awbvious | In the City

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In the City

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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1. In the City
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Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
When I was doing my takes from January 31st, I just looked at the titles for the most part, and if I didn’t know it, I skipped it. This became especially true towards the end of the night as I felt I had spent too much time recording. I think I may have played a few seconds of “In the City” and realized while I had heard it long ago, I didn’t really know it. So unlike all the other songs, I did not do a first take of this song. I then heard it February 26th, realized it was a Joe Walsh lead vocal, and having done no Joe Walsh, I decided to do it the next day.

Now “Victim of Love,” I probably knew as well if not less well, but it was earlier in the track list and earlier in the night. Had it not been, I perhaps wouldn’t have done a first take of that either on January 31st.

Now, here’s a tricky question for you, what do these songs have in common?

Louie, Louie – The Kingsmen

There’s Goes My Baby – The Drifters

I Saw Her Again – The Mamas & The Papas

Answer: They are all really dang good recordings and they all have an accidental start of a verse that gets cut off.

Now, what do these songs have in common?

Louie, Louie – The Kingsmen

There’s Goes My Baby – The Drifters

I Saw Her Again – The Mamas & The Papas

In the City – awbvious

Answer: That’s right. They all have an accidental start of a verse that gets cut off.

Granted, that’s probably the only thing they all have in common, but it’s because I love those first three recordings that I kept it in my recording.

The Kingsmen did everything in one take, split the session cost of $50 between them, and probably wouldn’t have gotten to do another take even if they wanted to.

The Drifters, per my notes for “The Long Run,” had two incarnations. “There Goes My Baby” was the first single by the second incarnation that had Ben E. King (like so many others of my favorite soul singers, I had to find out he passed away through Wikipedia). Now, the only mention I see online regarding that false start is songfacts: “Ben E. King's vocals coming in too soon at the beginning.” But actually this comes after the first chorus before “I want to know if she loved me.” There’s just an almost imperceptible “I” about a measure before. I don’t know if Leiber and Stoller, the prolific songwriting duo, who produced the song noticed it and/or cared about it and/or could do anything about it.

All I know is I happened to hear Leiber and Stoller talk at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, I think for the showing of the movie “Only the Strong Survive.” I’m glad I did, because Leiber died soon after. I was near the front, because, well, that’s how I was taught to watch movies in film classes. I think Leiber might have notice me roll my eyes when he said how he thought the lyrics that he wrote to “There Goes My Baby” were dreadful. Because, obviously, who cares, even if that was true, that is one of the best songs ever recorded. He may or may not have seen me and may or may not have smiled.

I think that same day I got to see Solomon Burke, also there for the movie, and I got to tell him how meaningful his music was to me. I will always appreciate the fact that I got to do that, he also passed away sometime after that. I almost wish I could have sang one of his songs to him, just to show him how I’d sung them so many times… More than probably any song by The Eagles. But, of course, that was likely not the place to do it, standing outside The Egyptian with a lot of other people who wanted to talk to him and also get his autograph.

In a way, I think the best way of describing The Eagles relationship to Country and Rock is to look at Solomon Burke’s relationship to Country and Soul. “Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)” is technically/originally a Country song, but what Solomon does is clearly soul. Well clearly to me. But just like some people think Eagles is Country and I hear rock, well, after “Just Out of Reach” was released, this happened, according to Wikipedia:

“Concert promoters in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama, who were unaware that Burke was an African American, accidentally booked him to sing at Ku Klux Klan picnics and rallies, with up to 30,000 hooded Klansmen in attendance. In a 2002 interview Burke recalled: ‘Way down in the South somewhere, I showed up and the promoter said to me, "Is Solomon Burke here yet?" I said, "Yeah, I'm right here." His eyes grow wide and he walks away. The guy comes back with the sheriff and he says, "Boy, don't play games. Show me some I.D." So he looks at it and pulls the promoter aside and says, "You got a problem. You can't let him go out there." So they called the doctor and had him cover my face in bandages and made it look like I had an accident. That's how I performed that night.’”

