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
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.
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:
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
and I placed that chorded bass in the mix under the Legato piano,
a little less than halfway on the left in the
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):
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,
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
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
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,"
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,
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
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
"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
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,
then you know, the dozens and dozens of others that are old and in
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
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.
The icon for the DTG production of the stage play,
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."
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,
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
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
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
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
So, I thought, Well, hell, I'll just write and record something,
At this point, which was about late October or early November of
2019, I only had one working bass guitar, my
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
I also only had two rather unsophisticated keyboards, a
both essentially almost toy
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
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
on each of the twin tracks and favoring one left and one right on the
‐‐ 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
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
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
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.
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
This one was almost exclusively, or wholly, written during
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
and more to the point, it's about really needing to be on
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
At least being on
and needing to be on
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,
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
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
but I did pick them up while I was on my
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
Intro (Verse A music section)
Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Verse 3 (one stanzas; Verse A music sections)
Verse 4 (one stanzas; Verse B music sections)
Bridge section (for solo instrumentation)
Verse B music section (for solo instrumentation)
Verse 5 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
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
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:
Intro (Verse A music section)
Verse 1 (one stanza; Verse A music section)
Verse 2 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
Verse A music section for reed organ solo (with choral ensemble)
Verse B music section for duet solos from reed organ & synthesized bass
Bridge section with lyrics/vocal (with choral ensemble)
Verse Verse B music section for faux guitar solo
Verse 3 (one stanza; Verse B music section)
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 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
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
All I really know are my influences: Beatles (especially Lennon
& McCartney), Steely Dan,
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
As for the
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
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
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":
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.
Laying the solo work (the faux guitar solos)
"Roll the Dice" has a similar origin story to
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
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
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,
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,
George Harrison, and
Ringo Starr oversaw the
curation and the
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"
After Emerick had
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
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
In 2021, when I resurrected the song, I did a sort of a
though not with the cynicism or deception usually associated
with that term. It was an edit of the two original mono, mixed-down
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
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
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
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.
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.
"The Answer" is one of two songs off Virtually
Approximate Subterfuge that were written much earlier in my life;
or at least this one was mostly written earlier. I wrote it
in 1978 at the age of either nineteen or twenty ‐‐ I don't
remember on which side of my birthday it was written that year. I
did rewrite a bit of the lyrics and a small portion of the melody
in 2021, however, when prepping the song for the album.
I wrote the original version of it on my music partner, Rich Hisey's,
old, slightly beat up, upright player piano, in his family garage
on Harbine Avenue, on the east side of Dayton, Ohio, the city the
two of us grew up in. Rich's and his family's house being pretty
much a second home for me in my later teens and early twenties, and
the hub of our music. And by the way, the machinations of the
"player piano" part of that upright hadn't worked in probably
I guess I'd call it a jazzy rock ballad. I believe that fits well
enough. I guess, I also would have to say it falls in the pop
music range, though clearly legacy pop; I don't think there's
much out there in this genre of music in the curent realm of what's
getting attention on the pop charts. I was told by someone who's
heard the album that it might make a good single. I'm inclined to
Of course, the song sets the scene of a guy, sitting in a bar,
contemplating the foolishness of humanity to keep allowing history
to repeat itself with ridiculous errors when we've had the opportunity
to learn from the past.
My mind was bogged with mysteries
The mysteries of life
I drank another double
And I pondered on it all
I pondered on the histories
Our stories raining down
I never have understood
How we recreate mistakes
In 2021, I rewrote one line in this first verse. "Our stories
raining down" used to be "The histories of Man."
So it was once:
I pondered on the histories
The histories of Man
But, I no longer liked the sound of that. It may be because of the
patriarchy of referring to all of humanity as "Man,"
that reason does have merit, but I think I more so found the line,
I don't know, bland, maybe.
Also, in 2021, I rewrote a large portion of the second verse, by
changing all the name drops. Originally the first half of the second
Before me stood Ulysses
And Martin Luther King
The Kennedys and Aesop
And seven of the twelve
Those lines came to feel off point to me, so we now have:
Before me stood Apollo
The Buddha and the Christ
The Orishas and Mohammed
Krishna and Abraham
Let's just go ahead and say I was 20 when I wrote this, which puts
the time period as at least late June of 1978. I can't remember if
back then I saw that contemplative bar fly as comparable to my age
at the time or older. Now, I do see him as comperable to my
current age, and the slight change in melody I made in 2021 works
toward that end.
