12 July 2003
Recording, Part I

Day 3 of recording over here at True Tone Studio in Nashville. I'm trying to update this journal every few days with photos; we'll see how long this lasts. Sorry about the blurry snapshots; it's pretty dark in the studio, and we only have a little point-and-shoot.

Our task on Day 1 was determining the song list. From a list of 17 candidates, we've knocked it down to 13 songs, which we'll record. Of those, probably 10-11 will make the cut to the final album. A handful are on my Do Not Touch list, which hopefully means they'll make it onto the album no matter what -- among them Mission Street, which David's been threatening to make me play on guitar. Time to practice. With any luck, I'll get it in less than a hundred takes...
A lovely Baldwin piano arrived yesterday, lugged in by a rather impressive cartage team, and we've been busy laying down the core piano tracks. Setting up the piano mics was a project unto itself: an acoustic grand is an incredibly complex instrument sonically, what with three strings for each of 88 keys, all resonating with one another and various surfaces. Having never heard this particular piano in this particular room, we did a lot of head-scratching and mic-stand-moving for over an hour. Meanwhile, my snacking urges got the better of me. Mmm, pita chips.

Currently the cast and crew consists solely of David Henry (producer, engineer), Jim Batcho (drums, de facto assistant engineer) and myself (piano, vocals, person getting in the way). Since Jim will only be here for the first few weeks, we've been tackling the upbeat songs (i.e. those requiring a full drum kit) first. Consequently it's been a boppy couple of days, particularly when we were tracking Shasta. It was hard not to dance a little as we were listening back to the drums and piano together.

A surprise contender on the song list is a mere three weeks old and has yet to be played live: Harbor, whom I suspect is Signal Fire's little brother. He's not an easy one to play, especially when I've hardly figured out the piano arrangement, and after four takes this afternoon it was all I could do to wobble over to the water cooler. Jim found Harbor equally challenging, and had to draw up his own map to navigate his way through. We eventually got a great rendition of it, though, and I'm excited to see how the arrangement takes shape over the next few weeks.

I leave you with a photograph of dinner on Day 1. We've acquired some pots and pans since then.

- VT

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