Thursday, March 14, 2013

"The Elephant Diet" Day # 78 Post-Tracking Day Blues

This morning I got up with the blues.  The 'post-tracking day' blues.

The very first time I recorded in a studio, it was near Valley Forge, PA.  I had been recruited for a radio broadcast program to accompany a singer from Nashville on a recording project.  It was the most amazing experience I had ever had musically.  I was so high for days afterward that my husband finally looked at me one day and said "are you EVER going to come down???...I need you HERE!!!".

It took me weeks (at least that's what it seemed like) to recover.  I determined from that day on that whatever it took, I would somehow get back into that studio and do more of whatever 'that' was that I had just experienced, even if I had to offer to clean the toilets to get in.

You can hear more of that story on my Inside Things podcast.  Episode # 12 "A harp, willow, van and bird!"

Needless to say, that began a journey of managing the cycles of having such adrenaline rushes from recording to getting back into real life shortly afterward.  I think I've learned how to ride the ride, but I still have twinges of it and this morning was one of those times.  I love being a part of recording so much that it takes me a while to re-enter life afterward.  I still cry sometimes when I leave Nashville.

A good dose of catch-up work in the studio in between doctor visits with 2 special people in my life snapped me back into reality pretty quick.

By the way, I should report that today I went with Tom to the doctor and he got some of his stitches out from his operation...but not all.  More come out on Tuesday.  It's still a struggle, but over time he is able to do a little bit more each day on his own.  It's been hard to see him go through this, but I am absolutely sure that I did the right thing by staying home this week.  We need each other.

This afternoon I took my mother to the doctor and again, realized that it would have been terribly uncomfortable for anyone else to have to take her other than me.  It just wouldn't have been fair to her.  It's good I stayed home from TN on so many levels.

I have 13 events coming up in April that I need to be preparing for and more booking details coming in.  I have to keep up with my system of making sure all the information shows up in all the places it should to keep me organized and I've been behind on that this week.  As of tonight, I think I have everything on my calendars and sites as it needs to be.

I also got a request this week to write and record a special song for two different little girls.  One of them is the sister of a girl I wrote one for years ago for Songs of Love.  The mother decided after all these years that the sister who hasn't had a disability deserves to have a song about her too.

The other request came from Songs of Love saying someone specifically requested me to write a song for their daughter.  I must have written one for someone else in their family years ago.  Can't remember.....too many children...too many songs later.  I will try to squeeze it in between everything else going on in my life.  These songs really touch the hearts of those who receive them and it's an important part of what I do.

So here at the end of the day, my post-tracking day blues are slowly changing color.

Blue isn't always such a bad color.

My studio is blue and I love it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"The Elephant Diet" Day # 77 The Great Producer

"Sing A Song of Joy" and "Night of Miracles" are now on their way to the next phase. 

The basic 'feel' and/or 'groove' has been captured and some sprinkles have been added in for color and flavor.  Next they will be evaluated and handed off to other musicians to add their thoughts and interpretations, all under the direction of the great producer of course. 

The drummer, bass player, guitar player and keyboard player meet and establish the 'base' of the songs.  Then each may go back later and add in more things according to the producer's direction. 
Songs that are based in a rhythm section often get recorded this way. Not all the songs on my CD require a rhythm section.

I couldn't be there, but thanks to FaceTime and Source-Live, an iPad, iPhone and iMAC, I was able to still be a part of the process and it worked amazingly well!  (the links are for the techies out there who want to know). 

In the picture below this paragraph, you can see what I saw.  My iPad was giving me a view into the studio as they were talking and working.  The lower right corner box was me taking a picture (with my iPhone) of the iPad so you can see what I was seeing.  I got a tour of the studio via the iPad.

The studio sent me a link to their audio so I could put my professional studio headphones on and listen in on the session.  I could hear what the players discussed, the riffs they tried and decided to use or throw away and their silly comments about music in general.  I even got to hear their bunny trails of music while they waited for someone to give direction or press a button.  Jazz, Rock, Country - I guess it was their way of letting off steam and getting ready for the next 'take', sort of like a biker revs her engine at a stop light.  Can't wait to get going again?

