Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We are experiencing technical difficulties...

Tonight I finally had some time to come home and lay down some guitar tracks on the song I've been working on. I get my amp all set up, I plug it in, I record a couple of times and each and every time it sounds wrongity wrong wrong WRONG. While I can point out my own shortcomings, it's not my playing. It's the fact that I've never had my own amp before, much less one with this many customizable options, and I have no clue what I'm doing. In order to make this amp sound really good, I have to install a pile of software and fiddle- this terrifies me. So I have to borrow one of my musician friends again to get that going. Je m'excuse, I had every intention of finishing the song today.

In the meantime, please accept this little sample of what the vocals sound like: CLICK HERE.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I'm such a bad blogger. I said I wouldn't give up, and I did a little. However, I can forgive myself- life gets busy, Christmas was CRAZY (but lovely!) and I was frustrated at not having enough time to practice and especially about not having the proper equipment.

Time may still pose a problem, but now I have ample equipment! After years and years of asking for a small amp for Christmas, my parents begrudgingly gave in. I think it has something to do with me being out of the house ;) This amp records directly into the computer via the USB port and has several effects so I can customize the bejesus out of the sound. It'll be a little bit of a learning curve but I'm excited to try.

The song I picked (for my comeback!) is This Boy. It's been a long standing favourite through all my various Beatles phases. It first appeared as a B Side on the British "I Want to Hold Your Hand" single, and first appeared in America as track three on the "Meet the Beatles" album. The song was an attempt by John to create a Motown-like song (pretty predictable desire for the early albums). The three part harmony is flawless and I'm an especially big fan of the guitar strumming. Everything about this song makes me feel like I should be at the sock hop slow-dancing with the captain of the football team.

Taking apart the harmony is an interesting challenge- I've already done a bit and it's something I can feasibly accomplish. I find George's part the hardest to sing. It's the middle range in the harmony and I could scarcely make it out in the song by ear. How that man played rhythm and harmonized so well, I'll never know!

Click here for the original appearance they had on Ed Sullivan playing this. Click here for the version Sean Lennon did. He sounds pretty darn close, though I just want to turn down Rufus's mic a bit.

I may be biting off more than I can chew, but go big or go home, right?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Need Help with Help!

I had every intention of jamming with my dad today and recording the song. Well, I'm stuck on one part of the song, and rather than rush it and screw it up, I'm going to wait until I can properly figure it out and then record. I'm breaking the one week rule, and it's only week three, but forgiveness, please!

That very fast guitar part before the first verse kicks in is quite a doozy, and the tabs I've been using aren't quite right. I have a sneaking suspicion (after watching some live clips) that it's actually a variation on a G chord. George was very big on strumming through one chord several different ways (see Here Comes the Sun for that one). I'll update soon :)

Monday, October 17, 2011


For this week's song I've chosen Help. Love Me Do was requested by my dad, but that will come at a later date when I can get a harmonica in the key of C! I'd also like to take a break from the very early stuff for the time being.

Help is the title track off the album of the same name released in 1965. This to me was a major turning point for The Beatles. I just read Cynthia Lennon's book John and her account of the effects fame had on all the guys, especially John. This song was literally a cry for help from John Lennon who was feeling the overwhelming effects of the fame that The Beatles were experiencing at the time. It's definitely more rock and roll than their songs they'd previously released, but in a moody way, not the typical inspired by soul and blues kind of way you'd experience in their early cover tunes. The trademark harmonies are still there, but it's no longer sticky sweet. It definitely carries the jaded feeling.

I want to play this because I need some practice doing fast picking, but I know I couldn't pull of an entire song with it yet (Blackbird, I'm coming for you...) and the little riff before each verse is perfect for that. I'm also going to look into some garage band tutorials so the recording process isn't such a problem. See you in a week!

Baby It's You Mp3

I decided this week to do an mp3 instead of a video so I could add a bit of layering to the song. I feel a little bare bones just doing it all in one go, and it helped me to understand the different parts of the song individually. The only problem with this is I don't know the technology well enough to actually make it sound proper, so please forgive the shittiness of it all- I tried!

