Tonight I spent some quality time with my other guitar, a Squire Stratocaster that was probably someone’s bar mitzvah present. It sounds like shit and that’s not neccesarily a bad thing. Sometimes shit is exactly the right sound. I used it to record an alternate version of Angelina using the “arena rock” effect on the guitar and “megaphone” on my vocal. It’s awfully rough and raw, maybe even grating, especially if you’re listening on the laptop speaker. Turn down the volume. Better yet wear headphones. It’s not very pretty but I kind of like the rockness of it. Obviously mixing is in order.
Last spring when I holed up in Joshua Tree for a week to find out if I had a muse, I wrote part of a folk song called “Angelina.” I started it after seeing a young blonde woman careening down my dirt road in a hearse. I made up the beginning of a story about her and wrote a couple of verses, pumped to have begun something and to realize that I would be able to make something, however basic. Then I lost interest in the song. I still don’t understand how or why that happens. But I moved on.
Recently I’ve wanted to revisit “Angelina.” I think it was the Danelectro. The sound of that guitar fits the mood of the song. Working on the song again has been tough. I tried to write a chorus and ended up with a bridge. I labored for a long time over the words because I really want to love them. The song is simple and the lyrics matter a lot. So I’d sit there, in my garret, at the park, wherever, and try to figure her out. Sometimes I would sit there and be at a loss. It’s the emptiest feeling. Really awful. Other times I felt like an intruder in her life. Like, what right do I have to catch a glimpse of a person and invent a bunch of lies about her? I gave her a name, a dead husband, a fondness for the Eagles, bad judgement and a nasty prognosis. I never did write a chorus.
So here’s the situation. I’m using the bridge as the chorus. It’s kind of weird but I’m letting it be, for now. Initially I recorded the guitar and the vocal separately but I found that I felt better singing it while I was playing the guitar. That was a big surprise because I literally cannot play and sing “Middle-Aged Rock Band” at the same time. I am getting closer to being able to play and sing “You Make Me Sick,” which by the way may be retitled “All Gone” thanks to my smart friend Matthew Gilbert. Anyway, I recorded “Angelina” live, with no effects, late at night. I think you can hear the late-nightness. I make a bunch of mistakes. It’s pretty rough.