The slight melody change, which has to do with a few bars of the
vocal sections in verse 1, was more a practicality, one related to
my late 2021 age. The "My mind was bogged with mysteries"
line originally had a melody line that climbed up from the first word
to peak with the word "with," then slightly climb down
on the two syllables of "mysteries." In my twenties, that
was an easy vocal climb for me with an effortless slide into a strong
falsetto for the higher notes. The melody was the same for the line,
"I pondered on the histories."
When recording the vocal for the album, I just simply was not
delivering the vocal there that way it should be delivered. For
one thing, in 1978 my singing voice was far more practiced. I was
singing at least an hour or two, and often more than than that,
virtually every day. Also, in 1978, I turned twenty. So I had the
vocal chords of a twenty-year-old whose voice was in very practiced
In late 2021, when I began recording the song for the album, I was
a sixty-three-year-old, who had not been singing at least an hour
or two, and often more than than that, virtually every day. And, to
put a fine point on it, I was forty-three years old than that lad,
who sat at an old, but functional, player piano and glided up the
vocal scale and moved from full-voice into falsetto with such ease.
I worked on that old, ascending melody phrase for several days,
trying to warm my voice up enough, to get it back into the shape
to acceptably accomplish the line. It became clear that I was not
going to get there, or at least not in any sort of timely manner.
So, I changed the melody; and that was a fortuitous serendipity.
The new melody line for "My mind was bogged with mysteries,"
for "I pondered on the histories," and for the lines just
following those two, is a much better fit for the song. The new
melody is jazzier, and there's more of a jaded, contemplative mood
to it. It gives more weight to the pondering of that dude, sitting
on that bar stool, and I think, more credibility to him and his
I think, had I recorded an album at twenty and had put "The
Answer" on it, with that original vocal melody, end even those
original lyric lines that I revised in this new millennium, that it
would have rightfully reflected a young man sitting at that bar.
That just seems obvious and practical. It would have come from a
quite honest perspective of relative inexperience with life. It
would have the pondering of a young seeker.
The version that exists has more gravitas. It's a sexagenarian on
that bar stool, questioning humanity's foolishness from a place
of lived observation. And the pondering of the challenges to
humanity's understanding and approach to spirituality is served
better by the lines in verse 2.
That this song, conceived when I was a much younger man, one who
could rightfully still be called a boy ‐‐ condescendingly,
perhaps, yet still accurately ‐‐ didn't surface to the
world until the much older man was able to refine it, is a good
thing. Hearing it, as it now is, from the sixty-someting, is much
better than hearing what the twenty-year-old would have given us.
However, the overall musical vision didn't alter from what I had
in my head at twenty. With the exception of the slightly more
grounded, mature vocal, the song has the musical feel and mood that
I originally conceived. I think I had in mind an electric guitar
as part of the instrument make-up, but it was not going to be
prominent. I think I only had one in mind, way back, last
millennium, because I was at that point in a trio with a
guitarist, the late Ron Lingus, and I didn't want to cut him out
of the song. Electric guitar seemed better to me than acoustic,
and that holds true still today. Were there to be a guitar, it would
be a subtle, electric rhythm guitar; and it would not get a
The bass line certainly has the same mood and feel as what I know I
wanted in '78, though the composition is all 2021. I don't think I
had originally intended for bars of a bass solo, way back when,
but it doesn't run contrary to the vision, and, in fact, is a very
jazz genre move,
I definitely always had a sax solo in mind. Though it's safe to
say that I didn't hear the same notes back then that I ended up
playing with my Logic ProMIDI baritone sax
voice on my Oxygen 61 Keyboard,
the style and feel of what was recorded in 2021 is the same as what
I intended for the sax solo when I sat at that player piano in 1978.
But, who knows, perhaps I chose to play what I played because of a
subconscious memory of what I composed in my head all those decades
Here are entries from my blog
that mention "The Answer":
*Apr 30 addendum
‐‐ I missed an element that I believe is important to
comment on, though it's probably on one of those blog pages listed
here. I did rerecord the vocal because I decided I wasn't satisfied
with some of the
in that original performance. In the rerecorded take that I used I
am most happy with the phrasing. Yet, there are some spots,
particularly in the first verse, with some faltering in the delivery,
specifically a little weakness in support. I was going to do
another take, but I realized that the faltering in the voice was a
perfect fit for the man sitting at that bar, doing tha pondering.
It's the voice of that weary, jaded sexagenarian, drinking his double
and questioning the still-unsolved mysteries of humankind's foolishness.
