Friday, July 30, 2010

Magical Moment 176, "Sophie's Choice"

Never seen the movie, but I get the distinct feeling that it’s centered around a heart wrenching decision. Like choosing between vision and sight. Curing cancer or Alzheimer’s. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate. Oh the humanity.

It’s how I felt today in my very first pre-production meeting with Modern Vintage Recordings when deciding which of my songs to record. I only get 5. Rather than recording an entire album, like I originally hoped, circumstance will only allow me to record an EP (Electronic Package). An EP is a collection of about 5 tracks that are professionally and lovingly recorded with the utmost and esteemed professionalism, then used as a tool to promote the artist’s reputation and popularity in the music community. Hopefully this will allow me to book shows in NYC, radio interviews, and music reviews with local bloggers. As a relatively new artist on the NYC music scene, we decided this would be the smartest way to go, and in the future, the rest of my album will follow.

I spent hours in a tiny room with a keyboard and guitar, playing and singing all of my songs, one right after the other, while 2 producers took notes on everything from the mood, key, tempo, and overall sound of each one. I must admit, when a critique came, “Maybe we should look at reworking the chorus…” I rallied with defensiveness. Before I spoke though, I reminded myself that these are the experts. I looked around at the plaques of silver, gold, and platinum records displayed all over the walls. Listen to what they’re saying. It’s not a demand, only a suggestion. And PS, they’re probably right.

With dozens of songs in a wrinkled, spiral notebook, penned over the last 10 years of my life, I am used to hearing my music one way and one way only. Today it was time to look objectively at my songs. Make some harsh cuts. Put some on the back burner. Revamp others. And listen with a fresh ear.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to place some of my most beloved songs in the “do not record” pile. I did so with a heavy heart. Today, I said goodbye to “Sick and Tired,” “Fight For Me,” and “Mary’s Lullaby.” These are songs I always thought were the most marketable, catchy, and I just loved them with all my soul. But as we talked today, I started to understand. They would like to promote a certain “sound” that I have – a bluesy, honky-tonk, jazzy, quirky sound, that tends to come out second-nature when I play some of my piano-heavy songs like “Dimples and Brown Eyes” and “Throw Some More Dirt.” And I actually concede, it’s what I do best.

At the end of the meeting, when I cut off my right arm and left it in a bloody pile in their office, I gathered my guitar, notebooks, and lyric sheets and left. I wished I could console my lost songs. Tell them, it’s all right; there’ll be time for you later. Until then, they will always have a place as number one. Front and center. In the loving embrace of my heart.

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