Friday, July 24, 2009
(part 182) RCA BUYS 4 SONGS
I said there were four songs cut initially. This is the fourth song, I've Seen It All Before. After completing the sessions I began working on getting the songs on a label.
I had done nothing about that until I finished recording, so it meant starting from scratch. It wasn't like there were people lined up to hear the songs.
My plan was, continue believing that there is a label who wants my music and will release it. With this in mind, I made demo tapes and began circulating them to different companies, one of which was RCA Victor.
Because most of what I did was in the dream machine inside my own head, sending the songs to RCA made complete sense to me. You know, like Dreamworks. Dream it into reality!
RCA was a company I admired, for what ever reason, probably because they were Elvis Presley's label, so I sent them a demo tape.
Art, in my way of thinking, always starts as a dream, whether that dream was three seconds ago or thirty years ago. What comes out in the long run started as a dream, or vision, in someone's mind and heart.
My theory was, why not get a label the same way? Why not ask myself what label I wanted to be on, and then send them a tape, with the full expectation that they'd say "OK!" So that's what I did.
It wasn't all that long after I sent out the demos that I got a letter back from RCA saying they were interested in the recordings, and what did I want in the way of money.
Well as you can imagine I got pretty damn excited and called everybody I knew to tell them. My girlfriend and her sister went completely out of their minds when they got the news, and couldn't get to the phone fast enough to tell the rest of their family back east.
Everybody thought I was a genius at that point, and kept telling me that over and and over. I had to be careful, because inside my head, that kind of praise was dangerous if I took it too seriously.
Remember! My problem was me, and me and good news was as volatile as me and bad news. Going up too high, or going down too low, was the danger area, so I had to keep tabs on what I was thinking when the praise rolled in.
It is far clearer now, than it was back then, that the array of musicians we used were top of the line. Collectively, they had recorded with Boz Skaggs, Steely Dan, Toto, and Seals And Crofts, to name a few. But sometimes using the best money can buy is counter productive.
When people are too good, it is hard to get them to see outside of their own version of what they're doing. Overplaying can become a significant problem, as well as believing that what you've played is good enough simply because you played it.
Because I had some money to spend on high quality players, to some extent I missed an opportunity to use lesser known people, who may have delivered something extra, in the way of emotion, not necessarily found in the playing of the very successful.
In other words "heart" may be lost to some degree, because of ego, when you think you can do no wrong, but don't misunderstand the point I am making here.
I'm glad I got the chance to use these musicians on the recordings, but I was also aware at the time that it was nearly impossible to get these guys to try anything other than what they decided was the way it should be played.
If I had the original recording that I made of Growing Pains Of Time, and played the studio version, and then the original version, you'd know immediately what I'm talking about.
Even though I love the studio version of that song, I liked my version better, because it was raw and powerful, while the studio version is a bit too over produced and slick.
I fault myself for this more than faulting anyone else. It was my responsibility to convey what I wanted, and I failed to do that to some extent.
It is too easy to just say, "We are our own worse critics," and leave it at that. What I am talking about is real. The songs could have been better than they are if I could have conveyed my vision more clearly than I did.
The problem, as I alluded to before, was that I was newly sober and my capacity to be more demanding of what I wanted was stifled by me.
If I was to record now I would have no problem, or less of a problem, fighting to get it right no matter who was playing. There is something very important to be said for knowing exactly what you want and being willing to fight for it.
If my vision of what the songs were supposed to sound like was indeed valid, which I believe it was, then to not achieve that was a failure, whatever the cause.
Every time I hear a song of mine not being the way it was intended when I wrote it, I know in my gut it could have been better.
If I ever get to record again and get it right, and nobody likes it then, that will be fine. But if I do get it right and people go ape shit over it, then my point will be proven.
I just want that opportunity again, because previously I failed, and the failure came as a result of letting things slide at the time of recording, which I now consider a weakness of mine in the past.