Monday, November 30, 2009

Song153_Earl Camino

Well, it's the last day of another month, and tomorrow's song will complete another album (Week22_Personal Space Invader). I'm feeling 17% better today than I did yesterday, but I still don't feel well enough to sing. So, here's another instrumental for the collection. The foundation is a consistently strummed electric guitar. Additionally, there is: a bass guitar, tambourine, 2 drum rhythms, and a variety of chopped-up samples.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Song152_Personal Space Invader

I woke up today at 10am feeling worse than I've felt in a long time. I stumbled around the house for about 20 minutes, fed the rabbits, took some vitamins, fell asleep on the couch until 3pm, stumbled around for another 20 minutes, then slept another hour. The fever comes and goes, but I've been coughing too much to even consider singing. This actually worked out well, because I like today's instrumental. I started with a few drum rhythms, and I wrote and structured the chord progressions on an electric guitar. There are 3 sets of chord changes, and each is unique...half-steps, minors, odd chord arrangements, etc. I was a little surprised that they all three fit together (which could be argued), but it's pleasantly unpredictable. From there I added a synth bass track, and the rest was just icing. This entire song took about 4 hours to record (guitar=30min, bass=20min, drums=25min, misc synth=1.25hr, editing/mixing=1hr, format/upload/posting=30).

Time for more medicine and more sleep.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


I am still not feeling well...operating at 74%. However, I was still able to manage a focused, 8-hour recording session. I started around 10am, chose a modest BPM (100), wrote and recorded the foundation of the song on a distorted guitar (which I removed before doing the final mix), recorded the bass guitar, and then I took a short break. I had just enough time for a turkey sandwich before Sam Reidland, my cousin, came over to track the drums on today's song. (PS: Sam's daughter, Rachel, is an incredible artist, and she has agreed to design a future album cover for this project). Sam had warned me that he's out-of-practice, but it seemed to only take him 10-15 minutes before muscle-memory took over. I think he only did 5-6 takes before we both decided that we had enough to work with. The song was somewhat structured, but we edited the drums to create intensity in certain sections. Also, we went back and recorded additional cymbals on a separate track. Sam was able to stay for a while after the drums were in place, and we both shared ideas about which direction the song should go. I added an acoustic guitar and a few electric (picking) guitars, but the song still needed something else. When I 'muted' the original distorted guitar track the song opened up, and that's what gave me the idea to add the piano and violin. Additionally, there is one track of strings and one track of synth vocals (female "ahhs"). I like how this song came together (all 30 tracks), so I topped it off with some sappy lyrics that my wife will enjoy.

LYRICS: "Once, love saved the day. The rain went away. The sunshine's here to stay, for us. Oh, nobody could break us apart. I'll follow you anywhere. Cause anywhere's better than being without you. A desert, an ocean, a jungle, or a cave. Anywhere, baby. You, an angel at times with a devilish side, but you don't have to hide from me. Oh, nobody could break us apart. You're all I need, and all that I want. I'll follow you anywhere. Cause anywhere's better than being without you. A desert, an ocean, a jungle, or a cave. Anywhere, baby."


Friday, November 27, 2009

Song150_Don't Stop

I took my brother and his family to the airport early today, so I came back and got an early start on writing today's song. I had about 75% of the song completed by 11am. However, I'm getting sick...felt the fever kick-in around 1pm, slept until 7pm, woke up and wrote lyrics, and I completed this song around 10:30pm.

LYRICS: "The time has come to make your bet. Place your money where your mouth is. Don't stop the beat the rhythm's catching up to us. Shake it if you feel it, 'cause time doesn't rewind. You cut through the woods to get ahead, but the shorter path is the longer trip. This is all the time you get. Give some thought to what you do with it. Don't stop the rhythm's catching up to us. Shake it if you feel it, 'cause time doesn't rewind."

My cousin, Sam Reidland, will be joining me in the studio tomorrow. He's a drummer that played in a band during high school, but he hasn't played formally for a while. In effort to create something that he'll enjoy playing along with, I asked him for some examples of what he likes as well as songs that mimic his drumming style. I liked the songs he mentioned, so I'll do my best to create a song tomorrow that suites our needs.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Song149_Pilgrims and Indians

Today's instrumental was written in an order similar to yesterday's song. I found the BPM that I wanted, recorded a scratch drum track, and then I experimented with different (clean) electric guitar parts. I found 3-4 different progressions and rhythms that I liked...recording each one as it came to mind, and then I editing each section before determining the best way to combine them. Once I had the skeleton of this song in place I recorded the bass guitar, a few synths, a variety of guitar picking melodies, and some random percussion (shaker, tambourine,...).

