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Friday, January 29, 2010

You've Got Everything Now (Take 2)

This is a pretty literal translation of the song but I promise the next song, Miserable Lie, is waaaaay far from it's original version. Just you wait...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

tweet tweet tweet

A few people have asked me if I'm on twitter so I brushed the dust off the account that I hardly ever used and got it all set up to tweet away. If you would like to follow me, I'm here:

twitter.com/blackpiano

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reel Around the Fountain (take 2)

Since I'm doing all these covers as multi-layered vocals now, I'm back at square one until I get caught up. So here you have track one, off the first album: Reel Around the Fountain. I imagine this would be something you would hear at a midnight mass at the Church of Morrissey, if there was such thing... (And if there ever IS such a thing, I better be considered for the choir director position. Just sayin'.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pretty Girls Make Graves (Take 2)

As promised, here's the new and improved version with about 10 more layers of voice than the original. I did my best to include more of the guitar element to the music and I'm pleased with how it turned out. It's probably the most rhythmic of my vocal pieces to date!

(btw, I seem to be having volume issues but hopefully the levels aren't too low for everyone else...)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shifting Gears

This started as an exercise in accepting myself as I am, without falling into my typical trap of making sure I sound "perfect" before I let people hear my music. I tend to do that a lot and the result is that nothing ever gets heard. I have lots of almost-finished tracks safely locked away in the computer until I go back and re-sing that one phrase that bugs the crap out of me... I also have a lot of friends who are *just now* discovering that I make music. "You sing? I didn't know that! You know, George in accounting plays guitar... you should start a band!" Ugh. In fact, yesterday I was sitting at my desk while my co-worker was playing music from this blog because she wanted to hear what I sound like. I can't concentrate on spreadsheets when my single, solitary, naked voice is coming out of her speakers. that's just weird.

I am still recovering from the head cold from hell that's been going on 3 weeks now which has put somewhat of a damper on this project. I'm still waiting patiently for my vocal chords to return to normal. waiting patiently. But in the mean time, I have been playing around with the idea of adding more of the Marr element to these songs with more layers of voice. Singing the melody alone is just not doing justice to the music- it needs more of the backing chord structure.

And besides, YAWN, I'm already getting bored of my single-voice format. If you have heard any of my other music, you know that I normally have layer upon layer of voices in my music. Last night, my boyfriend said, "Why don't you just do the songs as covers in YOUR style." His point is that it would be more interesting to hear my take on the music, rather than just listening to an mp3 of a girl singing the melody... Anyone can pick up a microphone and sing, but maybe they can't all do it in MY style.

I'd have to admit that I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into how I was going to sing the songs, beyond just making sure I get through the whole catalog by the end of the year. I just wanted to make sure I spend a little bit of "me time" in the studio at least once a week. But now, my goal is taking shape. At the end of the year, I'll have the entire catalog of Smiths covers in a way that represents me as a musician... covers that might still be worth listening to after the project is complete.


Anyway, here's my first and only Morrissey cover to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself




BTW, thanks to Mike and "anonymous" for letting me know there's a link to my blog on http://www.morrissey-solo.com/ How cool!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pretty Girls Make Graves




*edit* Here is the completed multi-layered version:


Album 1: The Smiths
Track 4: Pretty Girls Make Graves

Somehow this song got lost in a sea of other great songs for years but after spending a little time with it, I really like it. One of the cool things about this project is that I get to take a close look at each song and let them really sink in on a deeper, more zen-like meditative level. But i'm not the only one who likes this song. In fact, there is a band called Pretty Girls Make Graves. I'm ashamed to say i know nothing about them but I'm pretty sure that one day the musicians were talking about and/or listening to this song and one said to the other, "Dude, this would be a sweet name for a band!" Just a guess. Fun fact: my fictitious band name is "Beer Bottle Penis"

This song is about wanting so badly to be able to connect and reach out to someone who continuously asks for more than you can give... and the pain of failure and having to watch her walk off with another man. I was just about to make a viagra joke but my better judgment is telling me skip it.

And because my friends and family are probably the only people reading this (required by that unspoken rule of "smile and nod even though we don't have a clue what this is about"), here is the original song, just for kicks:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Karaoke Time!

This Charming Man




Why should I do all the singing? Give it a try and if you're brave, record yourself singing it. I'll include your submissions in the official This Charming Man post along side my version. It's track # 6 so you have about two-three weeks to get your sing on.

Here's the link to download it: This_Charming_Man.mp3

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Miserable Lie



*edit* Here's the completed multi-layered version:


Album 1: The Smiths
Track 3: Miserable Lie

I apparently have a head cold that won't quit. I'm so ready to have my normal voice back! It's getting better but my voice is still raspy and difficult to control. Oh well, this was probably one of the songs I can say I've never been all that into anyway. The album version is jerky and all over the place. I actually looked up the song in my boyfriend's Mozipedia (no, I am not making that up) to get a better sense of what it's all about. The band members all agree that the final recorded version didn't do the song justice. It was meant to be a surprise left-hook that clobbers you over the head when played live. You know, like the la de da de da de *WHACK!* of getting suddenly dumped by the lover you lived with back at Whalley Range... :( I need to go track down a live recording so that I can hear it in all it's jilted glory.

