Christmas 2007

December 31st, 2007 |

I feel compelled to do some sort of year-in-review post here but I don’t want to mess with it right now. I’m hungry and the oven is already pre-heated. Maybe I’ll tackle it tomorrow. For now just check out these pictures from Christmas.

Angel, Riley, and Drew Johnson

This one is Riley racing towards the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Riley Johnson

Have a happy new year.

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2007 |

Over the past few months my desire to know an understand the Bible has grown considerably. The more I read, and the more I begin to see God’s character revealed in scripture, the more I am in complete awe of God’s holiness and mercy. I see that God would be perfectly just in cursing us all and banishing us to eternal separation from Him. But he doesn’t. Some will most certainly receive justice, but some will received mercy. No one will ever be dealt injustice at the hands of God.

The phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” is (though well-meaning I’m sure) so woefully inadequate in showing us for what Jesus actually is the reason. Jesus is the reason for everything.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:3 (ESV)

Without Jesus there is absolutely no hope and absolutely no purpose in life. The existentialists and nihilists are right to say that there is no meaning to our existence. Without Christ they are correct, other than maybe, by way of contrast, to show the holiness of God compared to our wretchedness. But with Christ, there is hope, our singular hope.

Christ died that we may be redeemed to a holy God. His death on the cross was payment for our sins. Payment to God. Through Christ we are saved. Saved from the wrath of God. Saved from what we wholly deserve: damnation.

Being a good person won’t cut it with God. If you are under the impression that trying to live a moral and decent life will help you find favor with God when you stand before Him on the day of judgment I can tell you without hesitation that it won’t. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God. But when we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the Bible says that God looks to His Son and sees Jesus’ righteousness. It’s as if we lived the perfect life that Jesus lived for us. In John 14:6 Jesus says “…no man comes to the Father but by me”.

On the third day Jesus rose from the dead. Death had no power over Him. Since He rose from the dead we too, in Him, are granted life and freedom from spiritual death.

I cannot begin to tell of the incredible ways in which God has changed my life. Please consider what I have said. When you unplug the lights on the Christmas tree and go to bed tonight, examine yourself. Are you interested in what Christ offers? If you are, I promise you will never be the same. Acts 16:31 says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 says “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Merry Christmas

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

December 24th, 2007 |

Here is a very humble little Christmas wish to all my readers.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I had about a half hour to record, mix, and upload this so please forgive the amateurishness of the whole thing, including the incredibly noisy guitar amp.

Merry Christmas

Lilly the English Mastiff

December 20th, 2007 |

We added a member to our family today.

English Mastiff Puppy

English Mastiff Puppy

Her name is Lilly. This is our present to Riley for Christmas. It’s a little early but we couldn’t figure out how to wrap her and get her to keep a secret for five days. She is an English Mastiff which is reportedly the biggest breed of dog on the planet. She is only nine weeks old right now. She will reach close to 175 lbs full grown. Her dad is a year and a half old right now and he weighs 165 lbs and the top of his head came almost up to my chest. He won’t be full grown for another year and a half. The English Mastiff is the new and more affordable pony every kid wants for Christmas.

Here is a picture I found that will give you an idea of how big these dogs can get.

Angel came home from taking one of our cats to the vet a couple of years ago and said “I just saw the most gigantic dog I’ve ever seen. It was an English Mastiff. We have to get one.” She did a bunch of research on them and found out that they are totally perfect as far as what we want in a dog. We are very pleased. Send dog food.

Jesus Camp

December 11th, 2007 |

Angel and I just finished watching the documentary film ‘Jesus Camp’. As I watched, one scripture kept coming to mind again and again.

So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

1 Corinthians 14:23

Faking It

December 10th, 2007 |

It seems like the more positive feedback I get about my blog the less I write. Stop looking at me!