Starting off with the workshop title, "Winter Vacation Rocker,"
this was another of several songs off the album that were started
during my 2020 Christmas holiday stay at
The Cozy Little Red Cottage,
on the grounds of the Take the Lead Stables in
Dover, Ohio, AKA my
2020. I was on my
running through the
Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion pedal,
with a capo on the
seventh fret. I programmed a nice upper-mid-tempo drum groove in
started playing around with some chords. This DV movie, shot on my
iPhone, during the
was after a good bulk of the chord progression had started to come
together. Though as the text in the movie says, this was shot
months before the chords for the verses were composed.
If you've heard the finished, official
then you'll note that the drum track in this video is not the same
as the drums in the finished product. It's the same time signature,
(4/4), and it's the same tempo, (115 beats per minute), but the
meter is changed up quite a bit for the drum part used in the finished
song. It's far more varied, with some parts, such as the intro drum
section, being a bit more...: subdued? Once the tonal part
started coming together I knew the drums had to change. Well, to be
honest, I knew from the start that the drum track you hear in the video
above was only a jumping off spot and that the part would inevitably
In the role of the traditional rhythm guitar part I laid three chorded,
rhythm bass parts, one favoring left in the
one favoring right, and one square in the middle. Just like the demo
version above, all three of these "rhythm guitars" were
ran through the Boss OS-2 pedal, with the emphasis on distortion,
and each part with a different setting of distortion. And I've just
discovered, while writing this essay, that I do not have any record
of what those settings were. While mixing and mastering "Burning
Bridge," I decided to not have this chorded-basses rhythm section
up front in the
rather pull it down in the mix and have these basses represent fire,
the crackling of the flames, to be exact. I think there is something
successful about this approach, but I have contemplated a remix with
these chorded basses more prominent; I think that alone would give
a very different feel to the song. So, at some point that may happen.
I dropped some piano chords into the mix, along-side the bass chords,
to support their harmonics, the harmonics being slightly lost due
to the distortion effects and lowness in the mix. I also added a
separate bass note for the chorded bass parts during the chords for
the chorus section, those chords being played lower on the scale;
this was to enhance the melodic root of those chords. None of this
is readily obvious when you listen to the recording, but would be
conspicuos in their absence if dropped out of the mix.
Once again, I fashioned the straight bass line in my attempt of the
style of the likes of
Geddy Lee and
though minus the virtuosity. Thus, I stayed on the Embassy, with its
I played the line without a pick, ala Geddy rather than Chris, but
I still got a punchier attack than had I played the line on the
Again, the line doesn't display the calibre of musicianship of Geddy,
or Chris, or John Entwistle,
or Tina Weymouth,
or my beloved
Paul McCartney, or the
host of other great bassists who all outclass me, yet, I am happy
with my work. It's a case of competing against myself, because if
I thought in context of these other players, well, I'd just put
the bass in its case, shut the case, and give all my basses away.
Here is a mix of "Burning Bridge" with the bass virtually
isolated, meaning the volume for everything else is significantly
lower, except the drums, which are lowered but still prominent:
This bass line is not exactly on footing with
yet I can feel good that it is most effective. It's creative. It
drives the song and is intergal both rhythmically and melodically.
It's a significant part of the identity of the cut. My skillset as
a bassist may not be at the calibre I'd prefer (full-discloser:
it's not) but this one certainly has me at the top of my
game. Now it's time to up the
After all these layers, there was still something missing. This
was especially so during the into chords, which would return later,
with some variation, for the "lead guitar" break. I also
wanted some solo work during the introduction. I could have gone
with a MIDI
sax voice, but that didn't appeal to me here. I knew I was playing
a faux electric lead solo in the middle of the song and I didn't
want one at the beginning. I gave the organ voice on my
Legato III piano
a try, and it worked. It actually ended up changing the flavor of
music a little bit, but it was a change that I like. It does soften
the bend toward a progressive feel for the song, which I would not
have deliberately decided on; but once I experimented with the organ
I welcomed the new feel. One of my friends told me the song sounds
like Elvis Costello,
and I think it is that organ that makes her believe that. But
really, it doesn't sound much like Elvis Costello, as flattering as
that comparison is.
As alluded to above, this is one of the other songs on the album
that has a bass solo, processed during
sound like an electric guitar solo. It's the same trick as with
"Just One Shadow,"
as well as "Roll the Dice,"
which isn't on the album: a bass solo played higher on the neck
then bumped up an octave, though this time the octave bump was in
Logic Pro X, as I
was now using that rather than
Final Cut Pro X.
The solo is on the Viola bass, and also run through the OS-2
distortion. I might note for this faux guitar solo, as well as the
others, that only the pitch is altered, electronically, and that
the speed of none of these original bass solos have been changed
‐‐ i.e.: the faux guitar solos are not playing at a faster
Below is the middle solo section with the bass line at its true
octave. You'll note that the speed of the notes is the same as on
the official recording, just an octave lower.
