Updated Mar 4, 2023
The Artistic World of K.L.Storer

On-Liner Notes
My commentary on my music

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1) The Album Project ‐‐ How the Thing Came Together
2) Opening Track Off Virtually Approximate Subterfuge ‐ "Identity."
3) "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" (Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
4) "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (the extra track for the "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" single)
5) "Icebergs" (Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
6) "Chilled October Morning" (Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
7) "Just One Shadow" (Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
8) "Roll the Dice" (the extra track for the "Just One Shadow" single)

ON-Liner Notes?
      (Sep, 22, 2021)

ON-Liner Notes?.... What?....

It's word play. Remember back in the old days ‐‐ if you're old enough ‐‐ when you bought a twelve-inch LP record album? Remember the artwork, all big and lovely to look at? And then, in many cases, the liner notes, especially on album jackets that opened up. There'd sometimes be a nice litte essay from the recording artist themselves, or the producer, or maybe another musician or singer. It would be thoughts on the recording or the artistic intent of the recording, or something else logically related to the album.

That's more or less what this is, only detached from the physical recordings and, I hope, spanning more than one project. Not exactly a blog, but kind of a blog. I already have a blog: K.L.'s Artist's Blog. It journals any and all of my artistic endeavors in a diary-like fashion, as they unfold. On-Liner Notes is specific to my music recordings. It is an on-line, dynamic version of the old album liner notes, hence "On-Liner Notes," but with the ability to expand, to evolve.

Rather than a diary-like journal of the work, as the blog is, this is more me discussing the work. The focus being consideration, or perhaps analysis, or maybe explanation of the work, with a concerted effort to not take myself too damned seriously. I plan to seriously talk about the art and craft, in one manner or another, but I hope to not "Seriously talk about the Art and Craft," if you catch the difference. I probably will get a bit egomaniacally grandiose from time to time, but, I swear I'll be vigilant so this page stays as real and honestly interesting as possible. This is not the chronicles of a modern-day Amadeus -- well, actually, I have to admit, that would be interesting, just not something that will realistically be at all germane here.

1) The Album Project:
Virtually Approximate Subterfuge ‐‐ How the Thing Came Together.
      (Sep, 22, 2021)

Before I start commenting on particular songs, in detail, which I'll do in other commentary here, let's look at the concept that I am making the full-length album, Virtually Approximate Subterfuge, or, if you're reading these prose much after written, that I have made and released the album. There's no record label attached, big or small, so this is very definitely an independent release.

However, "Indy Rock" is not correct as the genre label. As I write this, I'm not done making the album, though the first single is out, and struggling hard to be noticed, by-the-way. Once I finish the song I'm currently working on, "Burning Bridge," I'll probably do one or two more. At this point, looking at the album's repertoire, it might be argued that a couple songs can fit into the Indy Rock category, but I'm a sexagenarian, so by and large, my musical offerings are what the youngin's would call "retro." At least that's my take on what I've been doing. I want to categorize myself, at least on this project, as "Progressive Adult Contemporary Rock," but I think I made that up and it may not be as accurate as I believe from my perspective.

One of my colleagues in the theatre world, where I spend a considerable amount of my time and energy, called this my "Bucket List" project, which is fair. However, it is my absolute intention and goal that this be more than just some half-assed vanity project. There's no question that a major goal, maybe even the major goal, is for me to be able to say that I made an album. But I want it to be more than simply an album that I made; I want it to be an album that is worth listening to; I want it to be an album that someone who has no clue at all who I am comes across and says, "Who is this guy? Is there more?"; I want that someone to like it and want more. I want to make a compelling collection of good music, even if it never graces the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart ‐‐ though I am not at all opposed to such a turn of events.

But how did this album get started? Why did this album get started? In the fall of 2019 I was the producer and the sound designer for a theatrical mounting at The Dayton Theatre Guild, where I also happen to be a veteren board member. The show was Icebergs, by Alena Smith. I found that I needed to write and record an instrumental for the production, the circumstances that I'll go into in more detail in the commentary on that instrumental, which is entitled, appropriately enough, "Icebergs."

By mid-November of 2019, the instrumental was finished and I had, within a period of weeks, acquired a new electric bass guitar ‐‐ an Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass, an Ampeg BA-210 bass amplifier, a Williams Legato III electric piano, as well as assorted musical accoutrement. Here's what occurred to me: I had just dropped more than $1500 on this stuff. In the scheme of things, that's not exactly an overwhelming amount, but also not insignificant. On the surface, it was all in the service of putting the "Icebergs" instrumental together, but I could not justify spending $1500-plus on a one-off venture. If I had just put out that much money I could not let this equipment sit in a closet collecting dust.

For a couple earlier Christmases, I'd done little Christmas-card videos for my YouTube channel, mostly to post on my facebook page. Both are multi-track a cappella recordings with montages of still imagery for the videos. The first time it was "Silent Night." A couple years later, it was "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Those were 2015 and 2017, respectively. For 2019 I figured, hey, I'll write and record my own little Christmas pop song, my own "All I Want for Christmas Is You," though certainly with a waaaaay lower public profile. I recorded a bluesy little pop-rocker titled "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas (My Christmas Gift to Me)." Again, I'll go into detail in commentary focusing on the song.

In early 2020 I then recorded a little rocker, "Into the Blue Dawn." I sent an MP3 of it to my nephew, David, who's a guitarist. He relayed back a question from my brother-in-law, Joe, David's dad, who asked if I was making an album. Up to this point what I thought I was doing was justifying that $1500, as well as getting back into an artistic expression I hadn't indulged in, except on rare occasions, for more than three decades. Oh, yeah, I guess I should have stated that fact earlier in this prose: that I hadn't been an active musician since the mid-eighties. When the question was posed to me, am I making an album, my response was:

I hadn't thought about it, but, yeah, I guess I am.
Perhaps, (probably), I would have come to the decision to make an album, anyway. But Joe's question put the issue in front of me before I had come to it on my own. It became official in my facebook PM response to Joe, via David. I was making an album.

It took me a while to finally make a public declaration, however. It wasn't until my Apr 19, 2020 blog post that I finally announced it in a public forum ‐‐ at least for the handful of people who might come across the blog entry. I'm not completely sure why I was hesitant, beyond feeling like it was akin to an eight-year-old putting on his dad's dress suit and good shoes; and I was over sixty at the time. It's imposter syndrome, that with which I am certainly afflicted. My particular brand not only causes doubt of the accuracy of other people's praise for me, it causes me to be pretty certain not many others even have any praise for me. My version of imposter syndrome is convinced that other people will see the little boy in his dad's suit and not laugh because it's cute, but because it's ridiculous for that little fraud to put on big-boy clothing. But, then, yet, there's another part of my ego who is convinced that I am far more brilliant than those "commoner assholes" will ever be able to comprehend. You could say that both of these voices are members of the committee in my head, and neither one is at all a constructive participant in the committee meetings. In short, I am the classic egomaniac with an inferiority complex. But, I digress.

There are other members of the committee, smarter, wiser, stabler members. Those are the ones who said, "Hey! Dipshit! It's time to own this. Put it out there. Make it real. Stop being a coward and embrace this path we all know you can walk. Let the world know it." And so I did, at least to the world that's paying attention. To date, it's a pretty small world, but it does exist.

In my late teens into my early thirties I wrote a couple hundred songs, some of them I think are good. I think a few are really good. There's a nice little wealth of material I have from my past to call upon for possible (probable) future projects. For this album, I've only pulled out one, well, actually two. There is a ballad I co-wrote with my music partner of my youth, Rich Hisey, a good songwriter in his own right. I wrote the music; he wrote the lyrics. It's titled "Memories of the Times Before." I also wrote an introductory and denouement instrumental for it, "The Death of the...."

There are several new songs, written recently, that are the rest of what is recorded for the album. As I wrote above, I'll probably do one or two more songs before I consider the choices for the album wrapped. Whether or not I pull another song from last century remains to be seen. There are a couple candidates, but lot of them I want to do in a potential project with Mr. Hisey. I also have a few new songs started that are viable candidates. (It'll be interesting to read this in retrospect when I, and maybe others, know how it turned out).

