Happy 2020! All set for a new decade?
2019 has come and gone in such a whirlwind I can barely believe I’m finishing up with this project.
A project that I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done without the help, push and excitement of my dear friend Clinton Charlton.
I’m forever grateful that he enticed me into just giving it a go.
Once I committed to starting it, I wanted to make sure I didn’t give up on the deadline. This ‘deadline’ is such a powerful imaginary force.
It made me keep at least a little focus on finishing something new each month – starting with a blank slate and completing it.
Even if I didn’t feel like it was ‘finished’ I learned some new things about myself churning out some of these tunes.
1. I’m capable of making songs without the aid of others.
2. I much prefer making songs and music with others.
3. It takes a new kind of focus to dig into my head and write from the heart.
I’m not the young idealistic, super-melodramatic (still melodramatic, but a different kind) kid I was back when writing songs in the past.
I’m looking forward to continuing my writing and recording this coming year, but without the deadlines.
I can’t thank enough the people who took time out of their lives to help with adding their talents/insight to some of these tunes:
Clinton Charlton, Adam Kierstead, Bill Preeper, Chuck Teed, Jim Murphy, Alex Thorne, James Blanchard and Perrin Fudge.
Let’s all makes some more music shall we?
This month’s song was written on a ukulele for the Ukulele Cabaret concert in Saint John. Sadly, I couldn’t make the show. But it was right there and begging to get recorded. I enjoy this one immensely and although it sounds a little low tempo, it has heart and provides a hopeful theme when it come right down to the brass knuckles of it.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have listened, shared and came to this sight to see some pretty terrible blog writings 😛
I hope 2020 is a fantastic year for all of you!
The countdown is on!
Happy December! Only one month left of the 2010’s and only one song left in this project.
This is going to be a a great way to end the decade, ya?
This month’s song was a treat.
I had my son Perrin jump on the drums so could be a part of the project.
He likes drums and occasionally practices for his School Rock Band.
I set him up with a metronome and asked him to play his four on the floor beat.
He played a beat using the floor tom, then another over on the hi-hats
and then a half-time spot for a possible bridge.
I knew I’d be looping parts, so it wasn’t tough for him to just rock out as long as he wanted.
I’m a fan of trying to keep as much live on a recording as I can, and although he wavered a little
I managed to capture 8 bars of the sections to loop as needed.
He’s pretty proud of being on a recorded song, and I’m super proud he did it!
From there I started adding a few jangle guitars and shaping the song.
And although it’s pumping with it’s little Tom Petty-like rhythm, the low end was missing.
In comes Chuck Teed.
Chuck and Clinton Charlton got together on Friday night and banged out a really fun bass part. Especially on the
bridge. A bridge that resembles a Pink Floyd piece. And although it still does, the added bass helps take away from it.
I tried changing the chords but didn’t like what I was coming up with. It’s only two chords. And Pink Floyd certainly can’t
claim they own Em to Amaj, right? Great work Clinton and Chuck!
And now the singing:
I’m writing this while listening on the phone to one of my best friend’s (West Bestie) in Victoria record some vocals.
We are partners in crime for getting excited about music and in the past we spent a summer recording a basement EP.
You can give this a listen here: https://alexthornemusic.bandcamp.com/
I was super happy we got to collaborate with him again and although we on other sides of the country, I think we will have try to make follow-up.
I hope you enjoy!
Thanks for tuning in once again.
I’m a couple of days late with this one, but that’s alright.
I’m finally in the garage recording. It’s a real treat. But I still have to figure out the sound of this room.
Maybe get a couple of appropriate mics and tune up the drums to my liking in this space.
I’m really hoping to get some collaboration into the next song (hint hint), but schedules are tight with folks and PEI is not the vacation-land it can be like summer.
All in good time.
I’m cutting this note short this month. My head is fuzzy with a cold and I can’t keep my thoughts together.
Until next month!
What a month!
Disc Golf, Hurricanes and final touches on my garage.
I won’t bother getting into the Disc Golf thing, but if you’re ever want to know about an incredibly fun and addictive sport, hit me up.
I’ll ring your ears off on that topic. 🙂
Hurricane Dorian came, blasted PEI and left me with a huge mess to clean. I lost one huge tree and four others that took up the better part of my free time.
Some of this free time included being involved with travelling to Saint John twice to see some great music, playing in a week long event for Disc Golf and trying desperately to get my garage in enough shape that I can spend some time recording in it. And that is where I am now. Writing this and listening to a quick mix of this months song.
It’s for these reasons that I have to hang my head in -monthly song writing shame-… This months contribution was not (gasp) written in (whaaa?) September.
