Flying Over

September 2, 2010 7:50 PM

The year is 1996. I'm in my neighbor's tiny basement studio. I am making my first remotely professional recording. I am earnest. I am 17 years old.

Discussion in this Talk thread has wandered to bad solos and at least marginally youthful indiscretions, and this goes for two for two.

I wrote this song in probably my junior year of high school, and for what it was at the time I'm willing to feel pretty good about it still, but boy was I an angsty teen exploring drama for drama's sake in my songwriting. It's not a song about me or anyone I knew; if anything it was vaguely riffing on Roger Waters' obsession with his dead dad, Pink Floyd obsessive that I was at the time, but even that's more subtext than thesis.

I had been doing a little bit of really rough multitrack recording in my bedroom by this point, literally bouncing track by track between two garage sale cassette decks with bad timing, not even aware that I could probably have gotten my hands on a proper fourtrack deck for cheap, and so the chance to actually do a full-up multitrack session with an actual recordist was really exciting to me.

I remember being very, very proud of this recording at the time. Looking back it's really not bad for a random know-nothing kid, but there are also so many problems with it—hackneyed lyrics, dozens of little timing problems, stumbling/winded vocals, solos that sound like they were as winged as in fact they were—that it's kind of heartening to know I've made progress over the years in my writing and recording skills.

I've thought over the years of re-recording it just for the hell of it, but I have such a hard time approaching the lyrics with a straight face that I keep not doing it.

This was pretty much the centerpiece recording in a bedroom cassette demo that I made right before I went to college, to give to friends back home and take with me to school. That demo, all of which is here, otherwise mostly consists of songs recorded as single track solo guitar-and-vox-in-front-of-a-mic takes in a too-warm afternoon in my bedroom, the day before I got on a plane to the east coast.

posted by cortex (7 comments total)

It's really not bad, is it? If in six years my then-17-year-old-kid does anything as good as this I'll be dead proud. (Currently he's working on the Spongebob Squarepants theme). The vocal harmonies are paricularly good.

When I was 17 I was leading the church band on piano and writing Christian ditties. I can only remember one that was any good, but like you I'm too appalled by what I can remember of the lyrics to even attempt a remake.
posted by unSane at 8:48 PM on September 2, 2010


Not bad at all! The harmonies are very strong for a 17-year-old too.
posted by greenish at 4:22 AM on September 4, 2010


I don't know what town you grew up in, but where I grew up a performance like this would probably result in a BJ from the cheerleading captain (if she was there to see it). Boo. Yaa!111!
posted by snsranch at 6:54 PM on September 5, 2010


Can you give us a Google maps link, sns?
posted by unSane at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2010


Some of these guitar tones are so familiar to me! Is this a Fender Strat Squire direct into a Tascam cassette tape four track?? Classic!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 11:41 PM on September 6, 2010


Mexistrat, run through a Digitech RP6 processor direct onto, I think, genuine 1/2" reel-to-reel but analog glow doesn't make butt digital effects and crappy pickups any less butt.

I have lost to the ages some even older, deeply awful recordings from my first couple years; there was I'm pretty sure a bedroom demo I made of this song by doing bounces between the aforementioned "two garage sale cassette decks with bad timing"—so every bounce dropped the source material by probably a couple dozen cents, something I didn't really pick up on immediately and so I was wondering why vocals from the first track came out sounding weirdly low and swampy and everything was sort of out of tune three or so bounces in.

I really kind of wonder what would have happened if I had a proper four track in high school. Might have done wonders from my recording and arrangement sense early on.
posted by cortex at 6:58 AM on September 7, 2010


Holy Shit.
posted by French Fry at 1:14 PM on August 18


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