Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Paws Claws Scales and Tales, the Song

Whew - I reached another landmark today on the way to releasing my new CD. I've been working on the recording of "Paws Claws Scales and Tales" (the song) for who knows how many days in a row and it just kept getting more and more complex, but now it's done.

Some of you may have already heard the chorus to this song since I posted it as part of a free PSA on the website. Well, now it's a full-fledged song with verses and everything. I feel like I skimped a bit due to time constraints - I only wrote eight verses, and chose the best four for the song. It would have been nice to have twelve or sixteen to choose from. I'm only kidding a little bit.

This song is kind of like "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library" - each verse is about a pet from a book, and the audience gets to fill in the name at the end, to complete the rhyme. It's tough not to write contrived lyrics when you're trying to rhyme names like... Oops I almost gave one away. Well, you'll just have to come see me this summer at one of my library shows to find out who the verses are about. Or order the CD!

This is a milestone because now all ten songs are completed, as rough mixes. I've been listening to the whole CD in the car this evening. A few songs need serious help, but most of them are in pretty good shape. Another coupla weeks and I'll be ready to have them mastered. I still don't know if I'll be able to add another song or two to the list, but it's looking less and less likely. Maybe I'll complete them as bonus songs for digital download. What do you think?

Well, I must be off to bed now, to rest up for two days of school shows in Norman; then back to mixing over the weekend!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's Hard to Love a Reptile

Howdy to my new friends at Waurika Elementary School! I enjoyed performing for you this past Thursday. Those of you who ordered CDs - they are on the way!

And now on to the PCS&T update for this week...

Today I (hope I) finished recording "It's Hard to Love a Reptile" for the upcoming Paws Claws Scales and Tales CD. (The white alligator on the CD cover is from this song.) This song has been looming large for a long while - I've been putting it off because I thought it would be a toughie to record. It's kind of a long story song, which is best done with some freedom tempo-wise, and that always presents a challenge. I've been practicing and memorizing it over the past week or two, and two days ago I recorded a couple of really good passes of vocal and guitar together. Technically this can present a problem, because the guitar bleeds a bit onto the vocal track. But I found that I was able to use pitch correction in a couple of spots anyway, so I ended up with a pretty polished recording.

Yesterday I added a bass line, using MIDI, and today I went through it meticulously lining up each bass note with the recorded performance. This was necessary due to the free tempo, which is tough to follow when overdubbing a part. Then I added an electric guitar part (using the new Fender Stratocaster I traded in my old drum kit and PA for) to the choruses, and that was it. A bit of mixing and I think it's done. Simple but effective, and I hope I still like it tomorrow!

I also am close to finishing a recording of "Fred's Frog Flippy," a song that was inspired by a toy frog at the Children's Music Network gathering this past October. I just need to finish editing the vocal and mix it.

Last week I was mostly working on "Dog Books," a song about, well, dog books, of course! This one has a somewhat complicated arrangement with somewhat Beatle-ish horns and orchestra parts, with a good rock beat. I'll probably re-visit some of the background vocals, but it's close to done.

I'm left with only one song that needs to be tracked and that's "Paws Claws Scales and Tales." I already have the chorus recorded, but I need to write, arrange, and record some verses!

That will round out ten songs for the CD. All of them still have varying degrees of refinements needed. Then once those ten are perfect (ha ha!) maybe I can add a song or two from the runners-up list, which includes, "Bird Brains," "Pet Rock," "Pet Parade," and "Crazy Old Dog." We'll see...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

PCS&T Cover Art!

My graphic design dude, Paul Fleming, and I have been working for the past couple of weeks on cover art for the new CD, and here it is! Beatle fans will recognize that we've had a bit of fun with a familiar design. The animals each represent one of the songs on the CD: the cat for "The Cat Came Back," the white alligator for "It's Hard to Love a Reptile," a dog for "Dog Books," and a humming bird for "Humming Bird Hum."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Pet Like That

In this episode we follow the creation of "A Pet Like That," a song destined for my upcoming CD, Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales. Listen and learn how a well-known children's book author helped me out with finding the perfect rhyme!

What great timing - it's Dr. Seuss's birthday, so here's something just for fun: see if you can figure out which Dr. Seuss book I reference in the song! It took me forever to find the one I wanted. I must have read every book Dr. Seuss ever wrote, looking for the one I remembered with weird pets in it. Oh well, I can easily think of worse ways to spend my time! If you think you know the answer, post a comment!

Congratulations to our free CD winner for February, Kris Tobey of Tahlequah, Oklahoma!

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