She Woke Up Fine

April 10, 2008 5:51 AM

A very short song with guitar and harmonica from late last year. Sorry you'd have to turn the volume up quite a bit - I tried turning it up in Garageband, and it didn't seem to sound quite the same. Also, don't know what I'm doing!

My friend Cyn wrote the words - I decided it might make a good song, and came up with the music. This is the first take - or rather, this wasn't even intended for anyone else but myself, just something to record the idea and hear what it might sound like - hence the singing that's off in several places. I can't re-record it partly because, due to ridiculous circumstances, I don't have even the most basic adequate recording equipment or environment right now. But I'm also not re-recording it because, well, I can't - I don't know how to play that harmonica again. I can't really play harmonica - I'd only tried a couple of times before this - and it was just one of those rare moments where I forgot myself and where I was and got completely into the music and played way better than I could, and somehow came up with that. Couldn't repeat it if I tried - at least not until I actually learn how to play harmonica. Which is a much harder instrument than it looks! I'm not even sure exactly what notes I played - sometimes I hit two notes at the same time without meaning to, but it came out just right.

Despite all the faults of the recording, I like the song, and since I'm going through another one of those periods where I'm doubting if I should've ever bothered with songwriting, I thought I'd post this. I hope you'd like it.

Here's the lyrics:

She woke up fine, she said
but then the words floated out of his mouth
and danced around her head
letters from the words leapt into her ears
and spun around her heart
and wound down
and wound down

At a certain volume, not too loud, the harmonica sounds really good. Sorry I couldn't get it there on the recording - I really need to learn how to record!

posted by Ira.metafilter (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I think that harmonica is really cool! But why don't you borrow a book from a library or find some things on YouTube on how to play the harmonica? I'm sure you want to be able to do more with it, and have it in more songs. And your voice a little bit reminiscent of Randy Newman, I think.
posted by Corduroy at 9:22 PM on April 10, 2008

Why don't I learn to play the harmonica? Breathing problems - long, stupid story. So can't for now, as much as I would really love to. I just treasure this particular recording, because it's like I somehow managed to play an instrument I couldn't play - and improvised a part that I love and only wish I could reproduce and play better (with better breath control on the harmonica, and with better singing, on a better microphone, etc. etc.) Moving my mouth around, trying to find the notes, I found some that I probably wouldn't have found had I been better on the harmonica. And they sound good. (to my ears anyway!) That's one of those magic moments of music for me.

But Randy Newman? Ha, that's a new one. Thanks Corduroy.
posted by Ira.metafilter at 7:12 AM on April 11, 2008

I don't have much to add because I don't know much about Garageband, but I really liked this a lot. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:46 PM on April 11, 2008

It's a nice charming little piece, and I agree that sometimes the thing just happens and if you try to reproduce it you kill it. Happens to me constantly. I think it happens when you're just first working something out; there's no pressure because you figure you'll do it again "properly" later. But then you get something nice. And then you can't do it again.
I don't know if you're a Neil Young fan, (I'm a huge one) but sometimes he doesn't even play the whole song for the people who are playing on his record, before they do a take. They just launch into it, for precisely this reason; he doesn't want to kill it, he wants to get those fresh little moments you only get on the first time. And woe be the recording engineer who isn't rolling tape on EVERYTHING...there was one guy who was setting levels while Neil and his band were playing and he buzzed through the talkback mic, "Okay, I think we're ready now," and Neil just stopped playing and freaked, saying "that was THE TAKE, man...I've been trying to record that song for 20 years, and that was the one." (I'm paraphrasing, or summary-quoting)
Anyhow, my point is that I think it's great to have little treasures like this and love them for the moment they happened in.
posted by chococat at 8:40 PM on April 11, 2008

sleepy pete: Thanks! It's not really so much Garageband, as me not really understanding anything about compression, trying to do without it, and recording too quietly. That's one of the problems anyway. I don't know how everyone learns all these things - books? Friends and mentors? Trial and error? Anyway, I'm sure I'll learn and get better with all that in time.

chococat: Yeah, spontaneity is often the best. You can't play the same piece of music over and over again without losing heart a little! But also it's often when you don't think it counts, like when you don't think it'll be the final take, that you're relaxed enough for your best music to actually come out.

I like Neil Young, and that's a good story. That always happens! Except I'm my own recording engineer who isn't recording, and have only myself to shout at. But hey, we have the memory of the moment. And I'm getting used to saying to people, Hey it should/did sound much better than this, I swear!...
posted by Ira.metafilter at 1:44 PM on April 13, 2008

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