Tuesday, June 3, 2008
THIRD SESSION: June 2, 2008
Well, May has turned to June, but it’s still mid-July according to the thermometer. For the second straight time, my “outside temperature” reading was 100 as I drove down I10 to Mandala Music. It had been a full weekend for The Tim and Bob Show. We had very enjoyable, but demanding, gigs Friday and Saturday night, and both Steve and I had some aches and pains. Steve’s left hand felt a bit better, but I was still suffering from the neck and shoulder stiffness and pain that’s been plaguing me on and off for a week or so. I bombed myself with some naproxen before I left home. It had the effect of lessening the pain, and it had the added benefit of making the traffic signal lights much more interesting.
Of more concern to both Steve and me was the fact that Kathy was suffering from some vertigo-like symptoms – enough of a concern for Steve to drive back to his house to collect Kathy rather than having her join us at the studio. The good news was that we all got to the studio together. The bad news was that none of us was really in top shape, and that the one of us who felt the most poorly was the one that the third session was “all about.”
When Steve and I began to discuss the idea of a CD of original songs, we quickly realized that we had to write “for the girls.” Our band is very much a four-person group, and we depend on Mary Lou and Kathy to give the band more variety in pitch, style, genre, etc. It would make no sense to make a CD that didn’t feature the two female members of the band, and it would not be The Tim and Bob Show if those women didn’t take their turn at the forefront. So Steve and I wrote one four-parter featuring the women taking the lead, as well as a song for Kathy to sing and one for Mary Lou to sing. With Mary Lou still in California – COME BACK SOON; ALL IS FORGIVEN! – the third session was all about getting the most out of Kathy.
The first song we worked on was “It Ends; It Begins.” I’m not sure how to describe the style of the song, but Steve and I wanted something simple and haunting, something that could let Kathy feature what she calls her “little girl voice.” The genesis of the melody is rather interesting. Steve was just finger-picking a random chord change – an E minor and B minor run with varying bass lines – and I chimed in with steady high E minor and B minor barre chords. It made an interesting sound. One of the women said, “That sounds cool. What is it?” When we said it wasn’t anything, we were instructed that we needed to write a song with those chords. Well, we know how to do what we’re told. Steve got the melody down in short order, and I finished the lyrics not long after. The song has been ready to take before a live audience for almost two months, but because of Kathy’s theater commitments and Mary Lou’s “nursing” commitments, we’ve never performed it live.
Steve took the initial track, laying down the finger-picking on the beautiful-sounding koa, this time using the "click". I added a second guitar track after several false starts. Once we had the basics down, Kathy laid down the lead vocal. Although it sounded very good, we suggested that she take another, and there she hit gold. All it took then was for Steve and I to do the minimal backing vocals we do and the track was set – except, of course, for Mary Lou’s backing vocal. We also extended the guitar interlude a couple of extra measures in hopes that our friend Karen Emerson could add a flute solo there. This song was a lot of work to get through, but I think it’s going to be a highlight of our CD.
With yet another ¾ finished track completed, we plunged ahead with “Take It Like a Man.” This is a sort of country rocker. It’s the first song that Steve and I wrote with neither of us in mind for the lead. The song is about how men need to shut up every once in a while and listen to the women in their lives. Naturally, the girls loved the concept. We’ve been performing it for several months now, and audiences seem to like it also. This four-part song features vocals by both Kathy and Mary Lou, with Steve and I only repeating the title at appropriate moments. It’s fun in performing but, as is the case with much of our material, there’s tempo changes that rely on visual cues. There’s a vocal tag at the end – Kathy’s voice alone – that I “dress” with some flat picking. This was a little hard to get down “one track at a time” but we managed. We like the sound of it. All we need to do with this one, sound familiar?, is to get Mary Lou home and into the studio.
At this point, we had about 35 minutes of studio time left, and Steve suggested that we should record our tune called “Tim and Bob Love Wait Staff.” This is a ditty that I dashed off one afternoon. We were trying to figure out an original way to remind patrons that their wait staff need to be remembered while also slyly pointing out the tip jar in front of the bandstand. It’s pretty goofy, but for some reason it gets applause from the wait staff everywhere we play it. It’s NOT going to appear on the CD, but Steve hopes to upload it to the site later in the week.
LESSONS LEARNED: Well, once again we benefited from how well Kathy reads Steve’s performance and how well Steve reads Kathy’s. They are very positively critical of each other’s work, and it has been great for us in live performing, and is doing very well for us in the studio. There’s a way to tell your spouse, “that sucks; do it again” and have the response be, “okay; I’ll do another take.” I know there is, because they do it. If there’s any other lesson to be learned from last night, it’s that there’s a price to be paid for doing a two-gig weekend followed by a four-hour recording session early the following week. We know because we’ve done it two weeks in a row now. The oppressive heat, and the lack of rain to clear the air we breathe have also contributed to us feeling “a little bit off,” but time, tide, and rock ‘n roll wait for no man or woman. Steve and I will be back in the studio on the 12th – this time without Mary Lou OR Kathy.