The album title, Virtually Approximate Subterfuge, is in some ways derived vaguely from some of the themes in a few of the songs. But, honestly, more than anything it's a combination of words that came to me that I think has a really interesting sound and feel. There's probably more to the appeal than I'm recognizing, but regardless, I think it's a great album title.

One might notice that I've not mentioned other musicians being on the album. At this point, there is only one other musician playing anywhere on anything that will be on the album playlist. It's that nephew, David Bernard, who is on electric guitar on one cut, the cut that is 99.99999% likely the album opener. It was written specifically to be the album opener. Save for that, I play everything, except the drums, which are courtesy of the GarageBand app.

There's also been an evolution of the recording process from the start of this venture in November of 2019 up to today (September 2021). I started out recording on my Tascam eight-track digital portable recorder, but in the interim I upgraded to a Tascam 24-Track Digital Portastudio. I also originally was importing the tracks into Final Cut Pro X to mix and master the songs. This was because, though FCPX is for editing DV movies, I was familiar and comfortable with the sound editing features. But, I wasn't getting the final product that I wanted, because I wasn't using the best tool at my disposal. I've had Logic Pro X on my laptop for a while but simply did not know how to use it. Earlier this year I decided I had to change that. I took some on-line production courses at Udemy.com and will now completely remix and remaster eveything in the correct software for the job.

Here's another one for the retrospective reader: My current goal is to have the album mixed, mastered and released by mid-December; mid-November would be good, and I will shoot for that, but it's not likely. But, I want to make the mid-December deadline because I plan to release the second single by then ‐‐ and if you're at all sharp, you can guess what song that would be, based on the whole December-or-earlier single release date. It is one of the songs that I've given you the title of. So, album out by mid-December, 2021? Let's see how I do.


2) Opening Track Off Virtually Approximate Subterfuge ‐‐ "Identity."
      (Dec 8, 2022)

Somewhere in the spring or summer of 2020, after the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic and the associated major shut downs had engulfed us all, I concluded that I did not have a good opener for the album. At that point I had five songs for the album: "Icebergs," "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas," "Into the Blue Dawn," the medley that would become "Memories of the Times Before (Pt. 1-4)," and the instrumental, "Astroterph," the latter which was ultimately cut from the album repertoire.

Probably the best candidate as the opener, from those five, was "Icebergs," but I don't think a very good candidate. It sits much better where is is now in the lineup. From pretty much the completion of "Into the Blue Dawn," I had it slated to end the album, unless something came along to bump it; nothing did. For a little while, "Memories...." was given some consideration as the opener, but not for very long. The idea there was that of opening the album subtly. McCartney had once been pretty successful with such strategy, opening the At the Speed of Sound album, by Wings, with the down-tempo "Let 'Em In." I quickly decided "Memories...." would serve my album better toward the end of the playlist.

I'm constantly listening to individual songs, or artists, or musical styles to inspire me for new material of my own. One day, during this period of realizing I had no opener for the album, War's "Low Rider," with that funky bass riff, came on the radio. I was moved to create a bass line like that. I came up with something, but what I constructed just didn't have the coolness, that funky spunk of "Low Rider," especially at a comparable tempo and rhythm. My first thought was to keep experimenting, but before i did that, I sped the run up and altered the rhythm. What I got was the bass run in the intro and toward the end of Identity.

Just from the sped-up riff I felt like I most likely had my album opener. Next I configured a demo drum part in GarageBand, and then recorded a proof of concept demo where I ran the bass riff on my Viola bass for a couple minutes, accompanied by the drum part and then added what was the early rendition of the chord progression for the verses, on my Legato III piano. The proof of concept was me testing that the chords would work over the riff ‐‐ though I would eventually change the bass riff under the chords, with the exception of the intro section.

I don't now recall if I wrote the lyrics next or if I added in the bridges, one bridge, between the verses, a variation on the verse chords, the other, that modulating chord walk leading into the chorus (there is certainly a proper music theory term for such a modulating progression, but I don't know it). I do know that both the composition of the bridges and the lyrics came in the close proximity, and there's a chance one was started while the other was in progress.

On the other hand, I do remember that the bulk of the lyrics were written on my apartment patio in early August of 2020 and that a light rain started while I sat there, hence "the drizzled rain [drifted]." I also know that almost at the same point I mapped out the structure of the song.

When I wrote the lyrics I did so with them in mind as the opening of the album, the first words to be heard. The thematic impetus was that I knew I was going to build an album repertoire of eclectic music, even though I didn't have all the music yet, I still had the second half of the album to write or pull from the past. I think I had "The Answer" in my mind at that point, and another one from my younger days that I did not use for this project.

The theme is metaphorically couched in the persona, or the "identity" of the man speaking, but it's really more about: Have fun determining who I am musically. Well, at least that was the germination of the lyrical theme. It's couched as it is based on a little note that an old high school friend of me wrote in my senior yearbook when she signed it. She wrote that I was "a pleasure to know and a challenge to understand," which you can imagined stroked my ego pretty smoothly.

That's not to say that "Identity" is terribly autobiographical, if it's at all autobiographical it's barely so. As I wrote in the liner notes in the CD booklet

[If] he's autobiographical, he is romantically and greatly exaggerated, ‘cause that guy seems far more interesting than I. Maybe that's the virtually approximate subterfuge: that he's a bigger-than-me version of me.
It's probably safe to say that this is the most complex song on the album in terms of musical structure. I don't know if it is all that musically complex in the end, but relative to the nine other songs it is the most complex. A friend suggests that it is covertly a progrock song; that may be stretching it a bit, but it does use the same musical approach of having several different musical sections, and, as has been my habit since I was in my late teens, I did not concern myself with keeping the playing time short. Stylewise, though I don't find "progrock" the right genre; I do, however, like the term "progpop" ‐‐ "progressive pop," despite that I have an aversion to the term "pop," at least concerning my own music. It's probably an ego thing.

There are a few production items I want to touch on. First, the use of bass chords, which will appear frequently as a feature on the album. In this one, I played them on my Embassy Pro and I placed that chorded bass in the mix under the Legato piano, a little less than halfway on the left in the stereo pan. This gives an added richness to those piano chords, what I call "the John Lennon rock piano effect." I also add a second chorded bass, also on the Embassy, on the oposite side of the pan during the bridges into the choruses. The second one, ran through a Overdrive/Distortion pedal ‐‐ not the last time that will happen with chorded bass on the album. The main chorded bass is not distorted.

This is the only song on the album to feature an actual six-string electric guitar in any capacity. David Bernard, who happens to be my nephew, gives us rhythm and lead work on the song. His rhythm guitar is that in the right channel, save for during those bridges into the chorus, where the rhythm work is the distorted bass chords. Then he gives us a rather fine lead solo late in the song.

His contribution was done remotely, from his home. I sent him the assembled rhythm track along with some instruction on what I wanted. I was a bit specific on what I wanted from the rhythm guitar work, but really only told him I was looking for a nice rock feel to the solo. At one point Dave actually sent me a message to say that the guitars kept coming out "super rock," and that he was "trying to tame them." My response was for him to not tame them. For the record, I used what he sent me with no requests for him to change anything. He gave the song just what it needed.

If you're wondering, the synthesizer instrument you hear favoring the right channel, with it center for lead work in the bridges between verses, is my Embassy Pro bass, again, running through my Boss SY-1 guitar synthesizer pedal. The background vocals (the "Ooohs") and the harmony vocal in the chorus are all me, as is the case on the rest of the album.

