I know that it has been a while since I wrote a "letter" updating you on all things Eder. Okay so I don't tell you everything.
2009 will go down as an interesting year for me. I've learned more about myself in the last year than I ever wanted to know. Personal growth is both good and bad. There is a reason dogs are always so happy. They just don't think too deeply about anything and their needs are few and simple. With every passing year, I find myself yearning even more for that kind of peace.
But humans are complicated and driven and always in search of something, so we plow ahead petting the heads of our already happy dogs when they should be petting ours. We need it more than they do.
That's as much personal data as you are going to get from me. Now on to the music.
As you know, we have a new album. Much to my surprise and delight, Verve got the machine going again for a new CD. They requested a theme this time, something to tie all the songs together and help with the marketing, so we settled on songs from the movies. There are so many great songs from films (I guess that's why they get in them), and choosing the final list wasn't that difficult. They are all very well known songs and hopefully well liked by many.
This CD came together fast. We booked the studio, Dreamland, up near Woodstock. It is an old church that was converted to a studio many years ago, but it still retains so much of the original church that it has a very interesting vibe. For instance, if you didn't like the way the music was going, you got the idea that if you said a prayer asking for more talent - it might actually come true. The back half of it is more like a 1920's farm house complete with wrap around porch and original kitchen where we ate many a good catered meal. It rained so much of the time that we took our breaks sitting on the porch watching the surrounding woods being soaked yet again. 2009 will also go down as one of the wettest that I can remember. We also had a few crazy storms, and if you listen in headphones you might catch the sound of thunder in some of the tracks. The upstairs has several bedrooms and that is where the band stayed. It was only a little over an hour from my house so I drove back and forth each day.
We spent the first week rehearsing the tunes and figuring out arrangements with the producer Peter Collins and the core band. Of course, Billy was on keyboards. Peter White was on nylon string guitar, Ben Butler on electric and acoustic guitar, Lonnie Plaxico on upright bass or Tony Levin (amazing) on electric bass, and Jerry Marotta on drums. Jerry is a force of nature and such a creative drummer. He also runs the place and is a hoot to be around. His 10-year-old son was often with him. Cute kid.
The band was great and it was a pleasure to sing with them. We would rehearse all day, eat too much food and it was a great hang. Then I would drive home in the early evening, and the guys would all fend for themselves. They were prisoners up there with only their laptops, cell phones, and a varied collection of VHS movies to watch, including Shirley Temple (that was my suggestion). We had the 4th of July weekend off so everyone went home to their normal lives.
The second week we relearned the arrangements we had forgotten over the holiday weekend and then started tracking the songs. It proved to be a good way to work because with that caliber of musician, it only took us the week of rehearsal to play together like a band. Tracking went fairly smoothly. In no time, we were finished and it was time to say goodbye to Dreamland. It was a bit like leaving Walton Mountain. Goodnight, John Boy!
I took a few days off to rest my voice and then spent four days at Billy's studio in Manhattan doing over dubs and background vocals. That's always one of my favorite parts of making a record. I love to do backgrounds.
Next, the music was all sent down to Nashville to add the strings and other musical parts. My friend Kim Scharnberg did the string arrangements, and my friend Gene Miller added some more great background vocals. You will remember him and his amazing voice from THE CIVIL WAR album.
Mixing is always a tedious process but obviously one of the most creative and important elements of a new CD. It takes a whole day to do one song, and by the end your ears are burned out from listening to it over and over again. You can come to hate the song until you get a good night's sleep and fresh ears the next morning. But the time and effort really pay off.
I'm happy with the songs we chose. Some were my idea and favorites of mine for years, and others were suggested by Verve or Peter Collins. I hope that you like our choices and our arrangements. We've taken some classic songs and changed them around a little bit. This music falls somewhere between my last CD and the standards that I am known for. I think there is a little something for all musical tastes. I'm thrilled that I got the chance to record yet another collection and that the ride I am on isn't stopping yet. Even though I am looking to slow down a little and make my needs "few and simple," I am not ready to stop. I do envy my dogs sometimes, but as long as I have someone to pat my head every now and then I think I will be okay.
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