In terms of bragging, being invited to be featured on a podcast is between your mom thinking you are handsome and headlining at a Bar B Que joint, but this particular podcast gets promoted on NPR and features an in depth look at single CD.
This week is our CD.
Our CD that I don't honestly like listening to.
There's nothing wrong with our CD per se. We put everything we had into it, but I don't honestly like to hear my own voice and I judge my own songwriting ability like a bitter pageant mom. I luckily only sing a third of the songs on the CD, the rest just harmony and mandolin work. The heavier burden laying on the other singer Judd.
We arrived an hour early for the show to miss the rush hour traffic and hit the happy hour pre-drinks. Two or three beers at Dan's Silverleaf and we headed to the end point of a google map print out. We met Paul at his house where he sat in his yard carving a small face in clay and watching a toddler play in the grass. We talked and joked and waited for the child's pretty blonde mother to cart him back to her house.
Paul had another daughter that is 19. He also has a gig tonight at Dan's.
We walked through the house past guitars and cheap plastic organs. The studio was awash with cases of guitars and CDs. In the corner was a computer running some studio software. Paul ran around hooking up microphones and explaining that he's never recorded two people for this.
"what I'll do is have you talk about each track, just go on as long as you'd like, but I'm going to cut it down to a highlight of about 45 seconds to a minute to play before each song. I'll cut out your Uhmms and Ahhsss.. so don't worry about them. Speaking too soft is better than speaking too loud. I can always bump the volume up, but I can't fix loud P's and T's. "
"If I can just get you to check the microphones, please."
We awkwardly improvise. Almost every weekend for five or six years the two of us have stood in front of a bar of people checking mics at singing volume. CHECK CHECK ONE TWO CHECK CHECK. HEY. CHECK CHECK CHECK THE MICROPHONE CHECK... but for some reason checking at a speaking pitch left us stumped. We tried to goad each other's attempts. In my NPR smooth voice I said "Judd Pemberton is a fucking amateur. He's speaking into the microphone without wearing any pants." Judd retorted that he didn't know why I was hear if this was about songwriting. We both laugh loudly and quite probably nervously.
The interview began with Paul informally asking us about the title of the CD and prompting us to speak about each track. We ramble on sometimes knowing we were exploring tangents destined for digital recycle bin. We tried to give specific interesting stories about each song without saying "I have no idea why I wrote this song. It seemed like a cool idea at the time. I somehow tricked the rest of the band into helping me record it."
Sometimes I feel my friend getting nervous, talking himself into a corner not knowing how to get out of. I jump in with something funny.
"this is my favorite song you've written".
"thank you" he says
I respond "the rest are total garbage".
When we are done we're asked if we want to hang out and drink some whiskey. We both decline. It's a long drive for whiskey.
I drove to a friends house and fished for catfish. We sat in the dark fishing by the light of stars. We drank miller in the can and talked about the merits of organized religion and the tenets of national socialism (at least it's an ethos, dude). A shooting star streaked across the sky and exploded.
I'd never seen one do that.
On the way home I put our CD in the dash and gave it a listen. I was trying to decide if the things I said were exaggerated or if I sounded like a complete asshole. Somewhere swerving down the abandoned back roads of Keeter, Texas I stopped judging and just listened to our recording. I enjoyed it and heard the single melody floating on top. The one you can scat a doot dah doot over.
I sat in my driveway and opened a beer. I sang along to melodies I had previously sang only harmonies to. Instead of hearing single instruments I heard a mash of sounds blurring into one image. I didn't hear theory. I didn't think about the key or the Nashville numbering system. I didn't give a shit about the warmness of the mics or the tone of the instruments.
I went inside and imagined for some reason it might be important to write this down. I'm posting it tonight before sober up and I realize I'm not Bukowski.
The edited podcast should be up Sunday at http://www.kera.org/artandseek/content/track-by-track-with-paul-slavens/
And also, just so you know, I didn't catch any fish but my friend Kevin did.
I'll regret this in the morning.