Here are entries from my blog that significantly address "Identity" and, to a big extent, chronicle the progress from incarnation to final mastered mix (sorry there are no titles or synopses here to guide you):

Jul 23, 2020
Jul 24, 2020
Jul 29, 2020
Jul 30, 2020
Aug 2, 2020
Aug 3, 2020
Aug 5, 2020
Aug 7, 2020
Aug 8, 2020
Aug 9, 2020
Aug 10, 2020
           Aug 12, 2020
Aug 15, 2020
Aug 29, 2020
Sep 13, 2020
Sep 15, 2020
Sep 16, 2020
Sep 17, 2020
Sep 19, 2020
Sep 21, 2020
Sep 24, 2020
Sep 25, 2020
           Oct 15, 2020
Oct 18, 2020
Oct 20, 2020
Oct 22, 2020
Oct 26, 2020
Oct 27, 2020
Oct 29, 2020
Nov 4, 2020
Nov 7, 2020
Nov 13, 2020
Nov 20, 2020
           Dec 3, 2020
Dec 4, 2020
Dec 5, 2020
Dec 7, 2020
Jan 21, 2021
Feb 2, 2021
Feb 5, 2021
Mar 5, 2021
Mar 13, 2021
Apr 26, 2021
Jun 26, 2021
           Apr 15, 2022
Apr 15, 2022
Apr 18, 2022
Apr 22, 2022
Apr 24, 2022
Apr 25, 2022
Apr 26, 2022
Jun 23, 2022
Jun 28, 2022
Jun 30, 2022
Jul 2, 2022


3) "The Night Before The Night Before Christmas"
(Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
      (Dec 10, 2022)

It was December of 2019. I had composed and recorded "Icebergs," for the Dayton Theatre Guild production of the play with the same name by Alena Smith, and to properly execute that instrumental I had purchased my new Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass, my new Ampeg BA-210 bass amplifier, my new Williams Legato III piano, and some accompanying accouterment. I had not been doing music much, hardly at all. The last time I did anything as a songwriter and musician it was another theme song for another Dayton Theatre Guild production, that being "Roll the Dice" for the play, The Dice House, by Paul Lucas. That was in the spring of 2007, twelve years earlier. By and large, my musical endeavors had been essentially in limbo.

But I had just dropped a bit of money on new instruments and music equipment. I was not about to put that stuff in a closet to collect dust for more than a decade before I did something useful with it. I had, in the past several years, recorded a couple a cappella Christmas carols, first "Silent Night," then, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," both put to videos as a little eChristmas card for my friends. I decided to write and record an original Christmas song for 2019.

On Monday, December 23, 2019 ‐‐ the day before the day before Christmas ‐‐ I wrote and recorded "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas." Musically, it's a quite simple song. You may note that there is no chord changes in the verse section; musically, the melodic movement in the verses is on the piano left hand, the bass notes, and my bass guitar part, the latter which is the musical drive during the verses. That chord on the piano and synth keyboard part is an A minor, minus the third. The drum part comes from the drum track feature on my Yamaha PSR-12 electronic keyboard. That rhythm is double-tracked with a second instance of itself, which also incorporates those occasional fills, and being just a-hair-of-a-second delayed. I think I used the PSR-12 for the synth keyboard part, too, but now I can't remember. I kept better production records later in the making of the album.

My memory is that I spent most of the day on the song, from mid-afternoon into late night, maybe even past midnight. As for the theme of the song, I started with the song title and went from there. As I wrote in my Christmas Day blog entry, that year:
Since Monday was the night before the night before Christmas, that was the premise I started with. That became the title of the new song.

My first idea was to write lyrics that touch on how there's a lot of bad crap happening in the world right now, especially here in the U.S.A., yet there was still reason to be optimistic and to have a good feeling in the holiday season. But, that wasn't where I ended up. It became smaller than that, if smaller is the right word. I suppose "more intimate" or "more personal" would be more accurate. Honestly, as I was heading toward the end of the lyrics, I was writing a song about a guy whose woman had left him and he was making himself as hopeful as possible about a reconciliation.

But, then I realized that the song touches on more than that. It presented itself to me as a song about anyone missing anyone they love at Christmas. It's for the loved ones of active duty service folk; it's for anyone missing a mom or a dad or a child or sibling or a best friend who is no longer alive. It's for.....well, you get the idea.

Two years [before] I did "I'll Be Home for Christmas"; "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" could be considered a response to that, the other side of the story.

The next day I put together the lyric video, the Christmas video card, if you will, uploaded it to my YouTube channel, then sent out the URL and posted the video on facebook. It was the lyrics over a snow-covered winter landscape out in the wilderness somewhere, with mountains off in the distance.

Then, after only a day or so, I decided that I didn't like part of the bass solo and that I wasn't all that keen on the vocal, either. So I rerecorded the vocal and dropped in a new section at the end of the bass solo. I also added the background vocals during the chorus. And I created a new lyric video, this time with a photo of me playing my Embassy Pro bass, with a montage of photos of me on the Embassy, during the bass solo.

My problem with the ending of the original bass solo was that I had ended it on an unresolved note, which when I was originally playing the part, seemed like a good choice. But as I listened to the first version of the recording it was clear that it wasn't working as my instincts had predicted it would. I had to change it. I also realized that I was not satisfied with my performance on the vocal. Some vocal phrasings just didn't cut it. I felt a strong need to go back in and fix these things, and while I was there, I added the harmony "oohs" to the choruses.

I took down the original video, uploaded the new one, and re-sent and reposted. Then, of course, later, after the revelation that I was making an album finally hit me, and I knew that this song would be on the album, I took down the second version of the music video.

Two years later, as a pre-release from the album, I released this song as a single in December of 2021, with the brand new music video. The song was mastered better than it had been, since it was newly mixed and mastered in Logic Pro X software, which I had started learning how to use.

Just as with "Icebergs" before it, and the next several songs I would record, this one was recorded on my Tascam DP-03 eight-track digital portable recorder. Then, again, as with the others, until I finally embraced Logic Pro, I migrated the individual-track sound files into Final Cut Pro X and used that to both mix and master the recordings. The reason was quite simple: FPCX does have the capability to mix sound, a relatively robust ability, in fact, and I knew how to do so in that software, whereas I had no familiarity with Logic Pro and couldn't make heads nor tails of it whenever I tried. In the end though, Final Cut isn't for mixing and mastering music; it's for editing movies, the audio component is in service of getting a movie to final cut, not for getting a music album to a final mixed-master.

I eventually broke down and paid for lessons on using Logic Pro X and then imported all the individual tracks for the first several songs into Logic Pro projects and mixed and really mastered them all over again, this song being part of that crowd.

However, the song was again remastered one more time, and that version is on the album and it's the new audio for the revamped official music video. I'm not sure there's a lot of sonic difference between this latest master and the previous Logic Pro master (the single release), to be honest, but the recording on the album is the remastered version. The revamped video, by-the-way, is visually the same as it as with the previous audio; only the remastered audio is new. It's the same for the revamped video for "Just One Shadow," as well.

In commenting on the album, one of my friends said he thinks "The Night Before..." seems out of place on the album, that the album would be complete without it. He does admit that he has developed an aversion to Christmas-themed songs, so there is that caveat. On the other hand, someone else finds it one of the best songs on the album. I side with the second person. Not only do I believe "The Night Before..." fits well on the album, I find it fits exactly where it is as the second song, being a strong musical vibe to go into off of the ending of the opening track, "Identity."

Below are links to specific blog entries where "The Night Before..." is significantly featured, if you want to trudge through for a view of the progress. Some of the stuff will have been written of above, but here are the links for those who would take the walk....

Dec 25, 2019
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 28, 2019
Aug 12, 2020
           Nov 12, 2021
Nov 22, 2021
Dec 2, 2021
Dec 6, 2021
           Dec 8, 2021
Jul 4, 2022
Oct 9, 2022
Dec 1, 2022


4) "I'll Be Home for Christmas"
(the extra track for
the "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" single)
      (Dec 12, 2022)

the back cover of the CD single jewel case for "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas," which has photo of K.L. in the winter, standing next to a river. The  featured song is listed, as is the extra track, "I'll Be Home for Christmas."
Like I wrote above, and in some spots in my blog, back in 2017 I recorded an a cappella version of this song to put to a montage of Christmas images in a Christmas-card YouTube video to post on facebook, and to send as a link to friends, as my general Christmas card to everyone. And, like I wrote just above, when I was writing "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas" I got to a point early with that one it where I decided it would be the other side of the story, the answer to "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

I knew last year that I would release "The Night Before..." as a Christmas single, and I like the idea of there being a second, extra track, (the third millennium version of the old 7-inch vinyl single B-side). I had done it for the "Just One Shadow" single a few months earlier and I planned to so again for the new single. Since I had done a couple a cappella Christmas music videos already, I figured I could again simply record an a cappella version of a Christmas song. I thought about some of the traditional songs, such as the one I did a video for in 2015, "Silent Night," then you know, the dozens and dozens of others that are old and in public domain.