I could make comments and give feedback directly to my producer as we talked on my iPad using FaceTime.  (In fact, as I write this blog at 8:30 p.m., I am still linked in to the studio in TN and listening to other songs that they are working on.  I don't know if they know I'm still listening.  They aren't my songs, but I get to hear the development of other artists' songs).  Pretty amazing!

While I was listening with my headphones from my iMAC and watching on my iPad, I was texting from my iPhone back and forth with my producer as we discussed things that were happening. 

At first I tried to give ideas for changes, but I could tell real fast that it was clear that Eric has a vision of the 'big picture' of not just each song, but the whole project.  He tries to walk a fine line between making sure I get what I want, but that I also end up with music that fits the song, my style, my audience and what is current in the music world.  Like when I suggested a different 'feel' in the verse, he told me that what I played on the demo is reminiscent of by-gone days and that they are trying to keep it more current - which is something he knows is important to me on these two songs.

Here's some of the comments back and forth between Eric Copeland (my producer) and I.  Sometimes the texts are disconnected.....our thoughts were finished later as we talked things through on the iPad.

Night of Miracles

Eric:  "Dave is redoing his 1st guitar, not adding yet"

Frances: "Ok - I think I better just listen and let you lead this  : )"

Eric:  "Prepping for next guitar and keyboard sounds" 
          "I told Dan I think I hear the miracles happening"
          "He started making baby noises and saying "Its' a boy!" 

(this was as they began adding bells to the song making it start to sound like Christmas)

Frances:  "Ah yes...Dan.....I remember having trouble recording because he was always making me laugh"  

(Dan Needham is the drummer and played on most of my "Inside Things" project.  He was hilarious to work with.)

Eric:  "He's rather tame today"

Frances:  "It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas!!!!"

Sing a Song of Joy

They spent a good bit of time on this song before they began to record - more than I've ever experienced before.  It was interesting to listen in on their thought process.  It sounds very different than my a very good way.

Eric:  "They are still feeling their way through"

Frances:  "I like it"
 Eric:  "Gotta also remember, we will be orchestrating over the top of this"

Frances:  "I like the electric guitar groove he is doing in the chorus"
Frances:  "Liked the intro too"

Eric:  "I hate the key change"
Frances:  "Ok - Lose it!"

Frances:  "What else might go in the bridge"  (sometimes we'd talk and skip the texting)

Eric:  "Organ cool?"
Frances:  "Whatever you think"

Eric:  "Jeff is going to add another belly thing when Dave does acoustics"
Frances:  "Ok"

Frances:  "Really like what the acoustic guitar adds"

Eric:  "I also hear chimes in this, but that's more orchestral in nature.  Strings and orchestra will be beautiful in this, and may add some parts in the middle as well (cello?)"
Frances:  "Great"

Eric:  "Gonna be very nice"

So you see.  The producer plays a very big part in this whole thing.  He hired the musicians, planned the recording day, chose the engineer, the studio and coordinated all the interaction between all of us.

He kept reminding me throughout the afternoon that what we were doing today is the 'base' of everything in these two songs.  When I was tempted to say it feels one way or another, he would remind me that I needed to be patient and let them do their thing because they were 'building' it.  I know that in my head, but you can't imagine how it feels (or maybe you can) to spend years writing, working, saving and then have it come to life in one afternoon.  You want so much for it to be grand right away.  But you can't ask a baby born one day to be trained, mature and ready for college the next day.  So it is with a song.  This is only the first day of school for these children of mine.   Graduation day will be when the CD is released to the world.  And by the end of the first song, I was loving what they did!  He was right.

Trust is a big issue when working with a producer and I chose Eric because we've had history of working together before and I knew when he reminded me that he hears so much more in his head than what I heard today, that I needed to trust him like I did with my other projects.

