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Recording Mythology, Pt. 48 / Why I Am A Solo Recording Artist

Not that anyone cares, but I like to write about music when I’m not recording it.

Music runs in my family, so I acquired what skills I have by force of genetic habit.

Both of my children, Jessica and Sterling, eventually took up music, and persued it to their own desire. I never interfered, after all, I had pretty much done the same thing.

As my offspring developed musically, they would occasionally pose questions of some sort, wondering what I thought about this, or if they could do that. Having always been the sole investigator in my own musical ventures, I’ll usually have an answer, but if I don’t, and my interest is piqued, I’ll either do the research and get the lowdown, or I’ll get my hands dirty and learn through experience and failure.

For the duration, I’d kept a journal of sorts with copious notes describing my recording setups, sessions, signal path accounts, and control settings, mostly for my own reference, in the event that my spastic frame-of-recording-mind would escape me at some later date.

One night I found myself combing through my notes while writing to my daughter and addressing some question she’d posed, concerning a method I’d applied to great effect in the recording of a particular tune.

I decided that my ADD fueled notes were a pitiful mess, as disorganised as my brain.

Within the time that this fact had taken to dawn on me, and the subsequent course of action having actually taken place, the digital revolution had occurred, and a computer had come into my posession.

‘What I ought to do,’ I mused, ‘is exhume all of these notebooks, organise all of my recording notes into key subjects, copy and edit them on the word processor, and then save them onto the hard drive.’

I finally achieved this, although it took some time.

Some time later, after establishing a presence on the Internet and uploading my music for streaming, it didn’t take long before I’d realised a sizable fanbase for this post-analogue era (at least in my way of thinking), and had begun fielding the same sort of questions from other individuals that I’d been getting from my own kids.

I finally got around to blogging said ‘notes’ in the form of individual articles, not only in the name of Discipline, but for the sake of posterity, and in the event that my house burned down, taking my self and my notes along with it.

My original notebooks had taken shape to become a ‘blog’.

I hate that word, by the way.

———————————————————-

Well, anyway, there’s one question that I haven’t gotten around to addressing yet, primarily on account of it was of a personal matter, but what the hell. Quite a lot of folks have asked why I’m a solo artist.

I suppose that I subconsciously knew that it’s how I would end up working, I just didn’t know how it was going to happen. I never wanted to be in a band, although for a brief period, I sang in one when I was in high school.

The way that came about was that ‘somebody’ had told ‘somebody else’ that I was a singer. ‘Somebody else’ was a member of a band whose members wanted to replace their singer-at-the-time, on account of his chorus boy voice, and his not filling the prerequisite ‘image requirements’. People can be superficial. Which pretty much goes for the the seventies, but the music of the period was being developed by some top-notch talent, and the idea appealed to me.

I’m not implying that I fulfilled the aforementioned image requirements, nor am I saying that I was even a singer back then. Somebody else said that. I just wanted to get all up in it.

Anyhow when I was asked, I replied (to my own astonishment) that I did indeed sing. Upon my affirmation, I was likewise asked if I’d show up at such and such place to audition for the position, and I replied that by damn I would.

I’d never sang for anyone in my entire life, and wasn’t sure that I could. When the time to audition came around, I killed a quart of beer to quell my nerves. They asked if I knew the words to ‘Can’t You See’ by the Marshall Tucker Band. Luckily, I did.

‘Great,’ I thought to myself, ‘a cowboy band tune. I hate cowboy bands.’

The band started playing and I began wailing the song. Halfway through the tune the guys stopped playing and said, “Okay, we’ve heard enough.”

Not good. I figured I must suck as a vocalist.

“I believe I speak for us all,” one of the guys said looking around at the others, “and you’re in. Great performance.”

“You sound just like that guy in Marshall Tucker,” another one of the guys said, “Where did you learn to sing like that?”

“In the shower,” I drily replied.

Everybody laughed. I was serious.

“Do you know ‘Tush’ by ZZ Top?”