My brother (Ryan), Rick, and I saw Aaron Burton play the blues in Euless last night. I met Aaron in Jr High, and he is a true artist/musician. You can learn more about his music at:

Today is Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't trade lives with anyone else.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Song148_Dark Shades

Today's song begins a new album (Personal Space Invader), and I've decided to speed things up again. I enjoyed creating songs based on unique (clean) electric guitar rhythms and chords, so I will revisit that formula for Week #22. The chords for this song are fairly standard except for the alternate formations that I used (and the order of the selected chords). (PS: I recorded today's guitars using a pick that Paul Stanley used at a recent KISS show in Tennessee. My brother caught it and gave it to me). After writing this initial guitar track I recorded some 'scratch' drums which made it easier to record the bass guitar. Brandon and Ryan helped in the studio today, so I turned things over to Brandon at this point. He was able to complete the final drum sequences as well as add a keyboard and picking guitar part. Each of these tracks enhanced what I had, and it put us closer to the daily goal.

I wrote some lyrics while Brandon was running the board, but I had thought about the broader (weekly) goals before doing this. Today's song deals with good intentions that end up doing more harm than good. One example involves a recent radio interview that I heard on NPR. Someone had discovered that the paper cups that Starbuck's prints, complete with a message about their dedication to saving the environment, actually do more harm to the environment when weighed against the money they give to that cause for each cup sold. Interesting. There are also individuals that go to strange lengths just to feel like they're saving the environment. I had always heard that we judge ourselves based on our intention and we judge others based on their actions, but I think intentions can work in your favor if no one sees the actual actions behind them (like the Starbuck's example, right?). So, go ahead and put that "save the environment" sticker on your car. Just make sure no one's around when you throw trash out your window.

LYRICS: "You're building up steam. Preparing for the dark side...the next life. All your friends now ignore you. They say you're Hitler-like...uptight. These dark shades of green... Looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun...the earth shakes. Time for everybody to step in and 'go green' things. I'm not sure what you're looking for. Always stuck on the latest trends. (You) never know, but it could be fun to save the world...or pretend we can. But, I never know what you're fighting for. (With your) green cape and a blue bag. Collecting trash and sorting piles. Cleaning up a doomed land. Approaching top speed. The enemy is plastics, not politics. The disappearing gases deplete the life-source of the masses. I'm not sure what you're looking for. Always stuck on the latest trends. (You) never know, but it could be fun to save the world...or pretend we can. But, I never know what you're fighting for. (With your) green cape and a blue bag. Collecting trash and sorting piles. Cleaning up a doomed land."

PS: I just noticed that Sno Cap (the online music retailer) has finally caught up to my daily postings (after a few days of being MIA with no active online services and no customer service). If that ever happens again, then anyone who notices can send me an email and I'll send you a free copy of the daily song.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Song147_Light Cycles

I have family in town from Tennessee, so I spent most of my day at the Science museum with my nieces. My brother helped with today's song, and we finally got started on it around 7pm. Ryan recorded the initial guitar (washed-out reverb guitar playing D-A-E). The bass and drums were added next, followed by 6-8 other miscellaneous layers. This song came together quickly, and I like the structure, the mood, and the way each individual track works for one cause.

This song completes another album (Week21_Skywriter). It's 11pm, and I'm still working on the final design for the album artwork, but the new album will be available online before midnight at


Monday, November 23, 2009


I didn't have any specific ideas before I started today, but the foundation of this song came together quickly. In about 2 hours I wrote and recorded the drums, bass, and 2 electric guitars (in that order). The second half of the song, written after a long lunch break, came a little slower. I recorded cymbals, tambourine, and one additional guitar. I struggled with the topic/lyrics, but once I accomplished that it was fun experimenting with melodies. There are 6 vocal tracks...2 for each section (each part sung twice, then panned and effected differently).

LYRICS: "You only watch PG movies. You cry when I'm sad. You're thoughtful and messy. And you're all mine for the rest of time. Skywriter, sum it all up for her. A simple, "I love you" at 2,000 feet, etched in smoke. You only read romance novels. You dance when you're bored, and pout when you're bothered."


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Song145_Vikings at Brunch

Today was another unique day of collaborating with a few close friends and family. In the studio with me today was: Ryan, Adam, Ann, and Brandon. Adam had the initial idea, tracked the first guitar (acoustic), and the rest is history. Everyone contributed something, and the results sound like a oneunder classic. (Adam, Brandon, Ryan, and I performed in the band 'oneunder' together for 3-4 years).

