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Waltz #2

July 26, 2010 11:33 PM

A long time ago, cortex asked for versions of this iconic Elliot Smith song.

I finished it by his deadline, although I've never liked my version very much.
It just now occurred to me to post it as I've been going through a backlog of stuff.
I remember playing at the time, for my wife, who said, "I like when you do your own songs;" so I kind of shelved it.
But I don't want anyone to think I didn't follow through on the challenge.
Although I'd sent it along via email, I never did hear how everything turned out.
It was the first song on which I tried out my new Glockenspiel.

posted by chococat (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Yay! I like it when you do your own songs, too, but I did quite like what you did with this.

And, oh, hey, right. Followup on that whole thing. So:

So a few years ago my friends Wilder and Christina were getting married, and they asked me to play piano at the wedding; specifically, they wanted me to work out a version of Waltz #2 for the processional and recessional. And that's where the idea came from: if this is kind of their song, why not get a bunch of versions together? And so I put out a call in Metatalk (and a followup thread), and a bunch of people responded.

I put together a nice little collection of all these recordings—I think I got six or seven different submissions from mefites, and I made a number of recordings of my own, available here. I used everybody's, interspersing various of my take between submissions it made for a nicely eclectic collection, though in retrospect an entire album of a fairly dreary song over and over again had a weird feel to it as a wedding gift. For the album art I used stills from a silent film short called STOP that they'd been nice enough to let me direct them in a couple years early.

The wedding went off like gangbusters; the "minitape" version on my music blog above gives you a rough idea of what treatment during the ceremony was like, though on a big grand piano and not filtered through a tinny cassette recorder with rough editing.

I feel silly about not getting around to a wrap up when the wrap up isn't even all that much of a story, but it's nice to finally do it. That whole collab thing was a lot of fun, I'm glad I asked folks and glad there was so much response.
posted by cortex at 8:44 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is impressively faithful, both in sound and in mood conveyed. Elliot's stuff is so hard to cover, because it demands that you do it faithfully for some reason. But then, there's a certain point where it could potentially turn into an exercise that is more satisfying for the person playing than anyone else, because if the new version is that similar, why not just put on the original? Maybe that's why your wife reacted the way you did. I think it's really well done, though.

Man, his melodies and chord changes are great, though. When I first heard them, I immediately felt at the time that his songwriting was what exactly what I wanted to be able to do.
posted by umbĂș at 9:55 AM on July 27, 2010


Elliott, I mean.
posted by umbĂș at 9:55 AM on July 27, 2010


Really good playing on this. What caught my ear was how well you mixed this. Acoustics, for me, are often a bear to EQ and mix. Your acoustic tracks sounds very natural and non-boomy. Then the glockenspiel was a wonderful touch. I use that instrument on a lot of my songs. But your mix made the glock very crystal-y and not too percussive. Really great sound.
posted by tunewell at 8:24 PM on July 27, 2010


Just to clarify my last comment- By "acoustics," I mean acoustic guitar.
posted by tunewell at 8:25 PM on July 27, 2010


I wasn't sure I knew this song but it turns out I know it quite well. Someone at work must play it a lot or something.

This sounds good -- I really like that glock sound.

What tambourine is that? It has an appealingly thick, sheng-y sound.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:17 AM on July 28, 2010


What tambourine is that?
It's just some old tambourine. The kind that's like a half-moon shape, that you can screw onto the hi-hat. I...acquired it...about 20 years ago when my brother's friend had his drum kit in my parents' basement for a while.
I can't remember if I combined it in the mix with this little plastic monkey baby toy that has jingle bells on it, 'cause sometimes I do that.
posted by chococat at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2010


The Glockenspiel does wonderful things to this song.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:43 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


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