This assignment was challenging for me. As I started researching songs that came out in 1989, I was surprised to realize that many of the tracks I love (anything by The Cure, New Order, etc.) were so context-based—without their atmosphere the melodies were rather nebulous. I wrote probably eight lullabies before settling on this one. I ended up taking this assignment as an opportunity to pay homage: to Tom Petty, John Prine, and CSN. I love all three for different reasons, but I thought—while I have to borrow a melody anyways, I may as well borrow a few other elements. So my lullaby features the melody from Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad”, the (near) exact guitar part from John Prine’s version of “Clay Pigeons” and a three-part harmony not unlike one CSN would write. Admittedly, I felt disheartened I wasn’t able to make this assignment more “me”. But I had a fantastic time learning from the experience, and enjoyed putting an homage down on paper.
Also yeah, there’s a metronome in the background. I am a flawed man.
Looking for feedback on
I tried to sing quietly, in respect to the "lullaby". Does it work for you? Or just seem weak? How about the mix—dig the way those guitars are sitting with each other?
nurphgun May 17, 2020 2:41pm
This is just lovely. It sounds fantastic. I understand the disappointment of not producing something that sounds like “you”—I approach these assignments with hope they’ll lead me to uncover something deep & true within myself, but it doesn’t always happen. Glad you were able to enjoy paying homage to some greats and know that you wrote something incredibly sweet that sounds so good.
ryan May 18, 2020 10:03am
Thanks, Nora. Glad you think it sounds good. Learning about properly tracking and mixing has been such a rewarding experience. 10/10 would recommend to all. Re: assignments uncovering something — yeah! And they often do. But I think it’s super important to remember that the experimental nature of this kind of creative resource also means your submission might just be a learning experience, which is what this week’s was for me. So long as one is prepared for either, it’s tough to be disappointed with the work you put in.
aubspeeps May 12, 2020 8:34pm
Ryan I really like this; I love the lyrics, and being told or telling someone youre alright is so emotional in and of itself and I love that reassurance to help someone relax and sleep. I think your voice sounds really lovely and I think the quieter singing works well for the lullaby aspect
ryan May 18, 2020 9:59am
Thanks, Aubrey! Yeah I was hoping ‘you’re alright’ would just sort of the capture that super simple sentiment that really translates to ‘I’m here for you’. Plus the original tune is called “Yer So Bad” so I liked just completely flipping that. ‘Preciate you listening, as always.
juliapiker May 12, 2020 1:56pm
Ryan yep. yes. yes. Oh yeah.
Flutes in the intro are a definitely yes for me. Vocals are beautiful I ALWAYS love your harmonies. Your voice is sitting right in the center of the mix, it’s essentially playing an instrument. You can really go either way here. I like it BOTH ways. The vocal is sitting in the same space as the guitars. So rather then the guitars and all other instrumentation being at the base of the mix and your vocal being “Inserted” or “mixed” in afterward- both the vox and guitar are working together to dynamically achieve the same thing. They are all on an equal playing field. Does that make sense?
Also- would love to hear a track where you really PUSH your vocal forward. You’ve expressed in the past being meh about that. But you really have a great voice and I’d love to hear that voice as an identifiable hero of the mix, not buried.
Quit burying those vox bb boy
ryan May 18, 2020 9:56am
Then boy have I got the track for you! *fast forward to next Sunday*
Yeah, it was tough to decide what to do space-wise with the guitars and vocals. I like relatively lush and busy guitar parts (no matter how hard I try lol) that take up a lot of space, and in this case, with a three-part harmony on the vocal, I ended up feeling like everything kind of had to occupy similar space. EQ’d some low end out of the vocals to clear out some space for the guitars and tried to make the electric guitar parts pretty distinct in tone, but ultimately yes, they all are dynamically working together. I’m glad it worked at least in some regard.
I love em both — burying vox and exposing vox. Probably the former more often. I’ll work on the latter. Thanks for listening, amiga.
Tengo May 11, 2020 10:02pm
Ry, this is a sweet spot for you that you should keep exploring. Way to turn Yer So Bad’s hook into a great lullaby. I want to hear you do more CSN style harmony arrangements plz
ryan May 12, 2020 11:06am
Thanks man! I like the idea of trying to dash in those CSN-y moments. It felt a touch inauthentic to build a song off of it with like, cowboy chords and nothing weird whatsoever haha. But I did sneak in that little semi-tone chord in the e-guitar part hehe. I think finding spots for it going forward would be rewarding, though.
nick May 11, 2020 10:51am
Sweet tune. I think the guitars are especially nicely played and recorded. The care you put into your guitar tones is absolutely something I associate with all of your tracks, and you as an artist, and consider every time I am choosing a default setting… I also struggled with quiet/strong vocals. Many takes. Not sure how much you played with this, but a combination of a higher input volume on the mic, singing closer to the mic, and probably mixing down the guitars a touch would allow a lighter vocal performance to stand out more.
ryan May 12, 2020 10:59am
Hey thanks—very appreciate re: geetars. I only played around with that a bit. Probably should’ve done more. Was more singing in a variety of styles, pushing out different amounts of air, getting into different headspaces, etc. But yeah that’s interesting—should’ve thought to see what altering the actual engineering might yield. Will experiment with that.
Sam Pearce May 10, 2020 9:24pm
I like the singing. I think sometimes singing softly brings out the identifying color of a person’s voice, and I’m getting that from yours here. It’s pretty, in the best way. Definitely not weak. I can’t judge a mix the way a person who has professional skills would, but the electric tone seems right, emotionally, and the two acoustic guitars, one in each ear, is also working for me. I can’t tell for sure, but they sound like the same guitar, so if you wanted the parts to be less blended and more independent, you could either process them in slightly different ways or record one part on a different guitar. I really couldn’t say whether that would sound any better than what you already have, just a possible direction in which to try tweaking the arrangement, if you’re interested in that.
ryan May 12, 2020 10:58am
Thanks, Sammo. I think in retrospect I should’ve made the acoustic guitars ‘smaller’, and I think that could fall into what you’re suggesting—about giving them a slightly different treatment from the vocals. But the tune started with guitars, so they became the bedrock, as is too often the case with the chronology of songwriting. Trying to get better about that!