I'm Yours But Not Really

May 4, 2011 11:10 PM

For the May music challenge. One of Jason Mraz's most popular songs, which to me evokes images of boorish fratboys slamming PBRs, wearing nice hats stupidly and casually observing how sensitive they are because this song is on their iPod.

Honestly Jason is a talented guy, but I just hate the aesthetic that he's into. So here's my take: a brokedown drunken sadface version, kind of jazzy, can't quite get the lyrics right and in the end he just don't give a damn.

Improvement or foul imitation? You be the judge.

(Now if you'll excuse me this PBR isn't going to drink itself)

posted by jnrussell (10 comments total)

I like! There's definitely no stank of bro about it.

Though perhaps this is the tender peek behind the bro veil, into the secret fragile musical heart of Broseph Q. Kegstand? Not so much rejecting the poser-sensitivity of the stereotyped lug as revealing its fundamental sincerity when at last the normative gaze of the group turns away and leave the individual naked and vulnerable, just a keyboard and a Tascam and too much time to think and feel and struggle with the contradictions of personal identity in a group dynamic?
posted by cortex at 8:17 AM on May 5, 2011

Cortex, that was epically sweet my broski. Your interpretation of the piece is a touching homage the inner bro in all of us. I pour out my drink on the steps of ΣΑΕ House in your honor. Yeah.

*tearful fistbump*
posted by jnrussell at 10:15 AM on May 5, 2011

posted by unSane at 11:12 AM on May 5, 2011

Huge improvement on the original, nice job. Sometimes you have just a bit of a Tom Waits thing going on with your voice.
posted by Corduroy at 12:46 PM on May 5, 2011

Thanks Corduroy! This was a very different project for me.

Some production notes:

I went from concept to completion in about tweny minutes, which is definitely a personal record. I had to work within a lot of constraints, though, which ended up contributing a fair bit to the sound.

I recorded this in my office after my young children were already asleep in the adjacent room. I didn't want to wake them, so I pumped the gain on my pre-amp all the way up to like 60db and then practically ate my mic so I could whisper-sing the song. One take, singing and playing on my little m-audio 49 key keyboard without a sustain pedal hooked up, using the standard electric piano instrument in GarageBand and a quick mixdown in Harrison MixBus.

Plus I've been feeling sick all week with allergies/cold/something so the Tom Waits things was mostly unintentional, but I heard it too and decided I like it.

So I learned a lot about constraints, and how they can be freeing rather than limiting. What a refreshing experience!
posted by jnrussell at 3:50 PM on May 5, 2011

I love the original song, regardless of what it's become. Jason Mraz has always come across to me as legitimately optimistic, and not in a cheesy bad way. I'm sure that's just me, but I've almost always enjoyed him...I definitely appreciate, though, making fun, not of what the song is, but what it's become; which appears to me to be what this is. That said, well done. I think it's a nice cover of a good song that's become something terrible. I'm completely okay with this, though. Well done.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:27 PM on May 5, 2011

Something far worse will follow--of this I am certain.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:28 PM on May 5, 2011

Thanks! Yes, I really don't want to disparage Jason Mraz; he's obviously talented. It's hard to deny that he writes nice, catchy upbeat music, and that is a good thing. Basically I picked this song because I had to play it way too much last year when I was in a band with some coworkers, and it just so happened that the lead singer of the band felt this was his "signature song." And we always played all covers completely straight, which was appropriate for the venue but helped build up a lot of rage in me. It actually caused me to think about never playing music with those guys ever again.

This is my way of taking that summer back, taking that song back, and maybe letting myself be ok with playing in a corporate (literally) rock band. Let the healing begin.

(good grief I'm such a diva sometimes)
posted by jnrussell at 11:47 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the mention of Harrison MixBus -- I've been thinking about trying to change my workflow for a while now and trying to separate the tracking and mixing phases a bit more, just to get away from my canned sounds. It looks awesome for that. Gonna give it a try.
posted by unSane at 4:52 AM on May 6, 2011

I must say separating the tracking and mixing tasks has been a godsend for me. I'm finally making stuff instead of just fiddling around. The limited workspace of GarageBand is perfect for that. It just gives me the tools I need to create and gets out of my way. When I'm ready to package it, MixBus gives me the tools I need to polish that sound into a discrete piece.
posted by jnrussell at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2011

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