Today we had David the bassist come in with his Earthwood fretless acoustic bass, one of only 12 made. It’s from the early seventies and we were trying it out on a song that we thought might have needed double bass. David had brought in his double bass for the Valley of Salt record but with its flat wound strings we thought we might not be getting the projection we needed on this song, so we tried the Earthwood instead and it worked so well that we used it on three more songs. A great instrument can make a big difference to a song, it’s not always just the player or the song itself, a combination with an instrument that has a particular sound can make all the difference.
A song can live or die on the guitar you choose to use. I imagine you could play the parts for Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be on Mark Knopfler’s Strat and you could play Sultans of Swing on Angus Young’s SG (or Malcolm Young’s Gretsch) but despite the skills of the players, the tones of those particular guitars contribute greatly to those songs, add in a special and great sounding instrument and the magic appears. Reptile wouldn’t have worked on a Les Paul.
I was working on a song today that involved putting down a very basic chugging acoustic guitar part on a 12-string acoustic, playing to a click. Sounds exciting, right? But the idea is that it is a guide for a scratch lead vocal, which in turn is a guide for Tess the cellist to come in and play the song with the cello as the main instrument. I’ll then replay the guitar around the cello. Olivia added violin and as this one develops we’ll see what the song is asking for and let it have what it wants.
It was uncomfortably muggy in Dallas today and the studio was sweet relief, but then the studio always is. Getting songs down onto tape (so to speak) and building them and eventually releasing them is a thrill. But there’s the pleasure of playing your instrument too. These days with all the technology you can play the part once and then ‘fly’ into other parts of the song and mostly no one will know, but then there’s the pleasure of playing the part missed, we don’t learn guitar to make shortcuts when we get in the studio. Sometimes something is ‘flown’ but in my case, it often isn’t, other people’s attitudes and approaches to this might differ, it’s art, everyone is right.
“In their initial press release, the band announced: “Daniel and Kevin are revisiting their storied catalogue and presenting in a fresh, new direction, to combine their histories with a reinvigorated outlook for new tours and potentially new music.”