LYRICS: "Listen up, there's Vikings on their way to the brunch. This is rough they're taking up the space in the room. And they steal all the muffins and punch. But it doesn't make a difference to the misers that have packed their own lunch. I swear they're driving me mad. They don't acknowledge the sneeze-guard or the elbow-room. But one can't conquer the world without a pitcher of lemonade. Huddle up, they're striking out at workers and kids. Crushing jello, smashing salad, throwing up mints. And they still won't pay at the door. But it doesn't make a difference cause the neighbors don't come around anymore."

You can learn more about Adam's current band at:

You can learn more about Adam and Ann's work with 'Get Mortified' at:


Saturday, November 21, 2009


My brother, Ryan, is in town from Tennessee, so he and Brandon helped with today's song. (We were all three once in a band together). We let Brandon kick things off by creating some drum sequences, then I recorded a bass guitar track. Ryan recorded the foundational electric guitar (picking) as well as a few of the 'key' keyboard tracks. Editing and arranging the song became a challenge of its own, but we got a global view of the song and added a few remaining tracks to facilitate the structure. It was fun challenging each other creatively as we took turns adding tracks.


Friday, November 20, 2009


Brandon helped with today's recording session (which went from 1pm-7pm). We started with a broad concept: open the song with a 1-2 minute instrumental that builds in intensity (staying on the same chord), then create a simple 2-3 chord progression that facilitates a simple melody. This isn't a standard pop song's basically two parts (and neither repeats). The lyrics were written during a 20 minute break. The idea stems from a lyric I wrote years ago, "where ocean and land both begin." Each of the things below are vast and has a counterpart that goes just as far in the opposite direction. They have unique middle-points where it gets difficult to distinguish between the two.

LYRICS: "Where history meets the present, and present meets the future. Where ocean meets the land, and reality meets illusion. Where conflict meets with peace, and facts meet up with fiction. Where bitterness meets forgiveness, and certainty becomes prediction."


Thursday, November 19, 2009


This song needs no explanations, right? It's almost midnight and it's been a long day, so I'll just touch on some of today's highlights. (By the way, I've been starting 100% from scratch each day for the past 2-3 months). I started this one around 11am, and the first track I recorded was the distorted electric guitar (with the first strum of each chord-change started out of tune and then bent into tune). The simple (but rugged) guitar solo that you hear at the first of the song was played on the bass guitar through a series of pre-sets. (I also added a foundational bass guitar track that has some standard EQ, reverb, and compression). There are 4 electric guitars being picked during the 'Verse' sections. I hope I mixed them properly...there are a lot of notes being played there and I tried to make them all audible (through the use of EQ, panning, and individual levels). The lyrics aren't about anyone in particular...just an illustration of uncertainty.

LYRICS: "Your timing is off, but not by a mile...more like a hair, though maybe a dreadlock. Your subtle style...on a limb most your life. It's time to come down, and figure things out. Not sure what it is, but you know that you want some. Not sure who you are, just know that you're someone. Not sure if you're lost, or even need to be found. Not sure what to do, just know that the time's now. All bets are off. At least for a while. Get some fresh air, and maybe a new job. Your reckless stare reeks havoc on every one's life. It's time to slow down, and figure things out."


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Song141_The Insider

I finally got started on today's song around noon. I wrote this one by experimenting on the bass guitar. I worked out 2-3 sections of progressions quickly, and then I got a drum sequence in place before continuing. The bass guitar was recorded at 120BPM, so I recorded the drums at 60BPM. I wasn't crazy about the drum sound/sequence, but I moved on anyway. The distorted guitar was easy to record, and I think I played it all the way through on the 2nd take (G-Em-C-D, etc). The two picking guitars were recorded using a pre-set that was new for me. It sounds like it's coming out of small, low-fi P.A. speakers at a public swimming pool. Brandon came by around 4pm, and I turned him loose on the drum dilemma. He deleted what I had, and he was able to find much better parts for each section. Additionally, he added the organ to the Bridge section which gave it a warmer and bigger sound. I struggled with some vocal melodies, and I concluded that no vocals were better than mediocre vocals.

Today's song will be the first song on the next album, Week21_Skywriter.