Anyway, back to false starts.

For, “I Saw Her Again,” Wikipedia has this to say: “While mixing the record, engineer Bones Howe punched in the coda vocals too early, inadvertently including Denny's false start on the third chorus (‘I saw her...’). Despite attempting to correct the error, the miscued vocal could still be heard on playback. Producer Lou Adler liked the effect and told Howe to leave it in the final mix.”

So, at least in this occasion, it looks like they could have removed the error but didn’t. And that’s what I did. Or, rather, I also intentionally didn't remove it. But frankly, if it weren’t for those other three songs I love so much, I probably would have removed it.

I also was kind of going for a “Louie, Louie” vibe. I think Walsh has that energy of “do something wild, let’s see what happens.” Further, they were fans of “frat rock” and their homage was “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks.” (I prefer the term “garage rock” but whatever. Both valid. “Nuggets” was hugely influential to me, by the way.)

I purposely went a bit sloppy on this. I was going to throw everything I had at it. If something didn’t sound good, rather than clean it within the track, it was either toss it, or cover up whatever I didn’t like by throwing another track at it.

First, I did five guitar/vocal tracks, but it was hard because the vocals aren’t always where I expect, and, again I didn’t know the song very well. Thank goodness the chords were easy Es, As, and Ds! But I didn’t always know when to switch from chord to chord. I purposely avoided watching any youtube videos. I don’t know why. I think I didn’t want to inadvertently pick up anyone else’s idea of what the songs should sound like. Anyway, eventually I finally did get the transitions fairly right, and they were trickier than I thought they’d be.

I just realized that I’ve been saying this entire time I never used any other digital effect but the “wah wah” on “Life in the Fast Lane.” Well, I guess I forgot this…

So on the fifth attempt I got it, and I was really happy with the vocal too. But then I noticed something, you could hear my pick against the pick guard! That’s always been a scourge for me, because I’m very sloppy and you can often hear the clacking of the pick on the pick guard. I wasn’t sure what to do, as I really liked this track, and no searching online came up with any solution for how to remove this clacking. Someone with better skills than I probably could do it.

Then I thought about it, well, I recorded a mic in and a line in. The mic in has got my guitar strums, my vocals, and the clacking. The line in has just got the guitar strums. Maybe I can somehow subtract the line in from the mic in, to get just the vocals and the clacking, then I could mute the clacking… Great in the theory, but I couldn’t figure out how to subtract the line in from the mic in. But I did see an effect called “Vocal Remover.” And its documentation said it worked by assuming the vocals are in the middle, so it removes anything in the middle. (By the way, that’s how I learned I probably should put my vocals in the middle, after confirming it elsewhere. It’s a good thing I came across that. After remixing most of them that way it sounded much better.) So, I tried that effect. Did it work? No. Not really. But I kinda liked the effect (subtle though it was) to the track, which also mixed the mic and line them together. I added it very quietly along with the original track without the effect. I then put the mic/vocals in the middle.

Then it quickly became “what can I throw at this?”

Next I threw at it a take of me smacking the strings with my hand. In other words, my left hand would be in the form of a chord on the frets. My right hand, rather than strumming, would slap all the strings. Yeah, I know technically you aren’t supposed to play the top two strings of an open D chord. And, yes, you can bet I always played open chords when possible, and usually the easiest/cheapest way. I don’t think I played any barre chords the entire time. Oh… Whoops. This should show how bad a guitarist I am, I only /now/ realize I’m not supposed to play the top string of C either when using three fingers. Whoops.

I notice I tried two of these takes, but only used the second one. I also see that I might have “cheated” and took some of the slap from later and put it at the beginning because there was the sound of my chair squeaking.

Then I grabbed my acrylic slide from earlier and tried to recreate those sweeping notes Walsh does in a guitar take. I then did it again, but on the second take I used only the line in, not the mic as well, because you could hear too much of the frets gets passed over using the slide. I think the first take was just on bottom string, which meant I could hold the slide at an angle. But second take was on the second string, so it had to be more flush with the neck.

