these were some of the names on CD labels and tape canisters while Circus Money was being made. Every song — from the music charts to the tape on the mixing board — was known by an abbreviated name only. The reasons and history behind this longstanding convention — and some of the unexpected, Keystone-Kops effects of violating it — would make for a fairly amusing story we could tell about the 2vN era, and perhaps some day we will.
But hold on — what’s this — other names? on other labels: Building: Mayor: Mouse: Lucky: Lucy: Danger: and more! They didn’t make the cut. Ouch.
And perhaps oddest of all, you find one apparently called “Couchies”
We posted the demo for Couchies way back in April.
When you superimpose a melody on some tracks, their character changes rather dramatically, because the melody isn’t really echoed, particularly, by the harmonic structure of the track itself. We felt this was true here. What do you think?
Take a listen to some of your favorite musicians, playing along with Walter’s scratch vocal, on
Couchriders in the Sky
Stay wait: Couch, um, ride um, Huh!? For those not old enough to remember quasi-novelty songs from the mid-century, you might want to look it up. Except it wasn’t Couches anybody was riding. Burl Ives; Gene Autry: Johnny Cash — it was a classic.
A brief word about vocals. Oooooo so tempting to apply just a touch of auto-tune….just 3 notes!? Can we? Should we? We learned the plug-ins, we tried them out, we tweaked and leaked, squinted and squirmed, we wept, we prayed, we microlistened…and then…
… we took all autotune OFF.
That’s what you’re hearing today; Walter’s uncorrected naked scratch vocal.
This issue will become more relevant soon enough: Pitch, especially holding it steady for long notes, may not have been WB’s forte; it is in fact the forte of very few singers, even among the accomplished. But any honest listener of the contents of this site has to admit that Walter was a much better and skillful (natural, uncorrected) singer than usually given credit for. I mean….c’mon people! Re-listen if you need to. And if you’re still not down with it, we’ll be coming for your secret decoder ring forthwith.
But the point, Watson, the point is this: Walter was not inevitably disturbed about an off-pitch warble in a woking vocal. For one thing, a career with Fagen utterly schooled him on the concentration, experience, and practice required for strong, steady vocals in the studio or on the stage. So for Walter, his vocal limitations were just facts, not failures. Certainly an observer wouldn’t find the tsk-tsking, the averted eyes, the oh-dear-that-was-terrible head-drop. Walter took for granted —rather sanely, it seems to me — that informal and non-perfected vocal sessions were just gonna be….informal and imperfect.
But there was a particular type of self-perceived “weak” singing
that did bother him; it was a voice that, given the choice, he would largely keep to himself. As we move deeper into the stacks, we may have to make some hard decisions, and leave some DATS in their cases. But there’s nothing terrible about “hard” decisions, if one’s respect for all Walter has given us will tamp down that impulse for more,, more, more — no matter what.
But later for that!
For now, enjoy Becker/Klein’s
Couchriders in the Sky!
(Thanks again to Uber-mench Larry Klein , a blessing to our boy in every possible way, plus 10).