I've Got A Feeling That I'm Everything I Never Wanted To Be

November 12, 2010 6:28 AM

p p powerpoptastic innit.....sort of

I know elements of this are dog rough (some of the backing vox for e.g. are out of tune) but I kinda like it as it is, and it's not the sort of track that should be too polished - quite the opposite.

Telecaster up the middle and solo, Stratocaster in the left channel, 335 in the right.

One of my better lyrics. Almost called the track "Hall Of Mirrors" because the meaning of the words keeps mutating and changing. It was fun to write after I latched onto that idea. A strange song about identity crisis.

i’ve got a feeling that i am everything i never wanted to be.
empty thing.
i’ve got a feeling that i’m not anything i ever wanted to be.
every thing i always wanted was to be.

what did i say? (you never asked me)
what did i want? (you never knew)
what did i do? (you'll never know)
what did i take? (you'll never grow)

i’ve got a feeling that i am anything.
i never wanted to be everything.
i’ve got me reeling ‘cause i’m not any thing i ever wanted to see.
Every thing i never wanted was to be.

where did i live? (you never knew me)
what did i give? (you never knew)
who did i love? (you'll never know)
who was above? (you'll never know)

i’ve got a feeling that i’m not anything.
i never wanted to be.
endless thing.
i’m on the ceiling and i’m not anything i ever wanted to see.
everything i always wanted was to be.

what did i say? (you never asked me)
what did i want? (you'll never know)
who did i love?
who was above?

i’ve got a feeling that i am everything.
i never wanted to be ennui.
i’ve got me dreaming and i’m not anything i ever wanted.
to be energy.
i’ve got a feeling that i am everything.
i never wanted to be.
empty thing.
i’ve got a feeling that i’m not any thing i never wanted to be.
everything i wanted was to be.

posted by MajorDundee (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Damn, this is pretty great. I like those just-there falsetto backups.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:41 AM on November 13, 2010

Thanks for that Karlos.

What I'm trying to do with stuff like this is to test some of my own perceptions, standards and boundaries. I get quite a lot of comments about my stuff being "smooth" or "well produced/mixed" and gentle criticism about it being "too musicianly" or "complicated". These are nice things to hear and MeFites are generally kindly and well-meaning souls, but I guess I want to experiment with what listeners actually perceive as important and unimportant, critical and uncritical. What do people really hear in a track?? What do they filter out?? Why?? Hence I deliberately left things in this mix of a fairly average track (so I'm not fucking up something I think is really good) that normally I wouldn't allow to be "released" just to see if anyone said "Christ, those backing vocals suck the big one and totally ruin the track". Intriguing...
posted by MajorDundee at 2:10 AM on November 13, 2010

I'd like to hear some nice garage-y organ on this, actually.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:52 PM on November 13, 2010

The high guitar notes around 1:58 really surprised me, I found them interesting. I think they were my favorite part of this.

For me, this song lives in a strange in-between place. The verses have that sort of catchy, repetitive almost taunting kind of melody that I associate with certain idiosyncratic 80's songs. Like "Video Killed The Radio Star" (alright, '79) or "I Want Candy" (alright, it's way older, but it was a cover hit in the '80s). But the chorus somehow comes across as more abstract to me. Almost like you had a more predictable poppy hook vocal melody there, then recorded harmonizing vocals, then took out the original vox and left the harmonizing vocals as the lead.

Instrumentally, I would expect it to either get much dirtier/grungier with more bass and louder and sloppier drums, OR have more sort of "annoying" (not in a bad way) percussive synth type sounds woven in, like, I don't know, that weird solo from "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".

This may well be a complicated way of repeating the comments you get about your stuff being "smooth" -- ie, my ears sort of want this to have more grit or textural quirk of some kind. My own songs don't really have that, but there's something about your songwriting here that makes me sort of want it.

I'm not reacting to anything being out of tune, which you can interpret in two ways. 1) It's not a big deal, don't worry about it. And/or 2) Ignore my admittedly semi-bizarre comments, my ears lack the musicality you display in everything you post on here. This track included.
posted by edlundart at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2010

No - I completely agree with all of that edlundart. The problem is that what is needed here goes beyond my meagre resources. This needs a real studio, real drums, real bass, a real singer, real engineer and a real producer. In other words it's a demo. Quite a good one, and one that does the job of a demo, but that's all it is or will ever be. On my own I know I'm not going to be able to take any of my output to that next level (I'm not sure why I'd bother anyway frankly). That's partly why, with more or less all of the things I upload here and elsewhere, I rarely if ever do go back to them and try again. Obviously, if someone else hears something of mine and wants to do something with it - be my guest.

