It’s Music Monday (just barely). (See song at bottom of post.) Well, the good news is, my social life is slowly (and cautiously) returning. The bad new is, because I had a busy weekend, I decided to record my song today. I prepared all the backing tracks late last night then planned to lay down the vocals first thing. Simple enough, right?
Confinement is really over, folks. And Monday is the start of the work week so that means noise. I’ve written about this before but as teeny as my street is, it’s very busy. I was not a few phrases into my vocals when—Bang! Clank! Bing-bong!—something outside made the needle jump on my recorder. Turns out a building on my street is having scaffolding constructed for facade work. Oh yippie. Who doesn’t love the metallic clank of hammers on metal tubing? No one ever.
Well, if it’s Good Enough for Peter Frampton…
Yup, the only room in my tiny studio with a door to record my vocals? The bathroom. I gathered all my equipment and headed for the loo. Like Peter Frampton before me, I let the tiled walls make things all pingy and ringy. No need to add reverb this time.
Except, pipes. Sinks running, showers flowing, toilets flushing—I had to keep stopping and starting, over and again. I got one solid take in—an hour later—but wasn’t loving it, so I started again. Just as my neighbor above started scraping at something in the bathroom. Scutch-scutch-sh-sh-scutch-scutch-sh-sh. If I were doing something jazzier, I’d have found a way to work the scratching sound into the percussion track. But I was dong a ballad, so I had to wait. Thirty minutes.
Two and a half hours later, I finally had several good takes to pull from. Now for the really time-consuming part: the mixing. Usually, I love noodling and arranging the instruments, cutting together the best vocals. The backing track was prepped the night before, so now I could focus on the vocals. But as I listened, background noise had crept in here and there. I would have to perform surgery to make the vocals clink- and scutch-free. Five hours later, I finally had a good mix. Done and done.
Except not done. Garage Band, the program I use, decided to crash, taking everything with it: the painstaking editing, the hours of mixing and EQ-ing—even the backing track I’d editing the night before. Apparently, I forgot to hit “Save.” Oopsie.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Over 10 hours of work gone. Forever. Normally, I’d have lost it. Screamed, cried, threw something. The lamenting and gnashing of teeth would have been heard around the globe.
But I don’t know, something about this pandemic and the sea of unrest washing over the world—the protests, the riots. Call it a huge dose of perspective, or maybe just exhaustion from all the chaos, but all I could muster was a shrug.
I couldn’t do anything about it, so? I surrendered to the reality, and dealt with it. That’s a new version of me, right there. Resignation. Acceptance. Resilience. This is what three months of confinement, of living squarely in the middle of a world gone mad has taught me. I now make peace my go-to state.
I still had all the raw material for the recording; I could remember what I did. So, I took a breath, and started over. In one hour, I’d recreating most everything. And what I couldn’t, I let go. That’s something else the pandemic has taught me: letting go. Perfection is for suckers.
So, here it is. Hard fought and hard won. Like trying to paint the Sistine Chapel while riding a 30-foot unicycle. Take that, Michelangelo!
For all the chaos, and tribulations, this song is as languid and gentle as it gets. Another of the universe’s little ironies. This song, like last week’s, is also from a film, first sung by Audrey Hepburn. And for my mom, I’m using Frank Sinatra’s arrangement.
Moon River, music by Henry Mancini, words by Johnny Mercer. Vocals and arrangement by Lisa Anselmo
Listen to all the Music Monday offerings here.
On the bookshelf