I’ve been a little busy lately, so I’m reaching into the vaults for this one. It’s good: this gives me the chance to share with you a really important part of my artiness — multi-track recordings!
So here are two, one each by two of my favourite bands: The Beach Boys’ “All Summer Long”, and The Beatles’ “Because”. If you listen to just one, listen to “Because.” (I know some of you are still finishing exams! Good luck, everyone.)
When I say ‘multi-track’, what I mean is that I record these songs layer by layer, stacking vocal harmonies and instruments part by part to produce one gleaming whole When I’m done, the Garageband project looks something like this:
I learn the parts from Alan Deane’s amazing free transcriptions of Beach Boys harmonies or the decidedly not free but extremely worth-buying Beatles Complete Scores. Alan Deane’s work is remarkably precise, and the Beatles book is astonishingly thorough. (Although they don’t transcribe all the little lead guitar fills! Grr. Maybe they couldn’t hear them on the early-90′s CDs.)
I chose these two recordings because I think they both came out especially well, but I realize now that they have two more things in common:
So, this one time at choir camp…
They both have something to do with my wonderful week in the summer of 2010 singing with the Ontario Youth Choir! Because I was in the USA during auditions, I had to send them a CD, and I decided to have a little fun with that. I recorded two oldies — The Platters’ “The Great Pretender” and Del Shannon’s bitter “Hats Off To Larry” — as my ‘contrasting pieces’, and then threw in “All Summer Long” as a kind of bonus track. It was a little cheeky and a little risky, but I guess they liked my spirit
(A note: Beach Boys songs take so much time and vocal energy to record that I often used to stop after all the material had been presented once — that is, if the bridge and third verse were repeated, I’d stop before those repeats. In the original recording, there’s an instrumental break, a repeat of the third verse, and a fadeout after where mine stops.)
Once I was at the camp, I got to know my wonderful friend Louise, whose comments you’ve already seen on this blog! She, armed with the score to Across The Universe, was trying to pull together a group to sing “Because” at the end-of-camp talent show. Sadly, we never got that group together, but once home from camp, I made this recording for her as a present.
I think you can hear how good that choir camp was for my voice! That may be the most in tune I’ve ever sung (Sorry the recording is a little bit fast.)
More than meets the ear
The other thing they have in common is some hard-to-notice but very amusing double entendre/wordplay. It’s not immediately obvious in either. But after a few listens, I started wondering about the opening to “All Summer Long”:
“Sitting in my car outside your house –
Remember when you spilled Coke all over your blouse?”
That second line started to sound more and more to me like, “Remember when you ‘spilled Coke all over your blouse’?” Wink wink? Given that they’re living out the paradigmatic 50′s/early 60′s fantasy, ‘drinking Coke’ is not the first thing you associate with couples in cars…
And let’s not even talk about “When we rode our horse, we got some thrills…”
The Beatles’ song presents what sounds like a series of obnoxious “deep” hippieisms that you might at first write off to drugs:
“Because the word is round, it turns me on…
“Because the wind is high, it blows my mind…
“Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry…”
But if you take a closer look, you’ll see they’re all just terrible puns.
Score another point for John.