But I came back to this idea that "The Night Before..." and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" are the two sides of the same coin. Thus, it became clear to me that "I'll Be Home for Christmas" should be my "B-side." I went about securing the rights to cover the song, which is written by Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, and Buck Ram.

I also elected to rerecord it. The one I did in 2017 was not bad, but there were some flaws that I knew I could do better than. That original was recorded on my Tascam DP-03 eight-track digital portable recorder. I believe it's a five-part ensemble just as the newer version is. The arrangements are not identical between the two versions, as both were improvised, for the most part, anyway. I think with the second version, I worked a few things out on the piano, but mostly I improvised as I was recording. For both versions, that meant that many takes were scrapped because a vocal part didn't work. The second version, the "B-side." was recorded on the Tascam 24-Track Digital Portastudio DP-24SD in November of last year.

The new version is certainly a better performance than the 2017 original, which I removed from my YouTube channel when the new version released. The new version is even more so recorded and mastered better. The new one doesn't tout a performance at the level of excellence of the likes of Cantus or Pentatonix, yet, I'm not embarrassed by it. It's not bad.

By-the-way, there is one significant mention of the new version in the blog, on Nov 22, 2021.


5) "Icebergs"
(Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
      (Dec 24, 2022)

The icon for the DTG production of the stage play, Icebergs.
A panel from the original YouTube video for the first mix-master of "Icebergs." The video is no longer available on-line
Me on the Embassy pro from the time period of writing and recording "Icebergs."
My old Epiphone ET-280 bass, from my youth, on the left, and my newer Epiphone Embassy Pro on the right.
My Yamaha keyboards
The Williams Legato III piano.
My Ampeg BA-210 bass amp.
Part of the chord cheat sheet for "Icebergs."
Mastering "Icebergs."
Mastering "Icebergs."
This instrumental was the first music recorded for the album, and when it was recorded, I had not yet decided to make an album. As has been mentioned elsewhere on this page, "Icebergs" was originally written and recorded for The Dayton Theatre Guild's 2019 production of the stage play, Icebergs, by Alena Smith. One of the things I do at The Guild is produce short DV movie promotional trailers for each of the productions. The trailers are uploaded to the DTG YouTube channel, then are posted to the DTG website, the DTG facebook page, and other social media.

The ideal scenario for making these promo trailers is that we can show footage of the actors acting out selected moments of a scene or two, that will pique interest in the show without displaying spoilers. Though it might seem otherwise to some, we actually need copyright clearance from the playwright, or whomever holds the copyright, to actually use dialogue from the script in these DV movies. There's a common misconception that using the dialogue in these trailers falls under the auspices of fair use; it actually does not and permission must be granted ‐‐ despite that we are promoting a sanctioned production of the script that will render royalties to both the playwright and the publisher.

With the play Icebergs, I did not receive clearance. So I had to go with my Plan B, which is to produce a DV movie without words from the play. Often that will be either simply a montage of footage of interesting movement by the actors, usually shot during one of the tech rehearsals, or, sometimes, a montage of still photos, also usually taken during a tech rehearsal. There's always music in the trailers. If we use dialogue it runs low in the background. If we are just featuring images from the play, then the music will be upfront.

For the music in the DV movies I purchase royalty-free music from one of several services that offer such, to keep the theatre from getting a copyright claim, or worse, a cease and desist order from a record label for our use of a published recording and/or from a music publisher for the composition. In other words, if I use a recording (and composition) by The Beatles, or Taylor Swift, or even the London Symphony Orchestra, there's the likelihood the video will get tagged for copyright infringement of a couple different varieties (for the sound recording and/or the composition itself), and the video could even get blocked. In a lot of cases on YouTube, an ad will get attached to the front of the video (a monetization) with the ad money going to the copyright holder(s); that's not a completely hateful situation, but we really would rather avoid that scenario if we can.

The point in telling you all this has to do with the concept I had for the Icebergs trailer in light of not being able to show the actors speaking dialogue from the script. The play's two central characters are a married couple who live in Silver City, California. The husband is a screenwriter; the wife is an actor. The plot somewhat focuses on their careers. The script also has quite a sitcom feel to, albeit, because of adult language, it would be a cable or streaming sitcom. Because of these aspects all pulled together, I conceived of the promo trailer emulating the opening title sequence to a sitcom. However, I didn't have in my library of previously-purchased royalty-free music anything that I felt fit what I wanted; nor did I come across any such music at the royalty-free music providers I traditionally shop.

So, I thought, Well, hell, I'll just write and record something, myself.

At this point, which was about late October or early November of 2019, I only had one working bass guitar, my Giannini acoustic/electric bass, and there was a problem with the pick-up for the lower toned strings (the E & A). So, were I to use that bass I'd have to record it as an acoustic, using a microphone, rather than plug in a sound cord. I didn't really want to do that because I would not get the right bass sound that way, not the sort of sound I wanted for this music.

I also only had two rather unsophisticated keyboards, a Yamaha PSR-180 and a Yamaha PSR-12, both essentially almost toy synthesizer keyboards. Don't get me wrong, they both have their good utility, and the PSR-180 makes a significant appearance in "Icebergs," But what I really wanted was a good piano, one with weighted action on the keys. Both the Yamahas have piano voices, but neither can produce the sound the way I wanted.

In a relatively quick period of time I purchased three big music items. I bought my new, cherry-red Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass, which is quite similar to the cherry-red Epiphone ET-280 Bass I bought when I was eighteen. I still have that ET-280, but it's not in working shape, at all. When I looked into repairing it, it would cost as much as buying a new bass guitar, so that's what I did.

I also bought my Williams Legato III keyboard, which has weighted-key action and several voices, including a baby grande and upright piano, an electric piano sound similar to a Fender Rhodes, an organ voice, and a poly strings voice.

Then I bought an Ampeg BA-210 bass amplifier because my little practice bass amp which I'd had for years was also defunct. Living in an apartment, I have yet to use the Ampeg its full volume.

I also bought some supplemental accouterment, such as some instrument sound cables, a guitar strap, and a guitar stand ‐‐ actually two stands, as I bought one for the Giannini as well as the new Embassy.

My original goal for the "Icebergs" instrumental was a more modern-rock sounding piece of music. I can't point to any particular artists I was looking to emulate, maybe, The Shins, but probably not exactly The Shins. It wasn't too long into the process of creating the song that I realized I was making a pop/rock-jazz hybrid. I worked out that little bass-riff hook on my Giannini, and it sounded to me like it fit in the current, new-rock genre. But it had a jazz feel to it that I clearly leaned into.

Not having quick access to a drummer nor a drum kit ‐‐ plus, having no skills at the drums even if I had a kit ‐‐ the first thing I did in recording was delve into the drum programming in GarageBand, which was a GB feature I'd never used before. I created a crude loop then I played it back on my laptop through my Bose Companion 20 portable speakers. I set the stereo speakers next to each other into a V shape, stuck a mic into that V-corridor and made a mono recording of the drum track onto a channel on my eight-track digital recorder.

It's because I recorded the drums this way that I can be heard coughing at 1:30 into the recording. During recording, I'd thought I was far enough away from the mic that I wouldn't be picked up; I was wrong (I also was sure that there was a second cough a little later, at a lower volume, but when I recently listened to locate at what timestamp it came in, I heard no second cough in the entire recording).

The purpose behind recording the GarageBand drum programing from a playback through speakers and into a microphone was the theory that it would give the track a live feel; I believe it does. For the final mix, done eventually in Logic Pro X, I got a stereo feel from a mono recording of the drums by duplicating the track, then altering the EQ on each of the twin tracks and favoring one left and one right on the stereo pan ‐‐ thus certain drums and cymbals at certain frequencies are a bit more prominent in one of the two tracks, and thus appear in slightly different spots on the pan. I used the same simulated-stereo method when mixing the drums for "Into the Blue Dawn," which I had also recorded in the same manner as this one.

