Every now and then I have to take a trip back to my past and remember when music used to be really fun. You know, like when you and your buddies didn't care if everything was perfectly in tune and time as long as it felt right. Maybe the lyrics meant something to you, if no one else, and you thought you were doing what the Beatles did since you only had 4 tracks as well.
I recently uncovered a couple of cassette "masters" that I had done in high school by bouncing between 2 cassette decks though an old Yamaha mixer. This was before I had my old Dokorder 4 track and Drum Drops. Anyway, back in the day, me and my Ohio buddies, Mark Ewers and Craig Howard had created this body of work over several months that we called The Basement Tapes (named as such for obvious reasons) which was music inspired by everything from Bowie and Floyd to America and Gino Vannelli. We were armed with nothing more than an Ovation 6 String, a suitcase Rhodes, Arp Solina, Yamaha 12 string, P Bass, an SM57, A/DA flanger, Ross stereo echo, Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Peavey Decade amp and probably too many glasses of cheap wine. What came out was truly creative and a ton of fun. The subject matter was everything from chicks to sex to the plight of the working man to escaped convicts. We thought we were creating the next "The Wall". In reality, we probably created something that would cause our wives to rethink the status of our mental health.
As I loaded the contents of the cassette into Pro Tools to clean up and "master our masterpiece", I was really amazed at how vivid the memories came back to me. All of a sudden it was like "I wrote that song about that girl... man, she was really hot but it would have never worked out because she was a psycho" and "we made the sound of prisoners in the yard with a metal bowl and a tamborine" as well as "man, that vocal sounded cool through that Poly Flanger split in stereo... why can't I get that sound today?" and "remember we cut that at 5 in the morning when the sun came up through the basement window". Probably the most epic track was "Love Blue" written by Mark E on the Rhodes and clocking in at over 7 and a half minutes. With added Arp strings and my guitar work, it's pure Gino on acid and very passionate. As I listen on, we have Craig doing his "Hey Andy" Barney Fife imitation on a cut as well as adding his beautiful falsetto on many of the tracks. I was the "engineer/producer" as well as doing my share of songs and vocals. I sounded so young then. Then again, I was...
The tracks have fire, passion, creativity, inspiration, and fun, as well as a ton of hiss (thank God for Sound Soap). If we had done this now and produced it better, would we have a clever body of work that others would enjoy on our hands? In my opinion, probably... but you can't go back. No one will ever hear this work but myself, Craig and Mark and a few other mortals. Our wives will not be included on that list because they would not get it. We are different people and I have a much different view of life now. So does Craig. I can't speak for Mark Ewers as we lost contact years ago. All I know is that the Basement Tapes were some of the most fun I've ever had making music and it makes for good listening on my solo trips. Who knows. Maybe when I'm dead and gone, my kids will uncover the tracks on my iPod and be amazed at what their Dad used to be when he was fearless and clueless. There are times I wish I could go back to 1982 (like Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite) but other than the music, much of my life at that time was a drag. I remember those things as well and at the end of the day, Godliness with contentment is great gain. I am blessed to still be making music and helping others to enjoy making their version of "fire, passion, creativity, inspiration, and fun". The upside is I have much better gear than I did back then... Blessings MLT