Last week's album, Week20_Crying From Laughter, is now available for sale at

I created a new video yesterday. I had an idea for a drawing, recorded the entire drawing process (about 20 minutes), and edited the video in 'time-lapse' fashion so that it fits to Song117_Color of My Soul. The quality is not great, but I wanted to illustrate the most important reason that you should support my music. Let me know what you think. You can view the video at: (it's the YouTube video in the lower right corner of the page).


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today's song is a lullaby that's guaranteed to help you fall asleep (*guarantee void in some countries). This 6-tracked song began with bass guitar, and then it was layered with a few (single-note) picking guitar lines, a flute, and a violin. I thought about adding vocals, but I thought an instrumental would be a good way to end this week's album.

By the way, the newest album, Week20_Crying From Laughter, will be available later today at

Thanks, Carly, for creating this week's album design!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Song139_Crying From Laughter

This song turned out a little strange, but I still like it. I wrote the initial progression on the bass guitar, and then I layered some drums, an electric guitar (a clean sound with reverb and delay), some synth pads, and dueling electric solos (featured during the interludes). I probably should've put more effort into the lyrics. They align with the theme/intent of the song, but the storyline is completely random and can't be taken seriously.

LYRICS: "From the surface everything looks fine. I got a job and a sexy wife. Out searching for the meaning of life, I got drunk, and got a DUI. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter. Thirty gave me a mid-life malfunction. Bought a hooptie from a hip-hop auction. Bleached my suit, but nothing drastic. Friendly psychedelics like Elmo on acid. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter. Bought a morgue, got rich and sad. Only hang with the well-dressed dead. Took work as a seasonal Santa, I make kid's so happy that they pee from excitement. It's not as bad as it was, so let's call it better. At first I was just crying, now I'm crying from laughter."

PS: You've seen chemical cold-packs, right? You break the center barrier, the chemicals mix, and it becomes an emergency ice-pack. Why don't they incorporate that idea into individual canned drinks (soda, beer, juices, etc)? The cans would have to be bigger (probably just taller), and the barrier between the chemicals would have to be broken in a way other than shaking or squeezing (maybe press a button or twist the bottom?). Do you think the ice-chest industry has secretly hindered the development of this product? Or am I just the first to recognize the practicality of putting the two together?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Song138_Over and Over

I woke up early and had a bass line in my head, so that was the first track recorded in today's song. The main electric picking part came next, which made it easy to add space using a few synth pads and a solo violin. There is one straight-forward drum sequence accompanied by live mallet hits on the floor tom and live cymbal swells (recorded in separate takes, each part stereo-mic'ed). The lyrics/vocals are pretty simple (each part was recorded in 1-2 takes), but it's a descent message about: starting over, trying again (where you've failed before), and trying to resist the destructive side of our human nature that perpetuates the need to start over and try again.

LYRICS: "Over and over, time and again. It's not too late, so let's start over again. Over and over and over. Time never stops, and time never ends."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Song137_Common Strides

I started this song with an electric guitar and a pre-set that I like (and have used before). It's a very reverbed, 'washy' sound that reminds me of the band Slowdive. I chose some chords to work with (a 'C' without the 1st finger...the 'open' sound fits well with the mood of this particular pre-set). Even though the sound was nice, I wanted to get away from the tone of a standard 'C' I capot'ed on the 4th fret. The foundational electric guitar track was played to a 'click'/metronome (100BMP), and then I added synth bass. There are 2 additional picking guitar parts that each occupy one side of the stereo-field. I had a few lyrics, and I (as usual) was prepared to layer and layer and layer more sound. However, I liked what I had after only recording these 4 tracks, and I didn't want to pollute the sound with anything else. The melody that I had picked out (for vocals) was catchy, but vocals would've distracted from what I ultimately like about this song which is that (in it's instrumental form) this song could take your thoughts anywhere. For me, today's title relates to the shared experiences we have with other humans. Often what brings relationships closer together are things that are difficult, undesired, and maybe even unbearable at the time. I suspect many soldiers returning from war can verify this. I'm sure they have a deep, unexplainable connection with those they served side-by-side with. Common strides can be bitter-sweet, but it's better than the alternative.


Friday, November 13, 2009


I structured some drum sequences and the bass guitar for today's song, and then I took a lunch break. I knew that Brandon (Steach) was coming over today, so I wanted to keep the possibilities open. We listened to the song in its rough form a few times and then brainstormed ideas. This proved to be pretty productive, and we ended up experimenting with some new sounds and editing techniques. My favorite section is the intro...the 3 electric guitars that are essentially one part played on 3 separate tracks (and panned for effect). The lyrical premise for this song is fun, sarcastic, and a little dark. I met a guy once that had trouble traveling without advanced knowledge of when/where a local A.A. meeting would be held. He had been sober for years, but it appeared that he had traded one addiction for another. I guess that's a healthy trade, but it's still ironic. The lyrics were written in 10-15 minutes, and were mostly made up to fill space. Some of them are clever, but there's not a deep hidden message...just words about a fictional person and circumstance.