It’s a song I wrote two years ago and recorded last September. Well, part of it. I added a little guitar thing and played around with the mixing here in the garage the last few days.
But that shouldn’t detract from the song and the momentum of writing and recording for this project. In fact, I think it helps. I now have a room I can really dig into and try to create better songs for the remainder of the project.
Our Beautiful Room was inspired after Gord Downie died and is a reflection of some weird thoughts I had regarding Leonard Cohen, who died a year before that.
After Downie passed, I spent some time watching oodles of YouTube clips and came across an interview where Gord talked about his lyrics on ‘Don’t Wake Daddy’ regarding Kurt Cobain – coming back as a Sled Dog in response to Cobain’s facetious(possibly?) ‘Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld, so I can sigh eternally’.
I didn’t get into the idea of a call and response – or whatever that is that Downie did there – but it was around that time I was reading a lot of Leonard Cohen’s poems and literature about him.
I got to thinking about the ‘Leonard Cohen afterworld’ as well and if Leonard ever did have his own afterworld, I imagined he would want to meet his old girlfriend Marianne Ihlen (who died a few months before Cohen) and reminisce about their past. Which in reality was very prolific to his writing and turning point of his life.
Yeah, that’s a little out there. haha.
Take what you want from it, but if you’re Leonard Cohen fan, you’ll enjoy all the riddled references in the song.
One not so riddled that I have to quote him, as I use it in the song.
“You go your way I’ll go your way too”
– The Sweetest Little Song – Leonard Cohen – Book of Longing 2006
September 2nd. Sorry I’m late.
Not too bad though. I had some friends over for the long weekend and I didn’t have song completely wrapped up before they got here.
But here it is.
I took the evening to unwind and try to mix a fairly lush recording before my ears got drunk and all the frequencies (the ones I can hear ) started to blend together.
The song started out this month as an idea when Jamie Blanchard was on PEI earlier visiting with his family.
We spent what little time we could hashing out a few ideas from an acoustic demo thing and came up with a small structure that I picked at.
It’s a pleasure making music with him. He gets more excited than I do about peeling back the layers and digging into the subtle things that get recording.
He often quotes Daniel Lanois “It’s not what you hear, but what you feel” and I couldn’t agree more. Unless you strip down some recordings, track by track,
you’ll never know what is hiding in there that helps lift a section or chorus.
Almost as soon as Jamie left the island, my other good friend Chuck Teed and family came to the island on their own vacation.
He got in contact to have a much needed hangout and I was surprised to hear him ask about my monthly song and expressed interest in playing some bass on it.
I wasn’t prepared. In fact, it was at a very demo stage and I was prepping for possibly recording something else because I really liked the idea for the song and wanted to
take more time with it.
I don’t have the opportunity very often to have someone like Chuck try to rip out a bass part for my songs, so I couldn’t back off on that.
Monthly deadlines limit my musical friends given most of them live in NB and have very busy lives.
Chuck floored me with his pace.
He listened to the acoustic/drum version. Then plugged in, played through a take. He took some notes, then quickly whipped through a second take.
One I was very happy with, minus a few punch-ins if needed. But nope. We went for a third and he nailed it. Not that I’m offering him an opus that required a ton of skill, but that
isn’t the point. He not only got through the song in what seemed to be 15 minutes, he got the feel absolutely perfect. And THAT means more to me than anything.
Stop gushing over Chuck. I can’t let it get to his head. 😛
It was just a fun story.
Enough babble from me.
Enjoy the song, and to my NB friends, enjoy the first day of school tomorrow for the kiddos.
It’s hard to believe it’s beyond the halfway point now with this project.
It’s been an experience to say the least.
Trying to find the time in the summer months has been the toughest part of this.
My son is in baseball and my work tends to really pick up between spring and fall. But the biggest distraction has been converting my one-car garage into a music room.
I’ve been longing for a room that I can let loose and really experiment with getting better. Shut the doors and sing my heart out without feeling self-conscious (oddly I still share it online, despite still not having a room to do exactly this) and perhaps not bother the family or neighbours.
But here I am. In a room that is drywall and crackfill….It sounds like shit.
No need to add any reverb this month. The crappy room reverb is all this little ditty needs!
I’m looking forward to revisiting this song. It was somewhat written over the weekend in Pocologan (see the previous month for my affinity for that place) with my good friend Matt Belyea. He and I spent a glorious summer day fending off horseflies the size of seagulls and cooling off in a nearby stream.
