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Friday, December 24, 2010

281. "Mississippi Kite" by Kristin Hersh

Not the first instance on 39-40 of the original artist appearing on the cover, but a unique one thus far, and hells of fun. Kristin Hersh is one of my very favorite songwriters and performers of all. I have met her, and stammered stupid stuff in her general direction on those occasions, but I've never actually collaborated with her musically in the traditional sense.

However, for the past three years or so, Kristin has released most of her material online accompanied by stems from the recording sessions so that fans can remix the tracks and share them with each other. I know a few other artists have done this type of thing, sometimes temporarily in the interest of competition or promotion (as with the recent Byrne/Eno release), and there probably are other artists doing this sort of thing, but Kristin's the only one I've tracked personally. It's rather extraordinary, really, and a bit overwhelming to think that one's Kristin Hersh library cannot be complete without tracking down every last fan-created reimagining of these songs, and I haven't tracked the developments as closely as I'd like to have done. It's been in the back of my mind to work with this stuff on 39-40, though, in a more-sophisticated-than-karaoke fashion, and I was just reminded of that idea when taking a look at her website to see what she got up to this year.

So here I worked with the stems from her recent song "Mississippi Kite", which first appeared as part of a work-in-progress record then called Speedbath which seems to have gone through a number of subsequent iterations, but which in its original form was my favorite work by Kristin in quite some time. Initially I intended to do all the vocals myself and add a little lead guitar spiralling around and answering the snaky lead lines Kristin played on the original, but as I got into it I started mixing it as a fake duet for us, with me bouncing between lead lines and harmonies with melodies. That engendered a not entirely successful attempt to match the recording tones between her vocal as recorded and mine, but after the initial shock of the contrasting qualities it seems to settle down and start to sound normal. The second guitar worked pretty well, I think, and it was fun to do the whole project... I just hope the new, homespun stuff I added integrates itself into the original tracks without calling attention to its living room origins.

Oh, and despite having listened to this song for a year or so, I had no idea that a Mississippi kite was a bird until I did a google search for images to use in the artwork. Always educational, those KH lyrics.

Rex Broome: Male rock vocals, lead guitar (stereo right), mandolin
Kristin Hersh: Female rock vocals, rhythm guitar (left), rhythm guitar, bass, drums, organ

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