Listening to this little snippet I came to realize that the bass solo,
without the octave jump, sounds damn good on its own. The thought
now has come to me that if I do indeed do that remix I wrote of above,
with the chorded rhythm bass work made more prominent in the mix, I
may just use the unaltered bass solo, too. I've also had this thought
that if I were to manage to put a band together to play my songs live,
that I'd turn the faux guitar solos over to the actual electric guitar
player, and even allow them room to embellish the solos, at least
to some extent. But maybe I should think about at least this one
becoming a bass solo, live. (This hypothetical gigging band is
not anywhere on the near horizon, by-the-way).
I'm also mostly happy with the vocal, which I'm calling my
vocal, and it probably has a bit of a failed
John Lennon influence in
it, as well. Though I can't say exactly why, I thought of Kay from
the moment I started rehearsing the vocal, so I went with his sort
of raspiness, though my voice has a lighter, thinner tone than his.
The part that I am not happy with is one line that my second-tenor
evolving into barritone (due to age) vocal range stopped me from
singing, in full-voice at the step on the scale I wanted. I sing the
line "forging new reality" several steps lower than I want,
simply because I'd have to slip into falsetto to hit the desired note,
and I did not, and do not, like that for this line. Otherwise, I am
satisfied with the vocal. It conveys emotion, sentiment, and attitude
that reflect the words.
Lyrically, along with "Just One Shadow,"
this song is certainly the most accurately autobiographical on the
album, with "Chilled October Morning"
and "Into the Blue Dawn"
coming in as close seconds, and "Identity"
lagging pretty far behind, only because of the strong, romanticized
embellishment of the speaker's psyche. It's true, too, that though
the character in "The Answer"
is fictional, the sentiment was and is 100% mine. The only thing
about "Burning bridge" that until recently I thought
wasn't wholly accurate is the idea that I am burning any bridges.
I'd thought is was an exaggeration, but I've changed my mind.
In the purest terms, the song is about me, as a sixty-someting-year-old,
engaging in the Virtually Approximate Subterfuge album project,
engaging in the creation of my debute album. It's about ignoring the
norms that dictate that this is a young person's venture.
Obviously, metaphorically, I couched the song in the realm of
relationships with the seasons, nature, the elements. The seasons
are the vehicle for broaching age, or one's (my) place on the timeline
of one's (my) life.
My season ponders absurdity and denies the amber leaves
A clever fraud on my summer love whose effervescence is deceived
Hiking the mile in young man's boots without trudging to new truth
Beneath the shadow of autumn trees where the spring bouquets seduce
I'm not going to explicate every line, individually, but essentially
this first stanza says:
I'm supposed to be too old to do this. It's supposed to be
an absurd notion. But I reject that, because when I'm doing
this, I'm not past sixty, I'm twenty-one! But for the most
part on this journey, I won't be making the practical
discoveries that a younger me would make ‐‐ I already
made them*. Yes, I am in my sixties, but so much of this has
the feel and vigor of a young man's odyssey. I venture to
smell the fragrant spring flowers of my youth.
*note that I wrote "for the most
Without pointing to which metaphoric line is attached to which
idea or sentiment, the rest of the verses touch on many things
related to the theme:
I'm still as creative as I've ever been
I had some doubts about the project but my passion to do
it was stronger
Immersing myself back into music, waking up the sleeping
songwriter and musician, revived the energy of that younger
The reality is that there are even more obstacles to any
sort of financial or commercial success than ever before, not
even counting my "non-traditional" age for a newcomer
I think to the untrained ear I can make myself sound like
a far more accomplished musician than I am; and here I am, doing
that at this later stage of my life
I'd like to finally capture some reasonably wide credit
and kudos as being an artist worth paying attention to ‐‐
if that was ever true
(no ego here, right?)
But, no matter what, I'm going to have a fucking party doing
this! I'm gonna enjoy the shit out of this and do the best that
I can, even if my efforts are hardly noticed by anything close
to "the masses." Thus far, "hardly" is
several-thousand-fold more than any of this music as been
I was out of music, with a few very rare exceptions, for
more than three decades; well, I'm back!
