Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chapter 3: That Said (Sounds Like You Got You a Problem)

…sounds like…a problem.

Saturday, November 01, 2008…

After completing a relaxed morning routine (getting up for a 6:30 A.M. back-stretch and breakfast an hour later in front of the TV), I had entered the recording studio and dutifully resumed my search through song-files, to find candidates to fill an album supportively for "SIDon 'S'on the Map". I came across a file tentatively titled "Drum Experiment 010908". It held my attention long enough for me to plug in and overdub a test melody.

Pre-text flashback: About a year prior, after wanting to do so for tens of years, I finally purchased my first drumstick addressable MIDI drum pad…this one by Alesis. As has become customary, it arrived bundled with some Brand X le/se software. This one came with sample-sized BFD drums. As it stands, I own hundreds of gigabytes of drum samples; so though I was well aware of BFD (having assumed the intials' realization, as well as the colloquialism's inference), I hadn't given much of a listen…apart from several NAMM show encounters, where I was impressed with the library's overall sound. I beat out an eight bar mid-level Funk groove, then tested it's validity with a Lakesidean Fantastic Voyagesque bass pop and my favorite NI B4 organ. I liked what I was hearing. …so much so that for a year and a half, it had remained buried deep beneath sub-sub-folders on a tertiary archival hard drive.

Fast forward…I'm listening back to my vocal line when I am interrupted by a telephone call.

"Sid…! I've got to go to Chicago; our son has been hit by a car!" Our youngest college-boy son had been hit by a car while crossing the street early morning after work. [Is that what they teach you in that sissy school of yours?—Jackson Book of Bad]

"I'm coming with you." As I said that, a thousand and one things raced through my mind at once, so I opted to do the "…and one"-thing within my power: I burned a CD-R of my demo with the scratch vocals to study on the long trip from metropolitan Detroit to the Woundy City. As pragmatically calloused as it sounds to have done such a thing at such a time [How could a caring father think of something as trite at a time like that? See the Elaine and the Juigy FruitsSeinfeld episode], I constantly pray God's faithful protection over my family and me. And as frightening as our son’s feeble labored voice on the phone message made dire the circumstances seem to Susan, I trusted that my faithful Heavenly Father would not have allowed serious harm to befall our youngest.

Back to me:

As an instrumentalist and nascent lead singer, I'm at my best in raw unconscious detached extemporaneous performances. For instance: for weeks, I was unable to locate any MIDI file copies of my original acoustic piano Jazz solo on "Let's Just Get Alone". While it was a very inspired solo that said everything I needed said concisely crisp and to the point, the crude demo (from which I reconstructed the finished version on "The Mμne…") had it buried deep in WTH reverb. Try after unsuccessful try, I would lay down either some new idea or a miserably wanting rendition of the original. Fortunately, I did eventually locate the original, and rendered the performance through the exquisite Garritan® Steinway® grand piano plug-in. I am very lyrical in my keyboard play. And while I enjoy interesting chord progressions, I'm far more fluid zooming along musical highways in one-seater melodic muscle cars…as opposed to trudging about in packed polyphonic buses. Similar to that first-take circumstance, my voice is brighter and my vocal range wider when unencumbered by trivialities of melody and lyrics.

As a vocalist, I think along paths paved by my formative years on my Arp™ Odyssey® lead-synth play. The melody of "That Said…" is veritably a one-take creation—even down to the first recorded words (It's out there waiting if you know what to find…) having made the final cut. The song was created to verify a drum track further verified with bass and organ; key was not an issue. Baritone-to-falsetto, I have functionally nearly a four-octave voice range (three semitones short). Admittedly, I am a long way off from having mastered it. I can't tell you what my best key is; I haven't settled on a definitive two octaves. What I lack most is the brassy texture in my lower notes that I find in my upper natural octave.

To make a long story short [too late], I heard something in my vocal performance on "That Said" that may now be called the definitive "SIDney voice". The backgrounds vocals were impulsive head-arrangement ideas that I realized gave a live Do Wop/Gospel liveliness to the track.

As an anthem, "That Said…" speaks to me on both a professional level and a spiritual level. There are things in my professional and spiritual life—areas where I've not been aggressive in changing for the better or creating the better conditions awaiting my orders.

It's out there waiting, if you know what to find
The chance to start off what you're leaving behind
'cause honor's not stopping, boy
Boot up! Your job is to love somehow, by dodging something dug into you

For me (especially if this particular album launch proves as successful—influentially and commercially—as hoped), I know it's been out there waiting on me to boot up. Knowing what to find has been both the easy part and the most difficult. Once, God called me His "…servant of music". Two issues here: God talked to you? Well, I can talk; I talk to those I love. How is the-one-created capable of more than his Creator? Can those who don't believe that God will actually talk believe their God actually cares? Are servants really obeying the master's instructions, or does their empty-suit figurehead master leave it up to His servants' own best guesses? And what other communicative challenges burden their mute gods?

In my case, this was the only time I heard Him acoustically—as opposed to His message being perceived in thought. …and this was just concerning music. Immediately after that message, I did sense in thought that His purpose in referring to me as His servant was to state categorically that my created purpose was that of being a human utensil used to dispense His music by means of utilizing those talents He'd invested in me and my ilk. That said, getting that hidden talent out from under my mountainous rock formations has been the challenge ["Try Mustard Seed® brand faith…and toss 'em into the sea."]. As primarily infinitely important as removing the rock covering my hidden talent was it first crucial to find in the hole those valued talents. And getting it straight from the Creator's mouth was all I needed, it would seem.

That something dug into me was doubt. Doubt in my abilities, doubt in my creative choices, and many valid substantiated doubts in the record business. …the storms that gathered about me while on my musical water walk. Doubt is the machine used to place the boulder over the buried talent in the first place. Faith comes by hearing; doubt comes by listening to the wrong things.

I haven't heard from God "acoustically" since then, seventeen years as of this writing. But I hear what He said to me back then, now louder than ever. The thing that gives me faith through miraculously avoiding harm in an icy spinout—where every car on the street around my wife and me disappeared, through the miraculous disappearance of cancer symptoms (that I only found out later were identical to those of a close friend on the west coast), and on every flight I take is knowing my mission and purpose. It's like I am watching myself in the middle of “SIDney: the Motion” (rated Rfor Right now)—well aware that certain things have to occur before the protagonist can be killed off.

That said, it's out there waiting for us all respectively. Boot up!

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