A REAL TRACK, PART 3 (OF 4)
After getting good drum and bass tracks, it was time for me to put on four guitars. I started with acoustic, which I played on the first verse and all of the choruses. Then I played electric rhythm, which we recorded twice to make it feel "bigger." Finally, I added an electric "riffs" track -- pieces that weren't solos per se, but made little statements at certain points such as bridges or to punctuate a vocal line that I already had in my head. Shades suggested I play one of the riffs slightly differently, but I told him I knew exactly how it would fit with the rest of the parts. (I'm a bit of an if-you-want-it-done-right dude, which is why I always write, edit, photo-edit and design my Friday and Sunday pages in the Press.) Surprisingly for me, I layed all these tracks down in one take each.
Next, Brinie and I cut the backing vocals. I wanted to cut the backing "vocs" first, so that I'd have them to play off of when I cut the master. My brother and I stood at one microphone. Brinie stood back a little further because he was singing louder than me. (We could tell this via our headphones.) I only wanted the two voices, but Shades talked me into doubling it up (again, for "bigness"), so we sang it again.
Next came the pivotal moment for me: the master vocal. I didn't plan on cutting it that first afternoon. After singing for three hours the night before and a couple of hours that morning, I didn't think I'd have the vocal elasticity -- especially since I was supposed to give the greatest vocal performance of my life thus far (this being a Real Track and all). But I was feeling strong, and a little lucky, that afternoon.
Shades set me up in front of the mike. He positioned two round, black screens in front of it (to prevent unwanted noise from, say, hard consonants). I told him the vocals are a bit hushed at the beginning, leading to some barnstorming stuff. He instructed me as to the distances I should keep from the mike at the appropriate times. I put my headphones on; he closed the soundproofed doors; he took his place in front of the mixer; and played the song.
I recognized immediately that I had entered The Zone. I'd never before heard my own vocals sound like they did in the headphones, and I played to it. I lived dangerously and sang the song without a "cheat sheet." But there were no lyrical flubs. It was a usable performance throughout. I got it in one take.
Shades came back in. He asked me: "Good?" I said: "I didn't like the way I pronounced one word, but I think I'll live with it."
TO BE CONTINUED