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Friday, October 1, 2010

197. "If You Have Ghosts" by Roky Erickson & The Aliens

Requested by James Dignan.

The start of an anticipated avalanche of Halloween-type songs, this is where the real fun of the request process begins. I've spent a lot of time over the years making Halloween compilations of incredible density... I may well post them all here over the course of the month if time allows... so I've put a lot of thought into the music of the season. Roky, of course, has penned a nice clutch of the perennials. This one was a little daunting, not just because the original sounds so damned good but also because John Wesley Harding did a pretty damned definitive cover of it a while back.

So I got crazy with mine. Crazier than I intended, even... I started off with the idea of a skittery propulsive beat sort of like what I used on "Still Life in Mobile Homes" and some banjo-- I really like minor key banjo, dating back to a period in the lost rock weekend of '90s when I was listening in equal parts to really old folk recordings and then-current electronica, and somewhere between the spooky mountain-minor ballads on Harry Smith's anthology and "Swamp Thing" by The Grid, it stuck, and I wrote and recorded my own Halloween-related song, "Unhaunted", based around some spooky banjo. Anyway, with those in place, I ended up slathering way more lead guitar over the top than intended, and at one point frustratingly lost the entire original vocal and lead guitar... and had a hell of a time recreating one spontaneous bit of singing I'd really liked. I got about as pissed as I ever have during one of these recordings, but I ended up with something that could probably use some fine tuning in the mix department, but that I nonetheless find... okay, I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but... pretty damned awesome.

Brief note on the banjo playing: I have as yet proven unable to master either frailing or clawhammer, so I substituted another tried and true Appalachian technique, one of the few such that's useful in any areas other than banjo picking: fakin' it.

Personnel: Rex

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