session log: dan may at morningstar studios, part three

so, for tonight’s session, we had the unflappable tommy geddes in the house on drums – there were a couple of things that dan felt might be a more solid fit for tommy, and he wanted tommy represented on the record, so he singled out down the road and i got a gun to work on with tommy, and those were the ones we wanted to concentrate on first and foremost while tommy was in and available.

down the road is an interesting story, i think…dan and i were sitting in his basement, going through all the tracks that he’d accumulated on his digital recorder in his studio, and he was playing snippets of all the stuff that he’d halfway finished, or had assembled as ideas but that hadn’t made it to the final stages of completion. this particular song came up, and he let maybe 20 to 30 seconds of it pass before skipping to the next clip…”go back to that last song,” i said.

he skipped backward to the track and started it over…it was this moody, 6-5-4-5 progression, but it had promise. i started fumbling around with the guitar, trying to figure out where the chords landed and, once i’d figured it out, started playing this lindsey buckingham, big-love-ish pattern over the top of it…and a song was born. 🙂

the other song, i got a gun, grew out of a soundcheck jam at a gig at rose tree park in media some years back, when i started riffing on fat man in the bathtub by little feat, and the band fell into it. it ultimately morphed into something else entirely, but you can certainly hear the influence from that song in the opening riff if you’re familiar with it.

so we set tommy up in the main room and i set up shop in an ISO right off the floor, and we started working on down the road – tommy actually overdubbed a couple of elements to get the percussion track that lives on the record, and i set up and played the acoustic guitar part in one pass while dan cut a guide vocal into a microphone from the control room, so that i could hear him in the headphones.

here’s the video from the ISO booth:

you can imagine why i was happy to have gotten that in a single pass…i dunno if the fingers on my right hand would’ve been up for multiple takes on that one.

after we finished that one, we moved on to i got a gun and i laid down a reference rhythm track…once we’d gotten the drums cut to tape, i set up The Trusty Gibson and one of my silverface princetons in the big room to cut the lap steel track – we were also going to overdub a lap steel part for lucy, another song that we’d cut during one of the other sessions, once we got this track down.

to say that the combination of those amps in glenns’ tracking room sounded huge would be something of an understatement. it doesn’t come across so much on the record, because you couldn’t have really had those mustered into the mix that way without them taking over the whole track – they had to be layered somewhat to blend in with the rest of the ensemble of instruments. but – i was there. i got to hear it. i know what they sounded like, and maybe that’s all that matters. 🙂

next session, we’ve got some solo acoustic guitar to work on, and some dobro overdubs as well…plus, i think dan and i have finished that song that grew out of the riff that i recorded for him, based on the whole tom jones experience. keith giosa has some hammond organ overdubs to do as well, so there’s still plenty of work to be done.

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