I expect that all sounds very strange - almost like a I don't really care. And I sort of don't really in some ways, and I do in others. As a musician with what is at base a jazz sensibility and value system, the real deep interest and fascination for me is in the moment of creation. When that's gone, a lot of the interest has gone for me too. That's why going back over a demo is to me like trying to breathe life into a corpse. I know it's a really weird attitude. But there it is.
posted by MajorDundee at 3:27 AM on November 14, 2010

Hey, man, I totally agree! About breathing life into a corpse that is. I have never revisited a song, not even my ,very few, good ones. I always just apply whatever I learned to the next one.

This song is good man, I'm on my third listen. Here's my take: this kicks ass. It's an 8 or 9 out of 10. I've always wondered if I'm being helpful at all by giving my visceral reactions instead of more technical responses. So, that said, sure I think it would be pretty easy for you to just dirty up things a bit. But like I said, it may not really be important for this song, maybe more of just a consideration for your next or some other time.

I'm wondering now though, how much effort or what might really go into dirtying something up. For example, I use a triton le for drums. It sucks, but I can record it a little too high, dirty and grumbly, and then bring it back down in the mix so that it's dirty but contained? Honestly, I'm sure you know better than I do! hahahah!
posted by snsranch at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2010

I use the same keyboard as you sns. The drums on this were done live with me banging the keyboard (I'm sure I'm going to break it one of these days - it takes one hell of a pounding, and I wind up with really sore fingers). I kind of hold by what I said earlier really. If you want to go to the next level, that ain't gonna happen without some real live stuff going down and tech people who know what they're doing. So, I'm not going to bother even trying to make this kind of stuff any better on my own - because I think this is sonically about as good as I can get without going to that next level. And I ain't got the cash or really the reason to do that. You know - so I end up with a really top-class recording. So what??
posted by MajorDundee at 8:37 AM on November 15, 2010

Oh and your visceral reactions are just as valid (I think a lot more valid) than the techie ones sns. Keep 'em comin' man!!
posted by MajorDundee at 8:41 AM on November 15, 2010

I definitely hear you about not often wanting to revisit mixes and stuff. I hardly ever do that myself, for mostly the same reasons you cite -- and I probably have more reasons to redo things than you do.

But I think you're kind of selling youself short on the issue of what you can do with your meagre resources. Or, it's not that you're selling yourself short, but -- in reference to the excellent music talk thread you started, which inspired my comment here -- you may be over-focusing on some of the technical details. Sure, it's true, there are limitations to how realistic you can make a keyboard-triggered drum set sound, etc. But my comments were less about that kind of technical quality issue and more about the nature of the sounds chosen, the composition and arrangement decisions, etc. It's totally possible, likely even, that you'd disagree with any tweaks to those things that I'd prefer, and you're the one who knows best what your stuff should sound like.

But my point is basically this: I don't think that this song or any other necessarily needs a real studio, a real engineer, a real producer. I understand that it can sound "better" that way, and that it might be preferable, but I think the value that your songs have is determined much more by your artistic choices than by what room it was recorded in, or the year the guitar you played was made, or what drum sound you're using.

so I end up with a really top-class recording. So what??

Exactly. And that's the message I got from you in the music talk thread, too. But I feel like that clashes a bit with this:

The problem is that what is needed here goes beyond my meagre resources. This needs a real studio, real drums, real bass, a real singer, real engineer and a real producer.

I think it can be hard, especially for an accomplished musician and instrumentalist such as yourself, to focus some of your ambitions away from the technical (particulars surrounding guitar tone, exact pitch and timing, perfect levels) and toward... I don't know, the emotional? I absolutely believe that you have all the skills and resources needed to create the best recording in the history of music. I believe that even I do. We're not likely to fulfill our slight promise, but we have a tiny tiny shot at it. But this can only be true if we define "recording" not in technical measures, but as a document of an artistic idea.