The revived passion quickly got me past virtually all the
Again, I am approaching this monumental task with the
enthusiasm of my younger self
I certainly have less time left than I've already lived,
but I'm gonna move forward until the passion dies, which I
sincerely want to be during my last exhale and not before
As for the chorus, almost immediately after starting to work on
the instrumental that spawned the whole project, that sense of
being a songwriter flooded me. But the dichotomy of trying to
again start a musical legacy at this age was thick in the air. I
grabbed ahold of it and soaked it in as fuel to be a man making
his own music, rather than a man not making his own music. I'm doing
it, goddamnit. And while I'm doing it, I feel indestructible,
despite how vulnerable, how easily wounded I am as an artist,
Embracing the palpable, the contradiction's energy
It's surging combustible, torching old reality
‐‐ *("forging new reality" second time)
My ego is culpable of the metamorphic pilgrimage
Am I indestructible, crossing the burning bridge?
The only concept in this set of lyrics I have ever questioned is
the idea that I am burning a bridge with this revival. As I've
worked on this essay, I've come to realize that yes, I am burning a
bridge. I've crossed the bridge from being a dormant songwriter
and musician, of not being a recording artist. Virtually
Approximate Subterfuge is not a novel little project that
scratched an itch and now I can say I did it, it's part of what I
do now. The body of work associated with the album sessions is not
the end of my canon; it's the beginning. I have a double album I
recorded decades ago that will be
and put out into the world. I have an instrumental I recorded
earlier this year, that's only been partially put out. I have some
ideas and concepts for compositions waiting for me to get to them.
So, now I see it's not an exaggeration or fabrication; I have
crossed a burning bridge.
The question is: can I handle what's on this side of that burned-up
Here are entries from my blog
that mention "Burning Bridge", or its previous title
"Winter Vacation Rocker":
This instrumental was the last piece finished for the album, both
in terms of composition and of recording. It's also the last of the
compositions that were started during my
2020. It was originally titled "Cozy Cottage,"
after that Cozy Little Red Cottage
where its life began, but later in the game, I think during the
the vibe of the track inspired me to change the name ‐‐
more on that later.
There is an error in the
for the album. It says the album was "...recorded, off and on,
between October 2019 and December 2021...." My memory as I
wrote that, without checking, was that I finished recording
"Cozy..." in December, 2021, when it was actually finished
in January, 2022. Oh well.
When I sat down at the
Legato III piano
to start a new song, during that
I was consciously going for my watered-down version of a
Steely Dan flavoring. Not
that I wanted it to be watered down, I'm just simply not
My original intent was to write lyrics for the music, but I never
got into a groove with that which worked for me.
My estimation is that this is a relatively standard modern jazz number.
I am happy with it, but with a couple complaints. The big one is
that the MIDI horns
could be tighter in the middle-eight bridge. I had thought about
rerecording them to get a tighter performance, but I was on a
"make things feel loose and live" kick, and decided the
looser performance made them seem more fresh and spontaneous. After
the album was mixed, mastered and released into the wild, I changed
my mind and now the lack of tightness of the horns in that section
The other complaint I have is that the MIDI-sax, or faux sax, sounds
a little inauthentic during the sax solo that follows the bridge.
I got a great sax sound during
but this one doesn't flourish as well as that one. I think this may
be because I have some more technique to learn concerning how to key
the notes on the
Oxygen 61 Keyboard/Logic Pro
MIDI interface. I recently discovered some tricks while working on
a new song, which was used in connection to a theatre production at
the Dayton Theatre Guild
click here to hear the music;
the sax work starts at 1:35 into the video.
Though I wrote "MIDI horns" above, it's actually MIDI
horns and a MIDI violin: a trumpet and trombone in the left
channel and the alto sax and the violin in the right, with all but
the trombone taking a turn at a featured solo. Those three solos
are obviously variations on a theme, and all were pretty much
improvised as I recorded them, with a few takes, most being
to eradicate portions that didn't work too well.
In the now unavailable virtual release party video, I commented
on how I'd love to put together a band that had such instruments in
it: a horn trio and a violinist (and a flautist who plays other reeds,
too ). I'd love to play this song live with actual musicians playing
the actual instruments. Again, it would be the same as with the faux
guitar solos that I play on my bass ‐‐ the actual musicians
would have the freedom to embellish (read: "improve") on
what I laid down, with varying degrees of allowance to deviate from
the original, depending on how much I like the original or think it's
pertinent to the overall composition or arrangement.
Just as with "The Answer," I can see this band playing
this piece in a little jazz club, dimly lit, perhaps a haze of
cigarette smoke lightly blanketing the room, that last bit more
visually romantic than physically pleasant, especially for an
ex-smoker like myself. Unfortunately, as I've written elsewhere on
this page, that band, or any band, is nowhere close on my
Despite my complaints, I'm still happy with the overall arrangement.
I am exceedingly happy with the bass work on this one. It's a nice
composition and I am most satisfied with my performance, though there's
a behind-the-scenes disclosure about the performance that we'll get
to shortly. Maybe a little less than humbly I find the bass line
interesting and again one of the driving forces to the instrumental.
