Old wine new bottles

Decades ago (and I won’t even say how many decades) I fancied myself to be a songwriter. I wrote a number of songs, most of which were bloody awful, but one or two of which I still like.

Back then I did my best to record versions of the songs. This was in an era when MIDI-controlled synthesizers were new, and the state of the art for personally-affordable multi-track audio recording was four tracks on cassette. Each track got its own 1/4th of the width of a cassette tape. If you wanted more than 4 tracks you could record 3 tracks, then mix them down to the 4th, leaving 3 fresh new tracks for a total of 6. Low-fi for sure.

I moved on to other things, and didn’t do anything musical for a long time. A few years ago, though, I became curious about the state of modern tools for bedroom-demo recording, and tried out Ableton Live – and by comparison to my previous recording world, it did seem limitless. Huge libraries of instrumental sounds and effects, ability to have hundreds of tracks, powerful editing tools for both MIDI and sound, automation for mixing and effects. It seemed that you could do absolutely anything you wanted to, and all using just a MacBook.

I started re-arranging and recording just one of the songs, although I was only able to do it in my spare time. I soon found that being able to do absolutely anything I wanted to meant that I would try absolutely everything. Depending on how you approach it, the recording and editing process can become arbitrarily fiddly, and as time-consuming as you have time to let it become. If you think of my song as a player-piano roll that’s about 2 minutes high and 20 feet wide, then I was arranging with an Exacto knife. At some point I did have to just declare that it was done.

Here it is on Soundcloud: As Soon As I Can Leave You I Will. Cheery title, isn’t it? I hasten to say that it was written a really really long time ago, and (except for maybe two lines in the 2nd verse) it was never autobiographical anyway.

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