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10 January 2012

EGBDF - The Album - Roadside Park

To recap, I've decided to post notes about each song on my earth-shattering album -- what went into it, what kind of equipment I used, etc.

This is about the second song, "Roadside Park".


Roadside Park
As a kid, my extended family lived in Memphis, Tennessee.. I grew up around my nuclear family -- three other people; not cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. Although that's different from the way my wife and my parents grew up, I've never counted it as a disadvantage or as a scenario where I've missed anything. On the contrary, it gave me a great love for my mom, dad, and brother.

On the occasions we'd visit Memphis (which were quite frequent), we had to do so without the aid of these modern "interstate" thingies. It was a trip of 218 (or 208) miles, I believe, and you could immediately tell when you entered Mississippi because the ride suddenly got bumpier thanks to terrible roads.

 Along the way there was this thing called a "roadside park." I don't know why, but the trip to Memphis just didn't work for me unless we stopped at the roadside park. There wasn't really anything to do there except get out of the car and stare up at the trees, feel the wind blow, and generally relax and unwind from the almost-two-hour trip we'd had thus far.

From memories of that landmark, now a thing only of memories, came the song "Roadside Park". A place where there isn't really much to do, but that's okay... "a rest in the shade of the sunshine."

Instruments used:
I programmed the drums on an old Korg T-3 keyboard (which belonged to the studio where I worked in the evenings, Harmony Sound), running into my Roland TD-5 Percussion Sound Module.

There were a couple of cheap Stinger electric guitars in the studio and a couple of really cheap Stinger mini-stacks. I took advantage of these gems in order to get the monster sound you hear on the record. (Okay, in truth the guitars and amps were not very good. Possibly the worst I've played.)

There was a Peavey Fury bass (I think it retailed for $199) in the studio, and to be honest, whenever I strung it with La Bella strings, it sounded absolutely fantastic. No, really. But I ran the bass through as much distortion as I could muster. Doug Pinnick of King's X fame used bass distortion quite successfully, and that was my inspiration. But my bass part just sounds like bass through a distortion box. His sounds great.

A note about the drum part... I went for a minimalist approach on this song, which was something I usually don't do. I don't ever intentionally over-program, but I try to program what a good drummer might play. On this song I tried to imagine what would be played by one of the best drummers I've ever recorded: James Blair (or J. D. Blair). Blair played in Huntsville for a while and then went on to play for many excellent artists, among them Shania Twian. I think he may be my favorite drummer ever. He could "say" more by hitting one tom than any other drummer could say by playing a whole song. He grooved. He spoke with his playing, and he is one of precious few who can actually do that.

Recording gear:
I've said so much by now that I'm out of words and ready to end the post, so I 'll be short here. Recorded this song on a Fostex G16 1/2" reel-to-reel recorder, ran through a Mackie 24-channel 8-bus board, and mixed to Sound Forge on a mammoth Pentium PC. Used several effect units in the process, including one of my favorites, a Symetrix 525 dual-channel compressor. Always thought it sounded quite good and didn't color the sound too much. Used an Audio Technica AT4033 mic for the lead vocal.

All in all, this turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the album. Lyrically it really doesn't go anywhere, but that's the whole point.

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