I suppose some might find it too busy, but I don't; I believe this
one calls for such a busy bass. Here's a mix with the bass and drums
prominent and the other instruments dropped down:
The bass line took 67 takes to get. The reason is that I am not a
consistently well-practiced musican. The muscles in my right hand,
my plucking hand, were/are not in shape to have the stamina
to play this piece all the way through. So, a lot of the takes were
punch-ins to move on from a point in the recording where I had to
stop because my f@#$%&g hand was fatigued and cramped. It was not
my fingers but rather the little muscles in the back of my hand
that were taking the beating. As other bass and guitar players,
and probably keyboard players, will tell you, it doesn't take long
for the little muscles in your hands and forearms to fall out of
shape for playing. Plus, as time and takes moved on, I had a few
blisters develop on some fingers on both hands that made the latter
part of the recording a whole lot of fun! This was all the result
of my lack of discipline to be a regularly practicing musician.
When this piece was born during Winter
2020, it had the workshop title, "Cozy Cottage Jazz."
later, when I dropped trying to write lyrics for it, I also dropped
the word, "Jazz," to make the official title, "Cozy
Cottage." Late in the post-production process, as I was
scrutinizing the master recordings for the album, I concluded that
there is a frenetic, semi-chaotic feel to the instrumental, yet
still a coziness is suggested. The bass seems to almost be rushed,
which some, no doubt, would find fault with, but I don't. The words,
"anxios chaos," came to me and thus the final title for
the piece was born.
I shot all the recording sessions for this one
on my Canon Vixia DV cameras.
I have several terabytes of footage to edit from, though that
project has been on the back burner. But the footage is there
waiting for me and eventually I'll get to it. Were I to decide this
would be a good single release, the editing would come sooner,
because at least some of the footage is clearly ripe for use in a
Would this make a good single? I've thought about it and I'm not
sure. I think maybe now that the lack of tightness, of precision of
the horns and violin in the bridge makes me reluctant to want it
out there as a single; and it would not work to edit that section
out. The piece is over six-minutes long, so it could stand
to be edited shorter, at least to be a traditional single, which
hovers around 3:00-3:30, on average. Neither previous singles were edited,
at all; "Just One Shadow"
is at its full 6:07, and "The Night Before the Night Before Christmas"
is at its full 5:13.
Anyway, I wasn't thinking in terms of commercial radio stations,
where the 3:00-ish length is desired by programmers, and I'm not
really in that mindset for any single from the album; any of my music
on a commercial radio station seems far-fetched, to begin with; I
haven't even been able to get any public radio play. Then, how I'd
edit this one down, I am not sure. I don't know what I would take
out, except the bridge, which still would be a bad idea in terms of
composition. Besides, again I'm only a little interested in this one
being a single, to begin with. Having all that readily available
footage simply does encourage the idea because the music video would
be easy to put together, even with no additional footage, but that's
not really a good enough reason.
As for the instrumental in general, I like it, despite the two
complaints I've expressed. There's nothing spectacular about it.
It's just a nice little modern-jazz, slightly commercial-pop ditty,
probably more generic than I want to admit, but, really I wasn't
attempting the hubris of trying to redefine a genre, or anything.
Here are entries from my blog
that mention "Cozy Anxious Chaos":
The track layout in
Logic Pro X
for "Memories of the Times Before (Pt. 1-4),"
with the lead vocal track focused.
No photography during any of the recording sessions
for this one, save for during the recording of the
lead vocal. So what we got here are mostly
The tracks in Logic Pro X for "Part 1,"
formerly "The Death of the...."
"The Death of the...." Logic mixing board
Recording the lead vocal (May, 2020)
The mastering project in Logic (Apr, 2022)
Listening to playback of the master (Apr, 2022)
Following are various postproduction photos:
Rich Hisey, circa 1986
This is the oldest music on
Virtually Approximate Subterfuge,
just slightly older than
by about a year; or at least the main part is that much older.
Originally it was presented as a prelude, then the main song, with
all the music composed by me and the lyrics by my twentieth-century
music partner, Rich Hisey. The song-writing credits are still the
same but the whole piece, of course, has changed presentation from
how I originally had it laid out:
"The Death of the.... (Prelude to Memories)"
"Memories of the Times Before"
The song began in the garage at the Hisey home. That was the epicenter
of our music, Rich's house, when we were both in high school and for
a few years afterward. And the garage was, for quite a while, the
eye of the epicenter. The song's inception happened one day when I
was ‐‐ I believe ‐‐ nineteen (maybe eighteen).
