After some deliberation, I decided to make the Whitney album available for download. I'm in the process of moving a selected discography to Bandcamp for an eventual rehaul of the Hussalonia website this summer. 'Still don't have a header or anything, so pardon the dust.
I finally let my wife know that I did the RPM this year. Oddly, she was not that surprised. 'Still haven't told anyone else in the "real world." I rather like the idea of quietly releasing material. A new era of quietly lo-fi Hussaonia productivity?
Anyway, thanks to all for making my slice of RPM 12 enjoyable. 'Hope to see you next year.
I think I'm done.
I've uploaded all my final mixes into my player, in the order that I think they should be heard. I'm happy with nine of my eleven tracks, but I'm not interested in doing anymore rewrites. I could have dropped one completely, making my final song count ten, but the whole point was to write songs based on the titles of Whitney Houston's #1 singles. And there were 11. It is what it is.
The fact that I've been so musically dormant this past year is absurd. I spent eleven days on this project. Granted, it's super lo-fi and it's only twelve minutes long, but that's not the point. I've had something to look forward to for the past eleven days. It's helped me -- mentally, emotionally. It's clear that I need structure and I need creativity in order to be happy. RPM allows for both. Unfortunately, time and energy are rare commodities. I should continue to work like this -- lo-fi, late-at-night albums. Like Salinger writing novels no one will ever read.
I do have plans to get the home-studio back together this summer.
I'm listening back to my tracks as I'm typing. Some thoughts....
I'll mail a burned CD of this to RPM headquarters sometime this weekend, but I'm still not sure about releasing it. The Hussalonia site is "down" for now. I'd like to rehaul it in the coming year. I could throw it up on Archive.org (where, yes, all my old releases still reside). I somehow feel like "releasing" it will break its spell, sully the spirit of the venture.
In regards to this being a slow RPM year, I'll say this. I posted my blog sometime around 9:00 in the morning, and twleve hours later, it was still listed in the "Latest Blogs" columns. I'm glad RPM exists and I hope it continues to exist. It may be in my nature to worry about losing anything worth having.
Well, that's it for me. Maybe I'll see you next year. Best wishes to all of you. Be kind and patient to everyone -- they're idiots.
The Hussalonia founder
Two days of nearly nothing. Well, you know, nothing RPM-related.
And then yesterday afternoon, I wrote music and melody for the new "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" lyrics. Unlike my other songs for this project, which are admittedly fragments, I decided to create a very basic verse chorus structure that repeats. I'm not a fan of this structure, really, but I felt the project needed it.
I think I can write parts of songs. Good parts. But I'm not always sure that I can write good songs. I mean something that can sustain my interest for three or more minutes. I've got issues with song length, I know. If I'm listening to a CD in the car, I've always got an eye on the CD counter. The first time I look to see how far I am into a song, I figure that's when the song should have ended. I've said it before and I'll say it again; It's better to be unsatsisfied than dissatisfied.
I've been listening to a lot of Peggy Lee and Fred Astaire, essentially the American Songbook. I try to imagine myself being able to craft a song like "Isn't It a Lovely Day" or "The Way You Look Tonight." No way! I guess I'm glad that songs aren't still written that way. I'd be disappointed if there were no progress in the last century... But those songs never fail to impress me, the way that they give to each performer. Is that the mark of a good song? Its generosity to the performer? Think Daniel Johnston's songs. Or Randy Newman's. Two idiosyncratic songwriters with idiosyncratic voices. But just about anyone can sing their songs and sound like they've written it.
That's how I'd like to grow as a writer. To write songs that aren't so specific to me.
It's not going to happen if I keep going at the rate I've been... not touching an instrument for the better part of a year. Last night I decided to record some bass parts. That required me to search for an instrument cord and a USB interface. After 45 minutes of digging through boxes, I almost gave up. The whole process made me sick with worry. I've got all my music stuff in the basement. Some of the boxes got moldy due to poor circulation last summer. I wonder how much was ruined.
Anyway, I found an interface, a cord, and then proceeded to record the bass parts. I really enjoy playing bass and I usually like my parts to stand out, to be part of the arrangement. I'll use a muted pick technique like Carole Kaye, pan the bass to one side. This time, however, I decided to use the bass lightly, let it be a lumbering low end, sit heavily in the center. I mostly played root notes to flesh out the low fidelity. Recording the bass allowed me to listen back to everything. I think I liked most of it.
Oh, and I also recorded the new "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." I'm pleased with it. Way better than my first take.
Today I aspire to listen over some speakers and do some mixing/EQing. I'll (sort of) have the house to myself for a little while so I'll be able to do it without anyone hearing.
It seems like a slow RPM year. I check the site regularly. I see the same people blogging. Fewer blogs, fewer comments than previous years. It seems to have lost momentum. I wonder how long the challenge can last. Someone's paying for this, I imagine. What will happen when it goes away? Will anyone still do this without a venue? If you record an album in a month and no one hears it, did it happen?
I bought an Ebow today.
