I love pop music. The clean, huge sound of Lady Gaga or Katy Perry is a beautiful thing. The 90s was full of rock music that was so produced that it was essentially pop music. The 90s is probably why I became a songwriter in the first place. There’s just something about a well produced song that makes me happy.
Let’s not argue about what “well produced” means. But we could: We live in an age in which nearly everything is manipulable in the studio. There is a complete set of artists the world knows very little about. They are the behind the scenes crowd. They are what the cool kids always tried to be. They are the sound engineers. They know how to work the magic. They can take a crummy rock and roll band and give them a mix that is sparkling and powerful.
That’s not to say that a great mix can fix a bad song. The point is simply that what we are hearing on the radio today is some pretty amazing stuff. It’s the result of a huge amount of technology and although I don’t love the music “industry” and I don’t love all the pop bands or what they stand for, I still love music and sometimes I listen to the radio and forget about the “industry” and the moral high grounds and I just enjoy a great pop song.
Then I like to flip the coin and listen to something that breaks my heart because it’s so raw and wonderfully emotive. I’ve always leaned more towards that side of the coin in my own work. It’s where I prefer to live I suppose; In the anti-pop world of acoustic guitars and zero vocal tuning.
“Fireside” is an example of the anti-pop. Last Sunday I spent the afternoon chopping wood and making food. Just as dusk was beginning I sat by the fire and decided that I’d record a few songs. I had a couple of hours to kill before any friends could make it over so it was me and the racoons (or possibly possums….or groundhogs….I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen a coyote running down my street so who knows?). So I pulled out my Taylor and my Tascam DR-07, got set up, which took about seven minutes, and recorded this short set.
I love that Nolensville Rd, with all it’s ambulances and muscle cars can be heard in the background fairly prominently. In the foreground there’s a few birds twittering and a fire crackling. The neighbors dog and my phone sounding off an Instagram notification make cameos here and there. The rest is just a guy playing a few songs on guitar.
It’s hard to escape technology these days but at least in this record the technology stayed out of the actual songs. I hope you like them as much as I do.