The cough at 1:30 would have been easy enough to edit out, but I decided that it worked in terms of that "live feel" I was going for, so I left it in.

I actually laid the bass track next, before there was even anything else composed melodically for the song. The whole structure of the song comes from what I did on the bass line. It's an incredibly simple bass line. With the exception of that little hook riff, it's pretty much nothing but root notes, with only a few, sparse harmonic fills sprinkled in. Chords on the piano came next, and I went from there. At this point, I still had in mind a contemporary pop/rock sound, but that was going to be short-lived.

By the time I got to the melodic organ solo work, it was clear I was moving into a jazzier genre. I surrendered to that because I liked where the organ solo line was taking the music. If I remember correctly, after trying out a few voices on the Yamaha PSR-180, I settled on the trombone voice and recorded the counter-melody duet part next. Then I began adding more backing instrumentation: a second piano, organ chords, chords on the Giannini acoustic bass, additional chorded bass guitar sound using the bass guitar voice on the Williams keyboard, and then, during the second half of the song (the extended ending), a low synth bass, which was played on one of the Yamahas (don't remember which one). Lastly, I added the strings in that long ending section, using the string voices on the Williams keyboard and on the Yamaha PSR-180.

There are some imperfections in the performance, beyond the cough at 1:30. For one thing, it was the first bass line I'd laid in over a decade; hell, it was the first time I'd played my bass in over a decade, so the bass work on that one is not anything amazing. The hook riff is interesting, but it's not exactly a virtuoso performance. But, overall I'm pleased with the performance and I am happy with the recording.

I especially am happy with the remaster that is on the album. As is true with "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas," and a few others that were originally mixed and crudely mastered in Final Cut Pro X, this one was remixed and fully mastered in Logic Pro X for the album repertoire. Of the many improvements, including clarity, adding a flanger effect to the bass line is one of the best enhancements that the album version touts.

A nice piece of feedback from one of my friends, which I am going to paraphrase greatly here, was that "Icebergs" earns its 8:21 length, that there is no waste, no fluff, no portion that he felt should be edited to make it a shorter recording. Of course, we both love "Hey Jude," so there is the fact that we both tolerate long refrained endings to musical pieces.

If you want to hear the difference between the mixing and mastering of the original recording for the play and what appears on the album, you can hear that first rendering here: in the promotional video for the stage play.


6) "Chilled October Morning"
(Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
      (Jan 27, 2023)

Autumn Vacation 2020 in South East Ohio
The fourth cut on the album, "Chilled October Morning" is the first of a few songs on the album that were started while I was on vacation. This one was almost exclusively, or wholly, written during vacations. It might have been tidied up a bit, perhaps finished off, at home, but that's not my memory.

To me, "Chilled..." is about, well, being on vacation, and more to the point, it's about really needing to be on vacation, needing an escape from a stressful world. Remember this was late 2020 and the world was in the deep throws of the Covid-19 pandemic ‐‐ not that we are free-and-clear of that mess now (Jan., 2023).

At least being on vacation and needing to be on vacation are the mammoth inspiration for the song. The lyrics, I realize, are not exactly transparant; I focused on imagery; listeners could very easily get a meaning that I had no intention of sending, at least not consciously. I've also no doubt there are listeners who will respond with, "What the hell was that about?"

The song was started on the morning of September 30, on the deck porch of the Wolf's Den cabin at the Thunder Ridge Cabins B & B, in Hocking Hills, during my Autumn Vacation 2020. I sat on the porch on the chilled September morning with my Giannini acoustic bass, the capo on the fifth fret, (the fifth fret being pretty standard for me). That day was only about working out the chords. Honestly, I couldn't tell you if I worked them all out that day or not. I do know that I altered some of the chords, especially in that one-time bridge in the middle of the song. The next day, on the back deck of the cabin, I started writing lyrics, It was October 1, so, being in the now, that's where the first line comes from. It was literally a chilled October morning in south-east Ohio.

After I left the Wolf's Den cabin, I continued working on the composition of lyrics at my next stop, thirty minutes south, at the Mockingbird cabin at Best Nest Cabins, which is really a cottage, not a cabin. I got at least through the second verse, writing at the fire pit at night.

I don't recall working on the lyrics at all while at home, after the Autumn Vacation, but I did pick them up while I was on my Winter Vacation 2020, staying for close to a week in The Cozy Little Red Cottage, on the grounds of a horse stable, the Take the Lead Stables, in Dover, Ohio, over the Christmas holiday. I again worked on them while sitting at a fire pit, this time in the snow. There may been some tweaking of the lyrics after I left the cottage, probably was, but, essentially, I finished off the lyrics during that December stay at Cozy Little Red Cottage.

As for where the lyrics come from, how they were derived, I guess, in a sense, they can be called "found lyrics," mostly. I simply pulled imagery and happenstance from my current surroundings, environments, or occurrences. I used the now I was experiencing for the symbols and language of the lyrics. Some of it comes from what I observed or experienced while doing the hefty amount of hiking I did, especially during the Autumn period. Some of it was the relationship and camaraderie I was feeling with nature and the elements. Some of it is direct references to astronomical events that were occuring. In October, while at the Mockingbird cottage, as I sat by the fire pit one night, Mars was positioned in the sky close to the moon, and they seemed to travel across the night sky together. so that's where we get:

Mars and the Moon have been walking
Strolling deep, azure-black skies
Their pristine path, their smiling leisure
Their graceful stride to the blue dawn
That same night, as I looked up at Mars and the moon, coyotes, off in the not too far distance, called into the night. There were several, and I believe they were on the back portion of the Best Nest Cabins property ‐‐ there are quite a few acres there. They cried their howls for a good fourty minutes or more, and they got closer as time went on. Thus, we get:
Coyotes cry across the starlight
Closing in so carefully
In the air I smell their unease
But in my bones, I feel their hope
Back to the astronomy references, in December, in Dover, on the horse farm, as I was at that Winter fire pit, Jupiter and Saturn were coupled in the sky. However, the sky there in eastern Ohio was cloud-covered that night, so I could not see them. Thus:
On this cold December night
When Jupiter and Saturn meet
The long lost sister and brother
Through the eyes of Ganymede

Winter clouds blanket the canvass
Hanging vengeful, thick, and black
Still the kindred are together
Their progenies standing guard

"Their progenies" meaning the many moons that both planets have orbiting them.

There a few vague references to news items early in the song:

I took a nap and some shit happened
I took a hike ignoring you
I've been alone with my four strings
With my blood and with my soul
I literally got up from a nap in the Wolf's Den cabin, drove to either Logan, Oho or one of the nearby parks I would hike in, and heard on the radio that the current ‐‐ fortunately, soon-to-not-be ‐‐ occupant of the Oval Office had been diagnosed with Covid-19. Then, as I drove around, there were other Covid-related news items, some local to the region, and other politically oriented news that was frustrating. So, I was more than happy to get to the hiking where what I was hearing was wind in the trees, birds, water flowing. I could take a hike and ignore all that current-events noise.

"I've been alone with my four strings / With my blood and with my soul," is an obvious self-aware reference to the writing of the song.

I'm not going to get further into the references to elemental things and nature, nor the philosophical lines in the song. A lot of that is relatively obvious. I think about how I've met poets and read about poets who take a strong stand against ever explaining their work; they'd probably all tell me I've already written too much here. Oh well.

Musically, "Chilled..." is not the most sophisticated piece on the album, nor is it the simplest. It certainly doesn't have as many chord changes as "Identity," or the next cut, "Just One Shadow," or a few others, but it's certainly more than three-chord rock.

