Archive for November, 2009

Martha My Dear

November 30, 2009

When I started this blog back on 9-9-09, writing about how I would be recording the White Album for the next 270 days, I didn’t consider that I might get sick between now and then. This week, I bring you the “I’ve had a sinus infection for the last 5 days” arrangement of Martha My Dear. I don’t say this for sympathy. I know I’ve apologized too many times already on this blog. I can proudly say that I persevered, over came, upheld the integrity of this blog, whatever, and completed the recording last night around midnight. So, if I sound a bit sleepy, it’s the Sudafed…and lack lack of sleep.

I love Martha My Dear. I think it’s a beautiful song and the horns and strings and piano are perfectly and sweetly arranged around Paul McCartney’s lovely melody. I love the fact that he was inspired by his dog, Martha, to write this song. It’s great to know that I’m not the only one that writes songs that are inspired by furry flat mates. They all end up sounding like love songs, so no one really knows the difference. What’s wrong with writing your cat a love song? That sounds like another blog and another 270 days.

In case you’re new to this blog, let me just say that I play the drums, bass, guitar, piano and sing, clap hands, whistle and shake eggs and tambourines on various recordings. I do not play a violin, cello, tuba, flugelhorn, trumpet or baritone saxophone. If any of those instruments were laying about my house, I would gladly molest them until I was able to make a tune ring out, or until my husband told me to shut it. Unfortunately, for me, there are many of the above named instruments all over The Beatles version of Martha My Dear. Sometimes I change a song arrangement by substituting my trusty Casio SK-1 for proper clarinets and trumpets. That can require some creativity and time. Due to lack of time and an infected sinus cavity, I used the Kurzweil K-2000 and it’s many fake sounding instrument samples to flesh out this song. It sounds a little funny to me. I hope it makes you smile.

Happiness is a Warm Gun

November 21, 2009

Here it is! Song number 8. Only 22 more to go. I have to admit, this is a lot of work. It’s good, on one hand, to have motivation to play everyday and learn new songs. I like recording and learning about Pro-tools. I feel so empowered! Mostly, it’s fun to play the drums again. I have to say that I loved playing guitar on this song too. That was a nice surprise and I hope it comes across.

The only cover version of HIAWG I know is on The Breeders first album. I listened to it yesterday morning just to hear the arrangement. It’s a great sounding album (Steve Albini) and I like their version of the song, although, they do sort of “cheat” on a few of the parts. I also considered cheating myself, but Jim kind of kicked me in the butt and insisted that I play all the parts in the song. That’s a good man that keeps you honest. However, this song makes NO sense to me. I have no idea what it’s about, although, the lyrics, when taken line by line are interesting and poetic. I thought about changing the lyrics to “Happines is a warm cat” just to have it mean something to me, but I figured that I’d be the only one that would want to hear that version. The timing in this song made my head spin. It starts off in 4/4 sort of, but adds a few beats to one measure. Then it goes into a waltz time, then I don’t know what happens but my head almost exploded trying to figure out what the guitar and bass were playing (thank you to Jim for helping me with that). Then it’s back to 4/4 again and THEN Ringo (I assume) plays in straight 4/4 while the rest of the song goes into a waltz again. Huh? Did they do this on purpose? Did John Lennon come to the studio with the song in this fashion and say “Here you go boys!”?

In the end, it was great fun to play and record. It was kind of like solving a math problem, but I like math so it was ok. Next week – Martha My Dear…I’m going to start practicing now.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

November 13, 2009

I have a confession to make. While My Guitar Gently Weeps has never been a favorite of mine. Listening to the White Album when I was younger, I always fast forwarded the cassette tape when this song came on. I never really thought about it much either. If the song came on the radio I would change the station. It just bugged me. When I got older, I read somewhere that Eric Clapton played guitar on this song. I remember being confused. Why would George Harrison have some other guitar player play on his song? Then I thought, well, they were probably friends, and friends play on friends records.

Fast forward many years later, I am listening to a remastered cd version of the White Album on a road trip. While My Guitar Gently Weeps comes on. At that moment, I realize that it’s quite possibly THE GREATEST SONG that The Beatles have ever written. And as I’m suffering through the obnoxious guitar solo, I also realize that I never liked this song before because I can’t stand Eric Clapton. I never gave this song a listen because the only thing my young ears could hear was this ridiculous guitar solo trouncing all over it.

So, I feel like I should apologize to George Harrison for not realizing sooner how great his song is. I loved playing and recording it. I love singing it. The chords are lovely. It’s a perfect song. (Don’t worry, friends. I’m not going to start hitting the Ferndale coffee house circuit.) I realize that it’s going to be difficult for some people to hear the song without Eric Clapton’s guitar noodling. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I know Eric Clapton has many fans. It’s just a matter of preference. I wish George Harrison would have asked Eddie Hazel to play on the song instead, but they probably didn’t know each other. I tried to channel a little Maggot Brain into this song. It’s the weepiest guitar I could think of. Go ahead, try not to cry.

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

November 3, 2009

My mom gave birth to 8 kids, 6 boys and 2 girls. I like to joke that our family is divided into “hunters” and “gatherers”. For some reason, 3 of my brothers love to hunt and my sister has a hunting husband and hunting sons. I know they didn’t get any ideas from my dad. He liked his t-bone steak, but I don’t think he ever would have killed an animal. He was a Marine during WW2, but I would venture a guess that he never shot anybody. He did tell me a story – several times – about being on the beach on Iwo Jima and assisting two of his officers with ammunition while they shot at Japanese soldiers hiding in the mountains. Both officers got a sniper shot to the head while fighting right next to my dad. I think he had extreme survivor’s guilt all his life.

I’m a big fan of knowing where my food comes from. It’s not always easy or possible, but the more I learn about food, the more I realize how important it is to have a connection to what you eat. That means not buying processed food or McDonald’s. I stopped eating red meat a few years ago and poultry not long after that. I sometimes eat fish, but I have no problem putting a worm on a hook, catching a fish and cooking it either. I think if you can kill something, you should be able to eat it, or rather, if you eat meat, you should be willing and able to kill it yourself. That said, I haven’t fished in years and I rarely eat fish because of all the environmental issues associated (see: The World is Blue, by Sylvia Earle).

I think Bungalow Bill hunts for sport, though. Why else would he be “tiger hunting”? By the way, tiger hunting? Anyone that would even consider hunting a tiger can die a long and painful death, as far as I’m concerned. I know that the Iovan “hunters” eat the animals that they kill, but they really do hunt for sport more than anything. It’s not as though they’re survivalist and they live that way on paranoid principle. They have very comfortable lives and could afford to buy meat and vegetables from a local organic farmer. I can’t see the sport in facing a defenseless animal with a gun either. Can anyone enlighten me? I heard a story about a guy that has a business that provides dogs to chase a bear up a tree so you can shoot it. ?

Ok, enough proselytizing. I didn’t play bass on this song because my bass sounded bad. Actually, Jim’s bass sounded bad when I played it. I was limited on time too because Jim had so much work to do at home this week. I hardly had time to record. I practiced and practiced the guitar while I watched the World Series (go Phillies!) but I still struggled on the recording. Please forgive me. It’s a bit sloppy. Thanks again for listening.


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