“Yes,” I answered aloud. ‘Another cowboy song,’ I thought.

“Mind if we run through it?”

We blew through the tune. I’d found my first gig.

“That’s cool man. You sound just like that guy. How do you do that?”

“I’m a singer,” I said and shrugged.

I could summon up some real attitude as pseudo-asshole, but it was mostly to hide my lingering self-doubt.

The truth is I’d just discovered my new-found talent.

I had no idea how what I was doing or how I was doing it. I was just mimicking what I heard and it just seemed easy for me.

Later on, I recall really being impressed when I heard that Paul McCartney had recorded his solo ‘McCartney’ album at home all by himself. I thought that anyone who could do that didn’t need a band at all. That was what I called a real artist.

It wasn’t long before I also discovered that folks like Todd Rundgren and Dan Fogelberg had both done the same thing on a couple of their respective records.

I eventually determined that my own personal measure of success would be realised in not only writing, but singing, playing, engineering, and producing music.

However, at the time I could barely play the guitar. I’d written a few songs but they really bit the bag.

I’d always been highly interested in all things musical, and even in my youth, had reasonably good taste in music. I was able to distinguish the cream from the crap, and looking back, the choices I made were solid, but this was different: I was considering a musical career. This would become a point of contention with my parents. Music, although considered part of a well-rounded education by my mother, was not at the forefront of what could’ve been thought of as a solid career choice by either her or my dad.

Music was a booming business at the time and I wanted to be part of it. By the time
I’d hit my twentieth birthday I’d written my first decent tune. I’d never been much for fantasy life, preferring reality to imagination, but one thing that I embraced above all else was to succeed in the music industry as a composer and writer.

Years passed. ‘Real’ jobs, marriage, children, and all of life’s other realities crept in, crowding me at times and making me uncomfortable as hell at others, scattering my intentions, but I always insisted in making room for my musical pursuits.

Women were always the worst stumbling blocks. Relationships demanded time. They retarded my creativity. I saw movies in my mind and turned them into three minute songs, but life could never be so simple. I never met the woman who understood the artist inside of me. They all thought that my songs were some special ‘code’ representing something besides what they were about.

Soldiers and Musicians should never marry. Women, in all of their imagined intuitiveness, always think that there are other women, but there’s really only war and music. It may sound trite, but relationships just complicate things.

——————————————————-

Over the next ten years I kept writing and attempting to teach myself music. I even tried to co-write and play with a few different individuals, but nothing never really congealed. I kept hearing things which I could not clearly explain and as a result I felt as if the finished compositions had been compromised. I couldn’t ever define what ‘type’ of music it was that I wanted to play, which was somewhat annoying.

I spent the next fifteen years refining the productions that I heard as they came to me, finally deciding to hell with styles and genres, then took another five years piecing together the studio that I felt I required to capture the performances.

I’ve been writing, singing, playing, engineering and producing my own work for over seven years now, and I’m working on my sixth CD.

Suddenly…I’m a solo recording artist. Just what I always wanted to be.

Rich? Nope. Successful?

You’re damn right.

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About Johnny Nowhere

Johnny Nowhere is a songwriter/composer and owner of Hell Paving Company, music publisher. Johnny doesn't really exist outside of the music industry and Facebook. He is simply a figment of my imagination.

2 responses »

  1. Warrior Maiden

    Women can be stumbling blocks. Especially if they are chosen with a lower organ than the brain. The right woman, would understand that you are an artist. Inside and out. She would understand that it was what made you, you. The perfect woman could open up a universe of newly inspired creativity. Not retard the creativity. Keep an open mind. You never know when that perfect woman just might enter your life. My intuition says if that woman enters your life, you will never feel the same.

    Reply
    • Well, I reckon that I was generalising, Warrior Maiden. Perchance thy be correct in yon assertion. I must recalibrate my brain and give the Maiden’s words a chance to work.

      God knows I could handle never feeling the same, but that is another matter!

      Thank you for your comment, milady.

      Reply

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