I mentioned recently that I’m waiting for Santa to bring me a certain piece of software before I can finish the two songs I’m currently recording and mixing. The software in question is this. The thing that lead me to this particular software was a search for a convincing harpsichord sound and a convincing timpani sound. Both are needed for my song called “Falling for Me” and hours of wading through the countless presets in my keyboard libraries yielded squat.

Go to this page and click on “Harpsichord” near the bottom of the center column. I know, right? Me too. I was convinced.

“Falling for Me” is pure, late-60s pop. Definitely one of my most favorite genres of music. As much of a fan as I am of this music “Falling for Me” is the first song that I’ve ever written that is distinctly in this style. I think it sounds just like The Zombies. And if you’re going to do 60’s pop you’ve got to have a harpsichord and a timpani…and a piccolo trumpet. Word.

This software is going to open up an entire new world of possibilities with my music. Now I’m trying to think of ways to fit in a bassoon everywhere I possibly can.

I am attempting to make a very acoustic (as opposed to electronic) album with very few acoustic instruments at my disposal. I hope no one notices.

On Mixing

December 5th, 2007 |

I took a break from blogging for a few days to try to think of something funny to say, some wisdom to impart, or a delicious recipe to share.

Still thinking.

I’ve been working on mixing two songs that are both well on their way to being finished. I mentioned before that there is some certain software I need before I can finalize the recording process but I can still mix in the meantime.

Mixing is hard.

My monitors are Mackie HR824s. (Good grief! Those suckers used to be almost $700 a piece when I bought them.) These are studio reference monitors. That means they are extremely accurate at reproducing exactly what is recorded. They don’t make the music sound better or worse, they only make it sound like exactly what it sounds like. That’s what you want in a studio.

When I mix, I make every effort to make the music sound great on my monitors. If you could hear my two latest songs sitting in the seat I’m sitting in right now you would be very impressed with how sweet they sound.

Whenever I get the mixes where I want them I then burn a CD and listen to them through my stereo upstairs and in both cars. Then I usually decide that the mix sounds like total garbage everywhere but on my Mackies. Then I go back and turn this thing up a little, that thing down a little, a little brighter on that thing, a little darker on that thing and then – Voila! It’s still garbage. But now the guitar is just a little louder on top of the garbage.

This happens with every song. Every time. It’s been going on for years.

I know how the great mix engineers make their mixes sound so great. At least I know a good deal about how it’s done. But even after all these years I still haven’t resigned myself to idea that I need to make my mixes sound like rubbish on my reference monitors for them to sound great in your car. Not just any old rubbish of course. There is a very specific kind of rubbish that smells like freshly cut grass if you’ll just take the time get it there.

Bob Clearmountain and Jack Joseph Puig are two very famous producers/mix engineers. Whenever I listen to their mixes on my reference monitors I am always astonished at how tiny and harsh they sound. The snare sounds like tin foil. The kick drum sounds like…uhhh tin foil. The vocals sound like a dentist’s drill wrapped in tin foil and drenched in reverb. And the guitars sound like chainsaws. But then you pop the CD in you car, or your iPod, or your computer and they sound like butter. Big fat transparent velvety butter.

The reason this works is because your car stereo (if you’ve got even a half way decent stock stereo) is going to emphasize all the stuff the mix is apparently missing. Your car (or home) stereo boosts the low end and boosts the sizzle on top so all of a sudden that puny kick drum sounds like a cannon and the lead singers voice now sounds like a summer breeze.

Then when you listen to it on your little iPod headphones it sounds great because the mix is already squashed into a smaller frequency range that roughly matches the limited frequency response of the ear buds so you can’t tell that there’s really anything missing.

You would think that since these truths are so evident to me that I would (at least in theory) be able to approach mixing the way the pros do. But I can’t. But I’m gonna. Starting tomorrow. Maybe.

So for now let me recommend that you buy your own set of Mackies and just dedicate them to my music and my music only. Hey, they’re a steal at $1,000.00 a pair these days. And then starting with my next song I’ll try to make sure my mixes sound equally as good to you as they do to me.