LYRICS: "Psychologists struggle for words to explain you, but psychiatry fixed you. Or, at least (it) made an attempt to. You were a mental mess, now you're boring but stable. You're not afraid of germs anymore. But you struggle to wake before the day ends, and (you) study alternate words for commonly stuttered phrases. I won't always see well so stand there and hold still. You might not always be beautiful, but you'll still be a handful."


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Song135_On The Double

Today's song is about a convenience-driven society...where "fast isn't fast enough." I saw something early this morning that summed up this thought. A woman in a minivan (immediately after ordering her microwaved breakfast from McDonald's) accelerated around the drive-thru path at race-pace (with tires squeeling)...apparently in an effort to make the drive-thru experience even quicker. I tried to summarize this thought years ago with a cartoon drawing of a man getting a haircut at a drive-thru barber.

LYRICS: "Sometimes fast isn't fast enough. Sometimes time can't keep up. Don't speed through the corners when placing drive-thru orders for double-adjective burgers and five-minute divorces. You can buy convenience online, and have it shipped 'Overnight.' Nobody likes to wait in the USA."

Some of the above lyrics didn't make it into the song due to space/timing issues. "Double-adjective" food has always amused me...products like: Biggie Double, Tasty McCheesy, Super Deluxe, etc. When food marketers do that kind of thing it's both hilarious and insulting. I guess they're counting on the photo to describe what you'll actually be eating. Anyway, back to 'convenience.' I have seen actual signs for quick "faultless divorce" filings...none as quick as 5-minutes, but I'm sure someone is working on that.

I started the music idea with a synth keyboard. I had a much different vision for the overall sound of today's song, but the layering process took me somewhere different. I worked on it for 5 hours straight, so I'll have to come back and listen later before I form my own opinions, but it seems to have worked.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Song134_Eleven Eleven

This recording session was a crazy mess of 5-6 different (yet developed) ideas that I was finally able to edit into an one (still somewhat unpredictable) 3-minute set of exciting instrumental melancholy. There's a section in the center that only appears once, but it's book-ended by the same chord progression (though the first is layered much different than the ending). I like the final product, but I'm selfish and usually try to write music that I enjoy. This song fit my mood today. November 11th (i.e. Eleven Eleven) is my mom's birthday, and she's been gone for just over a year. It's nice that the post offices stayed closed today in remembrance.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today's idea came from playing electric guitar through a 'washy' pre-set in GR3 (i.e. heavy with reverb, delay, etc). I was prepared to make this song an instrumental, but it was too easy to fit melodies and harmonies to I wrote a few lyrics during lunch. The general theme is about enjoying each phase of life, approaching each moment knowing there are no 're-dos' (to minimize regret), and not being too anxious for the next phase. This isn't the first time I've used this theme, but it's worthy of repeating.

LYRICS: "I wish I could rewind, (and) take us back in time. Take your time. Don't rush life. You can't rewind. There's just one try."

This song completes another album (Week19_Everything's Extra). Carly designed the album cover this week, and I should have it online within the hour.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Song132_Work Naps

Yes, we live in advanced times. Technology is changing daily, and innovations are simultaneously adding convenience and creating new problems. Not too many years ago airplanes were still a dream, but now we have un-manned aircrafts that can fly in (near) silence and drop large bombs with video cameras. Commercial airplanes are getting more complex too. Most cockpits now are "glass-paneled" (using digital computer gauges and GPS mapping instead of traditional analog instruments), and they can practically fly themselves. However, in spite of all the technological advancements it still doesn't seem appropriate for pilots to sleep during flights. If you're not familiar with this story, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recently released statements about commercial airline pilots napping during flights. They are in favor of this practice, and they say that "pilots who are more rested are more alert." Okay, so the way to achieve alertness is to sleep during lulls at work? What about the more obvious question, "Why are the pilots so tired that they can't stay awake during work?" The next question would be, "What can we do to reduce their fatigue before coming to work?" Nope. The FAA's answer: approved work-naps. I bet some surgeons work long shifts too, but I wouldn't feel comfortable seeing my surgeon napping in the next room as the anaesthesiologist put me under. Likewise, I think I'd feel more comfortable if my pilot stayed awake during a paid flight...even if it's to monitor the automated systems.