You're brimming with those.
posted by edlundart at 9:14 PM on November 16, 2010

Great power pop. It gets so melodic, I relate to that extra step.
posted by tunewell at 1:55 AM on November 17, 2010

I just wanted to chime in and say you've got some of the cleanest, most professional sounding recording/production quality on MeFi.

Another hit.
posted by ORthey at 10:46 AM on November 17, 2010

thanks all.

As usual, endlundart, your comments are deeply considered (and considerate) and well made. But I think you're perhaps misinterpreting what I'm saying (in my infuriatingly contradictory way!).

I've made records "the right way" in the past. And the truth is that it's not about being technically better records per se than I can produce myself, although that is invariably a by-product of doing a "proper job". What it's about is the interaction between a bunch of people who are good at what they do whether that be writing, playing, taking care of technicalities or what have you. The chemistry in what I call a "real" studio is at base about synergy and a vibe and..well...people. Unless you're deliberately going for a solo thing - you know, acoustic guitar or piano and vocal - you really will struggle to create a band-style vibe on your own. Because it's not about technical perfection or good individual sounds or great tunes or things like that alone (although they're all necessary), it's the "x" factor created by people bouncing off each other. It's about the banter and the cameraderie and maybe getting drunk together and general bonding. Even the zeitgeist and weather and...Christ....loads of other things go to creating a good record or document as you very nicely put it. That interaction - that witches brew of eye of newt and wing of bat and other stuff - creates a performance. And it's the definitive performance of a song that you're trying to capture on a record above everything else.

Having said that, I need to explain what I mean by the "so what?" comment. The reason I say that is because, having spent the cash to capture a good performance, what does one do with it? The kind of material I can produce is simply not a commercial proposition. Add to that that it's made by a middle-aged, short, bald guy who can't dance and isn't pretty....well......I wouldn't take a risk on that if someone presented me with it. Financial suicide. So, in the end, spending all that cash would culminate at best in a kind of rather pathetic vanity publishing - you know, six boxes of CDs gather dust in the garage. In the end I think that you have to acknowledge your limits and know that what you can produce alone isn't as good as it can possibly be, but is as good as it can possibly be within realistic current (common-sense) limitations.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2010

I have a few points, Major.

First off, this is a great song and it deserves the best production you can muster, for whatever value of 'best' lights yer candle.

Second, while you can never quite get the live vibe going on your own, there are a few things you can do that really help. Number one (I find) is just giving it your all when you're tracking. It's really easy on your own to concentrate on technical accuracy rather than feel and not go absolutely balls out on the takes, but it makes a huge difference, even if you end up somewhat sloppy.

Third, and feel free to take this for whatever it's worth, you have terrific skills but I think you could do quite a lot better with the rhythm section. I like your drum programming a lot but the sounds are very sterile and it feels over-quantized. I would really look into some live sounding drum samples if you can figure out a way of doing that... I love the Native Instruments Abbey Road 60s set but there are lots out there. Second, the bass is mixed very low and it doesn't really sound like a bass player to me. If you're not using a real bass I'd suggest getting hold of a cheapo Squier P-Bass or something, and if you are maybe try something a bit less functional and more dick-waving.

(One of the things I do when I'm tracking is really think myself into the role of bass player or keyboard player or singer or guitarist, and try to record from that perspective, rather than always keeping my singer/songwriter/producer hat on).

Finally, I think the key is to make a virtue of working alone. I always hated going into expensive studios with a band because it *never* sounded right to me and I can get much closer to the sound in my head using my Mac and a few plugins and cheap mics.

On the 'what do you do with it' front, I'm totally with you, and I don't have a solution.
posted by unSane at 1:39 PM on November 17, 2010

PS Maybe this is a track you could use that MeFiMu producer/mixer on?
posted by unSane at 1:40 PM on November 17, 2010

Thanks for the unSane, I hear what you say. I don't agree with all of it - but that's by the by. Excellent idea to put this up for the remix/production challenge. Cheers mate.
posted by MajorDundee at 11:27 AM on November 18, 2010

MajorDundee, thanks for clarifying. I think we've taken the topic as far as it can usefully go, but just wanted to say I do get your points about the chemistry in the studio between different people. I can understand missing that. And, thanks for another good "chat."
posted by edlundart at 7:56 PM on November 19, 2010

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