Thursday, November 18, 2010

Magical Moment 287, "A Grown Up's Lesson from a Children's Book"

I’m currently recording an album of original songs with Modern Vintage Recordings in New York City. Every step of the professional recording process in the studio is absolutely foreign to me, since the most state of the art equipment I’ve used before is Garage Band that came with my Mac.

We’ve done the foundation instruments, drums, bass, guitar, even some strings. And we have much more to accomplish before I take my place behind the fiber glass wall and sing into a fancy, breakable-looking microphone to lay down the final vocals. This is something I dread. I’ve been wondering just how badly my pain-staking self-critique and neurotic perfectionism will hinder the process and drive me and everyone else totally crazy. Well, today I got a preview.

We bought a recordable Christmas book for my nephews (sh, don’t tell them). You know, the one where you record your voice reading the story and it automatically plays when you turn the pages. We thought that would be a great way to stay somewhat connected long distance since phone conversations at this point consist of “What does a cow say?” Followed by silence. We decided to alternate reading the pages. Eddie recorded his pages in one take. It took me an average of about 10 tries each.

I would read a page then play it back, “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…” Then exclaim with frustration, “I sound like I have a lisp!” So I’d try it again. Nope, the inflection was all wrong on that one. I pronounced a word funny there. Maybe I should whisper this line. What exactly is the rhyming scheme here? Do I sound like I have a cold? Meanwhile Eddie passed out on the couch waiting for me to finish my page.

I tried to make Eddie understand the importance of the recording, “This is going to be on here FOREVER!” He rolled his eyes and pointed out that the kids will love it no matter what it sounded like.

So maybe the lesson here is this, so that my producers don’t end up quitting the music business and moving to Guam, or develop some kind of permanent nervous tick. I’ll just picture my nephews face when they open their present and hear the familiar voice of their far away Aunt Beth and Uncle Eddie. I’ll imagine what they care about in that moment. It's the story that's important to them. Focus less on me, and more on the listeners. Hmmm. That seems simple enough.