Nov 5, 2008
The next recorded song in my effort to rekindle my songwriting.
Give a little of yourself
About the song:
Back when I was training for the Twin Cities 10 mile (yes, I know, it’s hard for me to believe too) I would run by this beautiful house with a huge cedar fence. I never noticed it until the sweet smell of cedar caught my attention and made me forget that I was pretending to be a runner who was in shape. I, in fact, am not a runner and not in shape. Well, okay, I am in a round shape… back to the song.
I loved that fence. It was huge and kept anyone from looking in or out. But then I began to think of why I’d want a fence like that and realized that it was just another way to keep much needed communities and interaction with people at a distance. We need to commune even though we don’t want people. We need communities to come around us when we struggle and when we celebrate. I want my kids to grow up in communities and be influenced by diversity first hand not tv-screen-hand. So the “baby” referred to in the song is my kiddo.
How it got recorded (audio/computer nerd alert):
Since the family has been expanding in our tiny house, space has been an issue. It’s also difficult with limited time to spend much of it setting up and tearing down to record. So I thought I’d be smart and set up my Mac G4 tower and my Pro Tools rig in a location somewhat tucked away and use my MacBook to VNC into it and quickly recorded where ever in the house. I had 2 evenings and 1 afternoon (live drums don’t work so well at night) set aside to record and spent most of it trying to figure out why I couldn’t get my MacBook to connect to my G4.
Since I recorded last month’s demo on my MacBook with GarageBand and pretty much hated the GarageBand experience, I cracked open my Windows XP lappy and gave Reaper, an open-source DAW (http://www.cockos.com/reaper/), an chance. I love it. Much famed Audacity has a lot to learn from Reaper. Sadly, I did not have a decent USB I/O so i recorded with the laptop computer mic. And since my time was wasted trying to setup my Pro Tools rig, I had only a few hours to record the tune, which I’ve maybe played twice before, on a new DAW that I’ve never used . Awesome!
So I fired Reaper up, grabbed the acoustic, played through it once into the computer mic, made a new track, sang into the computer mic. I did sing 2 passes but just used the 2nd pass. Then I grabbed a DI and, through a series of adaptors, plugged into the 1/8-inch mic input and played a bass part and 2 quick electric parts. The electric guitars were recorded clean and then I used the baked-in amp model plugins in Reaper. Then I went down into the basement, set the laptop on the stairs, hit record and sat down at the drums. I’m not that great of a drummer and also had no idea how the loud drums would do with the laptop mic. Thankfully the computer mic has some sort of built in limiter and it seemed to work fine and I played pretty good for being unbelievably out of practice. I then did a quick mix with Reaper included plugins as well as some free VST plugins I’ve gathered from http://www.kvraudio.com/ and there you have it. I decided not to do any mastering as the levels were really hot and already limited to the max by the laptop computer mic.
In spite of not having a good I/O and the computer noise being recorded over and over with each take, I am pretty happy with the demo. I am also a new fan of Reaper. It will definitely stay a tool in my recording kit and may even be my go to DAW if I can work out some of the latency issues (which I blame on the laptop sound card) and some of the editing and multi-take issues. But that’s the beauty of it being opensource, I (or someone in the community) can do something about it.
Enjoy the tune and let me know what you think.