I was in the garage, at Rich's old player piano, that I know I've
written of before. It was bought for Rich by his uncle Jerry for
some godawful cheap price ‐‐ $10 or so ‐‐
found at a garage sale. For some long period of time many of the
lower octaves, below middle C, were horribly out of tune, and the
upper registers were, in many cases, at least a little out.
I was fiddling on the piano while Rich's dad, Richard Sr. (or, Pops)
was working on their car. I believe Rich was at his job, which if
I remember correctly was either at the local
7‐Eleven, or perhaps
it was while he had a job at a local
he wasn't on site. I was fiddling, in C-Major (all the white keys,
for the uninitiated), and I stumbled across the first chord sequence,
and then the changes. This being what is now "Part 2,"
the longer section with the lyrics. I gave the chord progression
the workshop title of "The Young and Restless Chords"
because they reminded me of the
to the daytime soap opera,
The Young and the Restless.
It's not an exact match, but there's a striking similarity‐‐‐
But different enough as to not be a copyright infringement!
At some point that day, back in 1977, I looked at Richard and said,
"I think I've just started writing a new song." To which
his response was a rather bland, "Okay." It wasn't a blow-off,
disinterested "Okay," it was more of a Well, isn't
that what you boys are always doing? kind of response. This
wasn't a new occurrence at the Hisey homestead.
The music went for a while without lyrics. It wasn't for lack of
attempts at writing some. I just wasn't coming up with anything
that I felt worked. Enter Rich. He'd written a set of lyrics he
was having no success composing music for. One of us mentioned our
mutual problem to the other, and then the other commiserated. Then I
asked him if I could try the lyrics out with my music. We'd already
collaborated on a few songs, so this wasn't a foreign idea. I sat
down at the piano and sang, first time, a spontaneous melody that
is virtually the same as what is heard on the 2022 album.
We both knew we had just made the perfect marriage.
At some point later, I don't remember how much later, I began what
would become "The Death of the.... (Prelude to Memories),"
a little later I dropped the "(prelude to Memories)" part.
Then, in 2022 it became simply, "Part 1."
When I decided to resurrect this for the album project I decided
to make the simple arpegio ending a separate piece of music,
"Memories Endbit," and I decided to reprise "The Death
of the...." after that. Only the reprise would be (and is) in
the key of C-Major like the main song; The opening "The
Death of the...." is in C♯-Major. At the this point,
the medley was listed as:
"The Death of the...." (instrumental)
"Memories of the Times Before"
"Memories Endbit" (instrumental)
"The Death of the.... (reprise)" (instrumental)
As for why I changed it from a medley of four pieces to one song
with four parts has somewhat to do with the complication of collecting
the composer publishing royalties. "The Death of the....,"
"Memories Endbit," and "The Death of the.... (reprise)"
are my solo compositions; only "Memories of the Times Before"
is a (Storer/Hisey) composition. I did not want the separate parts
disconnected, even on the CD. I didn't want them to be separate sound
files; I wanted it all to be always presented as one unit, and that
makes the composer's royalties complicated to split up, and thus to
collect. So, I decided, screw it, and just rolled it all up into one
composition: music by K.L.Storer, lyrics by Richard Earl Hisey, Jr.
Plus, in the end, it seemed more elegant to me to have it all be the
same piece of music with four movements.
I recorded it, still with the old titles in medley, in April of 2020.
But, I came to dislike the tracks I'd laid down, so I started over
in May and began the recording that made it to the
album. I sometimes, despairingly call this one "the album's
but I am mostly jesting. However, that April 2020 version was
much closer to Muzak, far too close.
There are two alternate versions of "Memories of the Times
Before (Pt. 1-4)," both fully
each with drum kit programming. One may note that there is no drum
track on the album version. There's a main reason for this, and
a more-or-less secondary reason.
When I was conceiving the performance and the arrangement for this,
I had a concept of there being something a bit unsettling about it.
I did a few things to achieve this. One thing was to record the solo
instruments, in what is now "Part 4" a little hot so there
is some distortion in them. That could not be undone, so they are
there, like that, at the end, as a legacy from this abandoned concept.
There's also point early in what is now Part 2 where I push the
dissidence in the chord spelling on the piano for a few bars, right
before the vocal comes in. These two things are committed to the
recording and thus are legacies left over from the now, mostly discarded
The other thing I did was slightly rush the downbeat on the piano
during the last two parts, which results in the drum track's
downbeat being delayed against the piano and other melodic instruments.