I've never used one before, but I decided that some of the songs needed something in the upper frequency range, a sound lacking attack, something ambient, like keyboards. (Ideally, a violin or woodwind would work, but I can't play any "orchestral" instruments.) As I've mentioned before, I don't have a studio set up right now. Any keyboards I have are packed away. I didn't want to drag a keyboard out of storage because I kind of liked the idea of doing this project with only one acoustic guitar. Plus, dragging out a keyboard would risk me being found out. (I still haven't told anyone in the "real world" that I'm doing this.)
I've always been curious about Ebows, but they're rather pricey to just go out and buy one for the hell of it. I checked Youtube so see if anyone has posted a video of an Ebow being used on an acoustic guitar. And because everything has been filmed and posted on Youtube, someone has. The sound was just what I needed, so I decided to spend the money and get one at my local big box guitar store.
I haven't been in one of those stores in years. Harrowing, I must say.
Anyway, the Ebow worked perfectly. I put it on "Saving All My Love for You," "I Will Always Love You," and "How Will I Know." For the latter, I ran the EBow parts through a harmonizer so that it sounds different from the previous two songs. I'm glad I bought it. I'm certain it will come in handy again.
I'm still toying with the idea of adding bass guitar to a few tracks. Again, I've taken to the idea of only using one instrument, but some of the songs do sound like they could use an intermittent bass guitar.
Started playing around with the EQ on some of the tracks. It's really amazing what a little EQ can do.
Still have to write new music and melody for "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." Maybe tomorrow night. 'Been listening to the Chiffons for inspiration.
Finally, I'm admitting crazy love for the sound of the iMac's built-in microphone. It produces this washy, warbly sound that melts my heart. Astonishing. Reminds me of the Dakota demos.
I gave myself an hour to rewrite and record "I Will Always Love You." I'm pleased with the writing, not so much the recording. We'll sleep on it and see how it sounds tomorrow. It just may need some remixing or overdubs. Or Disney strings. Either way, it's better than my first stab at the song. I posted it in the player.
Off to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.
Listening Back, Catching Up on Sleep
I listened back to what I have yesterday at work, sequestering myself with a set of headphones while on my lunch break. There are at least two songs that were recorded while I was home alone, which afforded me greater volume while performing. Unfortunately, those songs feel out of place. I kind of like the quieter pieces better, the feel of hushed necessity. I think the louder pieces have to go. This is okay with me, as one of the louder pieces is "I Will Always Love You." For such a famous Whitney song (and I know, it's a Dolly Parton song, but really, it's not) I think I need a better set of lyrics and music. Something, dare I say, more sincere. I wrote new lyrics in the shower this morning. Scribbled them on a scrap sheet of paper, stuck it in my pocket for later.
I also decided that "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" needs a proper treatment. Right now it's a throwaway, no real lyrics to speak of. I wrote lyrics for it later in the workday yesterday, in my head, a kind of reverie from a girl group singer. I'm pleased. Will write new music for it some evening this weekend when everyone's asleep
Lost considerable sleep all last week writing and recording, averaging about 4 hours a night. Went to bed early last night so that I'd have some energy today. A wise decision. I feel great. May do some writing and recording tonight.
Finally, I listened to side A of Whitney Houston's Whitney album today. Oi vey. Whole lot of shouting. Why is "Didn't We Almost Have It All?" sung at such a fever pitch? Just doesn't make sense.
Whitney Elizabeth Hussalonia was an RPM Challenge participant who sadly passed away on February 11th. Left only with unfinished, lo-fi demos, her manager Dave Clivus adds posthumous overdubs and completes the album.
I had the idea to do record a Whitney Houston-themed record last Sunday, February 12th. What better way to prove that all your material was written in February? And nearly half-way through the month? Alas, I have no time. None. Really.
But I decided to do it anyway.
I can't tell anyone I'm doing this, else it may seem like I actually have time (which I don't). I recorded 11 song fragments over a period of four days. I did it all at night when everyone was sleeping. When I should have been sleeping. I do not have any recording equipment set up, and so I had to do it in the living room, in front of the computer, using only the built-in microphone. Quietly. Very, very quietly.
Last night I completed my initial goal of having a song based on the title of every #1 Whitney Houston hit song. I'm not happy with all of my work, so I aspire to rewrite and rerecord some of them in the next few days. When I'm happy with all eleven songs (Whitney had 11 #1 singles in the US), I plan on adding some overdubs. Bass? Keyboards? Maracas? Had I actually tuned my guitar to concert pitch in the beginning, I could have used midi instruments. I guess I could do that for any rewrites I do and then "orchestrate" those songs.
It feels good to be working again; I have been musically inactive for about a year now... not something I wish to explain. But I must remain in the shadows. Nobody that I know in the "real world" must know about this. At least for now. Maybe not ever.
I don't have any plans to "release" this. In fact, I deleted my entire back catalog, for reasons I cannot disclose.
Anyway, thanks to those who've welcomed me back. Now don't tell anyone.