The Cavalryman's Lament, (Girl on a Swing)

October 21, 2011 5:07 PM

Orgiastically melodromatic Jacques Brel-inspired version of the strange little ballad I posted a couple of days ago.

This is basically the version I posted to songfight, although I cleaned up the strings a bit and like this better. Strings are Native Instruments Session Strings, which are great if you need something quick and good. The only other sample is the big drum.

The guitar is my cheap Chinese-made Morgan Monroe resonator in Open G. I had to do a fair bit of work (dismantle it, lower the bridge and straighten the neck) to get it playable but I really like it now.

I didn't go quite as far as Major Dundee wanted me to, but it got silly very quickly.

posted by unSane (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I'm torn between which version I like better; your rough one the other day or this.
I think I like your vocals on the previous version a bit better as they seemed a bit more relaxed and not so SINGING as this one. A bit more melancholy.
But this version is great too. I actually did a silent chuckle when the strings came in, but they totally work and it's a nice arrangement.
And the lyrics are so great. Cinematic one might say?

Good luck in the fight.
posted by chococat at 11:14 PM on October 21, 2011

Good lord, I love this. It really does capture that Brel feel. Reminds me a lot of Jason Webley, too. I wish there was a repeat button on MeFi Music sometimes.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 3:45 AM on October 22, 2011

I agree, Chococat. The vocals are definitely bombastic on this. I also like the rubato in the previous version much better - the little pauses and speed ups - but it's very very hard to do if you are tracking the guitar and vocals separately. The version I have in my head is the two guitars plus pump organ but I didn't have time to get the thing mic'd up in time for the challenge and I did want to see what Major's idea would sound like.

Such a weird song as I never written or sung anything like this before. But there's something very satisfying about a song that tells a story. A future challenge I think.
posted by unSane at 6:48 AM on October 22, 2011

LOOM, I'd never heard of Jason Webley until this moment. I did a search on YouTube and now I really want to buy an accordion. I've always had a soft spot for that east european kind of folky sound... written lots of surf instros in that vein. One day years ago when we were in a proper studio I came up with an organ part that had that feel and the engineer dug out an old motheaten accordion and handed it to me. It was way harder to play than I expected but I struggled through and it did sound great.
posted by unSane at 7:43 AM on October 22, 2011

Hey, this is super. I think I like this version a little more than the other one, because it's just so...committed? It's very much what it is. The strings are great. You need to get that pump organ in there, that would be badass.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 12:43 AM on October 24, 2011

I love the line "Here I fell to the earth / Fifty summers ago." Reminds me of the songs in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Honestly, the earlier version sounds better to me. For me, I think that's because in this version all of the elements in this song are so separate from each other, they are all different tracks in different headphone regions. I wonder what it would sound like if you centered all the tracks a little more? You mentioned the pump organ, and I think that could be terrific, especially on the earlier recording (since it has a bit of a lo-fi sound).
posted by Corduroy at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2011

This is getting there! But if I was in the producer's chair I'd be saying "this is good.....but let's try it with a piano instead of the guitar. Minimise everything to the absolutely indispensible. And I want the strings to be sighing and moaning like the wind in the trees. I want to hear the Autumn (note I didn't say The Fall - because I really don't want this to sound like them -heh". I still think the closest sonic treatment I could analogise this with would be "Windmills Of your Mind" complete with Noel Harrison's perfect, uncertain, vulnerable, ordinary vocal performance. I'll shut up now though....
posted by MajorDundee at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2011

Yeah I tried something like that but it didn't work for me, Major. Got a bit theatrical. I think I'm tending more to the stripped down approach for this. I'm definitely going to try it with the pump organ.

We were yakking about that Noel Harrison track on Facebook. HOW many words in two-and-a-half minutes?? I love the way he says 'windmills of yer mind', too.
posted by unSane at 1:26 PM on October 24, 2011

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