As I type this, my mind is in that ‘in between’ place between the recording studio and reality.
The recording studio is an experience like no other. When you are there…you are there. There is no outside world, no exclusion, no other thought in one’s mind, but the music. It’s always like that for me.
In real life, my brain goes ninety miles a minute. I ALWAYS have something in my mind. I always have projects going and ideas percolating, and many, many operations happening at once. I can’t turn it off. I can’t slow it down. It just goes and goes and goes…
But, in the recording studio, the brain is still that busy, it’s just focused on one thing: making music.
I live to make music. It’s the reason I was put on this sweet Earth. It’s the reason I was given this amazing gift of connecting with people. I don’t know what this gift and me and the talent will be used for in the future. There is a song, “Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace.”
I don’t even have to ask for that. I live it every day. I willingly accept wherever this path leads me.
Today, it led me to a recording studio. I’ve been there before. Nik, the engineer, and I have a good rapport. We have the same taste and we are quite in sync.
I didn’t have a session planned. I just knew I needed to get back there and make more recorded music. So, I booked the session a few weeks ago, and then proceeded to NOT rehearse, and not plan. However, my own songs are songs I’ve been playing for years. It’s not like I’m doing something new. I have rehearsed these songs, hundreds if not thousands (probably thousands) of times before. Just not in the last four days.
So, we ran maybe 4 demos and they came off good. But, we still had time, and I didn’t know how much heart or soul I had to put into this. I had tried a “heart” song earlier, but had to postpone singing it till another session. One thing I learned: if you can’t do it with heart, don’t do it.
Have you heard a human sing, but it’s as if a robot is singing? No soul, no heart, no passion? No matter what genre or style, something of the human performer has to be put into that song, in order that something of the human listener will find a way to connect.
Life stuff meant that my heart stuff was pretty used up.
Can I play the piano on a super intense song?
Can I sing it? Can I perform it? Am I wasting everyone’s time?
So, I laid down the piano track, and pulled that off. Boy, was I surprised. I wanted to sing it next, even if it was a scratch vocal, just to see if I could.
And I did. Where did that come from? Finding soul inside you, when you thought it was all used up. (If I’d had to wait till another day to perform this song, that would have been fine. It’s not about a schedule or deadline. It’s about communicating a song. )
Do you remember that David Allen Coe song, “The Ride?” There is a line, “Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside?”
That, my friends, is what it takes to be a singer.
In what profession does a task require one to focus all of one’s energy to a specific goal or task? I imagine a surgeon has to compartmentalize that way.
But for a singer or actor or musician, putting that much focus in a short amount of time is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. Being in that studio, is unique. When you are there, there is nothing else in the world. Everything else fades away. There is no outside world.
I tried to keep it light this time; tried not to let the intensity spiral out of control.
I failed in that task. We started in on this special song, the song I had not planned to record that session, the song for which I didn’t even have a lyric sheet with me… (not that it matters, I have everything memorized anyway).
We built an incredible piece of music. I already knew the song. This is about building a track. Mastering, playing, creating. Communicating.
So, then it’s done. This beautiful piece of music now exists where none existed before. (The song existed. The song was written quite some time ago. This is about the track.)
You realize you can lay down your sword and stop fighting that battle. Not the battle with the technology to record the song. The battle within the brain, to hold onto every idea you’ve had about this song, so that when it’s time to record it, you can communicate what it needs to be. When your brain is full up of things like this–songs, music tracks, lead lines, ideas… not to mention everything else: books, screenplays, stage plays, acting techniques; dance steps, manuscripts, stories, pictures, art, etc…..where do you go from there?
This piece of music now exists out in the world. I don’t have to try to hold onto it in my head anymore.
Then comes the aftermath. What happens next? You have put everything you have; everything you are; everything that was inside of you; into this piece of music. You’re used up. Drained. Done for the day.
Are you even safe to drive home? Can you maintain enough focus to do what you have to do, and not make mistakes for the rest of the day?
Does anyone outside of creativity understand what it is like? The joys, the pain, the heartbreak, the love, the postpartum??
What is it to give birth to a new piece of art? What is it for the Universe to entrust this process to creative people like us?
Where does the journey take us from here?
I can’t wait to find out.