Wednesday, August 24, 2005


In the eternal quest to finish "Brain Shivers," I attempted to sing the vocal for "Diagonal" last night at Skyway Studio, with George Vitray engineering/producing and Ted lending emotional support. Of which I need a lot.

It's a hard song for me to sing, I just can't seem to get into whatever head space I'm supposed to be in to make George happy. I've tried it lots of different ways - on top of the beat, behind the beat, sneaking up on the beat from the side and trying to bludgeon it to death. I've been excited, depressed, desperate, angry, happy, bored... no dice. SM58, handheld, nope. Rode NTK, Telefunken's, Distressor, do it again. Our studio, his studio, wrong.

I was also faced with the clock ticking down, as I was obligated to meet my other half for some dog walking, and George just wanted one more take, one more take. Not a good way for me to work, not very relaxing, and I could hear it.

As an engineer or producer, it's always good to spend some time on the other side of the proverbial "glass" to be reminded of what a performer goes through, with time pressures, nervousness, and the inability to get whatever it is that someone else wants. I've sang this song lots of times live, we recorded another version of it a few years back, but this version has me stumped.

In the end, we got something that's better than what was there, but probably still not a keeper. I'm glad I'm not paying some engineer like myself to sit there and listen to me circle around this song like a 737 trying to land in a storm.


At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Tony Alva said...

YIPES!!! You're making me nervous about Us & Them now. I can only do my best fellas. I'm working with a comfortable part for the chorus right now. I hope I can remember it when the chips are down. Whatever you do, do NOT play me any version of the original track so I don't revert to the higher Richard Wright part. Once I can commit the part I have in my head to tape, and assuming it sounds good enough, we can breathe a little bit (no pun intended).

George scares me...

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Chrispy said...

No worries, no worries. I'm sure it'll be easier for you to sing "Us and Them" than it is for me to sing "Diagonal," since we have a reference (The Dark Side) and we're not wandering around in the dark.

I must clarify and say that I've been unable to make both George and myself happy with my vocal for "Diagonal," it's not just George yelling "Wrong, do it again!" in my face.

George is a very strong personality, and he knows what he wants to hear. Generally, that's a good thing in a producer, until you get in a slump, and then it's easy to feel bludgeoned. But hey, I want some pain, I want to feel the burn. It's like long distance running (a former passion of mine, before the Marlboro days) - you go through the pain to break through to something else, some kind of transcendence, and to truly break free you need to go all the way to the edge, and over, and down.

No worries.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Jackson said...

I think the problem with Diagonal is that nobody is sure what they want out of the vocal, it seems the only known thing is what is not good. There's very little perspective and almost no objectivity at all. I've heard you sing that song hundreds of times. I don't think there's a magic take out there waiting to be harnessed, I think it is what it is.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Chrispy said...

You're right, there is no "magic take" out there. I guess it'll be a case where one of them will be good enough and that will be it.

The one thing I do know is that I want a vocal that sits in there.

The main problem is that the song is so old that I don't really feel the same urgency as when it was first written. Another good reason to do it quickly and move on.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Jackson said...

Maybe we should do it quickly and move on.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Chrispy said...

I've been thinking this over, and the idea of doind it quickly, then moving on, does seem good, if that's what you mean.


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