Patterico's Pontifications

2/25/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “The Same Mistake”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 6:18 pm

Tonight I am sharing the original version of “The Same Mistake,” which I debuted here Monday evening as sung by Northern Pikes front man Jay Semko, one of my favorite singers Of All Time. (Lyrics are here.)

As in the past, I ask you to bear in mind that these are primitive recordings done on primitive equipment — namely, a cassette-based TASCAM recorder, operated around 1992 or so. Details about how I did these recordings are here.

As with the others, you will note some differences between this version and Jay’s. I have two guitar parts and a faux-bass line, accomplished by playing the top string on my little nylon-string acoustic guitar, and turning up the bass on my TASCAM all the way for that track. This version has harmonies and background vocals that Jay could not replicate in a “live off the floor” performance.

Oh — and then there is the most salient difference: on my version the singing is poor, while Jay’s singing is completely awesome.

Without further ado, here is my version:

And as a reminder, here is the version Jay Semko did for me:

P.S. This will be the last entry in the “Patterico Music Project” series for a while. Today I received an update from one of the other musicians performing one of my other songs. It’s in process, but I don’t expect a final recording any time soon. Quality takes time. I am, therefore, in no hurry. So, look for entry #4 at some unspecified future date.

2/24/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Lyrics to “The Same Mistake”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 9:57 pm

I debuted the song “The Same Mistake” here last night. It’s all part of my crazy project to have professional musicians record songs I wrote in the 1990s. Details on the project here.

Consistent with my pattern, I am publishing the lyrics here tonight. I’ll go ahead and include the song again with the lyrics, below the fold. As I said last night in a comment, the lyrics may be a little goofy, but it has one of my favorite couplets of any song I have written:

Insulting your intelligence would not concern me now
There’s not much chance that it would take offense

The lyrics are meant to be heard and not just read, so hit the play button and follow along as Northern Pikes lead singer Jay Semko sings a song I wrote.

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2/23/2015

Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 3: The Same Mistake

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 6:33 pm

Tonight I am sharing the last of three songs that I wrote in the 1990s, and that Northern Pikes front man Jay Semko recorded for me this year. I posted the first one a while back (song; lyrics; original version). I posted the second one a couple of weeks ago (song; lyrics; original version).

Here is the last one, a little ditty called “The Same Mistake.”

It’s a joyous little breakup tune, where the boy wishes he could have the girl back . . . to give her the treatment she truly deserved, but which he never gave her when they were together.

2/11/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “Was It Really You?”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:46 am

I am blogging the second of three songs that I wrote in the 1990s, and that Northern Pikes legend Jay Semko recorded for me this year. I posted the first one last week (song; lyrics; original version). I posted the second one Monday (Jay’s version and lyrics).

This is my version of the second song: “Was It Really You?”

Be kind. My recording resources in 1992 were sparse. Details about how I did these recordings are here.

You will note some differences between this version and Jay’s. Mine has some harmonies and background vocals. There is a faux-bass line, which I played by playing the top string on my little nylon-string acoustic guitar, and turning up the bass on my TASCAM all the way for that track. The guitar-playing style is a bit different. And the singing is poor, unlike Jay’s masterful vocals. Here it is:

And here is Jay’s version, for comparison purposes.

2/10/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Lyrics to “Was It Really You?”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:43 am

Yesterday I debuted a song written by me in the early 1990s, and recorded by Jay Semko of the Northern Pikes this year (2015). It’s part of the Patterico music project, a quixotic project in which I try to convince my musical heroes to record songs I wrote in the early 1990s. I posted the first one last week (song; lyrics; original version) and posted the second one last night.

What, you didn’t hear it yet? Let’s fix that! Here it is again:

Below are the lyrics to that song. It’s a breakup song, and those are generally whiny by definition. (Although wait until next week, when we will have a breakup song in which Our Hero laments the fact that he didn’t treat the woman worse while he still had the chance!) The general theme, as you will see, is that Our Hero wonders whether he has just lost The Perfect Woman — or whether, instead, he was fooled by a woman who posed as The Perfect Woman, without really being her.

Remember: it’s not a Shakespeare sonnet; these are song lyrics. I don’t recommend reading them on their own. I have a much better idea: hit the play button above, and follow along as you listen to Jay.

WAS IT REALLY YOU?

I knew that it was true
That I could get to know you well
And love you in a way
I’d never loved before

They said I was a fool
My friends all said to take it slow
“She could be the one —“
“Or hurt you like before”

I’m not asking why
Why it was you said you had to go
But there’s just one thing
Just one thing that I would like to know

Was it really you I thought I loved
One summer night in July?
[‘Cause I have got to know]
Or was it the person
You wanted me to see?
[Was I only dreaming?]
[Was it really me?]

