwriter, musician, singer, project manager, and financial backer on this endeavor. I’m also the producer for this project. I don’t have a co-producer this time around to depend on or get a second opinion from. When I considered the history of popular music, I was reminded that I’m in good, illustrious company with a number of other artists who were performer-producers of their own music: The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Kinks. Some of them (ex., Donovan, the Small Faces, and the Who) later asserted that many of their recordings were either self-produced or collaborations with the recording engineer in the studio at the time. (for more on this, refer to this online article.
The Role of the Producer
I’ve experienced new responsibilities and opportunities while acting fully in my role as producer. Here’s a list of some of them.
• Contacting and scheduling other musicians and singers for studio sessions
• Communicating with those musicians and singers around what sound or feel I’m going for on each song
• Paying attention to my financial expenses and the album’s spending plan (studio fees, etc.)
• Tracking the recording progress of songs and practicing flexibility around initial musical arrangements
• Holding the overall vision of what I want to accomplish with this project
• Encouraging and challenging other musicians and singers recording tracks to do their best and bring on their brilliance while having fun at the same time
• Working with my marketing advisor to create a weekly blog and the Notes from the Meadow that captures the process of making an album in the studio
This whole enterprise has definitely been a labor of love. I hope it will reflect my passion for music and creative expression. I’m grateful for the gifts of tenacity and musical inspiration.
In mid-October, I took Meadowlark to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new location of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (SNFC) at 2820 ‘R’ Street.
For information on the new store, click here.
I’ve been an active SNFC member over 35 years since the Fall of 1981 when I moved to Sacramento.
Before moving here, I had been a food co-op member (or natural foods shopper) since my early 20’s. I’ve been a veteran co-op/natural foods person in cities like: Bloomington, IN; Atlanta, GA; Spokane, WA; Portland, OR; Denver, CO; Davis, CA; and Modesto, CA.
For those who don’t know the history, SNFC began in downtown Sacramento in 1978 as a buying club. After a couple of years, it moved to a location south of downtown on Freeport Boulevard (near McClatchy High School). It was referred to in those days as the “hippie dippy” store, due to the funky nature of the building and its main clientele.
I worked at this location for less than a year in the mid 80’s. Then, about 20 years ago, SNFC moved to Alhambra and ‘S’ Street and served the community there before it’s most recent move.
So, when I finally got to see the new Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op last month after hearing about it being built over the last six years, I was excited! The new store has a lot more parking (open air with a parking garage; Thank you!), an expanded deli and kitchen with a larger menu to choose from, more products to choose from, a new café area inside and outside, and a much “greener” footprint on the planet. Plus, it’s now fully on the midtown Sacramento “grid” and holds down the east end of it while the new Golden 1 Arena holds down the west end.
All in all, the new SNFC will be of even greater service to folks living in Sacramento and its outlying areas. To quote an old song from the 80’s by a band called Timbuk3, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta’ Wear Shades.”
MORE STUDIO NEWS
I was joined in the studio, both in September and October, by Paul Schwab on lead guitar. I met Paul through my Bender studio compadre’, Christian Heilman, back in the ‘80’s. For my Older and Wiser album of original tunes, Paul laid down quite a bit of good electric guitar shredding on Blood for Big Oil and The Waiting Room. He also played an elegant acoustic guitar track on my tune, Beauty Is.
This time around for my upcoming album, In a Circle, Paul played some tasty guitar licks for some of my newer tunes: It Ain’t Natural, Brand New Day, and Breaking the Chains.
(insert photos of Paul here; they’re on your phone) Once again, Paul has delivered the goods and I’m musically pleased. You rock, dude! It’s a joy to know and work with talented musicians such as you. Thank you, buddy!
I’ve known about Burning Man, an annual event that takes place in the Nevada desert north of Reno, for a number of years. I even know a few “burners.”
It looks like quite a party and a celebration, even if it’s smaller than Woodstock was back in the day. Of course, times and culture have changed somewhat since then. I, personally, have never attended this event. (Actually, I didn’t attend Woodstock, either.)
What I found quite amusing was that my Meadowlark t-shirt attended Burning Man this summer without me. A friend of mine won the t-shirt earlier this year in a special drawing for my Notes from the Meadow subscribers. When I shipped off his prize shirt, I asked him to send me a photo of him wearing it. So, he took his t-shirt with him to Burning Man and kindly had someone take a photo of himself wearing it.
I hope he had a good time and that the Meadowlark message (“There is a thread of Love we follow…”) was well received by his fellow burners who encountered it. Thank you for the creative idea, Micah!
More Fun in the Studio
I needed to take a break from internally-generated pressure around the album making process. So, after a well deserved and refreshing pause in August, I’ve had some great studio sessions in September.
Dave Clark on blues harp
Dave Clark, my good friend from the Soulshakers, came in to lay down his heart stompin’ blues harp on No Changing the Truth and It Ain’t Natural. His band is well known on the local MoFo (mobile food truck) circuit. I have always admired his positive attitude and subtle sense of humor. You rock, King Bee!
Jon Merriman on guitar
Also, my long time musical compadre, Jon Merriman, graced the studio with his guitar and presence. Jon and I go way back and his tasteful guitar stylings appear on my Older and Wiser sessions. Jon, you will always be Mr. Boodlee-boop to me! Be sure to check out Jon’s cool music videos on his website, jonmerriman.com
I really appreciate you, my soul brother from another mother. Hear Jon on Water Mountain Sky.