November 10, 2009
More on music
Originally published August 21, 2004
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.
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