Part of me really wants to put a really succinct writeup on this one... something along the lines of:
-Aw, hells yeah!
-Most. Jangle. EVAR!
-This is why I love having a band.
Basically, maybe I'm deluding myself, but this feels like a hard-won high-water mark for latter-day 39-40 at a time when I often feel like sticking a fork in it. And it was a long time coming: Skates & Rays cut the backing track for this one about three weeks ago. Today I was facing the mountain of material I needed to learn for the gig on Friday, and lamenting the MOTU sketchiness that's made it tough to get blog stuff done, and I decided to take a run at finishing this one if I could get the unit to function long enough to record the overdubs. I made sure to have the amps and mics all set up before I even plugged the MOTU in, in order to make the most of the probably limited time I would get with it. Miracle of miracles, it held out for the whole session, which got a lot more involved than I'd dared to dream it could, and I was really happy with just about every development as it occurred. I think I got a highly reasonable facsimile of everything I love about the original track, and got to add a whole lot to it in the bargain. I could write about it forever, but here are some of the highlights:
-The backing track: the band didn't know the song, so I basically led them through it and let them write their own parts. Derek reinvented the drums and Cliff came up with a bass part that mirrors the vocal melody more than the root notes, which was brilliant since the guitars play a hell of a lot of the bass.
-I've always thought that the slide part on the original was a great idea, but a bit flat in execution. I seem to have corrected that, perhaps to an absurd degree.
-Little lyrical shifts. There are probable twenty or thirty of these in an average week of 39-40, a shit about which probably nobody will ever give, but there's a story behind them all, and on this occasion I'll indulge myself and detail a few. Yes, as a tribute to Eden's Pottermania, I do indeed sing "Some seek sleek and Slytherin charms". The word "caryatid" appears as a tribute to one of my favorite Son Volt songs, mostly because it fits the bill of "breath of words" better than the original lyric does, at least in terms of my understanding of the line as a celebration of the sheer joy of language. The improvised stuff in the second instrumental break sure does nod in the direction of the Bunnymen for the second day in a row. And it just didn't seem right to sing "stupid bloody things" as a Yank, inappropriate though my substitute may be.
-Pursuant to the above, yeah, there's a bit of an unintentional fake accent going on here, but much to my surprise, my Kilbey impersonation seems, to me, to have veered wildly into Howard Devoto territory on the third verse.
-James Dignan again proves to be a good luck charm for me. He has also done a terrific cover of this song, which I was lucky enough to hear before I did this one. James had previously requested a Roky Erickson tune which turned out to be one of my very favorite covers on the blog, and shortly thereafter provided an original song for me to cover, my version of which was lucky enough to be meet with his approval and was a joy to create.
There's more, but basically, I am well pleased. That's three out of ten Remote Luxury songs down, and I have fancy plans for the others. And pants to match.
SKATES & RAYS
Rex Broome ~ Guitars and vocals
Derek Hanna ~ Drums
Clifford Ulrich ~ Bass