There was at least one person who heard the old mix who was quite
annoyed by it. I had a couple other people listen to that mix,
specifically focused on this off-beat issue, and though neither
adamantly hated it as much as the first listener, they both said
they didn't think it worked as well as I wanted it to. So, I went
back in and remixed the drum kit track to line-up the downbeats for
a new mix, that being all that I could change without doing some
I'll add that Rich didn't like the drum track, but for different
reasons. He actually understood my thinking about the off-beat part
and had no problem with it. But, he simply didn't like the drum part
in general, regardless of the downbeat issue. And his big suggestion,
when listening to an earlier mastered version, with full drum kit,
was that I lose the drums in "Part 1." I might add that
this was not somewhere that had any purposefully mis-synched downbeats.
His argument was that the first part didn't need percussion. He still
wasn't greatly impressed with the drums in parts 2-4, though.
So, I remixed it, dropping the drum part out of "Part 1."
Then I thought, what if I drop them out of 2-4? I did
another remix and I liked the dynamic of the song with no drums
in it whatsoever. That became the main mix, and the other two,
alternate mixes, one with no drums in Part 1, one with drums all
the way through the track.
Here, in a klstorer.com exclusive, is the alternate version with
full drum tracking ‐‐ adjusted to remove the original
off-beat downbeat concept in the last two parts.
"Memories of the Times Before (pt.1-4) (Alternate version 2)."
One of my friends, in that very exclusive group of friends who have
actually supported my art by purchasing a copy of the album (which
is a disappointingly small group), told me that this song has the
best vocal on the album. Whereas I appreciate that, I think there
other vocals on the album just as good, and at least one that I like
better, that being the vocal for
"Just One Shadow."
Though I do often invoke the descriptive of Muzak for this song, I
also admit I am more than happy with the arrangement and the
performances. I once had someone describe the whole ten-minutes as
complexed and sophisticated. I'll embrace the idea that it's, to
some extent, sophisticated ‐‐ maybe. As for it
being complexed, I think it's more a series of simple musical
themes tied together to masquerade as something complexed. I do
find it quite interesting in some places, such as the sort of haunting
jazziness of parts 1 & 4, especially 1. I also believe there is
an overall beauty to its musicality, and overall a quite pleasant
musicality to it. And I'm pretty self-critical about my art.
One confession to make about this third-millennium presentation
of the main song (Part 2): neither I nor Rich could find a copy of
the lyrics, so I regurgitated them from memory; there may be, I am
sure are, some subtle changes in the lyrics. I do remember well the
one official change I made to the lyrics back in the grand 'ol
1970s. In the second bridge, Rich had written "I'm alone in my
lifetime\Sometimes thinking of suicide...." My thought back
then was, Well, let's not make the poor guy suicidal. That's a
bit drastic So I changed that second line to "I'm thinking
the book is closed." I still consider these Rich's lyrics, so
had he not approved the change I would have nixed it. More so, even
though I am sure there are some minor lyric changes now due to lack
of memory of the earlier version, Rich is still this song's lyricist.
I also will admit that I used the pitch adjuster function in
Logic Pro X to fix
one note in the backing bass line in this recording. My rule about
doing that is that it can only be for the convenience of not going
back in to rerecord something. I cannot manipulate anything that I
would have the potential to play on a stage into something that I
can't play. Now I might do it for a faux instrument I have
laid down in a home production situation, such as a faux guitar part
or a midi-sax voice, so that I can get something in the arrangement
that i want. Then live there'd be a musician who can play
it. I fell no guilt or uneasiness about scenario 2.
This is one of my favorites of our several song-writing
collaborations. There are a few others we've been talking for
over a year about getting together and recording. One, which we
both probably like the best is a soft-rock ballad. There's also a
rocker, and there's an almost rockabilly, old rock-&roll type
number. We really need to find the time to lay these tracks and get
this stuff out there.
Then there is what is actually my first
"Seems Like a Crime,"
music by me, lyrics by me and Rich. The video sports a rough mix
that doesn't yet have a bass line. This is off the actual first
album that I've recorded, in the mid-1980s, at Rich's old house on
Arbor Ave. in East Dayton, on his Fostex 4-track cassette tape
recorder. The audio for the video is a digitized version of the,
analogue mix. "Seems Like a Crime" is off the album
titled Heart Walks that I have now made digital copies of
all the individual 4-tracks for each song and hope to at least begin
before this summer is up.
Rich is on several tracks on Heart Walks, on drums in three
songs and various synthesizers on another. At the moment I don't think
"Seems Like a Crime" will be rerecorded; but I will
be adding a bass line for the Heart Walks version. RicH and
I have talked about recording another version of "Memories...."
Then Rich can put in the drum part he hears.
Here are the entries from my blog
that mention some portion of "Memories....":