Lover: Becoming a musician

Music is a lover unsurpassed by flesh and bone.
Its courtship is the mastery of subtleties in tone.
Your marriage is commitment for the talents yet to hone
And love lies in the knowledge that you’ll never be alone.
Deep within the magic of sweet flowing harmony
Lies a curse that’s based on inherent quality.
For it seems as music becomes less a mystery
The greater is the tendency to dissect it fatally.
Bridge/Ahs/Repeat 2nd verse
Somewhere on the path between the novice and the pro
There’s a hurdle crossed and then you’ll know
Practice isn’t work and you won’t have miles go
And you don’t play as well as you will tomorrow.

The metaphors in the lyric had been kicking around in my head for a long time. Particularly the one about crossing a hurdle because I distinctly remember my metamorphosis from a guitar student to a musician. It was a palpable transition from a student struggling with etude after etude, scales, chord forms, etc. to a musician using those skills to play licks to the songs I heard on the radio.

When I first wrote this lyric, I hated it. Without music it read like a shitty Hallmark card. So I put it away for a couple months and forgot about it. Then I was playing around with some funky chords and I decided to play them as a finger-picked sequence. The pattern in the recording emerged immediately and I liked it a lot. It was also difficult to play and I don’t have the hand strength to play it as well as I did when it was recorded in 1986.

Given the nature of the song, it begged to be put to this awful lyric…and then it wasn’t quite so awful anymore. In fact, the lyric and the music suited each other so well that the tune is greater than the sum of its parts. Incidentally, I added the bridge when I recorded the song because it was just too short. The interesting thing about the bridge is that the vocal harmony mysteriously grows a fourth part. I have since heard that the Mamas and the Papas had a similar phenomenon occur regularly (in their case, a fifth part) and I think I know what causes it. At least, I’m pretty sure I know what causes this one; I was wearing headphones as I laid down the last (third) vocal and as I held the note which completed the triad, my headphones fed back into the microphone. The result is a really sweet soprano voice (ala Star Trek) way, way up near high C. Cool…it’s better to be lucky than good.

The song was recorded in my apartment in Morgantown, WV on Wayne Ackman’s TEAC Tascam 4-track. I also used Wayne’s Fender Precision Bass.

I played all the instruments and sang all three harmonies.

Originally recorded in 4-track mono. Mixed to stereo cassette (2-track) in 1986
Re-engineered to digital from the stereo mixdown using Cool96 September 1999

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