Then I think I decided I’d go all the way, and just place the guitar on my lap, and play it (I presume) like a steel guitar. I’m not sure I played it exactly like one, though, as I’ve never played a steel guitar. I’m also hearing a light tapping that almost sounds intentional, like a finger nail. You know, I think what I did is I put it on my lap, then move the slide around with my left hand, while thumbing the string and sometimes tapping with my index finger on the body of the guitar with my right hand.

The next guitar take, I think I’m holding the guitar more normally, moving the slide this time on the top string. Again, by just doing the top string, I can hold it at an angle, and not have it flush against the neck, and can thus prevent clacking as it passes frets. Then I’m thumbing the bottom string, hoping it sounds a little bass-y.

Then I got two takes of I-don’t-know-what. I think I might be using chopsticks on my guitar as a drum. One take with both chopsticks on the body of the guitar. The next I think I might be holding the chord pattern and the smacking the strings with a chopstick. It’s hard to tell. It’s a bit of a blur. (I was sober for everything. But that’s because I’m older. And since I’m older, I probably forget more of what I did.)

Lastly, I did two harmonica takes, it sounds like (like in “I Can’t Tell You Why”) an A straight harp and then an E cross harp. However, I did not use the A straight harp (or whatever the first take was) and used only the E cross harp.

That was it. I didn’t realize the song was first used in the movie “The Warriors,” or I would have put kombucha bottles on all my fingers and used that for percussion.

So, that’s all the songs. I suppose there’s just one thing left to talk about.

Why.

Why did I record these songs? Why did I decided to do covers? Why of all the bands I liked, did I choose The Eagles?

About two years ago, I lost my job. But I mostly hated that job, like most of my jobs, which have all been mostly non-creative. I wanted to do something a little more creative. So I started on some projects, and I felt I was getting close to the end. However, my girlfriend (and eventual wife) was getting more and more dissatisfied. She thought the projects were pointless and wastes of time. She said all my creative projects should be hobbies to do in my “free time.” And, it was true, no money was coming in. And I, too, was worried my projects wouldn’t pay.

So, when my friend offered me a job, I capitulated to her desires. I took it. Once I started it, I decided I deserved to buy myself some modest home recording equipment for my birthday. You know, so I could spend some “free time” on my “hobby.”

To quote “Take It to the Limit:” “you can spend all your time making money.” You can then spend that money on equipment to make music. But you’ll still need to keep making that money. Which means you still need to spend all your time on it (or, you know, being a good partner to your significant other). Which means, you can’t really spend your time on making music. So, that equipment just sat in the corner collecting dust for about two years.

Now that job with my friend is coming to an end. Like all my jobs, they seem to last about two years. I decided again I wanted to look into creative projects. I looked on Craigslist in their creative categories, like music, and I was seeing over and over this one post about some guy who really wanted to start an Eagles tribute band. I’m thinking, well, I know Eagles pretty well. Still, if anything, I should be a vocalist in a band that does 60s music in general, not a tribute band.

Nonetheless, this guy was relentlessly posting. I saw that post over and over. I respected his tenacity. I figured, you know what, I probably should contact him. He wrote all over it “pro’s only” etc. etc. But, come on, that’s like when a job posting has “requirements” that are far beyond the pay grade; they’re really just preferences. Nonetheless, I should have something to show I know my Eagles. That’s when I looked at that recording equipment gathering dust.

My January 31st vocal take was going to be all I was going to do. But I never sent it to him. Instead I thought, you know, this is actually pretty good equipment. Maybe I should add some guitar too. Next thing you know, I’m pretty much forgetting the idea of the Craigslist idea and just enjoying what I could pull off with this recording equipment, thinking, you know, maybe this is good enough to sell online.

Then I looked into selling cover songs, I found that CD Baby was probably the easiest method as far as handling all that royalties stuff. And so, here we are.

And now, as this is the last song I have to write notes for, I’m going finish the uploads. And next week, I’m going to look for a job.



Please buy these songs. I really don’t want to get a job.

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