Monday, July 11, 2011

The Rose Of the Streets Album Project: Is it Morning yet?

I'm sure that whine Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was about to finish up the 40 - year delayed Smile album that was supposed to have been released long ago, he had a similar question on his mind.

As well as Axl Rose, when he was finally getting the long-awaited Guns & Roses album Chinese Democracy album finished and ready for release. I'm sure he was asking the same thing I am asking now.

"Are we there yet?"

In the year 2000 I began recording an album. I was using the home-built studio of a friend of mine's who lives south of the Portland Metro area way out in the country. I had no idea what I was doing. To be brutally honest, neither did she (although she had more experience doing music as a whole than I did at the time.) Some nice arrangements came out of those sessions, but nothing ever approached CD quality. I chose to not release them on an audio CD, but I put them on the Internet where they have remained ever since. Well, until I came up with arrangements that I liked better. If you are sampling through the .mp3 player on the left sidebar of this blog, the recordings of Beatitudes & Live For Today are from those days.  I hope to replace them with sparking New Rockin' tracks soon.

The music I was working on back then - even though these are much the same songs - would have taken on a totally different direction if I had released them as a commercial album. The movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" was what I was digging on at the time. Yeah, me and Kid Rock both agreed that the Sound Track was the best CD of 2000! So I had some songs that were acoustic only whit no drums, others with full instrumentation. Tired to go for a folksy-bluesier feel. Maybe I thought it was a quick way to get a project done. But when I heard the final masrers, I knew I couldn't invest in making an actual CD out of them, so I never did.

But ten years later I'm returning to the original vision I had, after getting a renewed and reconnected interest in Garage Rock. Six of the songs I was working on back then: "A Part Of You," "Faith," "Hello," "Beatitudes," "Live For Today", and "The Rose Of The Streets" are carryovers from the 2000 -2004 sessions. The title cut to "Rose" was written during the sessions, inspired by a homeless girl whom I used to let crash at my place.

I'll be laying down the bass and drum tracks at Opal Studio in Portland. To hear demos of all the tracks I will be working on, go here.

Speaking of being homeless, it was during those years that I was involved as a Music Minister for an outreach to the homeless spearheaded in conjunction with the Mennonite Church. back then, i don't know if you could call the songs I was working on anything more than just Contemporary Christian songs for those involved with the Homeless. In fact, most of the songs really were just ones that I had written in times past, but grouped them together because they seemed to revolve around a theme of the poor, needy, and dispossessed. or at least bore some semblance thereof.

But they weren't necessarily my experiences. Only the song "Rose Of The Streets" was written about the experience of an actual person that the theme of the album was (and is) about.

To understand what this is all meant to me, one needs to realize that I, a guitarist and songwriter who sang for the Homeless wound up Homeless myself. In the ensuing years, and due to a long series of circumstances, I would up out of work, depressed, and in need of housing. I was up desperate to get housing to avoid being on the streets. I played music for spare change in Downtown Portland. Some of my adventures from those days will be included in an upcoming documentary being filmed for release on PBS. I wrote a few songs about my own experiences, which will round out the album: "Street Corner Rock Star," "Simpli 'N' Angel," "This Ain't Wall Street." More songs related to these events will be on future projects. The slavery folk-song "Follow The Drinking Gourd" will be added to the mix, and given a Rocking approach. I chose it as a token Folk-Spiritual in place of Wayfaring Stranger, which I had originally intended. But it's like everyone & his dog has done that song by now!

Decisions will be made following the creation of the rhythm tracks as to how to go about finishing up the songs. Do I record all the other instruments here at home? Do I finish it all up at Opal? A combination of both? I keep upgrading my equipment and finding ways to improve my sound. My other current project, "Pictures Of You" will feature a vocal I cut right here in the privacy of my own living room. Final master should be in my hands any day now. I hope to have the whole Rose Of The Streets album done by this Fall. The Morning can't come soon enough for me.

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