Gut Rumbles

August 21, 2004

more on music

I submit this idea to any musician who reads this blog: You never really know what you sound like on stage until you listen to a tape of a performance later. Yeah, you can hear the speakers and there's a monitor on stage that blasts your eardrums all night long, but you filter a lot of what you hear because you're accustomed to hearing that sound. You THINK it's right, even when it's not.

The first time I heard a tape of a live performance I did on River Street, I was appalled. While I was playing that night, I thought I sounded good. But I listened to the tape later and I wanted to puke. I had a flat G-string on my guitar. I could hear it as plain as daylight on the tape. I was 'way too nasal on a couple of songs and I sounded like a hillbilly hick when I was conversing with the audience.

Listening to that tape was like a kick in the nuts to me. I started taping MYSELF after that to find the flaws that I couldn't hear on stage. I found a lot of them. I worked to correct them all.

In a studio, you can do a song over and over again until you get it right. On stage, you get only one shot. People are PAYING to hear you play, and you OWE them a good performance. I put as much effort into that job as I did working for Kerr McGee.

I can't play the way I once did. My hands are going to shit on me and I don't practice enough anymore. I'm still good enough to hold my own with most pickers I meet, but I'm not sure how much longer that's gonna last.

When the day comes that I pick up a guitar and realize that I should put it right back down, because I can't play that sumbitch anymore, I'm ready to hang it up. I've lost almost everything I ever cared about already.

If I lose that, too, I'm done for.


"If I lose that, too, I'm done for."
I was "there" after two years of "orthopedic events", and a hell of a lot of painful rehab made me quit motorcross racing. Racing made living worthwhile.

But, you know, a LOT of good times have come my way since that black time back in 1995. Maybe not as great, but some awfully good times. Beats the shit out of considering it's time to check out.

I know you know how to find the good times. I'm jealous about Costa Rica. And, I love doing the "criss-crossing cross-country bit". Git offa your ass once a year.
The cost of BS therapy from me is a lot of beer and porch-sittin' if you ever travel through the north-central Arizona "highlands". I'm in the book. {:^)

Posted by: Dan Pursel on August 21, 2004 04:05 PM

You're right about hearing yourself perform live for the first time. I hated my voice. It was too dark, I thought it sounded forced. Sure, it was a classical piece, an aria from Vivaldi, but I had worked so hard to get it right and it seemed so wrong.

And it was the only time my dad ever went to hear me sing and I felt like I had really let him down, until his mom died up in Maine many years ago. One of the uncles was bemoaning the fact that she loved the Shubert "Ave Maria" and none of them had time to find a recording. I told him that I knew it, if he would call the organist and arrange for a quick rehersal during the final rosary on the morning of the funeral, I'd meet her at the church for a quick run through.

The arrangements were made, and I met her there that morning. Everyone else dashed up to the funeral home for her rosary while I stayed and ran through it a couple of times with the 'standard issue backcountry rural church organ' and then sat down to wait for them.

Something funny happened in that church while I waited, something I'll tell you another day. But when the family showed up with Mamette and the funeral began, I knew I'd be just fine and the emotion would work with me instead of against me.

My time came, and I stepped over to organ. The music started, I hit my cue, and slowly but simultaneously every face in the church turned to me.

And my dad got to hear me sing something right that day. Not that forced sound of a high school girl trying to wrestle her way through the artificial runs and trills of Vivaldi, but a young woman giving praise to the Queen of Heaven and asking her to watch out for my Mamette.

But I don't do that any more. I hardly ever sing.

Posted by: Mamamontezz on August 21, 2004 04:35 PM

No question about it, Rob... I would highly encourage any performer to record any and all gigs when possible. The feedback you get from the recording is invaluable.

Posted by: Mike on August 21, 2004 04:45 PM

I was drunk the night I let some friends of mine talk me into trying karaoke, and Marty Robbins' "El Paso" at that, with high notes I'd never been able to hit unles someone hit me you-know-where at just the right time.

But the first time I tried to hit that high note the crowd was very encouraging, and the second time, danged if I didn't make it. The particular word on it made it easier, but it gave me confidence and I think I taught myself right there and then something about singing I'd never figured out before: how to do it. Heh heh.

Three years later I can still hit those high notes. Helps clear the sinuses.

Posted by: McGehee on August 21, 2004 05:18 PM

I like to record myself playing with myself.

Posted by: rightisright on August 21, 2004 07:14 PM

Off topic a bit here.

But do any of you Rebels have a good recipe for BBQ pulled pork? The kind in the spicy vinegar sauce, not the standard northern fare.

Ever since I had that shiot in a dirty little joint on the outskirts of Charlotte, I have had a jones for it.

Posted by: rightisright on August 21, 2004 07:18 PM

If I don't like the way you sound in Helen can I kick you in the nuts? Just asking.

Posted by: Velociman on August 21, 2004 07:21 PM

Hell, I don't even sing in the shower.

Last time I tried, the shower curtain rent in two, the water curdled and the drain backed up in protest.

My musical talents are limited to the "play" and "volume" buttons on the requisite electronic devices.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on August 21, 2004 07:42 PM

We used to tape just about every gig. The tape came in very handy at the next rehearsal, particularly when one member or another had a difficult time believing that he screwed up/played too damned loud, or whatever. The tape sealed it.

Posted by: Jim on August 21, 2004 10:15 PM

Rob, don't give me that crap about being to old to play music. Some of the best bluesmen I have ever heard are in their 60's and 70's. I go to Cleveland when ever I get the chance to hear Robert Lockwood Jr play. He is 89 yrs old, and doesn't miss a lick.

Posted by: Jim Thomas on August 22, 2004 09:00 AM

Stylus Pro 5000

Posted by: Stylus Pro 5000 on September 18, 2004 03:07 PM
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