Make Right the Time

April 1, 2020 1:01 AM

This is my synth-based anthem cover of the song by singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt. This version is an earlier draft from 2018, mostly from a whirlwind month when I was trying to get as much done before my trial of Ableton Live ended. Me on vocals, synth/loops. Many thanks to not_on_display for the arrangement idea and feedback through multiple iterations. Basically I made this to help myself feel better, and I figure it's something I could share especially now.

"Make Right the Time" is my favorite song from the album of the same name. I love the original arrangement: gentle, calming, room for contemplation, beautiful guitar, strings. The song actually appears in two parts, beginning and ending the album. Danny Schmidt wrote the album as a response to 9/11 (more of his commentary/reflections on his site).

I have played the album many, many times over the years since then -- highly recommend it. It's on Bandcamp; you can listen to the original tracks for "Make Right the Time (part i)" and "Make Right the Time (part ii)" ( includes lyrics).

When I bought the CD (a long time ago), I noticed something unusual in the small print where the copyright disclaimer is:
All songs written and copyrighted by Danny Schmidt, but if your name doesn't end with 'Inc.' then you're more than welcome to borrow them, play them, record them, whatever.
Pretty cool! Because of that, I did think about recording a cover of this song or another one of the tracks on multiple occasions, but felt like my usual guitar + vocal approach would be a poor imitation of the original recording. Then I brought it up with not_on_display when trying to figure out our next collaboration project, and he suggested trying a synth version. Total inspiring light bulb moment, and it wasn't something I would have thought of on my own.

So I took that idea and ran with it: I tried to make this feel like a steady, driving force that could build and also take a moment to back off before going again -- something that would feel like an anthem for "Go! Persist! Keep trying!" in a different way from the original, with -- dare I say -- a little bit of joy/humor for hopeful encouragement, but also avoiding something that felt over-the-top joyous/happy. And I wanted to convey that there was no doubt of the nightingale having the strength to sing.

Another interesting thing about the CD is that the booklet contains some lyrics that aren't in the recorded songs, and one particular verse really struck me. So, when arranging this version, I picked out verses from part i, the "bonus" verse that really resonated with me, and the final verse from part ii. This is the bonus verse:
If only just a kind hello
Like shadow-paint of ice on snow
It softens both the friend and foe
To make right the time
Thanks again to not_on_display for his time in listening and offering suggestions/feedback. (e.g. the very first attempt used only Nanostudio for the synth sounds, and he very rightly pointed out it might be too Carl Sagan-y for my goals.) There are even more drafts after this, as n_o_d and I continue to work on this project (I'm excited because he added piano in one).

posted by rangefinder 1.4 (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

(Also just to be 100% clear: I meant to post this yesterday on March 31, so yeah, there's no intent here to be related to April 1st)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:42 AM on April 1, 2020

Oh wow. This is great.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:05 PM on April 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I used some of this in this month's podcast!
posted by cortex at 6:48 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Your voice sounds amazing, the mix is nice and spacious, and the feel is in the pocket. It's beautiful.
posted by umbĂș at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you did a great job with the drums especially!
posted by not_on_display at 5:47 PM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everyone! I really do appreciate your kind words. They mean a lot to me. And I spent a lot of time on the drums and the mix, and rerecorded the vocals a few times, so it's awesome to hear they worked out.

I was a little nervous (more so than usual) about posting this one because I'd never done anything like it before. It's a testament to you all here at MeFi Music that I've gotten more confident about recording, trying new things, and sharing them.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:17 PM on April 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

this is quite lovely!
posted by dorian at 4:02 PM on April 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Love the feel of this, especially the quality of your voice here.
posted by Corduroy at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I posted the piano version of this a couple days ago, cause it randomly popped up on my itunes playlist.

Just now, I just played both this version and my version synced up, and I liked the way it sounded. I'd added the kitchen sink, and doing that kinda pumped the brakes on my overzealous blind production style. (I call it the "I should be sleeping" method of music production: press buttons in half awake dazes.)

o shit i just gave away all my secrets
posted by not_on_display at 7:58 PM on May 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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