A Father/Daughter Experiment
I had a maddening evening. I was exhausted from lack of sleep. Not anyone’s fault, purely my own lack of rest.
I had decided to try and finish up another demo in my home studio. The chorus was working out fine but the bridge I was trying to write to a guitar solo just wasn’t working. It was making me quite angry.
Earlier in the evening my middle daughter had come down and asked me to listen to a song she’d learned. I was tired, grumpy, and a bit short-tempered. The song apparently had a less-obvious message than the one I took, which sounded like a bunch of teenage angst asking to be one of the cool kids. My daughter slammed her feet on every step up to her room shouting “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DAD!!!”
She was right, I didn’t. I tried apologizing but the hormonal horror had been realized and there was no bringing the level of angst back down.
I was at full-volume, massive amounts of air moving through the room, near beating on my guitar when I noticed my daughter was in the room watching me. Why it hadn’t crossed my mind before, I don’t know. I looked at my daughter, watching me recording – quite unsuccessfully, I might add – and I stopped. My progress wasn’t particularly great anyway.
“You want to record one of your songs?”
My daughter’s face brightened considerably.
She leafed through her journal, a well-used and dog-eared gift from her sister, and found several pieces.
“I just need to get some of the chords ready . . . ”
I looked at her and reminded her of one she’d played me some months ago. I remembered thinking at the time it was all but perfect.
My daughter has an uncanny writing ability. Not necessarily melodically, but lyrically she’s unmatched. There are days I wish I had her talent. Being a typical 15-year-old, though, she thinks she lacks it. She’s constantly comparing herself to friends she thinks have more artistic ability than she does.
I was determined to show her otherwise today.
The biggest obstacle was keeping time. There’s a built-in metronome for my daughter to follow. She kept trying to get past it. At one point I played behind her trying to keep the time until she found a semblance of meter and was able to record a basic backing track. It was particularly hard for her because, prior to this, she’d just use the audio notes function on her phone and sing while she played. I, however, was determined to multitrack her.
As she played I asked her to hold between verses on a chord for an extra eight bars so that there was room for some guitar fills. She obliged but wasn’t sure what I meant, so I played with her. Her eyes got big . . . “that’s cool!”
“Well, just play something like that behind there and you’ll accentuate the verses.”
She furrowed her brow.
“I don’t think so. You could do it. I don’t solo very well.”
We argued about this for about half an hour until I caved-in. We recorded her vocals and she plowed through them like a pro. I wasn’t sure how, the song had more emotion than many of the songs I’d recorded in my lifetime.
My daughter used music, much like I did, to work through the grief and emotions of losing her mother. This one dealt with it indirectly, beautiful, tense, and melodic. It was stark, just a few guitar fills behind her acoustic guitar. She belted out a line and then another and then more.
I put a rough mix together and had her listen.
I remember the look on her face. I had it the first time a song I wrote came together. It’s not pride, though I suppose some of that is there. It’s accomplishment.
It was near midnight when I finally went to bed. Evenings recording tend to fly away from me. She asked me to send copies to her grandparents, her uncle, aunt . . . and I sent it to her sister. She wanted to share with a select few until we found a way to go in the studio and record her . . . and yes, it’s that good she could record it in a full studio.
Yes, I’m a proud father, but the material is good enough it could sell. That I’m fairly certain. She’s not proud enough to think in those terms yet, I suppose. The uncertainty of puberty always seems to overcome reality sometimes.
Proud, however, she should be. Her father is.
(Due to the fact it’s a rough mix of a demo and the fact I hope to go into the studio in the Spring I am not posting the song right now. Sorry!)