Friday, January 2, 2015

Footsoldier - the story of a song


Steve Earle at Camp Copperhead
Back in July 2014, I attended Camp Copperhead, a songwriting course hosted by Steve Earle.

It was a great and inspirational experience, and I started a couple of things while I was there, including 'Footsoldier.'

This one I actually came up with on the drive back across the mountains heading to the airport. I use Evernote on my cell, which lets me just sing at the phone at any time to capture passing ideas. Technology is great.

Life was busy for the last part of 2014, and the first verse and ideas for second never really went any further, but in the last weekend of 2014 I decided it was time to finish this one up!

Not a few weeks before, I'd finished 'Different This Time' as part of a new approach to getting my songs down, a kind of rough n ready approach, no agonizing over perfect performance or perfect mix, just get the song down and recorded and complete.

So I set out to do the same with 'Footsoldier' and wrapped up the verses, and got a chord structure and idea for something of a refrain (not really a chorus, the song doesn't really have one.)

On the 30th I got some drums down, recorded the acoustic guitar, the vocals, and an electric guitar solo. The bit with the third line in each verse gave me trouble, I was playing the guitar different from how I was singing (changing chords a beat early), so on the afternoon of the 31st, I threw out everything but the drums and electric solo.

To my pleasure, and surprise, in that afternoon I re-recorded the guitar under the vocals, re-recorded the vocals with the new acoustic track, picked up a bass and got that done, and added harmonica (first time recording that, so is only simple!)

This also included any mixing - I kept the acoustic sound from the day before, which I really like, I think the new D'Addario EXP strings are a large part of that, and of course the trusty CLA Guitar plugin. For the vocals, I actually added a clone that was a little distorted under the verses, throwing them through Scuffham S-Gear.

So there was a bit of mixing involved, it wasn't just catch it as it went down - and I managed to do all that in one afternoon!

I even managed to throw in time to come up with the cover for the next collection of songs, 'Restless Guitar.'

I now feel confident I can get songs done and out there fast. Sure, they don't have the slick polish of the ones on 'The Amber Dream' but I have some 80 songs on the go, and it's time to get them out there, let them loose on the world. That's my aim for 2015, get a whole lot more songs out there for people to hear.

Hope. Solace. Strength. Companionship. Giving those through music, that is my aim - and that can't happen with songs that are just scribbled in a notebook, or recorded on a mobile phone.

Expect to hear a lot more from me this year than just 6 or 7 songs!