awbvious | Desperado

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by awbvious

Cover of The Eagles, all vocals and instrumentation by awbvious, a Californian who has had his spirit here since 1979.
Genre: Rock: Classic Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Desperado
3:33 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
What can I say about “Desperado?” First of all, I had to bump up the volume of the first word “Desperado” constantly. I’d think it was loud enough, then think later it needed to be a little louder and bump it more. You see, yes, I’m a bit cheap and a little anti-social (shy/wary/who-knows), so I didn’t want to give my songs to someone else to edit and did it all myself. I’m sick of the “loudness wars” and losing all the “highs and lows,” and I don’t want it to sound all compressed, computerized, and normalized like most modern music now.

But the song starts with practically a whisper, so while I resisted normalizing it all, I did realize I needed to at least raise the loudness of “Desperado” a lot and “why don’t you come to your senses” a little because it was completely inaudible on anything but headphones—I’m still not sure if the levels are right.

If you read the Wikipedia on this song (which I have to anyway because I need to specify the songwriters for the licensing part of the CD Baby submission process), Henley says he was only given four or five takes by producer Glyn Johns. I think he did fine. The main take you’re hearing is my first take, one I did on 2/12. That day, I went through all but one of these songs, singing one take each, and I often would later use that take.

I then a few days later played it on guitar, luckily it was easy chords and slow transitions unlike “Witchy Woman.” (However, later I decided to rerecord it, and although it is fairly simple, it still took many takes because my own playing limitations.) I then decided I needed something for the piano, the piano is so dominant in the song. But I can’t play piano any more than I can play the drums. I can whistle though. So, that’s what I did there. The whistling is a bit “wall-to-wall carpeting” which is something I learned is bad in film (e.g. a short film other than a music video with a song throughout the entire thing) so it may not be a good idea in instrumentation with music production either. But I have nothing to replace it with, so there it is.

Anyway, I then did two more vocal takes, one lower-pitch and one higher (though it wasn’t intentional, it just came out that way, so it’s not always lower or higher). At first, I put them all in, but then I thought I had done that with too many of the other “The Very Best of The Eagles” covers. So, I thought, what if I alternated them? Then one would really get your “highs and lows” like mentioned in the song. Then, to give it a slightly fuller sound on the speakers (yes, I did the amateur thing and did all my mixing first in headphones) I just left a faint trace of the parts I removed of each high or low take.

By the way, I did all my “mixing” in Audacity, the free, open-source music editor. I only use an effect once in all of these covers (I put “wah-wah” on a vocal take I used in “Life in the Fast Lane” to fake Walsh because I can’t play it on guitar, “uh oh here comes a flock of wah-wahs”) otherwise everything is just as it was recorded. Everything mono, usually just one vocal/mic or sometimes I’d have the line-in of my guitar too. Then it was pretty much find somewhere to place it left or right for the stereo mix, and maybe raise or lower the volume of the entire track, and that was usually it. For example, in this song, the main vocal, guitar, and whistle are all centered. The lower-pitch vocal is at 30% left at near-full volume for half the words and at 70% right at a much lower volume for the other half. The higher-pitch vocals are the opposite, 30%-right near-full volume, 70%-left lower volume, alternating the words that are loud. I then, as previously mentioned, added a few tracks to bump the volume of some of the beginning. I also redid the phrase “draw the queen of diamonds” in the lower-pitch track, but I did it at a higher-pitch, and I don’t know why.

As for the non-technical parts, well, I like this song. Words like “you ain’t gettin’ no younger” and “freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’”—I can relate. Most of all “feet get cold in the winter time,” except my feet are cold /all/ the time. I usually wear two pairs of thick wool socks to bed. I’m fairly tall and I guess have poor circulation.

The one line that never made much sense is “the sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine.” I get being concerned that the sky doesn’t shine. But does the speaker/Desperado want the sky to snow? Won’t that make the Desperado’s feet even colder? I don’t get that. Unless the point is not that the Desperado wants snow and shine, but that the weather makes no sense, i.e. normal skies sometimes snow, normal suns sometimes shine, but the Desperado’s do not. However, in the previous line, feet getting cold in the winter means the weather /does/ make sense. Further places where the sky doesn’t snow are usually places where the sun does shine, constantly, like California. (As someone who has never lived outside of Southern California, it wasn’t until I was about twenty that I first saw snow, and since then I’ve only seen it a handful of times and never much more than a handful of snow at that.) I mean, maybe it’s commentary on being lonely in California, but then shouldn’t it be “the sky won’t snow /but/ the sun won’t shine”? Who knows, Henley only had four to five takes, maybe it was supposed to be, but Johns wouldn’t let him re-record it.



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