In the Beginning ...  

Posted by Carolyn Arends in , , , , , ,

The following is the very first blog that was posted about the making of LOVE WAS HERE FIRST, originally published on the Carolyn Arends Newsblog on October 9th, 2008.

DAYS 1-6

I know, I know ... new releases are not, strictly speaking, "records" any more. More like "audio files". But they are still recordings. So I'm sticking with that terminology. At least I am not calling them "eight tracks".

Anyway, I've mentioned here and there that I am recording a new project. I haven't quite documented the process to date the way I'd like, so here's a bit of catch up.

We were slated to begin August 6th. My last disc, Pollyanna's Attic, was released back in May, 2006, so it's been a while. I've had a restless, antsy urge to get back to the studio for months. But as of this spring, I only had two new songs ("My Favourite Lie" in 2007 and "Willing" in Feb of 2008). This was a problem.

(I did have a reassuring conversation with my hero, singer/songwriter Steve Bell. He called about something and asked incidentally, "Are you writing these days?" I lamented my paltry two songs. "Two songs!" he exclaimed. "Well, aren't you God's favourite!" Turns out Steve's been writing even less than I have.)

I decided to book some studio days anyway, on the "If you build it they will come" theory. As the time drew nigh, one more song materialized ("I Am a Soul", which I blogged about here). That brought the grand total to ... three. I wasn't totally panicked, however. I've been wanting to do a hymn/old gospel tunes record for ages, so I started working up covers. That was going OK, but I liked the 3 originals I did have, and I wasn't sure if they would fit in with the vintage material. I was in a quandary.

Then, about 8-10 days before we were to begin recording, songs started pounding on my door, arriving pretty much as fast as I could write them. That never happens. If I recall correctly, they came in this order:

Something Out of Us

Be Still

Roll It

Nothing Can Separate

According to Plan (which I blogged about here)

The Last Word

So, for those of you keeping score at home, that was 3 songs in 3 years, and then 6 in 10 days. For those 10 days I was a manic insomniac, but a happy one. I was just so darn grateful to see the muse again. I had thought maybe it was gone for good. I got a brief chance to jam a few of the tunes with Spencer ... he gave them the thumbs-up, and he's not one to waste thumbs. So I was relieved.

Anyway, I am now recording 9 originals, along with 2 favourites from the covers I had been working on: A reinvention of the old classic, "Standing in the Need of Prayer", and my best attempt at my brother's brilliant tune "After the Flood."  [ed. note -- Through a catastrophic computer snafu, the tracks for After the Flood were lost, and the song was eventually replaced by a new tune called "Never Say Goodbye" - which I'll blog about later.  Someday I'm going to record "After the Flood" though!]

We began as scheduled on August 6th with Jonathan Anderson on drums. Jon plays most anything and is not known primarily as a drummer, in fact I know him better as a producer/engineer. (We collaborated on a Keith Kitchen project ... Jon produced 8 tunes and I produced 3.) But I had heard Jon do some drumming in pre-production for Keith's project and I LOVED the way he played. (It reminded me of Jon Brion, the multi-instrumentalist/producer who drummed on some mighty fine Aimee Mann records.) I asked Jon if he'd be willing to take a run at a few of the songs for my project and he was game.

Jon came in for 2 days and played on 5 tunes. I love his instincts -- he has a great way of dialing into my guitar rhythms and playing off them (probably comes from being a guitarist himself.) Very fun. While Jon was in, my co-producer/engineer Roy Salmond played guide bass parts ... and though I am planning on sending the tracks to Chicago to have my long-time bassist Adrian Walther do his thing, Roy did a darn fine job. Adrian's got his work cut out for him!

After our days with Jon, we had a couple of revered session guys come in -- Phil Robertson on drums and Miles Hill on upright bass. Phil played on Pollyanna's Attic, but I had never worked with Miles before. Phil and Miles have played together for years, and they have a freaky musical ESP; they feel monster fills and grooves at the same time without discussing them. Definitely goosebump -- and grin -- producing. Phil and Miles were in for 2 days and played the remaining 6 songs on the record. We also had Phil play some of the same tunes that Jon had played on, just to give us the too-good-to-be-true luxury of mixing and matching great drum parts. I love my job!

A bonus on the Phil/Miles sessions -- Miles had just returned from several months working with Van Morrison all over the globe, and he had some very strange and entertaining stories to tell. Wish you coulda been there!

Here are some blurry pictures from the Phil/Miles sessions:

After the four days of tracking, we spent a couple days cutting decent guide vocals and acoustic guitars and experimenting with various versions and approaches. All just enough to make me fall in love with the recording process all over again ... but then we were out of time. We didn't get back into the studio until this week, which I will write about in my next blog.

Right now -- gotta sleep. Have to be able to play in the pocket tomorrow!

Thanks for reading ...


Next: Days 7 & 8

Also: An Album in Tweets 

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at Saturday, October 10, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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