In my mind, and I must say, apparently almost exclusively in my mind, this song is an attempt at Richard Thompson meeting Rush. With the exception of the middle bridge, the vocal melody reminds me of Thompson, and I went there purposefully because the first little chord riff, that which plays through the verses, sounds and feels like Thompson to me. It's less so like Thompson when the progressive rock kicks in, but certainly at the beginning and ending it reminds me of him. The vocal melody of that middle bridge, that which starts with, "So, I relish this 'alone'...," makes me think of Rush, which is why, during the prog-rock parts, I make my feeble attempt to emulate a Geddy-Lee-type of bass line, minus, of course, the virtuosity.

That's how I hear it: a mixture of Richard Thompson and Rush. A friend who is a big RT fan doesn't hear Thompson in the song, at all. There's been at least one other person who hears no homage to Rush in it, either. Yet, a third person who heard it said to me, with no knowledge of my intentions, "I didn't know you were into Rush." Someone else told me that parts of the song remind them of "That folky-rock, English guy that does the song about the dying bank robber who gives his girlfriend his motorcycle." That would be Richard Thompson and his song, "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." Though, the fellow didn't say that "Chilled..." sounded like "1952 Vincent...," which it does not, but I think he was suggesting parts of mine sound like it could be by Thompson, which I agree with.

First thing that you'll have to note, if you click the Thompson link and listen to "1952 Vincent..." is that, just in pure musicianship alone, there is no match between my valiant attempt and Richard's finessed acoustic guitar work. Beyond that, musically, the songs are not at all similar. I still, personally, do hear some RT in my song, more in the sense of composition than execution or performance. There's just not any precise similarity to "1952 Vincent Black Lightning."

I won't even touch the lack of comparison of musicianship between my work and any work or any member of Rush.

In terms of musicianship, or more specifically, the instrumentation of "Chilled...," I play five bass parts on the track. There are two Giannini acoustics playing chords, then as the song goes more rocky, I had two more chorded bass parts, this time with electric basses, both ran through my Boss Overdrive/Distortion pedal. One of those is my Epiphone Viola bass, the other my Epiphone Embassy Pro. The actual bass line run (the Geddy-Lee wannabe part) is with my Viola. The drums are, once again, a programmed drum kit from GarageBand. Also once again, as with all but the opening track on the album, there are no six-string guitars in the song, whatsoever.

I am pleased with this one, despite that some people may not have a clue what it's about or even think it's about anything at all. To me it is about something, and I like it musically.


7) "Just One Shadow"
(Virtually Approximate Subterfuge)
      (Feb 19, 2023)

K.L.Storer's 'Just One Shadow' music video poster frame with a b&w photo of K.L. playing bass guitar and a photo of a single male shadow on a cobblestone surface
The Cozy Little Red Cottage, in Dover, Ohio.
Writing "Winter Vacation Ballad" at the cottage.
More work on the song at home.
"Just One Shadow" bass pedals settings document.
Recording the lead vocal.
Faux Guitar icon
Faux guitar solo on bass for the music video.
Cool-Dude bass player in the music video.
The lead vocalist in the music video.
The "Just One Shadow" music video editing project in Final Cut Pro X.
Editing the video on my apartment patio.
Editing the video during my Summer Vacation Get Away 2021.
Before it was "Just One Shadow," this song had another set of lyrics, one that was quite political, but, as has been the case with a few other songs, that set of lyrics didn't seem to jibe with the feel of the music.

This one was of the songs started on my Winter Vacation 2020 in the rental cottage, The Cozy Little Red Cottage, on those horse stable grounds in Dover, Ohio. At least the chord progression for the verses was started over that Christmas week. Most of the song was fleshed out, musically, at home, as were all the attempts at lyrics.

I actually had the whole song structured, with all the chord progressions for each section finalized and laid down in the master recording that was the foundation for the track as it is now, before the final set of lyrics was written and recorded. When I began recording the rhythm track, even when I recorded one instrumental solo, the song had that previous set of lyrics I later decided to nix. And that one instrumental solo, at the time, was not intended to be a solo.

At that point, early February of 2021, I had a substantial amount of the music recorded, and the song had moved from the workshop title of "Winter Vacation Ballad" to "Utopia's Dystopia," bearing the political set of lyrics that ended up being pulled and then rewritten a bit to go with new music for a song still in workshop mode, as I write this. As "Utopia's Dystopia" the structural layout of the song was:
  1. Intro (Verse A music section)
  2. Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
  3. Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
  4. Chorus
  5. Verse 3 (one stanzas; Verse A music sections)
  6. Verse 4 (one stanzas; Verse B music sections)
  7. Bridge section (for solo instrumentation)
  8. Verse B music section (for solo instrumentation)
  9. Chorus
  10. Verse 5 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
  11. Chorus
  12. Outro: bridge music (with solo instrumentation)
Then, I scrapped the "Utopia's Dystopia" lyrics for the song and finally landed on the set that work for the music. I think I was guided by the mood of the music, plus, I had spent the last eleven months mostly isolated from the rest of the world, like most of you, like most of the world had, so, when I finally immersed myself into the emotional feeling the music was radiating, the lyrics about the sadness over the Covid-19 pandemic, yet, a feeling of hope came to me, and pretty quickly.

My feelings of isolation and my deep urge for much more human contact was visceral, and also, I'm going out on a relatively sturdy limb to suggest it was, pretty universal to us all, or many, many of us. The lyrics, once they started to come, they came quickly, as well as the melody line to put those words to.

I stand inside my room for one
I paint planets on my walls
Forging my universe until the time is done
Then I can breathe you in, and we can waltz

Feel that distance between you and me
Feel it pulling, feel it pushing us
Engaged in this gray reality
In these days alone, standing tough

Weren't we all creating our own little, isolated universes within our little bubbles of close ones or, in the case of people like me, with our solitary selves?

I can't remember exactly how soon I got the imagery of the single shadow being cast on the ground as I, or whoever, strolled alone down an empty road; I don't recall if it was before the rest of the lyrics starting coming to me, but I know it was early on. The words for the chorus section were a quick and generous whisper from the muse:

No longer want to walk the avenue
With just one shadow on the ground
It’s sorrow singing from my lonely view
When your chorus is such a distant sound
So, we were in contact with each other, but it was texting, or phone calls, or emails, or Messenger, or Zoom, etc., etc., etc.: The chorus was a distant sound. I bring the choral ensemble's "oohs" in after that last line, "When your chorus is such a distant sound," a bit buried and with a bit of reverb as a sonic representation of "that distance between you and me" and their "distant sound."

The dialogue between the choral ensemble and the lead vocalist in the bridge is about our unified angst, struggle, and hope:

(Now we hide our faces behind coverings)
So listen to the voices, look into the eyes
(While we’re living in these new familiar scenes)
We try to step away, from the sad reprise
(We listen for the tapping on our front windows)
When the messenger delivers the word
(And we stretch our arms out for those tomorrows)
Escaping this black box, this theatre absurd
The last verse is, obviously, one last expresion of the loneliness and the longing for the passion of our reunions when the "theatre of absurd" ends.
I long to cross to your side of the road
Then I could rescue you and you could rescue me
We’d clutch each other close to break the cold
Each pulsing touch would slay the agony
I know I scrutinized some of the wording and there was certainly some rewrites of at least portions of the lyrics, because I had a clear vision of what I wanted to say and I made sure the words met that vision. With the new lyrics and the song becoming "Just One Shadow," I restructured the song somewhat without actually changing any of the rhythm track already recorded. The changes came simply by where I placed lyrics, vocal melody, and instrumental solos. The new assignment of the sections, with the exact same chord progressions in the exact same places, became what it is now:
  1. Intro (Verse A music section)
  2. Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
  3. Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
  4. Chorus
  5. Verse A music section for reed organ solo (with choral ensemble)
  6. Verse B music section for duet solos from reed organ & synthesized bass
  7. Bridge section with lyrics/vocal (with choral ensemble)
  8. Verse Verse B music section for faux guitar solo
  9. Chorus
  10. Verse 3 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
  11. Chorus
  12. Outro: bridge music with lyrics/vocal (with choral ensemble)
That reed organ solo in the new version was already recorded. Originally it was to be a countermelody background under a verse of lyrics. But, as I wrote in 2021, "after I'd decided to nix the 'Utopia's Dystopia' lyrics, I listened to the mix of the rhythm track quite a few times and decided to promote, if you will, that particular melodic part." In hindsite, that reed organ part is way too busy to be underneath a vocal line; it would have pulled focus from the melody of the vocal. So, it would likely have been cut from the mix. But as the first of three instrumental solos, and part of the duet with the second solo, I find it quite effective.

