session log: dan may at morningstar studios, part two

so i brought a few extra toys this time.

one of the songs we worked on for this session is a moody, quarter-note heavy song called gabriel…and just based on some of the run-throughs that dan and i had done prior to bringing the songs into the studio, i had an idea of the treatment it should get…so i brought in the baritone and an old single-pickup batwing kay electric, in addition to the acoustic that i’d be using to anchor it. i did the basic guide track on the acoustic, then doubled it with the kay, and then moved on to the baritone, which i just used for color here and there.

after we’d finished the baritone pass, there was one lick that i’d done on the outro that i wanted to re-cut, because i was pretty certain that i’d botched it. but when we went back to listen, glenn and dan flipped out…as it turned out, my “mistake” landed on the tape a little differently than i thought it might’ve when i heard it through the phones…and they loved it! in fact, they ended up cutting and pasting it into a couple of other spots in the mix.

i don’t get many of those happy little accidents, and i was glad one of them landed on this record.

the other song we planned on getting through this night was crossover…i’d heard this as something of a levon helm/ryan adams hybrid in my head, but i wasn’t pushing any agenda when we settled in to run it through…which, as it turned out, didn’t really matter – because kurm and rob must’ve been reading my mind. they really nailed the vibe i was hoping for from the outset, and we only did a couple of passes before we felt like we had one that we liked.

in between takes, we went into the control room and glenn played us some of the tracks from the new tom jones record that had just come out, praise and blame (that had been produced by ethan johns). there was one song in particular that had this stephen stills-like riff running through it, although i don’t remember which song it was now…but someone – either dan or glenn – made a remark akin to “we need something similar to this groove for the record”…

so i went in the other room & grabbed my acoustic and came back into the control room – sat down, dropped my low E string down to D and started playing a riff…dan looked up at me over the top of his glasses with that look that i’ve come to recognize as the “are you noodling, or is that already a song?” look – and i got out my iPhone and recorded a snippet of the riff and emailed it to him. knowing him, he’ll have a finished song before i fall asleep tonight.

the recording itself seems to be going pretty well, but there is some weird tension floating around the studio, and i’m not sure what the actual source of it is. hopefully that’ll dissipate before we get too much farther along in this process.

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