I structured this song to mirror the events of a typical flight. The song starts with some random noises (an engine igniting?), and it moves quickly with anticipation. The plane leaves the ground about 40 seconds into the songs (just after I say "rotate")...when the clean electric guitar and "Ahh" vocals enter. The artificial snoring sound leads the song into the "autopilot" section where approved naps usually occur. Then, as the pilot wakes he gives a summary of the situation to the passengers...then the music kicks back in. The energy picks up even more just after I say, "Landing gear down." (maybe I should've said "autopilot off") Near the end I give the altitude countdown. The sudden silence is symbolic of a successful touchdown (even though that's usually the loudest part of a flight).

LYRICS: "(Cockpit) Roger, engines ignited. (Tower) Flight 335 you are currently 5th in line for take-off on runway E65 south. Taxi to E65. Over. (Cockpit) Ten-four, Tower. (Tower) Flight 335 you are clear for take-off. (Cockpit) Roger, Flight 335 leaving. Thanks for your hospitality, Memphis. Throttles up. Rotate."

LYRICS: "Good morning, uhm, I mean good name is Captain Otto. We've been flying...uhm, really high for a while now, and the co-pilot says nothing unusual happened while I was sleeping...uhm, I mean concentrating. Anyway, there's weather outside, and we're currently over land and above the clouds. More details from the cockpit coming soon."

LYRICS: "We've begun our initial decent into Denver, and we should be arriving early. Crew, prepare the cabin for landing. Flaps. Landing gear down. 100. 50. 30. 10."


Sunday, November 8, 2009


I wrote this song earlier today on the electric guitar. It's not a standard chord progression, but I like it (C-E-F-C, etc). Once I got the two additional electric guitars in place I decided to cut the distorted guitar from the 'Verse' section, which made the 'Chorus' more powerful. Additionally, I added a second distorted guitar to the 'Chorus' to enhance the intensity as well as add to the melody (which closely mimics the vocal line). The 'Bridge' section (near the center) is just a slight variation of the other chord progressions, but the 2 fuzz-synths separate it from the other parts nicely.

I have always been impressed with David Blaine (magician, street performer, endurance artist, etc). I watched some YouTube videos of his last night that I had never seen before, so I decided to base this song on him. His magic skills are convincing, his approach (and delivery) is unique, his desire to challenge himself is admirable, and his ability to persevere odd circumstances is amazing. He's very confident, but never arrogant. When he performs in the streets it's as rewarding to see the crowd's response as it is to see the tricks he performs. And, when people realize who it is they stop what they're doing and follow him. I'm partial to his endurance performances...being buried alive for a week, hanging upside down for 60 hours, capturing the world record for holding his breath 17 minutes 4.4 seconds, and more.

LYRICS: "All your life a hero to heroes. The crowds in your wake want you to make it. Passionately elusive and evasive. You endure your fate, an homage to illusion. Take any card and show it to your neighbor. Put it back into the deck, then check your back pocket. No promises made or secrets to give away. You endure your fate, an homage to illusion. For the first time ever before: buried alive, then hung upside down. There's a good chance he won't come down. He can levitate and knows no bounds."


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Song130_Moatless Castles

Today's song/instrumental was pieced together in a unique way. I started with 2-3 drum sequences that I liked, and then I recorded a few bass guitar progressions. Then, I recorded two electric guitars, but I didn't like the flow of the song. I finally decided that it was the chord progression that was holding things back, so I deleted the guitars and re-recorded the bass track. I don't like moving backwards like that, but taking the time to ensure a good foundation always makes the final tracks easier (and more worthwhile) to record. I didn't have any good lyric or melody ideas for this song, so I focused on introducing a new instrument or sound into each repeated section (to keep it interesting).

I like the title "Moatless Castles." Viewed from an "Everything's Extra" standpoint, it makes me think of a castle salesman politely explaining to his customer that moats are not a standard feature, but rather an "optional add-on." It also stands for the physical and mental barriers that we use daily for personal protection. Education, firearms, medication, martial arts, reading, pepper-spray, forgiveness, bitterness, etc...just a few examples of modern-day moats.