The second solo, which is a duet with the second part of the reed organ solo, and leads into the vocal choral ensemble bridge, is, as is shown in the music video, played on my Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass ran through three pedals: my Boss SY-1 guitar synthesizer pedal, my Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave pedal, and my Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion pedal. I ran all that through my Ampeg bass amp and into the Tascam eight-track digital recorder. With the exception of typical EQ sweetening, nothing is done to that solo during the mixing phase.

The choral ensemble is an octet chorus, all me, doubling up on a four-part harmony arrangement. They come in under the reed solo, with no stereo separation, and fade when the synthesized bass starts its duet. When they return to sing with the lead vocalist during that middle bridge, I do split and spread the ensemble across the stereo pan and bring it up in the mix since the choral chorus is no longer "a distant sound," but an upfront part of the conversation.

After the choral bridge, comes the third solo, and the first appearance on the album of one of the three "faux guitar" solos that I play on bass. This one I did on the Embassy Pro, still running through the three pedals mentioned above, though with much less synthesized effects. Like the other two "faux guitar" solos on the album, I did a bass solo high on the neck, then, in the postproduction mixing phase I bumped it up an octave in Final Cut Pro X, which I was still using at this point in the game to mix and master the music. When I remixed and remastered later in Logic Pro X, I simply imported the already octave-bumped track.

Why did I do this faux guitar solo, and the others? For one thing, it was convenient, (some might suggest expedient as a better word). I was doing an at-home, DIY recording, which is virtually only me, my poor man's, novice version of several McCartney or Stevie Wonder projects. Since the bulk was during the height of the pandemic lockdown, it was frankly easier and more efficient to do those solos myself. Also, I was curious about experimenting with the production challenge. I do believe that the three such solos on the album turned out quite well. I know none of them are the immaculate shreddings of any of the great, real, guitarists that could be named here, but they are all certainly musically viable, and I think at least two of them are catchy pieces of work, this solo being one of those. My intention was for there to be passion, urgency, and some heartache in this one, and I believe I met my goal.

Comparatively, this is one of the more musically complex songs on the album. I know there is a key modulation during the verse section, though I couldn't tell you either key for certain, though the second one may be A-minor. I believe there may be another key change or two, as well. As I have written and said before, I know just enough about music theory to be dangerous (read: I know almost nothing).

There's been nothing but good feedback about the song, starting with those who heard the earlier pre-published mixes of the song. One person told me that, at the time, it was my most fully realized recording, which was probably true, then, and may still be true. Most people have given it rave responses, with one person even saying she thought is was "amazing," which, of course, was a review I accepted with open arms.

Intriguing to me has been the artists people have told me it brings to mind for them. A couple people have said, Paul McCartney, but honestly I don't believe it does sound much like him. My supposition is that these people know I am a big McCartney fan and that persuaded them to hear more of his influence than is really there. Three others named David Bowie, whom I also find it difficult to hear in the song. However, it's possible, perhaps, that there are certain melodic sections in the lead vocal that are similar to his style of composing, and maybe the lyrics are of a sort Bowie might have written. But, certainly the performance, especially the vocal performance, doesn't remind me of him, whatsoever. Someone else invoked Bob Dylan and I really don't hear him, even a little bit.

Those comparisons are major ego strokes, but if the song does emulate one or more of those great artists I guess I'm too close to it to recognize any significant similarities. But then, when I was prepping the album for its release through CD Baby, one of the things I had to do was give them some metadata information for the digital world. Part of that metadata is what other recording artists do I sound like. I honestly had a hard time answering that. There's no doubt that in an over-arching manner I sound enough like The Beatles that they have to be on the list. I've been a hard core Beatle fan since I was nine years old. I may not be a clone of them, but the influence cannot be denied. So, I listed The Beatles, as well as Paul, by himself, and John Lennon, too. I also put Bowie, but only because he'd been mentioned by several people, and honestly, I still feel like I was feeding bullshit with that one.

All I really know are my influences: Beatles (especially Lennon & McCartney), Steely Dan, Kate Bush, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Sting, Geddy Lee, and a whole host of others whom have influenced me to one extent or another, and certainly there is a long, long, long list of those who have inspired me. But, I don't know how much I sound like any of these artists. Sometimes I make a deliberate effort to sound like one or another of them, but that, I think, is just a starting point for me for a particular song, and my attempts at emulating them are likely not really very successful ‐‐ but the attempt got me started on something.

The "Just One Shadow" single released fourteen months before the album finally came out. I had an apparent terribly unrealistic pipe dream that the song would get at least some kind of traction. I certainly thought then, and still do now, that the song is worthy of some love from at least a small public. Alas, it has remained in obscurity.

I sent the single CD to some public radio stations, ones that it seems might be more prone to play a more reto-rock ballad. To the best of my knowledge, none of them paid it any attention. To be sure, I sent it to WYSO, the public station in my neck of the woods, but, like the rest, the song was either totally ignored, or the powers that be were not impressed, because I am not aware of any radio plays, even one, at WYSO or otherwise. It's discouraging.

I am most pleased with the song, both the material itself, and the performance. Again, I've received good feedback from people, with a few who have expressed that they love it. Yet, for any sort of real public, the song does not exist. I don't even believe that half the people on my facebook page friends list have ever clicked on a link to listen. The bottom line is that there's a glut of Look At Me! Look At Me! stuff out there, and it's easy for anyone's "Hey, check this thing out that I did" request to be overlooked, or lost in the shuffle. Then, when it comes to the streamers, there are literally thousands of new songs and new albums hitting the streaming platforms every single day. I'm not a "small fish in a big pond," I'm an ameba in an ocean. "Just One Shadow" is a tiny bell ringing in a million-instrument symphonic orchestra. The entire album is ten of those bells still up against the million other instruments.

As for the music video, The live footage was shot over a few days in May and June of 2021, during the same period that I was directing the wonderful Linda Donald and Melissa Kerr Erstgaard in the on-line production of The Roommate, by Jen Silverman, for The Dayton Theatre Guild. The music video was shot in my bedroom at my apartment, "my room for one." The grand concept I had for a music video for the song was one that was not going to be practical to even think about producing. For one thing it would have cost at least a few thousand dollars, and perhaps as much as $10 thousand, or more. In the summer of 2021 it would have also faced pretty insurmountable odds of being made because of Covid.

I went with Plan B, the practical one I could do by myself. Well, I could almost do by myself. I did enlist the help of many others, in terms of the photo montage that permeates the video. I went on my facebook page and also went on a faculty & staff email listserve at the rent-payer and put out a call for photos related to the pandemic and the shut down. I also did some searches of the Creative Commons site for those same type of photographs and a variety of others. I got plenty of great photos from my photo call and I found some great images at Creative Commons, and I had my own photos to cull from, too. There was an abundance of great images to choose from and I wasn't able to fit them all in. All of the photos used in the music video are featured on the 'Just One Shadow' Music Video Still Photo Gallery page, in order of their appearance and with the proper credits for each image.

As it states on the photo gallery page, "most of these photos were originally in color and were turned black-&-white for the concept of the music video." I'm not one-hundred percent sure why I decided to make the whole video black-&-white, I just know that even before I got into production I had already decided to take it there. When I solicited the photos I already knew they would be made b&w. I guess I just felt that this song about the isolation, loneliness, and desire for hopefullness insisted on the black-&-white visual motif, and I strongly believe it was the right choice. I am as satisfied with the music video as I am with the composition and with the performance.

Once more I give my standard disclaimer, or caveat, or whatever, that there is no virtuosity on display in the performance of the song, but I do believe I am playing at the top of my game; and I believe I made some good music here. Now, like the rest of the album, if I could only up my game at getting it out there for a larger audience to hear.

