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Saturday, March 20, 2010

2. "I'm Waiting for the Man" by The Velvet Underground

Okay, a lot of people have covered this one. My iTunes library alone contains 16 versions of it, including solo versions by Lou, Cale, Nico and Mo, leaving Sterling the only original Velvet not to have a go at it on his own. I don't think there are any Sterling Morrison solo records, which is a sad thing. If I'd had a son, I would have named him Sterling. In any case, with so many versions kicking around already, I decided to throw the kitchen sink at this one.

Of the sounds employed here, I'll just say that I love my Fender Twin to death, but its overdrive sound is really pathetic. Which made it just about perfect for this track.

Rex Broome ~ Everything except...
Miranda Broome ~ Lead vocals on 2nd and 5th verses
Ridley Broome ~ Lead vocals on 3rd verse



As the second-ever 39-40 and the first one into which I roped other humans to participate, this must've been weirder at the time than it seemed. Maybe it just seemed like a one-off project for the kids to do with me on what must've been the day after the Skates & Rays show on my birthday. Eden must have been with her dad that weekend, or else she'd be on here along with Miranda and Ridley.

The overdrive sound on the Twin, which I don't think I ever used again on 39-40, is actually pretty kickass. But recording-wise there was so much I didn't know how to do yet. This was done with the cheapo Behringer jacked right into the miniplug input on the MacBook; the mics were my brand spanking new SM-57s, and the recording application was GarageBand, about which I didn't know much at all. I had figured out how to line up the pre-set drum loops that came with it, and set their tempos, and that was about it. I figured the only way to really learn it was by tackling one recording problem at a time, and I was pretty much right... although it's amazing how late in the game it would be before I worked out some totally basic stuff. Still, most of what's supposed to present here does so, considering the aesthetic I was going for. The acoustic slide part approximating Sterling Morrison's playing sure could be higher up in the mix, though... I was rather proud of it.

Quite a few future mainstay tactics pop up right away... the kids' participation for one, Miranda reacting to part of her performance with "I like that one!" being possibly my favorite moment on the recording. There's also the first of many Doctor Who / Torchwood references audible at the end. The more regrettable trend that surfaces here is the free-form spoken vocal playout. At the time I think I just though I was including interesting Easter Eggs for the listeners, and certainly I was still heavily under the sway of Mark E. Smith and attempting to imitate his style and content at every turn.

Unfortunately, almost every time I did this, the muttering ends up mixed too low to be comprehended even if you try your hardest to isolate it in the stereo picture, and overall it just serves to further muddle some mixes that were pretty murky to begin with. Didn't stop me from doing it a lot, though. As we go on I'll shed a little light on what some of them were supposed to be, to the extent that I can recall. Unfortunately all of the basic tracks for 39-40 prior to September 2011 were lost in a very literal hard drive crash. This is fine in some ways... the temptation to remix this stuff is in many ways a "that way lies madness" proposition of which I should really feel relieved to be rid. It would be nice, however, to be able to check stuff every once in a while and find out what I was really up to where I'd forgotten, and there honestly are a few recordings that have a lot going for them and were rendered sadly nearly unlistenable by last minute mixing decisions, and in those few cases-- "Cornflake Girl", I am totally looking at you-- I wish I could have another crack at it. Alas.


-"Gotta split, that's a quaint old fashioned way to say goodbye" is the first of many lifts from Robyn Hitchcock, in this case from the song "Alright Yeah".
-The occasional vocal "Ksssssshhhhhh!" sound is rather transparently transplanted from another Velvet Underground tune, "Black Angel's Death Song".
-The first part of the buried spoken-word outro is me reading a letter from my dad that was lying on the table in front of me at the moment.
-The whispered word "chino" comes from The Fall's "Chino Splashback".
-"The 21st Century is when everything changes" is a catchphrase from Torchwood.


  1. My jr. prom date's father was named Sterling. I doubt he ever heard the Velvets but if he did, I'm certain he hated them.

  2. Someone I dated before I met Gen also wanted to name her son Sterling. Later on she had a daughter and named her... Eden. Kinda weird. Bonus weirdness: John Cale's daugher is named Eden, and our Eden now plays viola.