I decided to take a little "creative license" with this one and record it in a slower pace to connect the first and second sections of the song since my vocal recordings are completely lacking in angsty guitars. I think it helps the lyrics come through more clearly. Also, you will notice I whittled away at the end with all its high falsetto glory that goes on and on and on and on because, well... it sounds kinda dumb without backing music to carry it along. Plus it was exceeding the recommended daily allowance for high Ahhhhhhh sounds.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

You've Got Everything Now




*edit* Here's the completed multi-layered version:


Album 1: The Smiths
Track 2: You've Got Everything Now

In the spirit of keeping things interesting, I am singing the next track while I'm still recovering from a nasty head cold. Right off the bat, I should probably mention, this is one seriously hot mess. It's hard to stay on pitch with a sore throat and I couldn't even be bothered to sing all the right lyrics. Enjoy!

I would also like to give a big shout-out to Morrissey for his masterful use of the TRI-TONIC scale. Nobody knows how to use a three-note melody quite like him.

OK, it's time for me to get back to my hot tea and zebra-print slanket...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I should be singing right now...

but instead I have a cold. There's nothing like starting off the new year with a serious case of head implosion. But soon enough, I'll be back at the mic singing track #2: You've Got Everything Now

This next song, as well as many others, are out of my comfortable vocal range. I'm debating on whether to sing them in a different key to make them more listenable, or if I should stay true to the recordings using my "skills of an artist" (falsetto/layered voices/extra reverb/stunt doubles) to get through the songs. One thing I promise I WONT be using is auto-tune. I hate that crap. Also, I don't own one, so there's that...

There are about 74 Smiths songs total and, if possible, I would like them all to sound decent. You know, just in case someone decides to listen to them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reel Around the Fountain




*edit* Here is the completed multi-layered version:


Album 1: The Smiths
Track 1: Reel Around the Fountain

According to Morrissey, this song is about him losing his virginity. My personal cherry popin' story is not worth writing a song about. Instead,let me tell you about the very first time I ate cheesecake! It's a much more beautiful and emotional tale about the beginning of a life-long love affair that, to this day, is an unbreakable bond of the purest kind of love imaginable. Wait, I promised myself this wouldn't become a food blog... Well, anyway, let's just say it was "epic," possibly bordering on *Princess Bride* true love. Let's just leave it at that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Who is Janice?


photo by swank106


I am just your average 34 year old gal with a boyfriend, a beautiful son, a happy (but grumpy-looking) cat, and a piano that looks like a fireplace. I work in San Francisco, where I lived for more than twelve years before moving to San Jose where there are huge tracts of land...

I'm a musician. I started first with piano at age 2, then worked my way through every instrument in marching band by the end of high school. Not that I could play most of those instruments now, mind you. Point is, I was the ultimate band nerd. I even went on to study music at San Francisco State University.

Through out my life, certain music has stuck by me through thick and thin like old friends. The Smiths have been a soundtrack to my life ever since I first heard a third generation cassette copy of Rank as a freshman in high school. I lived in a small desert town of Joshua Tree, CA and there were no radio stations of interest (unless you consider classic rock and country music interesting). The way I was introduced to almost all of my favorite artists was by word of mouth. Any time you heard something cool, you'd pass around cassette tape and make your own copy. I still have cassette copies of Depeche Mode records that someone's big brother used his mom's stereo to copy for me... and I, of course, shared them with others. Ah, pre-internet file sharing. It's my generation's equivalent to old people talking about how they walked to school up-hill both directions, backward, in a blizzard.

When I first heard the Smiths, I was hooked on the melodies, the guitars, the way Morrissey made sense of the jumbled things I was feeling. The lyrics have something that everyone can relate to in one way or another. Johnny Marr is a genius on guitars. I've seen so many guitarists attempt to replicate his guitar parts and they are pretty mind-boggling. I mean, for starters... which guitar part do you even choose to practice?? Each layer upon layer of guitar parts is amazing. Andy Rourke's bass lines rock as well. I love how the bass had its own unique space within the music to create yet another melody line. Out of everyone in the band, poor Mike Joyce on drums is probably the most overlooked. But where would those songs be without the beat? (ok, you're right. The songs would still be amazing.)

These were the songs that I listened to through my formative years. The music that saw me through good times and bad, from sneaking out of the house late at night (eeep, sorry mom and dad), to recuperating from a 2 year bout with a muscle disease, and now singing the songs in the car with my own family. These songs have been in my life for the past 20 years.

I started this blog because I love music. I needed a goal for the new year and I wanted it to be something that involved singing as often as possible. I used to do more layered and intricate recordings back when I had all the time in the world but now that I have more responsibilities, music has taken a back seat for a long, long time. Too long. With a toddler pulling on my shirt constantly, it's all the more important to make a little time for myself to do what I love.

The year is 2010 and it's time to reconnect to my "inner musician." She's kinda dusty.

So here goes...