I had an idea of what I would like the song to be, and he added a few notes that didn’t make this cut. But that’s because he isn’t here to record with me. So coming back to this one with his ideas is something I’m really looking forward to.
I hope you enjoy this version. Come the end of August I should have this garage suited up for something new.
This tune is a pretty simple tune… and early as well – Halfway through the JTD project.
The month of June has been really busy with work and prepping my garage for a ‘studio/creative’ build.
I had decided I would write and record a simpler scaled down song, since this month was going to be so busy.
What I didn’t know was how scaled down it would be.
As it turns out, it became an-off-the-floor, one mic recording with one little guitar lead overdub.
Normally I would have., at the very least, used two mics. One for the guitar, and one for the vocals if I was going to try it live.
But here’s the thing… While rehearsing, I started feeling like I was enjoying the take.
-Sure, the vocals are weak, but the feeling was there-
– No matter – |
Keep playing and finish the song.
It wasn’t going to be an actual take, just a recording to listen to while trying to decide what to do with the song.
I didn’t hear birds outside while recording, but at the end of the tune one of them decided to join me.
Hell of a better singer than me! I loved it. And considering the mood of the song, with the subject of a little river in Pocologan, I felt like this had to be the one I upload.
I may revisit it someday, but for now the bird gave me a little extra time to work on my garage and to enjoy the long weekend.
Happy Canada Day weekend!
Welcome back. Or welcome to… whichever this is, I’m glad you’re here.
This months tune sounds pretty epic. Compressed and driving. Which is right down my alley.
The song started out as a short chord progression, but after jamming with it a few times I found myself
riffing out an old guitar part I used in an old song my band never recorded from about 10/12 years ago.
It felt right and I went with it.
The results were fun, and exploring this side of myself again was … well, epic. I loved the process.
I got in contact with my friend and old bandmate Jim Murphy to bounce some ideas off.
Initially we had hoped he could join me with singing on it, but I’m in PEI and he’s in NB and he doesn’t have much to record with.
We made a few cell phone ideas, but ended up holding back and waiting for another monthly song to collaborate.
We bounced some ideas off each other and came up with a few lyrical tweaks and ideas on how to approach the idea of the song
and went with it for now.
Song aside, it was worth the time spent talking about it with Jim which was ‘worth the price of admission’ alone.
I felt like I was 17 again – riffing our ideas about music and discussing current events.
Sometimes this simple things can mean more than things we think are bigger than we think we can be.
I hope you enjoy the song. I know I loved seeing how it evolved.
Oh. And Happy Birthday to another dear olf friend, Chris Guimond! Still waiting for you to offer your Bass skills
to one of these songs. 🙂
Welcome back, folks. And happy May!
This month’s song was a fun and somewhat educational adventure for me.
I spent a week on the road for work and many other days working late. This posed the problem of sitting in my basement, firing up the microphones and cracking away at a new April song. But it did give me the opportunity to play around on my iPad, sitting in a room up in Caraquet, NB.
A few weeks back I took a couple of chords I had and hobbled together a small arrangement and started tinkering with a beat. Things took off from there and I ended up with a song that challenged my musical theory and fought with my ‘half’-snobbery for using Garageband and other app toys to make music.
I don’t regret using it and plan to engage with it a little more now that I’m learning what can be done beyond the front end of ‘user friendly’ side of it.
Sure, I would love to get (or become) a fantastic piano player, record drums with mics that do the right job for each frequency… or even play a real Erhu. But I’m not doing that anytime soon and really, for what I’m doing here, practicing and seeking new ideas while making home recordings of songs on a monthly basis, it serves the purpose just fine. And hell, watching this thing grow was pretty exciting for me.
I played finger drums and pretended I had ten arms with ten little tiny sticks! I used four grand pianos in a little miniature Carnegie Hall and explored Moog’s electronic workshop for some sub-bass thing that slid my fingers around like I was using a Theremin.
The theory part was a fun experience as well …
When I started this monthly project, I wanted to make an effort to find melody. Even if it was a little more than I could muster back when I used to play more music. That means finding the right keys I’m playing in, and trying to keep up with a scale or movement that suits the melody I half started with.
The samples and instruments in Garageband and IK Multimedia Pianos can be pretty unforgiving if I go off the beaten path with a melody vs chord. Not that there are any rules to this, but I wanted to stay in the confines of the Key signature and learn from it.
There’s some guitar and cymbals and vocals I recorded in my actual Garage (amidst the sound of cars driving by) so this isn’t all in-the-box, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m enjoying this month’s addition.