I noticed I'm having trouble with the damn start of the song- I'm still learning, so it's hard to have a number of programs and a guitar in your hand and get everything started. I'm sure I'll figure out something for smoothing that out. My timing is still a wee bit off in spots, but a fairly good effort for week two.

I saved this in garage band at my dad's request who's going to fiddle with it. When that happens, I'll re-post our collaboration results! Enjoy this version, and as always, comments and constructive criticism is welcome. Cheers!

Baby It's You cover link.

EDIT: For those of you that are having trouble getting the link to work, try copy/pasting this into your browser:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baby, It's You

Still stuck on the Please Please Me album this week. I really will get more into the Beatles catalogue as I go along, but to start it's fine for now. I swear, one day I'll be playing Happiness Is A Warm Gun (and now you can hold me to it...) I'm also doing this song at the suggestion of my uncle who thought it'd be a good fit for what I'm doing- hope you're right Paul!

Baby It's You is one of many cover tunes The Beatles recorded on their first few albums. It was originally sung by the Shirelles (written by Burt Bacharach), and later covered by other artists. I'm a little biased, but I like the rhythm of the Beatles' version better. There's something lilting and a little lazy feeling about the Shirelles' version (also, isn't the key a bit different?), but Lennon's voice just sounds so desperate when he sings "don't want nobody, nobody, cause baby, it's you". That's the gusto and feeling you want with that kind of sentiment! Admittedly, I don't have the same desperate urge, but I do love the song, so I'll give it my best. Such a good classic pop tune with sappy lyrics. I'm a sucker for them!

Other things: I'm going to need to find someone to do the sha la la's for me, or i'll have to do a garage band style thing with multiple tracks, because that's half of what I like about the early Beatles stuff. I am such a sucker for a good sha la la or a do wop do wop. It's a shortened week with the trip, the holiday and another wedding coming up this friday, so this is a more simple choice, but a good one nonetheless! As usual, tell me your thoughts, criticisms and feelings on this tune! Video to come on sunday.

Before I go, check out this version with Adele and Burt. The instrumentation is cheesy as shit in spots (what is it about sax solos that just ruin things for me? It just reminds me of smooth jazz...) but her singing is lovely. Still fits in with the original version, but she sings it with more passion. Just a side note!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Please Please Me: Video and Final Thoughts

This week was interesting, hearing some feedback on this project and opinions on Please Please Me. People are reading, and it's funny, the comments are actually happening in person rather than in the comments section, so I'll share some of them here.

My Uncle Paul remarked at how much he loved the "chime like" quality of the song. I don't have a harmonica, so I just plucked the beginning out as octaves, which is actually what George does along with the harmonica. Uncle Paul, grab a harmonica and we'll jam it out! My dad was definitely on board with the project and loves Please Please me as well and suggested that I keep "Here Comes the Sun" in mind for a later date. As my skills progress, I promise I will! I know a couple of other people said the project sounded interesting...if anyone has any more comments, please do take the time to leave a comment so that it's recorded here. The purpose of this is to learn more about music, guitar playing, singing and musical theory, so give 'er!

As for the actual playing, I'm glad I started. I noticed that when I pushed myself to learn things that were tricky for me (instead of finding a work around or another song to play) I eventually learned the song. I'm a lazy asshole sometimes, and this is a good way to force me to try. Keep in mind that prior to this, I couldn't really sing and play my guitar at the same time (shameful, I know). I also couldn't strum/transition terribly fast, nor could I go from fingerpicking to strumming with a pick very fast.

It was fun to learn, although in the future, I'm getting people to join in. It's such a shame to sing a song with such gorgeous harmonies by myself. I'm also going to try to pick up a small amp at least because it does sound a bit silly not plugged in.

I was away for the weekend, so I didn't get a good chance to think about a new song to pick, so I'll be updating that tomorrow. Suggestions are welcome :)

Click here to view the video. My voice cracked in a few spots, I'm still a little hoarse from a wedding in Montreal, but I needed to update. Enjoy!