I’m not sure exactly how to write about this one, because it might not stay. I wrote the lyrics and recorded the entire thing on January 31 for my father’s birthday. Not only does it fit the “written and recorded in one day” criteria for Song-A-Day, but it was written on a day I might legitimately have done something to post as my February 1 entry.
There is a brief writeup about this in my article Older Than the Planets, but I thought I’d write just a bit more about the process as well as what prompted me to post it again as my Song-A-Day entry for today.
- Just Kidding Ray Toler 3:15
Your Brain is Bigger than Your Voice
So here is what my original concept was: a note-for-note, complete a capella version of Holst’s iconic Mars, The Bringer of War. I had even ordered the full orchestral score of the entire Planets suite. When I say note-for-note, I don’t mean I’d just sing each part, but that I’d sing the part for every single instrument. For example, the score calls for six french horns, four trumpets, and three trombones. My plan was to sing all thirteen of those parts individually.
Growing up, I learned the saying, “your eyes were bigger than your plate” from my mom when I couldn’t finish my dinner despite having asked for a second helping. Another similar saying is, “your mouth’s writing a check your butt can’t cash.”
Well… this time my brain wrote a check that my talent couldn’t cash. Or at least that my voice couldn’t. I was barely through recording the first couple of pages of just the lower strings when it became painfully obvious that
- My voice certainly didn’t have the range for the idea
- Any attempts at electronic trickery to get that range sounded… well, sounded like ass
- There was no way I was going to get this done in time for Dad’s birthday
- I was already afraid of the high brass and woodwind parts
I’m not even sure I could have handled standing in front of the microphone for as long as I’d need to. It wasn’t going to work. I thought about either doing a completely different birthday song, or just canning the whole idea and doing my normal “sing a really, really, bad version of Happy Birthday on voicemail. Every time I went down that train of thought, though, it just felt wrong.
Comedy = Tragedy + Whiskey
If I had real money, the kind of money that would allow me rig elections, buy legislation, or call Bill Gates for tech support, I would have hired an orchestra and full choir to record this version. And maybe that will happen some day, because I would become even more wealthy off the YouTube streams when people sent it to each other on their birthdays.
So if you can’t play the joke straight, go to the other extreme. Be over-the-top, silly, and stupid. Now that is a check my butt can cash.
I already had my reference track, so decided to make it the base and just sing what I needed to over it. I had drink (cheers, Joe P!), a good time, and it was kind of fun to not come anywhere close to hitting the correct note and know that that was just going to make it all better.
So Why Now?
So why post this today? As mentioned above, it actually fits my inner criteria for a “real” Song-A-Day song. But why not post it on February 1, when I should have? Because, as mentioned in other entries this month, I didn’t want it to be the first thing that played when I listen to my 2022 album in the future. I already know that this is one I’m going to skip most of the time, even though I do enjoy it. The joke wears thin, though.
But, as I have also posted this month, I feel like I’ve been late on every single track, and just have not been able to get two tracks done in a single day. Well, here’s this finished track, ready to go. There are two big reasons that I avoided posting it.
First, because it uses a modern recording of the work, the legality of this track is… dubious. I think a decent lawyer might be able to argue parody, but I’m not sure if that applies to sound recordings. Their lawyer would probably argue derivative work and call it a day. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, though, I have missed out on a lot of things and potential success in my life because I was playing it a little too safe.
Is this orchestra really going to sue me over a stupid birthday song that only lives on my website? Almost certainly not. The “David vs Goliath” PR hit alone would probably dissuade them, and it’s not like I’m making that massive YouTube money and they’re not getting a cut. I’m probably safe until some automated bot automatically sues me, but by that time the world will have gone so far into the surveillance state that a petty copyright infringement will be the least of my worries.
The second reason is self-inflicted and, again, I’ve already touched on it in my writings this month: I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to write a finished album that I want to listen to in the future. While I was writing yesterday’s blog entry, I started thinking about how I’ve put myself back into the box that Song-A-Day got me out of. This kind of thinking will never lead to a Piece-by-Piece (2019), I Get No Sleep (2016), or Ode to the Car Alarm Outside My Window (2018), and those are some of my most favorite things that I’ve done as part of this challenge.
I was already thinking that I’ve got nine solid tracks behind me, maybe I should lighten up. And then, earlier today, I tuned in to fellow Song-A-Day-er Seersha’s live stream on Twitch. In chat, I mentioned a bit about this self-censorship I was doing and she responded with (paraphrasing), “Yeah, man, you gotta just wing it.” She was the final push I needed.
And so here we are. When I started writing this article, I was already thinking that this just buys me some time and that I’ll replace it later in the month. But now I’m not so sure. Either way, I’ll be leaving the track and this post on my site, and will update it if I end up swapping it for a higher quality, but maybe less fun, future track. I suspect this may be the pressure-relief valve the month needed.
Getting old you are getting old (repeats) You are old (repeats) You’re old. So old. So old. You! (Are old) You! (Are old) You! Older than the mighty redwoods (you are) Older than Mt Everest sitting in the Far off Himilayas they’re pretty old let me tell you (You are so old) Older than Elven races you are Older than the late Jurassic era When the dinosaurs roamed the earth and then Died and turned to oil to fuel our autos Older than the darkest oceans you are Older than the farthest desert you are Older than the solar system and the planets in the heavens high above us (Old, old, old, old…) Good God look he’s gotten so old… he’s so old, so… How the hell did he get to be old Dear Lord look he’s gotten so old… he’s so old, so… How the hell did he get to be old? How the hell did he get to be old??? Older than the invention of cheese If you please, older, he is, than cheese How did he get old? (How the hell did he get to be, get to be old?) How did he get OLD? (How the hell did he get to be, get to be…) Dear Lord look he’s gotten so old How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? How is he so old? Getting so old Getting old Getting old You are so old You are You are old Old.
- Backing Track: REDACTED
- Vocal Chain: Neumann TLM-103. Talk about using a Rolls Royce to deliver pizza…
- Effects Chain: Oban 14 Year Single Malt