I’m already cooking up some ideas for the May song. Which I’m hoping will be a band effort if I can manage to get some folks together to practice and write. We’ll see …
It won’t be much longer before we see ourselves hitting a beach, or lounging out in a backyard, or enjoying a fresh beverage out on some deck in an uptown concert.
Whatever your spring/summer contains, I hope it’s an awesome one!
See you next month 🙂
Considering my lack of recording and writing in, well, just about forever. I figured it might be good to take a step back this month and record only a guitar or two with some vocals.
Clinton, along with friends Adam Kierstead and Bill Preeper helped me out tremendously by adding their touch to this song. You can’t beat having the influence of other musicians help shape a song.
When I started writing it, I had no idea it was going to become a big ol’ strummer.
But Clinton added a fresh drum track, recorded by Bill Preeper at his place Bonnet House, Adam ripped out a great bass part (a headless rocker bass at that) which was recorded by Clinton somewhere in Saint John and Bill added a great slinky slide part to add some depth to an otherwise pretty acoustic sounding song.
I love all of what they did!
I managed to get everything recorded a few days before deadline, but I spent some time mixing things. Mixing, listening, scrapping, mixing again …
I’ll give the big pro studios a nod. Tyring to mix in a basement with modest gear is challenging. But in the end this IS a home recording. And I feel it is a step up from last months song.
So here’s hoping I can swindle some other friends to record with me and I can step-up the recording once again.
Perhaps next month I should record my sneakers and a cucumber. Art-rock!
This one is called ‘Casualty‘
“Allow myself to introduce … myself.” – A.P.
I’m Chris. I used to make music. And now I’ve started again! Yeah, babay!
Thank you Clinton for thinking of me when deciding to take a break from January Through December. It’s a pleasure and somewhat frightening adventure to take this on.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the time off to pursue … um… more music?
Folks, Thanks for checking in. If you don’t know me (I suspect many don’t) I’m a Saint John ‘Expat’ of sorts.
7 or 8 years ago I changed up my musical habits from recording and playing in a few local bands to hitting the books and settling on a carreer in Electronics Technology.
I love it. But it came at a price.
My family and I ended up living and working in Cape Breton. With a new career on the go, routines and monstrous drives back to visit SJ, I didn’t have a lot of time to work on music.
Flex the musical muscles, so to speak.
Which leaves me here. With a challenge from Clinton. To write, record and deliver a song by the first of each month.
“Sure I can submit a song way earlier than February 1st!” – Tired Me
12:52am Feb 1st:
I totally didn’t have the song done earlier than just now…
I’m happy with this months song. For being the first one I’ve tackled like this in a very long time, it turned out pretty good.
My vocals,lyrics, and drumming will need more practice. And I look forward to learning about some recording techniques (old and new).
My recording and mixing abilities have also been a little dusty, but all this will improve – right?
The idea behind writing something during the same month is a fun challenge for me. It made me look at things from a ‘current mood’ or ‘event’ and then try to wrangle something out of it.
And unless I’m going through something that would normally make it easy to be cathartic with, makes it tougher.
In August, my family moved again. This time a lot closer to YOU, my friends. We now live in Kensington, PEI.
What better place is there to work on, and polish up on some musical strengths and weaknesses? Inspired by harsh windy winters and absolutley glorious summers.
And the best part? I don’t have to try and convince my friends to come over and play on FUTURE recordings for monthly submissions.
Asking someone to drive 7 hours to what seems like the end of the planet (although beautiful) to a 2-3 hour drive on one of Canada’s best beaches?
I suspect the summer songs will be the strangest and strongest ones of the year.
This months song is called ‘Exit Stage Right’. Recorded in my basement with my computer, an iPad for piano and a few mics.
I could get into the recording and mixing stuff for any audiophiles here, but I think this is already long- winded enough.
We recording people won’t shut up (or stop debating) when we get started on recording practices and gear.
In the following months I plan to get out of my shell a little more. I may try different ways to record. Or use different ways to produce something.
Like say, record only on my 4-track, or ALL UKES! … or get my 15 year old to mix a song in whatever way he wants – good luck to us on THAT month.
Thanks for reading and listening. Be easy – I’m an old new.
See you next month.
“When I started this project back in 2011, the idea was always that I would share it with others. In fact some of you may even remember a few entries by Chris Braydon back in 2012. As 2018 came to a close I approached my friend and collaborator, Chris Fudge, about taking over the project for 2019. I was thrilled when he told me he was up for the task. It was such a rewarding experience and great motivator that it would be selfish to keep it to myself (though selfishly I really want to hear new music from Chris!). I look forward to hearing the songs, reading the blogs, and being on the other end of this project. I hope you’ll be listening too”