Derek Webb for Free

November 23rd, 2008 |

Being that I’m such a huge fan of the notion that music has absolutely zero monetary value I thought I’d pass along a really good album suggestion. Derek Webb’s album “The Ringing Bell” can now be downloaded in its entirety for free. All you have to do is sell out five of your closest friends. It’s worth it, I promise. If you like The Beatles (and who doesn’t, you commie) you’ll probably dig this record. I’ve talked a little bit about Derek previously in this post.

Here’s the page you need to find out more.

Going To (fix the guitar in) Memphis

November 22nd, 2008 |

I’ve been doing some work on my thumb-picking the past few days. Specifically, I’ve been working on the main guitar part for my song Going to Memphis. I realized a while ago that there was a fatal flaw in the way I played that part.

I always thought that song felt really square and flat-footed but I never knew why. I figured it was probably due to the fact that the drums were programmed and just couldn’t swing like a real drummer would. But it turns out that wasn’t it. It was the guitar.

That song was the first song I’ve ever written that used that style of guitar playing so I was very new to it at the time. I thought it was pretty cool that I could do it at all so I was pretty thrilled with it back then. But now I’ve gotten a lot better with that type of playing and now I know why it didn’t work right.

The thumb part was playing half notes going from the root to the fifth. But to really be stylistically accurate it should have been doing quarter notes from the root, to the third, to the fifth and back to the third. That’s how the guys who really play that style do it.

So a few nights ago I decided to try and figure out how to do that. The chord voicings I used don’t really lend themselves very well to the new thumb part so it’s taken quite a bit of practice to get it right but I’ve at least got it in the ballpark now. It swings much better this way and feels much lighter.

Click here to hear the mp3. This is one pass through the chorus with the original guitar part and one pass through the chorus with the new guitar part.

Click here to download the full version of this song.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

November 14th, 2008 |

Last night Angel and I watched “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” This is a documentary about how Intelligent Design has been maligned in academia. I found it interesting for the most part.

Evolution is something I’ve taken a keen interest in over the past year or so. I’ve got a pretty good grasp on understanding the arguments on both sides of the issue. I recently read Michael Denton’s “Evolution: A Theory In Crisis” and found it incredibly fascinating. Denton is a Molecular Biologist and he raises some very serious problems about the theory of evolution, and he’s not a Creationist.

The thing I’ve learned is that it takes just as much faith (if not more) to believe in evolution as it does to believe in God. But most people don’t realize this. Here is why I think that’s the case. Take an average Joe who grew up in a family that went to church on Mother’s Day, Easter, and Christmas and who was also educated in the United States in the last forty years. He can probably give you a pedestrian explanation of evolution and a pedestrian explanation of the first three chapters of Genesis. He knows that an overwhelming majority of scientists fully support the theory of evolution. He also know that the preacher on TV who is stealing people’s money fully supports Genesis, and so does his grandma. What will he be more likely to believe? Evolution of course.

The majority of what average Joe knows about the Bible seems highly unlikely at best. The majority of what he knows about evolution seems at least plausible. But what I’ve found is that the more you dig into Scripture and the more you study its claims the more believable it becomes. And the more you study evolution and its claims the more unlikely it becomes. The fantastical elements of the Bible are widely known but the fantastical elements of evolution aren’t.

I guess it’s worth mentioning that, as a Calvinist, I would say that no matter how much a person studies Scripture, unless God has opened their eyes to it, the Bible will always seem ridiculous. But just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with doubt. One of my favorite scriptures is Mark 9:24 “I believe, help my unbelief.”

In the movie “Expelled” Richard Dawkins berates Christians in his usual way. We are stupid. But then in speaking about the origins of life he proposes aliens as one possible explanation. The aliens, being a highly evolved and advanced life form, seeded us on this planet. To average Joe I would think that the likelihood of aliens planting us here ranks about equal with a God who created us. Please don’t call us stupid and then talk about aliens. Besides, this just pushes the origin of life question back even farther.

Dawkins was asked what he will say if he ever has to face God. He said something like “Why did you so effectively hide yourself from us?” I’m not sure if he thinks he will squeeze this question in before or after he bows before God to declare Him Lord. I would propose that God would probably ask Dawkins “Why did you try and hide yourself from Me?”

Weight Loss Update

November 12th, 2008 |

Today was our second day to weigh in for the weight loss thing we’re doing at work. I’ve lost six more pounds. So that brings my total to 15.5 pounds lost so far.

That’s all I got. I need to get upstairs. Busy night.

New Demo Available For Download

November 11th, 2008 |

I’ve spoken a little about the orchestral piece I’m writing and I figured I’d let everybody hear what I have so far.

Click here to download a clip of the very, very far from even close to being anywhere remotely near finished recording.

I have no idea when this song will be finished. It won’t be any time soon. I do know that. Writing and preparing this kind of music is an incredibly lengthy process and I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’m working on for the band that is taking priority over this right now.

