Friday, December 30, 2005

PCS&T CD Update - Eleanor Gerbil

Happy Friday, everyone,

It's been tough to find time for working on the CD over the holidays, what with family and friends visiting, and Evalyn out of school.

Our friend Geoff Garvoille was here from California, and he gave me a CD by "The Fab Four" (a Beatles tribute group) of Christmas songs done in the style of the Beatles. So for example you hear the harmonica introduction to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and the group starts singing "Joy to the World" in Liverpudlian accents. It's hilarious because they are so spot-on with the arrangements.

This immediately brought to mind one of my songs, which was already part of the plan, but this CD got me in the mood to take a swing at it. So I've been spending every available moment working on "Eleanor Gerbil."

My song was originally inspired by a song by the Magpies (a now defunct Canadian children's group) called "Norwegian Hamster." Of course both songs are Beatle sound-alikes. But neither is a parody; that is, they have their own melodies. They each do call to mind their respective Beatles inspirations. Think "Ruttles," if that means anything to you.

To record "Eleanor Gerbil," I started by importing the "Eleanor Rigby" backing track (just the string instruments) from the Beatles Anthology CD into my recording software. Since my song matches "Eleanor Rigby" measure for measure, rhythmically and lyrically, I created a click track to match "Eleanor Rigby."

I used that to record a reference vocal and guitar chords for my song along side "Eleanor Rigby." They sound horrible together, since mine is in a major key and the chords don't match, but going back and forth between the two, I painstakingly deconstructed George Martin's string arrangement from the original and reconstructed it phrase by phrase to fit my own song.

Of course the MIDI instruments I'm working with sound flat and lifeless compared with the vibrant and energetic performance captured on the Beatles recording. So the next step is to record them as digital audio and get to work trying to add some dynamics to make it sound as much like a real string octet as possible. It's tedious, but it's a lot of fun to slowly hear my arrangement come together, sounding more and more Beatlish as I go.

In between working on the arrangement I've been trying to get the lyrics nailed down - there's one line that just doesn't want to settle, but I think I've got it. I'll be ready to record the vocal soon, and then mixing, and then it'll be done. Yee haw!!

Stay tuned, and I might even let you have a listen...


  1. Anonymous4:48 AM

    I dont know how I stumbled across Eleanor Gerbil on i-tunes, but I'm glad I did, can't help giggling like a kid every time my ipod gets to it, which can be embarrassing in the office!



  2. Hi Pete, thanks so much! The image of you drawing looks, giggling to my song at the office just totally makes my day!