I’ve just finished Day two of the pre-production. We have now worked through almost all the songs – two left to do tomorrow. We started this morning with the newest one – in fact, I finished the lyrics to the bridge section only on the plane. I had not picked up the guitar to work out the music, but I was fairly clear on what I wanted to do with it.
Paul is a gentle collaborator, and encouraged me to work it out on my own. Then he had something to work with. We “tweaked” the chords to make them more interesting, cleaned up a couple of lyric lines that had too many words (that’s always the way with me – I try to fit too many words in), and wrote the chart. I’m very happy with how it has turned out, and I must re-send the lyrics to Esther Bryan (the originator of the Quilt of Belonging project), so that she’s up to speed with it all.
We’re going to be recording an old Betty Hutton song called “The Sewing Machine”. Check out her version here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=999ph8iRT4o We have decided to intersperse the verses with a couple of Irish jigs. We are going to have a wonderful Irish musician, Steafan Hannigan http://www.steafan.com/, come in to do some Uilleann pipes and penny whistle parts, and he suggested a couple we could use. (email and the Internet are wonderful for this kind of research) We’ll add a tune called “Paidin O’Rafferty” and “Banish Misfortune”. It should really keep things moving, AND help me catch my breath between verses!!!
After lunch, we worked on Midnight Knitters, the rock song that will have screaming electric guitar on it. This is the song about Stealth Knitters (aka Yarn Bombers) – Google either of those, and you’ll find out more. Paul suggested a few rhythmic changes in my guitar part that make it sound more rocky (I’m a folk singer, after all!).
We changed the key on “You Just Might Be a Quilter”. Paul said this could very well be the “hit” off this CD. Very swingy. Now – I just have to learn to play it in the new key before I record it.
There’s a story from the book “Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them” about an unfinished oak leaf block from the early 1800s. She told about a young girl who fell in love with a whaling captain and her father disapproved of the match. He locked her inside until she agreed to marry a local lad instead. But she was stolen away by the sailor and met a watery end on their honeymoon in the South China Sea. I’ve written a slow Celtic air to this ballad, and Steafan, the pipes player, will add various spooky and atmospheric touches. It’s going to be very cool to hear it.
The final song today is one I recorded on my first album, in 1985!!! It’s called Duncan’s Cove, and it’s been one of Paul’s favourites of mine for years. We are going to lower the key a tone, and do the instrumental a tone up. Fiddle and guitar instrumental. This song is almost like a second skin for me, after having sung it for the last 25 years, so we’re not messing with it too much.
I realize that making an album is like building a house. You start with the foundation, and that’s the songs. Once the charts are written, everybody is on the same page, and we build up from there. After the last two songs are charted tomorrow morning, my job is to lay down the guitar parts, then some “scratch” vocals (which we may or may not replace later), so that the musicians can hear the song as they record their parts.
I’m a singer first, then a songwriter, then a guitar player. Once the guitar parts are done, it’s easy for me. Then I can sit back and enjoy (and opine about) the performances of everyone else. I told Paul today that I prefer to record my final vocals when everything else is on – it’s far more fun for me, and I’m sure I’m influenced by what everyone else is playing.
On the crazy quilt front: I embroidered two blocks last night. The light isn’t good in the hotel, so I think I’d better do it when it’s still light outside. It’s difficult to mark the lines to embroider on silk, satin and velvet so I can see them. Maybe I should shop for an Ott light while I’m here…..