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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Sunday (8/3/08) 10:37pm - ... wherein Peter posts a song.

Another month rolls by, and I finally meander back to home recording.

Boilerplate bit:  occasionally I'll play a song I like on my old acoustic, record it on my home-recording setup, and post it to the blog.  You can see earlier entries here, or subscribe to these as a podcast (click here if you use iTunes).

Finally, a song from this decade:
     #38.  The New Pornographers - Letter from an Occupant

Sometimes I listen to a song and realize it would work surprisingly well for an acoustic.  Other times, I just pick a song that I like and pound it into a single-guitar arrangement, even though it's against all the laws of nature to do so.  In this latter case, I call it 'an experiment' in hopes that it isn't judged on actual quality, and I tell myself that at least it's forcing me to play a bit differently than I do for your run-of-the-mill acoustic-guitar ballads.

So:  this was one of those 'experiments'.  I'm surprised I could play it at all on an acoustic, frankly -- it's almost as tough as a Cars song.  (Side note:  For whatever reason, songs by the Cars tend to spectacularly not-work on an acoustic guitar.)  The unique challenge to this one was the vocals.

The lyrics are almost gibberish (at about 2:08, they fly off into literal gibberish), but if you sing it with anything less than total conviction, the whole thing just collapses like a botched soufflé.  (Side note:  nothing manlier than a French-cooking similie.)  So how the hell do you 'sing it like you mean it' when it doesn't actually mean anything?  Grumble grumble stupid song grumble zen koan grumble.

The guitar part is challenging, too -- or at least it was for me.  The rhythms that you play over and over again are a little more complicated than 'strum strum strum', so I had to start out very very slowly to learn how to sing and play it at the same time without making the part of my brain that handles rhythms melt down.

In the end, what I came up with kind of worked.  I should have sung more quietly at 2:08, and the tempo is wobbly as always.  I wonder if learning drum parts on Rock Band would help.  (Side note:  I'm really trying to rationalize buying a Wii.)  I'm such a fan of the original song that I'd be intrigued by any acoustic take on this, so I suppose I'm proud of myself in that respect.

Anyway, the magic YouTube gives us the original, in convenient ZoomQuilt form.

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Mood: [mood icon] cheerful · Music: none
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