Where did I go wrong?
‘Cause if you never lived a lie
Pretending to be someone
You knew you’d never be

It must have been my fault
I couldn’t place the blame on you
How could I resent
The woman made for me?

It doesn’t matter why
People breaking up is nothing new
I just want to know
Was my perfect woman really you?

Was it really you who seemed so right
Like you were born in the sky?
[‘Cause I have got to know]
Or was it an image
That I should just let die?
[Was I only dreaming?]
[Was it really me?]

Please tell me the truth
Don’t lie to me now

What should I do now?
I think about you every day
Or think about a girl
That I once thought was you

I’ll never know the truth
Even though I know that you don’t care
I’ll ask you once again
[Ask you one last time]
I guess it’s just a cross I have to bear

Was it really you I thought I loved
One summer night in July?
[‘Cause I have got to know]
Or was it a person
You wanted me to see?
[Was I only dreaming?]
[Was it really me?]
[I’ve got to know]

Was it hard for you to tell the truth
Or was it harder to lie?
Should I be sad you’re gone
Or just be glad to say goodbye?
[Was I only dreaming?]
[Was it really me?]

Astute listeners may note that Jay left out a line at the end: “Should I be sad you’re gone?” I haven’t asked him about it, but I’m not sure it was deliberate. I think I contributed to the problem. As you’ll hear tomorrow, I screwed up that line in my performance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jay was thrown off by the variance between the lyrics I wrote and the lyrics I sang in the recording Jay was working off of. So I am chalking it up to the vagaries of a live performance — one which I absolutely adore. You live with the imperfections of a live performance, just as you revel in its spontaneity and honesty.

Tomorrow I’ll let you hear the original recording I made around 1991 or so.

2/9/2015

Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 2: Was It Really You?

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 5:50 pm

I forgot to post it this morning. Here’s song two in the (so far) three-song series. I gave the background here. The thumbnail version: I wrote some songs in the early 1990s. Musician Jay Semko (of the Northern Pikes) recorded three of them recently. I posted the first one last week (song; lyrics; original version). Below is the second song: a wistful post-breakup lament. Lyrics tomorrow; original version Wednesday.

2/4/2015

The Patterico Music Project: The Original Version of “Creation”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:47 am

On Monday I debuted a song written by me in the early 1990s, and recorded by Jay Semko of the Northern Pikes this year — part of my crazy project to persuade my musical heroes to record my songs. Yesterday, I shared the lyrics.

Today, with no small degree of trepidation, I am releasing the original recording that I did well over 20 years ago. I’m going to stop apologizing for the muddy sound quality and the poor playing and singing, and describe how I did this and what you’ll hear.

I did the recording on a cassette-based TASCAM recorded that allowed me to lay down as many as eight tracks. I played and sang everything and take full blame for the whole thing. On this recording you will hear piano as well as an acoustic guitar (a three-quarter-size guitar with nylon strings, which helps explain the sound quality). Since I lacked any vocal effects, I tried to make up for it by simply double-tracking every vocal line. Put simply, I sang and recording each vocal line twice. You will also hear background vocals in a couple of places — something Jay Semko could not pull off as a solo musician doing a live recording. Because it’s three-part harmony and I am double-tracking the vocals, that’s six of me singing there. (The mere thought of it is enough to make me second-guess publishing this.)

Astute musicians will notice a few differences between this recording and the one by Semko. In addition to the piano and the harmony, you can hear that our fingerpicking styles are different. I use standard alternate thumb picking, while Semko uses a rather unique style that he hilariously described to me as a “mutant form of fingerpicking.” It’s actually very interesting and creative. Also, you may notice that his vocal line is occasionally a smidgen different from my original, and at least one of the chords is changed.

Oh — and also, my version is horrific and his is awesome. (Nothing gives you appreciation for a good recording of a song as much as a bad one.)

One final note, about the band name. I called my “band” (which was just me) “Mangled Grapes.” I was a fan of the Grapes of Wrath as well as the Northern Pikes, and the name was a tribute to the Grapes as well as to the fact that I was mangling the songs. In keeping with my penchant for double meanings, I consoled myself with the idea that even mangled grapes can sometimes develop into fine wine.

And sometimes, they just remain mangled grapes. Which is as good a lead-in as any to my version of “Creation”:

As a reminder, for comparison purposes, here is the version recorded by Jay Semko:

2/2/2015

Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 1: Creation

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:34 am

So, I have this crazy project in process, and this is the beginning.

