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
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
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
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:
Perhaps, (probably), I woud 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.
I hadn't thought about it, but, yeah, I guess I am.
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
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
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
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
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
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.