He hears the finished product.  That's why he's the producer and I'm not.

Reminds me of our heavenly Father.  So often I cry out afraid that what I currently hear or see is all I'm going to ever hear or see.  But He is building a much bigger plan than I can even comprehend and He can easily see down the road to the 'finished' product and outcome of our lives.  We must trust Him that all things are working together for our good. 

Today is only a glimpse of what the future holds.  If I base my faith on what I hear today, it could be really great (but only if I have a good day).  If I have a 'bad' day, then I might be tempted to feel yucky.  He wants me to trust Him in good and bad.  To wait for the bigger plan and picture to unfold and enjoy each moment as it comes until the big dream is complete.

Sigh.  (wishing for deeper trust!)

What a great day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"The Elephant Diet" Day # 76 Waiting and Praying

Tomorrow we will track 2, maybe 3 songs. It's an exciting process and I'll join in through Skype.

The band will listen to my homemade demos and then come up with a professional version of it. I've been a part of this process before (in person) and it is amazing to watch.

Tonight I finished some flower bed prep that I started over the weekend and as I pruned, I prayed.

"Father, be with Eric, Dave Cleveland (guitar), Dan Needham (drums), Mark Hill (bass) and Jeff Roach (keyboard). As they record the song 'Night of Miracles', I pray that Your presence would be there. Make the song come alive and use it to encourage people to believe in miracles again. When people hear the song someday soon, may their hearts be drawn back to the Christmas story to take another look and realize how miraculous it truly was. I pray that miracles would take place when people listen.

As they work on 'Sing A Song Of Joy', I pray that the band would capture the Spirit of Joy in the song. When people experience the song in my concerts or in their car, may a spirit of joy come on them. May joy bubble up and lead to hope for better things to come. May Your glory rest on listeners and transform our lives. I pray that blind eyes will see and deaf ears will be opened just as it mentions in the scriptures and in the song. Just like the days when You were here walking on the earth, please touch people in very physical ways, through the music.

"Even the desert will be glad
And the wilderness rejoice
When The Lord comes near
Then blinded eyes will start to see
And the deaf ears, they will hear
When The Lord comes near

Sing a song of hope
Sing a song of joy
When the glory of The Lord is near
Sing a song of hope
Sing a song of joy
For the glory of The Lord is here."

And then there is the "MOPs" song. Mothers of Preschoolers. Father, I ask that when young moms hear this song, they would be able to laugh and be lifted for a moment from the pressures of life and motherhood and just step back and find some humor in it all. Help the band to capture the quirkiness of this tune and make it lighthearted for audiences to enjoy. Laughter is good medicine - give us a good dose of it through this song.

Help everything to work well tomorrow in the studio - no glitches, no setbacks or mechanical malfunctions!

Thank you for working through prayer and that even though I can't be there in person, You ARE and that can be enough."


My kitty looks up with anticipation. Just like me!

Monday, March 11, 2013

"The Elephant Diet" Day # 75 The Right Thing

Over the weekend my husband and I tried to imagine how it would work for me to go to TN this week for 'tracking day' with him struggling to get along without me since his hands aren't functioning too well yet.  He's always been very supportive of me, so I knew that he would try hard to manage without me if I decided to go.

Sometimes when I can't make up my mind about something I have to 'try it on' for size and see how a decision feels one way or another.  So I decided to make plans to go to TN.  But as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get my decision to go to TN to fit right.  It's almost like shopping for clothes.  A garment can look great on the rack or even on the mannequin but you don't know how well it will really fit until you try it on.  This one didn't fit.

When I finally surrendered to the idea that it really would be best for me to stay home and help my husband, I knew that was the right fit, even though it's very hard!

So it looks like I'll be 'skyping' in on the tracking session on Wednesday afternoon.  I'm so thankful that we live in a day when I can at least be present via the internet.  

Praying that God will be present in the session and bring the songs to life as they start to take shape.