Here are entries from my blog that significantly address "Just One Shadow":

Dec 22, 2020
Dec 28, 2020
Jan 7, 2021
Jan 11, 2021
Jan 17, 2021
Jan 19, 2021
Jan 21, 2021
Jan 22, 2021
Jan 24, 2021
Jan 26, 2021
           Jan 28, 2021
Jan 29, 2021
Feb 1, 2021
Feb 2, 2021
Feb 4, 2021
Feb 5, 2021
Feb 8, 2021
Feb 11, 2021
Feb 12, 2021
Feb 15, 2021
           Feb 16, 2021
Feb 18, 2021
Feb 20, 2021
Feb 22, 2021
Mar 1, 2021
Mar 2, 2021
Mar 5, 2021
Mar 13, 2021
Mar 29, 2021
Mar 31, 2021
           Apr 5, 2021
Apr 6, 2021
Apr 16, 2021
Apr 24, 2021
Apr 26, 2021
May 3, 2021
May 10, 2021
May 11, 2021
May 28, 2021
Jun 9, 2021
           Jun 24, 2021
Jun 26, 2021
Jul 12, 2021
Jul 15, 2021
Jul 20, 2021
Aug 6, 2021
Aug 9, 2021
Aug 18, 2021
Aug 31, 2021
Sep 7, 2021


8) "Roll the Dice"
(the extra track for
the "Just One Shadow" single)
      (Mar 4, 2023)

Laying the three chorded-bass rhythm parts
A list of the bass riff measures to track the variations in the riff, (in yellow).
Laying the unison bass riff on the Viola bass.
Laying the "riff enhancer" bass parts.
Faux Guitar icon
Laying the solo work (the faux guitar solos)
"Roll the Dice" has a similar origin story to "Icebergs." In 2007, The Dayton Theatre Guild mounted the regional premier, and quite possibly the American premier, of an odd, dark, British comedy entitled The Dice House, written by Luke Rhinehart. I was the producer for the production; the director was Greg Smith. At that point I was also starting what would eventually become the norm of creating an on-line promotional DV movie for each production. I shot one for this show and it was the first time that I wrote and recorded music for one of The Guild's promo DV movies.

The original recording is a bit different than what you hear in this version, on several accounts. First, the recording is much cruder. Second, the instrumentation is much thinner. Third, the original recording is a longer song with more verses. Fourth, there is no space for any sort of instrumental solos.

The finished product that accompanies "Just One Shadow" has been through a process that I have come to refer to as having been "threetled." As many of you may know, and for those who don't, in the mid 1990s, Apple Records released The Beatles Anthology, in three volumes, consisting of six CDs or nine LPs. The volumes contained studio outtakes, alternate versions, and a few early live performances of music from all over the Beatles' career as a band. The three living members at the time, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr oversaw the curation and the mixing & mastering of the collection. For that collection, they were provided four very crudely recorded, monographic demos by the late John Lennon, mostly unpublished songs by him. John's widow, Yoko Ono, gave them the demos with her blessing to enhance them and add to them to create some new Beatle music. In 1994, long standing Beatle engineer Geoff Emerick worked his magic to enhance the original recordings for two of the demos, both originally recorded simply, by John in his home, on a consumer cassette recorder, in the later 1970s. The two songs were "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love." After Emerick had sweetened the original recordings, the three living Beatles did additional composing for "Free As a Bird," with Paul and George adding additional vocals to John's on that one. They filled out the instrumentation, adding on top of John's lone piano on both songs. These new versions were released as the singles from the anthology collection. Many fans came to refer to the two new singlse as being by "The Threetles," since, though John is clearly there on the songs, only three of the Beatles actively participated in the creation of these versions. I actually find that nomenclature a little off the mark, yet in terms of process, what Paul, George, and Ringo did fits what I have done with "Roll the Dice," thus I adopted the verb "threetle" for what I have done.

In 2007, when I recorded the original version of "Roll the Dice," then titled "Dice Theme (Roll the Dice)," I did so on my Fostex Multitracker X-28 four-track cassette recorder. I utilized all four tracks with no bouncing. I first recorded several minutes of drum track from a drum setting on my Yamaha PSR-180 electronic keyboard. Then I created the bass riff on my Giannini acoustic/electric bass and laid that track down. I plugged a cord into it and used the guitar's pick-up for the D and G string, running direct into the Fostex ‐‐ the pick-up for the E and A string did not work, and still does not. I had to work out a riff that used the A, D and G strings, because E was not picked up well enough. This last fact is why on all other songs on Virtually Approximate Subterfuge I used a mic to record the Giannini. After laying the bass riff, I recorded the lead vocal, then the backing vocal, each on one of the two remaining tracks.

back then, I mixed it in Final Cut Express. I can't say that I mastered the recording at all, because nothing along the lines of mastering work was done to the recording. I didn't even bother to mix it in stereo because of its purpose: to be the theme music, and sometimes underscore music, for the promotional trailer for the play. I did also mix a version with the lead and back vocals dropped out so that I would have pure instrumental music to run under dialogue in the DV movie. That, too, is a mono recording.

In 2021, when I resurrected the song, I did a sort of a franken-edit, though not with the cynicism or deception usually associated with that term. It was an edit of the two original mono, mixed-down AIFF files: the vocal and the instrumental version. I married elements of the two together to get a version with fewer verses and with spots for instrumental solos. I eliminated one particular verse because there is a line, "...kill your wife," which was relevant to the play, but in this new context would have been a little too brutal. Of course, I used the instrumental version to get those spots for solo work.

I then dropped that edit into a Logic Pro X project and punched up the EQ a little bit, and from there I migrated the duel-mono tracks onto my Tascam 24-Track recorder. Next I added three chorded-bass rhythm tracks, played on my Epiphone Embassy Pro Bass. On two of the three rhythm-chorded basses I used the Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion pedal, with different settings for each on the pedal and on the tone knobs on the bass. The plan, which I followed through on, was to have one of these rhythm parts favoring or full left in the stereo pan, one favoring or full right, and one in the middle. I would utilize this concept several times on the album, as well.

Next, I laid two additional bass lines, both in unison with the original line on the Giannini. I had to learn and rehearse the additional bass lines because there are variations in what is usually a straight-forward repetitive line. I had to know when each alteration occurred to match the new bass lines in lock-step unison with the original and with each other. I laid one of the added bass parts on the Embassy Pro, and the other on my Epiphone Viola Bass. I actually had to write out the musical measures, in my own manner, so that I could keep good track of exactly when the variations occur. The new bass lines were also intended for either left or right in the stereo mix, with the original one on the middle of the pan, and that is where they are in the final mix.

This is another "faux guitar solo" song, where I play the solos on the Viola bass using the Boss Overdrive/Distortion pedal and the Boss OC-3 Dual Super Octave pedal, then, during mixing I jacked the solos up an octave, for that six-string guitar sound. Before I laid the solos, I laid two tracks with the Embassy, parts that I call "riff enhancers," playing the basic bass riff only up an octave on the neck, with the capo on the octave fret. I only played these riff enhancers during the solo sections and then at at the end of the song, still using the Overdrive/Distortion and Super Octave pedals, and I added the Boss SY-1 guitar synthesizer pedal into the daisy-chain for these two tracks.

My thoughts on the musical acumen of the solos? As I wrote in the blog, at the time:
They don't suck but they ain't amazing. I guess a musician who's really not what can be called an accomplished soloist can more or less move toward that status by attempting solos. The key phrase is "more or less." It took me a while to work out and record both solo sections, but I did finally get solos that work well enough to pass muster.
Though I wouldn't say I am at all impressed with the solo work, that which I am absolutely not claiming bragging rights over, I do like the song, over all. And I'm quite pleased with the "threetled-up" version. My sister actually likes "Roll the Dice" better than the A-side of the single, "Just One Shadow." I, of course, have a much greater fondness for "Just One Shadow," of which I am extremely proud, both in terms of the composition, itself, as well as my execution of the performance. So I am not on the same page as my sister on this. But, "Roll the Dice" is a fun little, tongue-in-cheek song, originally written in conjunction with a bizarre, zany, black comedy. If I ever put that band together and play out, this would definitely be in the repertoire; it would work great in a live setting.


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