i do a 'different take' on it emotionally than what this Jason Robert Brown tune is usually known for.
There were a few reasons why I chose to go down a slightly different road for this number.
1) The original performance and recording of this number, I believe can NOT be improved upon. In any way shape or form. And that's saying a lot cause I'm against this gal a lot for roles and it would be way easier for me to just criticize the performance and be all small and petty and shit about it.
Ya gotta give it up for talent or your soul will dry up like a corn husk...
and this singer not only recorded the ever living fuck out of this song...
but I saw her performance on opening night of this role and she totally blew me away.
Again....I auditioned for this role too, got very very very close to getting it...
I'm not sure if it was between me and her but it was close...
and I was very sad that I lost out to this chick.
But man, when you see someone just tear the ever living crap outta something? Even tho you really really wanted it? It makes it so much EEEAASSSIIIEERR to let go of it. So in a way, it was the best thing that I saw her do it live. I walked outta there going,
"Yup. I woulda cast her too. Moving on."
Once the title of this song is revealed, I highly recommend getting the cast album of this show just for her rendition of this song (not to mention the whole album is genius). But her rendition of this tune? Perfection.
So there was no point in my mind, in recording it the same way.
2) While the 'take' on this song is usually done rather......poignantly?
I always found that when I personally turned to this song for comfort or catharsis- i was always P-I-S-S-E-D. I was ANGRY when I would turn to this song. I mean like, NUCLEAR angry.
So when the lyrics ask the person who just stomped on this gal's heart...
'what about you?'--
I was really FEELING.....
"what about YOU??!!!"
(implied: you fucking dumbass cowardly sonofabitch...WHAT ABOUT YOU!!!!).
And honestly, I wanted to see if the song would hold the extra anger in my rendition-
and if I could pull it off without bending the whole song out of musical shape.
3) This song is just one of my favorite all time songs on the planet. And i love it. I think it's brilliant on so many levels. And I wanted to record it. So, there.
to changing the emotional intention behind a song can be tricky.
The musical arrangement and composition of a song is like......
the appropriate selection of clothes, really.
You don't wear a nice light, frothy negligee to do heavy construction work. It will tear it about and ruin it and you'll look like a total asshole.
And you also don't wear a hard hat, sturdy overalls and steel toed boots to a garden party. It's too much weight for the event, and again- you'll look like an asshole.
So not wanting to look like an asshole....
i set about nudging the arrangement ever so slightly, in the hopes that it would hold the extra power of a full belt, and a more gutteral intention.
I took out the entire instrumental at the top so the song starts completely acapella (voice only, no accompaniment).
Then....i let just a bar creep in to bridge...
into second verse....
bring in some more instruments....
it gets bigger...
and builds more and more...
*musical nerd alert: sometimes if you're wanting to really build in a song...but you're afraid the center won't sustain it...you can 'trick' the ear by really thinning out the top of the song. This way it SEEMS like the build is bigger in the middle...not because it actually is- but because you STARTED from a much smaller place. So you ramp up not by actually ramping up MORE in the middle- but by building your ramp from a much smaller place to begin with. Savvy?
I get to the first (of three) build sections in this song.
Add more instruments.....
switch from vocal head placement to mix.
Add more instruments....
switch to full out belt.
Now here's a tricky bit.
Do i belt FIRST....where it's lower...
and then mix when it creeps up?
risking losing the build?
because generally if you wanna build something you mix first and then belt.
but as it goes UP a step....
the belt becomes more piercing...
and ironically less powerful and pointed like a mix.
A mix can be like a laser if you straight tone it.
And I must have done 97823847623492834 takes of these 16 bars.
then chest belt.
then nasal belt.
try to pitch over the break...
try to pitch under the break....
for at LEAST an hour.
and that shit was LOUD.
I can't believe that my neighbors didn't finally go crazy and call security on me.
this section made me absolutely nuts.
I save every single take and figure i can maybe play mix and match when i mix it later.
find the right combination down the road.
there's also a very famous musical interlude in this song that i LOVE...
but i decided ultimately to cut because, I didn't have 5 friggin' cellos or whatever they had in the pit for this song, and also because the musical interlude emotionally cuts into the second build. And if I'm doing the 'ANGRY EYES' take on this...
I can't afford anything to cut the emotional through line in half-
no matter how much I absolutely love it love it love it.
And not for nothing-
but it's a fabulous cut for any of you gals who want to do this for concerts or auditions.
it's nice and slick, i think.
Go ahead and take it.
I don't care.
Now i'm not gonna lie.
This song chapped my ass during the whole process for many reasons.
1) I love it so much, and i am such a fan of the original interpretation that I personally had most likely, unrealistic goals for the outcome. I wanted to it to be just as good in it's own way, as the one on the album. Not even better. I just wanted it to be as good. That's all.
2) Jason Robert Brown is a buddy. And i didn't want him to think that I screwed around with his song all willy nilly. I felt extreme loyalty to him, as a friend, to do this as best I could.
3) This song is HARD ya'll.
came the mixing.
This was the song...
that nearly made me throw my computer out the window.
me with my loud ass ridiculous ethel merman belt....
but because I'm such a dumb ass...
i never LISTENED BACK to it when I was recording it.
I just did take after take after take after take after take and figured I'd finesse it post-op.
here I am, with all these grand dreams of how powerful this 'belt is going to sound'-
and it's just distortion everywhere. Meaning, I all of a sudden sounded like a Dalek from Dr Who trapped under eight down comforters.
That's exactly what it sounded like.
I know this because i listened to it at least 4 bajillion times in garage band as I desperately tried to fix it with the tools in that program. Anything...to NOT have to record it again.
but, it's useless.
the volume levels are all over the place...
the beginning sounds way too soft...
and the "big build" is now just distorted crap.
I have to go back and record this whole section again.
Now i know...
my neighbors are going to call security on me but...
it has to be done.
I can't put out a distorted, ghetto version of this awesome song that I love so much.
I'll leave it off the album before i do that.
Back into the bathroom I go.
Same 16 bars.
But this time...
i turn DOWN the mike level at which it records?
I listen back...
totally not distorted.
i go back to mixing everything.
because i recorded at such a lower level than the rest of the song...
the belt isn't distorted but...
it doesn't build with the rest of the song.
Needless to say....
endless endless ENDLESS shit with this song.
I ended up fixing it best i could with doubling vocals here and there-
and lowering master volumes here and there.
I think what I ended up with was really great?
But honestly- since I have worked and re-worked and re-worked this song so many times...
I have no perspective.
Andy (the bf) says it's great.
I even sent it to Jason, and he said it was 'fabulous'.
I just need to let it go at this point?
But this song for me....
is the track that's like.....
an ex boyfriend who you really really loved comes back into your life-
and he says he's changed, and he's all different now-
and you really really wanna believe that he's awesome now-
even though he was a total pain in the ass before-
and you decide to date again...
but all the time in your stomach you're like,
"is this a good thing? is this good? if I hadn't been so fucked up by the whole relationship last time...I'd have a better idea. But....i think it's good now. But is it?"
and then you call your mom-
and all your girlfriends and discuss it ad nauseum and you're still never quite convinced that it's good again.
No matter what anyone says.
I still love this song.
But it is the ONE track on the album......
because finally getting it to where I wanted it was such an ordeal....
I still can't sit back and just enjoy listening to.
I'm sure, one day I will.
But until then.....
I'll leave you all to be the judge.
And if you love it- awesome.
If you don't- lie to me.