As I mentioned yesterday in teasing this, while in law school, at the age of 22 or 23, I wrote and recorded several songs. My performances are poor, but I have convinced three musicians so far to record some of them for me. Three of the recordings are in hand, and I present the first one to you today in this post: “Creation,” sung by the incomparable Jay Semko, lead singer of the Canadian band The Northern Pikes.

Before we get to my song, let me say a few words about Jay. The Northern Pikes has always been one of my very favorite bands. All of their albums are great, but “Secrets of The Alibi” and “Snow in June” in particular are absolute classics. To get a sense of how good the Pikes were, listen to one of their songs from the 1990s, with Semko on lead vocals:

Here’s another (more acoustically oriented) song where Semko shows off his vocal talents:

Jay recorded three of my songs; “Creation” is probably my favorite of the three. Jay tells me he recorded the songs for me “live off the floor” at the same studio (Randy Woods Studios) where he recorded his most recent album: Flora Vista (which I highly recommend, and which has one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard: Asleep in the Loving Arms of God). During the process, Jay was wonderful to deal with.

When Jay sent me the recordings last Wednesday, I listened to them in amazement. I can’t describe the feeling in words. It was absolutely surreal to hear one of my favorite rock performers of all time, singing a song I wrote. And then another! And another! I told him that the only thing that would make this more amazing is if I could travel back in time to play them for the 23-year-old version of myself. At the time I was writing these songs, in the early 1990s, I was listening to The Northern Pikes constantly, probably every day. If you had told me in those days that Jay Semko would one day sing a song (or three!) written by me, I think I would have had a heart attack.

The song I present to you today is actually a dialogue between a creator and his creation. It could be God creating Adam; or a parent creating a child; or an artist creating a work of art. There is the moment of creation, and the love and gratitude the creation feels towards its creator for giving it life. But one day, the creation will seek its freedom. The creator will resist letting go — but will eventually set his creation free, out of love. Finally, the creator will die — but will still achieve a certain immortality, as long as the creation remains alive.

I will publish the lyrics tomorrow — and if my courage holds up, I may publish my original recording (which has piano and harmonies, all done poorly on primitive equipment) on Wednesday . . . just for grins.

For now, though, sit back and enjoy the strange but hopefully pleasant experience of listening to a professional rock musician sing a song that I wrote over 20 years ago:

10/4/2014

Saturday Night Music

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 9:16 pm

Parthenon Huxley’s first video from his latest album “Thank You Bethesda.”

Parthenon gave me a guitar lesson a few weeks ago as a reward from the Kickstarter campaign for his album. There’s something else in the works, too, but that’s a secret for now. Enjoy the video.

9/28/2014

My Musical Dream

Filed under: General,Music — Patterico @ 1:37 pm

Picture this, fellow music nerds. In this dream I had, I experience the following moment: The Bangles have left the stage. Before Aimee Mann comes out to sing with Susanna Hoffs — and before we hear from Chris Stamey of the dBs — we have on stage Jon Auer from the Posies, and Jason Falkner, formerly of Jellyfish and The Grays. Auer and Falkner are standing in front of the microphones, ready to sing the next song. Behind them, holding an electric guitar, is Mitch Easter, legendary producer of REM and front man for Let’s Active. At the drums is Jody Stephens, the only living member of Big Star. But . . . where is the bassist? There’s none on the stage. Ken Stringfellow, who plays bass, walks diffidently onto the stage and picks up a bass, his body language saying: this isn’t really a song I was going to play, but whatever. And then, the real bassist comes running onto the stage and takes the bass guitar from Stringfellow. That bassist is Mike Mills, the bassist from REM.

Yes, it’s a crazy dream to have: all these music legends on a single stage. But it wasn’t a dream. It was last night’s performance at the Wilshire Ebell Theater — a star-studded tribute to Big Star, presented as a benefit for the Autism Think Tank.

Someone has many (maybe all) of last night’s songs on his YouTube channel, filmed from a seat far better than the ones occupied by myself and Mrs. P. When I found this treasure trove this morning, I immediately looked for a video of the most magical moment of the night. And I found it. After the songs listed on the program were finished, Chris Stamey came to the stage and said that they had one more song to perform, but that legally, they had to turn off the PA system (the Wilshire Ebell is in a residential neighborhood). But they would do the song acoustically, without any amplification, and if everyone was quiet, they ought to be able to hear just fine.

And then, they played this:

I had thought this moment would live on only in my memory. Thanks to the Internet and YouTube, it also lives on right here. Watch the video. It’s worth your time.

If you like that, I have a couple more beneath the fold.

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