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Piano Songs

As you may know if you keep up with my ramblings, I’ve been fumbling around with the piano lately. I’ve always wanted to play, but was hampered by the obvious.

I didn’t have a piano.

I do now because my 9 year old is a bit of a prodigy. At least to my ears. She got so good so fast that we broke open the piggy banks and leveraged the credit cards. All worth it. I love listening to her play. It’s just a wonderful sound she makes….and she does it so effortlessly. She can put a complex piece of music into her memory-bank in a few days and rid herself of the sheet music. And when I have questions, she’s there to answer them. Last night she gave me a quickie course on the sustaining petal. I was abusing it relentlessly and am now much less manic.

So now when the house is quiet (which happens on occasion), I have no ready excuse to not sit and tinker. I learned some chord shapes by searching google, and in a few weeks could plod along with simple things that to the untrained ear at least sounded vaguely musical.

So now I have a new batch of songs. Kind of a hodge podge of pop songs and Guthrie-esque societal rants and gentle laments and just plain weird shit. As usual I have no money. So recording them with a band is out. I usually make my records solo with an acoustic guitar. I’ve got a recording machine, set up 2 mics, and just play. I don’t overdub anything because I never had to patience to learn how to work the machine the right way. So what you hear on my records is what I sound like. If I make a (not so grievous) mistake or a car drives by and blows a horn or my dog sneezes, you hear the mistake or the car horn or the dog sneezing….sometimes all in one song but I try to keep that to a minimum if possible.

Last night I sat down at the piano with a new song called “Can You Hide Me” and searched for a melody. I found one and it sounded pretty good.

Hmmm.

Maybe I could record the new songs…..you know…..on the piano.

I recently picked up a copy of Mike Scott’s latest, called “In a Special Place”. It’s piano/voice demos of the songs that eventually appeared on the Waterboy’s “This is the Sea” record.

Scott is a great songwriter. A wonderful guitarist. But nobody ever said he was Benmont Tench. There’s no “bad” notes on the record or anything like that. It’s just very rudimentary playing. You can almost feel him searching for the right keys. Sometimes his timing gets thrown off. But I thought the performances were lovely. In many cases, I prefer them over the bombastic arrangements he gave the songs on “This is the Sea”.

It made me think. Maybe I could do this.

I’m still not totally convinced. I have moved the recording machine and the mics upstairs next to the piano. And I have been playing more and more, trying to get my chops up. But I’m still a bumbler. My bad notes make my dog’s ears stick up. One time they made her bark. That’s a bit disconcerting to say the least.

But there’s something so expressive about the piano. Even if you don’t play that well, it can still sound good.

And I’d like to try something I’ve never tried before. If I’m going to fail, I’d much rather not fail at something I’ve done already.

Ok, so I’ve almost talked myself into it. But not quite.

We’ll see how it goes. Drop me a line if you’re so inclined. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

In a bit..

–tf

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