Today I recorded the vocals for the theme song for Made Crooked. I'm working with an old friend that I had lost touch with for many years. He was one of the few people I was happy to reconnect with at my twenty year high school reunion a couple of summers ago. He's a musician and a producer and has agreed to supervise and compose the music for the film. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I wrote a song that expresses some of the themes of the film. I sang it into my phone just to have something to work with before I forgot it all. I transcribed the lyrics and sent them to Mike. Then I ran into him one evening on Hawthorne and played him what I sang. He in turn played a song for me on his iPod that he had recorded with one of his bands that he thought might fit. He suggested that I sing the song. My wife had said the same thing when I played it for her.
He wasn't sure what key I was singing in from the crappy little recording on my phone. In the studio today we discovered that both the music he wrote and my singing were in the same key.
We were expressing our joy over that coincidence when he asked, Oh you want to hear something even more coincidental? He showed me a cassette with a handwritten logo on it spelling Virtue. He said he had just found it a few days ago and had forgotten that he even had it. It was a tape from his first band that I managed Sophomore year back in 1983. It was recorded at Cathedral School's 8th grade graduation dance. I did some MC'ing fueled by the half gallon of vodka that I sneaked into the dance to share with the band and the more daring 8th graders. My drunken valedictory exhortations on the mic between songs were a bizarre cross between William F. Buckley and Jerry Lewis.
Anyway, it was a great experience. Today, definitely not the dance. Jordan asked me yesterday if I was nervous. I really wasn't. I'm not a singer. Admitting that in spite of some praise I've received for this particular song is the key to my freedom from anxiety over this. If it turns out well, great. If it's bad or just kind of boring, we have something to work with until we find a real singer. Either way it was fun to stretch and to explore. I tried to really let it come from me, not what I thought it should sound like. It reminded me of acting in a lot of ways. But also like playing sports. Like shooting free throws - if I didn't sit the same way and hold my head in the same way it didn't feel right. I tried standing when I rehearsed but I found that I tried to sing it too much when standing up, instead of just letting it come out. So I sat on an amp in the studio and it worked. When I sang the first version of it into my phone I was lying down. It was totally effortless as I never planned on playing it for anybody. I tried to bring that same lack of self-consciousness to the session today. Surprisingly, it was pretty successful. I look forward to hearing it mixed. Mostly I sang unaccompanied, but we stopped recording for awhile and Mike played guitar while I sang. Singing along to his playing was so exciting. I was like, "Fuck I wrote this, it sounds so beautiful. It's a theme song for my film and I wrote it. The chords really are a theme just by themselves!" That was all inside though, because I was singing and Mike plays it pretty close to the vest emotionally. I was listening to him play and singing and not really having to think about it. I started to, then i was like who cares and kept singing. Maybe some of the joy came out in my voice.
It was also wonderful to interact with a very old friend doing what he loves to do.