Tag Archives: chasing your dreams

In Three Part Harmony

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In Three Part Harmony

Working on your own material with a group of very talented musicians might seem nerve-racking.  I can’t speak for  other writers, but I always have apprehension when I bring up a new piece of material.

Yet when you have a group of guys who are not just talented but wanting to hear your stuff and wanting to help you succeed there is something so very satisfying about that.

My goal in the first recording session is to have two songs recorded and completed.  If there had been any fear that this wouldn’t happen I left those by the wayside after Friday’s rehearsal.

We started slowly, listening to the very bare demo and quickly put an arrangement together.  Then we tweaked it, wrote out a bass line, put things together, took them apart . . . and then it just seemed to work.

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When we finished the arrangement came the harmonies, which just added even more life to the song.  Something more than I could ever have hoped.

This all came after visiting the studio, Pus Cavern studios, which is small but comfortable.  It looks like the right kind of place for a group of guys working out harmonies in the drummer’s living room.

Not that doing this in a living room detracts from the material.  One of the best feelings is to have these guys say they like the songs and help me make the arrangements.  One of the bad parts of having learned guitar by ear is the fact that I cannot easily write up anything about what we’re playing.  It takes me awhile to even figure out what chords I’ve been playing by scrolling through reams of chord charts.

But as I look at the material, my daughter on the couch listening, she started to hear what it was all pointing toward.  “I always liked that song when you played it,” she told me, remembering my writing it with an acoustic guitar on the living room couch.  “But I just listened to the lyrics all the way through and . . . wow, I just never thought about things like that, from how you look at it, dad.  Wow.”

When you can touch a 16-year-old with your lyrics and music it’s a big deal, at least to me.  That says the themes are pretty universal.

It also says that the idea of finishing this and closing one door while opening another on my life is the right direction.  What an amazing experience to work with such talented people.  The songs take this raw form and turn into something so much bigger and livelier.

What an amazing experience . . . and we haven’t even hit the studio yet.

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A Change in the Plot…

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A Change in the Plot…

Every story has its twists and turns.  Our story certainly began with a major twist at the beginning with the passing of my wife.

The plot here, in my musings, writings and thoughts will take a shift as well.

A couple years ago – something I detailed at one point both here and on the parenting site Good Enough Mother – I had a long and detailed discussion with my oldest child.  In that conversation I told her a simple piece of advice, something I had been given more than once:

Do something you love.  It may not be your dream job, it may not be the job you expected, but do something you love, something you want to do, something that doesn’t feel like work.

Be passionate.

I had no idea at the time that my daughter would then turn those words around on me.

“When are you going to do that, Dad?”
“What?!”
“You have had a slew of material sitting there, songs written, demos started . . . when are you going to record that stuff?”

I, of course, was stricken dumb; totally inarticulate.  Before I could give excuses – the common ones:

“Don’t use us as an excuse, Dad.  And don’t try to say it’s too expensive.  If you are truly passionate about the music you write and play then you will find a way!”

I was a finite and definitive statement that ended with punctuation that said, without words: “there’s no argument here, you’ve lost this battle!”

So this, after two years of honing and writing and second guessing, is the next step.

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Since that conversation, I’ve joined up with one of the most talented group of musicians – on par with my younger brother Adam Manoucheri (see his new record Aquadog)  – and we play when we can.  We call ourselves the “Ain’t Got No Time Rock and Blues Band” because, frankly, none of us have any time.

These musicians became the core of what will become my first ever solo LP.  Rehearsal begins this week.  We hit the studio at the end of March.  This isn’t a quick process, we have to learn the songs and then I’ll book the next session.  I have nearly a dozen songs and it may turn into more.

It is simultaneously the greatest and scariest thing I have ever undertaken.  Not because I worry about the band, they are the least of my worries.  This is my material.  Much of it came after the passing of my wife and has a dark edge to it.  There’s a lot of acoustic material.  Then there’s the stuff that shows the shift in my life, the happier tones, the melancholy of a trying to find love again and the happiness and joy when it comes.

There are ballads and straight rockers and it’s all me . . . no producer, no brother to tell me I can do better, it’s me.

It’s practicing what I preached.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

So over the next many months, most of my posts will be chronicling the trials, tribulations, joys and successes as well as failures in trying to record my first record alone.

As Upworthy would probably put it: “A single dad told his daughter to follow her dreams. Look what happened when she told him to do the same!”

Be careful what you dream . . . you might just actually be chasing them.