Friday, November 6, 2009


I struggled with this song. The drums and bass were created quickly, which gave the song a good foundation. I heard some vocal melodies, but in the end I just couldn't find the right words. I had hoped to build the remaining instruments around the vocals, but after hours of trying to get it right I decided to move on. Ironically, the remaining instruments were created fairly quickly. The two guitar parts (one clean and one distorted) were easy to place, and I always find melodies easy to create with the fuzz/synth sound. I wasn't feeling very inspired today, but I still like how this instrumental turned out.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Song128_Everything's Extra

I didn't have any specific ideas when I sat down to record today. I decided to focus on a guitar track first, but instead of building the idea around a chord progression I took a different route. I found a guitar effect that I liked and created a part that fit that sound (i.e. the picking guitar that plays throughout the song). I didn't, at the time, concentrate on the chords that would accompany the 3 different picking parts. When I went back to add additional guitars (bass, fast strumming electric, distorted electric, etc) I found that I really liked the chord progressions...especially how well (in a unique way) that they related to each other. These are not chords that I would've normally paired together, but it works in this song. (Verse=B-A, Transition=G-Am, and Chorus=D-C).

It's only 11:30am, which is nice. Carly has the day off, and I'm caught up on all of my work, so maybe it'll feel like a day off if I can complete this song soon. It's 90% ready, but I'm still considering adding vocals. I'll eat lunch, then take another listen. Either way, Song128_Everything's Extra, will be available soon at


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Song127_Odd's The Standard

Today's song is the first song on the next album, Everything's Extra (Week #19). The album title was something that I saw on a menu once, and I thought it was funny for a few reasons. There was a small burrito shop in Erwin, TN (might still be there), and a group of us would eat there after a long day on the river. (I was a whitewater rafting guide on the Nolichucky River...big/fast water, long days, fun and challenging). The burritos were great, but a "burrito" was defined as beans on a tortilla. Period. "Everything's Extra." Meat was $1, lettuce was $.25, cheese was $.45, etc. By the time I was done ordering it wasn't a cheap burrito anymore, but "everything's extra" applies to many things in life.

This instrumental, Song127_Odd's The Standard, was written on the keyboard. I layered 4-5 tracks of keys before considering vocals. I started the day with a handful of random thoughts that I tried to corral (lyrically) into one song. It started by thinking about the struggle to create accurate (and non-offensive) terminologies. Example: I grew up hearing the term "Illegal Alien" when someone was referring to an immigrant that was here against US law. That term has changed a few times in the past few years. It was first changed to "Illegal Immigrant," but it finally became "Undocumented Immigrant." This isn't an opinion...just an observation that I find amusing. Also, someone pointed out to me that the term "African-American" doesn't always identify skin color. Ernie Els, the white-skinned PGA golfer that was born in Africa and has US citizenship, is an "African-American." Desmond Tutu, the black-skinned leader from Africa, is "African"...not "African-American." Interesting. At the root level, the above examples are irrelevant (and grossly generalized) titles, but again...amusing observations.

The other side of inspiration for "Odd's The Standard" deals with the challenges of having an original thought in a world of billions of other creative humans. I simplified all of these thoughts into the few phrases of which I have heard many places (ironic, huh?).

LYRICS: "When odd comes standard it makes 'different' 'normal.' You're unique, girl. Like everybody else."

Originally, this song had 4 sets of sequenced percussion loops. They were all removed just before the final mix, which really changed the overall mood and sound of this song. And, not having any other drums really emphasized the cymbal swells that I added last.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I tried a few different guitar ideas early today, but I had trouble hearing beyond those parts...wasn't happy with the creative possibilities, so I started from another direction. I found the fuzzy synth sound within a software program that I haven't used much, created the simple (but moving) melody line that appears at the beginning of the song, and I continued from there. There isn't another bass sound in this song...I got what I needed from this synth part. The 2 electric strumming guitars (clean and distorted) are foundational. The 2 solo guitars stand out nicely, and I liked how the two work together (even though the parts are simple). (I especially like how the guitars sound in the "Bridge" section).

This song completes the 7-song album for Week #18. EVEN STEVEN will be available within a few hours. I did an original drawing for this weeks cover, but I'm still making some final adjustments. I wanted something that fit the title, and I think I got it!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Song125_All My Days

This song was written on the electric guitar. I found 2-3 chord progressions that I liked, and then I gave each one a slightly different strumming rhythm. This song has a nice balance of guitars and synths...with one steady drum beat holding throughout.

LYRICS: "In the nick of time, through the needle's eye, we fly. Can't change your mind. The bush was set on fire, and it'll burn all night. Here comes the light. And if this storyline holds true. I'll live all my days with you."