I originally thought this sounded like a hymn but the more I work on it the less it sounds like a hymn. I do have a couple of lyrics for it but I don’t know if it will end up having vocals or not. We’ll see how it progresses.

The working title is Sola Fide.

Top 100 Greatest Guitar Tones of All Time

November 10th, 2008 |

Over at Digg there is some sort of top 10, or top 100, or top 3.14 greatest-whatevers-of-all-time list posted about every ten minutes. So I thought I’d do my own.

This is a list of the top 100 greatest guitar tones of all time – starting at number seven.

Weighing in at the bottom of the list is Eric Johnson’s tone on “Cliffs of Dover.” The reason Eric comes in at the bottom is because Eric bleeds phenomenal tone and when you display phenomenal tone on every single song you’ve ever played everyone starts to hate you for showing off.

Number six goes to The Edge for his tone on U2’s “One.” This was quite a departure from his normal Vox+delay thing and it was a great one for sure. The dark and muffled approach is not easy to fit into a radio Pop song.

At number five we have the world-renowned “Brown Sound” of Eddie Van Halen on the song Panama. The bridge of this sucker is where this tone sounds the best. It’s like cinnamon toast with a side of sand paper. Yum!

At number four is Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tone on his cover of “Little Wing.” This is the most compelling argument to date for the fact that God made fingers. Pretty much every guitar player on the planet has gone through a phase where they try to re-create this tone and no one has ever gotten even close.

At number three is the fuzzed-out spookiness of Daniel Lanois’ tone on “Orange Kay” from the “Sling Blade” soundtrack. This tone coupled with this style of playing is so incredibly attractive to me. It’s beauty cannot be overstated.

At number two is Joe Walsh’s tone on The James Gang’s “Funk #49.” This intro gives me chills every time I hear it. There are few things more wonderful than the sound of an amp on the verge of explosion.

And finally at number one we have Paul McCartney’s tone on his song “Jenny Wren.” My jaw has never hit the floor faster than when I first heard this song on my studio monitors. Producer Nigel Godrich should win a Grammy every year for the next 100 years just for capturing this song in such unbelievable detail. So, yes, an acoustic guitar beat all the electric guitars in this list. Maybe that makes me a sissy. Or even worse, a Dave Matthews fan. But this is the essence of guitar tone.

So there you have it. My top 100 list. Yeah, so, maybe I missed one or two. Maybe! But I’m hungry and I really don’t want to spend the entire night on this mess. So back up off me.

Lou the Lyricist

November 8th, 2008 |

Yesterday I got and email from our drummer Lou. Near the end of the email was this:

On another note I have some lyrics I would like to run by you guys.  We could put these to any of the tunes that don’t have lyrics or maybe a new tune all together.  I was pretty excited about these so thought I would let you guys critique them.  Here goes:

Verse

I’m a pretty, pretty princess
It’s a full time gig
everybody wants to be my friend
and it kind of makes me sick

when I’m not in my canopy bed,
I fill my diary with stickers,
when my mom yells “get down here Louie”
I just say “whatever”

Chorus

Cuz I’m riding with the rainbow Unicorns
don’t you wish you were me,
yes I’m riding with the rainbow Unicorns
and I want everyone to see
Hey look at me.

So what do you guys think?

This email put me in a serious quandary. How was I going to get out of this one? Was this a joke? The rest of the email gave me no indication that Lou was in a joking mood. It had to be a joke. What if it’s not? What would be the nicest way to say “You are never allowed to speak in my presence ever again. Ever! Without exception.”

So I said to Angel “listen to this” and read her the lyrics. She laughed and said “That’s awesome.” Then she opened up her browser and played me this.

Oh yeah, it’s funny now.

Real Artists Steal

November 6th, 2008 |

I was working on writing a song tonight that had some chord changes I really liked. They sounded familiar but sometimes that just means the song is so strong that you feel like you’ve heard it before.

After spending a couple of hours on the song it occurred to me why the chords sounded so familiar. The first part was the chords to the verse of “We Are The Champions” and the second part was from the verse to Clapton’s “Change The World.” Drats!

The New Demos

November 2nd, 2008 |

I don’t really have anything to say here I just wanted to get that picture of my eye off of the top of my page. I’ll probably have to write a few paragraphs to take up the space so here it goes.

I’ve been spending a bunch of time the past few days working up some new demos for the songs the band is writing. My gigantic orchestral piece has been placed firmly on the back burner for now, which is exactly where I want it. I’m a wee bit burnt on that whole mess.

The band is trying a new approach to demo recording and it seems to be working pretty well. I’ve been recording a simple drum track and putting my guitar and vocal parts on there. Then I FTP that to my server. Bill (guitar) and Bruce (bass) then download it, fly it into their recording software, record their parts to it, and then FTP their parts back to the server. Then I go in and download their stuff and mix it in with my stuff and send it back out to everybody. Pretty cool. So now we can record full demos of everything without anybody ever having to leave their basement.

This approach also means that we never actually have to talk to each other, which, as we all know, is the worst part of being in a band. If band mates never had to talk to each other bands would probably never break up.