Concerts I've Attended

In my journal a few days ago I mentioned that I've been to quite a few concerts. I've kept a list of the noteworthy bands that I've seen, and I just came across it today. For the sake of documentation I thought I'd go ahead and list them below (in no particular order)

CONCERTS: Guided By Voices (Trees/Dallas,TX), Ween (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Bedhead (many times), Tripping Daisy (many times), Home (The Argo/Denton,TX), Widespread Panic (Red Rocks/Colorado), Big Head Todd & The Monsters (some hotel ballroom in Jackson,WY), House of Pain (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Acetone, Sixteen Deluxe, Blues Traveler (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), The Cure (Starplex Ampitheater/Dallas,TX), Orgin, Ice-T, Charlatans U.K., Jane's Addiction (at the first Lallapolooza in Dallas,TX and at Fair Park years later with Flea), Butthole Surfers, Pearl Jam (Starplex Amphitheater/Dallas,TX), Red Hot Chile Peppers, Fishbone, Jimmy Buffett, The Beach Boys, Tracy Chapman (Farm Aid/Texas Stadium), Living Colour, Indigo Girls (Red Rocks Amphitheater/Morrison,CO), Sun 60 (in Austin with Tripping Daisy), Grandaddy (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Death Cab for Cutie (Ridglea Theater/Fort Worth,TX), KC & The Sunshine Band (I photographed them before a Mavericks basketball game...they performed after the game), BTO, Phish (Red Rocks/Morrison,CO), Johnny Cash (Majestic Theater/Dallas, TX), Willie Nelson (many times...Billy Bob's Honkeytonk, Wyoming state rodeo, etc), Spiritualized (Showbox/Seattle,WA), The Samples (Trees, House of Blues, etc), Pavement (Trees/Dallas,TX), The Spin, The Flaming Lips, Sebadoh (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Built To Spill (Key Arena/Seattle,WA and other places), Crosby/Stills/Nash (Starplex/Dallas,TX), Billy Joel and Elton John (Starplex/Dallas,TX), The Grateful Dead (Las Vegas and Denver), Traffic (opened for The Dead in Vegas), Sting, Black Crowes (Bronco Bowl and The Bomb Factory in Dallas,TX), Fugazi (Bomb Factory/Dallas,TX), Sugarcubes (opened for U2 in Dallas), Public Enemy, The Pixies, The Sundays (Arcadia and Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), U2 (I worked front-row security at the Pop Mart tour at Cotton Bowl/Dallas,TX), Luna (opened for the Sundays for first Texas appearance...Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Radiohead (at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas...Spiritualized opened for them), Neil Young (Farm Aid/Texas Stadium), Lynard Skynard (1993 Farm Aid), John Melloncamp, Paul Simon, Yo La Tengo (Trees/Dallas,TX), Smashing Pumpkins (Texas Stadium), Stereolab (The Showbox/Seattle,WA and Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie,TX), Low (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX and Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle,WA), Souxie & The Banshees, G Love & Special Sauce, Toad The Wet Sprocket (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Bob Dylan (Key Arena/Seattle,WA), Mercury Rev (Roseland Theater/Portland,OR), Rage Against The Machine (Deep Ellum Live/Dallas,TX), Amy Grant (Six Flags/Texas), Steven Curtis Chapman (Footloose/Euless,TX), Michael W. Smith (Reunion Arena/Dallas,TX), Van Halen (free outdoor show in West End Marketplace...downtown Dallas), The Moody Blues, Jars of Clay (Texas Stadium...before Billy Graham spoke), Delirious (Gateway/Southlake,TX), D.C. Talk (Texas Stadium), Cake, Psychedelic Furrs (Gypsy Tea Room/Dallas,TX), Nicole Nordeman (Gateway/Southlake,TX), My Bloody Valentine (Palladium Ballroom/Dallas,TX)...and some others probably.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Song124_The Escape

I started today's song around 5pm, and I had it uploaded by 7:30pm. I wrote the electric guitar (strumming) part with the click playing a steady 100bpm. The chords are just some unique variations of standard I had never played before, and one that I use often (although typically in a different key). Other instruments in this song are: distorted guitar, drums, bass guitar, synth, and a string section.

Today is Sunday. My recording weeks go from Wednesday to Tuesday. I typically try to create the album artwork on Sunday. This is usually a good day for creative/artistic ideas because I have already created 4-5 songs by this point, but I still have a few days to make changes to the design. A good album is not just a collection of good music. It's a collection of good music that's well titled and packaged. So, I'll probably spend the rest of the evening on the artwork for EVEN STEVEN.