Go here for long-circulating demo of "Lies I Can Believe"--
but from better sounding first generation tape
Love in the 4th
(a.k.a. Lies I Can Believe)
Walter Becker and Dean Parks
Zeon Music: Runaway Inflation © 1992
Vocal: Walter Becker
Drums: John Keane
Bass: Neil Stubenhaus
Guitar: Dean Parks
Keyboards: John Beasley
Saxophone: Bob Sheppard
First Solo: Bob Sheppard (Alto Sax)
Second Solo: Dean Parks (low-tuned fretless guitar)
Engineer: Roger Nichols
Recorded at Signet Studios, Los Angeles, 1992
Love in the 4th
W. Becker/D. Parks
Round and round - The words are spinning
Why don't we take it - From the beginning
I know it hurts but - Babe don't you worry
Let's take our time honey - What's the hurry?
Your eyes are moving - Yes I can see them
The words are soothing - Why don't I believe them?
Your eyes are beaming - But I can't receive them
You say our love just - Needs some attention
Maybe it's stuck in - The fourth dimension
You say it wants more - Kissage and huggage
Maybe it just got - Lost with our luggage
Maybe our love just - Needs space to grow in
A place to go to - A vector to grow in
Maybe what I need's - A towel to throw in
Don't you remember that rainy night?
Riding the dog in the pale moonlight
Making love up in the very last row
Lord have mercy - Halfway to Jersey
Spare me the details, the guts and glory
The truth is just another story
Why don't you give me
Why don't you give me
Lies I can believe?
I never said I was a diplomat
I guess I got no country to be true to
Don't you tell me not to be like that
Don't you blame me when I do like you do
(This verse is in the demo, but not in the track)
Life is a gamble - You're never ready
The sands are shifting but - The winds are steady
They never let up - So keep your head up
Don't let 'em blow you away
To every man goes - His share of passion
But I'm way under - The legal ration
I think you nailed it - Right down to the letter
It's getting older - But it ain't getting better
Maybe our love just -Needs a vacation
The train is rolling - Out of the station
Across the platform - Another train is pulling in
Lovers sighing in exotic places
Holding hands with all the aces
Making love up on the captain's table
All the way, all the way home
I see my past stretched out before me
The truth is just another story
Why don't you give me
Why don't you give me
Lies I can believe?
Just Another Story
Signet Studios. Formerly Motown’s Los Angeles studio, where the Temptations, the Commodores, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Smokey Robinson recorded some of their best songs, by 1992 it was the recording headquarters of Bruce Springsteen, Branford Marsalis, and Frank Sinatra. One likes to imagine Walter and Old Blue Eyes rubbing elbows in those hallowed halls as WB and crew settled in for the initial tracking sessions for his first solo offering, the album that would eventually become 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack.
As far as we know, and we in this case includes some of the musicians and engineers involved with the final album, none of the material recorded at Signet was used on the final album, despite the fact that a perusal of the 11 Tracks of Whack liner notes tells us that the album was recorded at "Hyperbolic Sound USA, and Signet Sound, Los Angeles CA.” One of the reasons we know that these recordings don’t appear on the final release, other than the obvious sonic differences, is the list of LA studio heavies floating in and out of sessions: names like Neil Stubenhaus and John Keane and a few others who had recorded with Walter “back in the day.”
Love in the 4th, which it turns out is the proper title of the demo we’ve all learned to love (despite multiple transfers and quite awful tape-hiss) as Lies I Can Believe, is a Walter Becker and Dean Parks collaborative effort produced in the same fertile period that begat Cringemaker and Ghost of Hipness Past. It was a personal favorite of mine from the moment I heard it, tape-hiss be damned, with all of the lyrical, melodic, harmonic, and textural greatness I love about Walter’s music.
This track would quite literally have been impossible without some pretty amazing software. The Signet Session tapes in Walter’s archives contained no recorded lead vocal tracks, the only exceptions being incomplete vocals heard distantly. We struggled for quite a long time with what to do with this track. Release it without vocals, ignoring what we both agreed were a pretty great set of lyrics and a terrific vocal by WB? In the end, we agreed that if we could somehow present the Signet tracking session with the older demo vocal, we’d have the best of both worlds, and the truest expression of what this track might have been.
We used iZotope RX7 to extract the vocal from the previously available demo with vocal. That demo and the Signet Studio tracking session were at slightly different tempos, and Audacity was used to bring the vocal up to the same speed as the track without changing key. Next, each phrase was positioned on the track to match the phrasing in the demo as closely as possible. This was a nearly herculean effort, and one which drove home just how much phrasing matters in WB songs. I expected the first 2-10 comments on this song to be pointing out that this is the same vocal. The fact that no one seems to have either noticed or been bothered by this means that either we managed to do a passable job, or that not everyone obsessed over the tape-hiss filled seventh generation tape demos that have been traded around the darker corners of the web for lo these many years.
There has been an argument going on in Steely Dan circles ever since Walter’s 11 Tracks of Whack was released on September 27, 1994. Some people heard the stripped down songs, the demo aesthetic that permeates the album, and inferred that Walter was not now, and had never been, the source of the lush fulness of the Steely Dan sound. What then did he bring to the table, this stripe of fan may have asked, further inferring through subtractive analysis that the Walter Becker half of the Steely Dan equation was solely lyrical, or musically defined by bluesy romps like 11 Tracks of Whack’s Cringemaker.
Of course the fullness of time has largely answered these questions, if they weren’t answered by a decade plus of sterling production work Walter did for a diverse array of artists including China Crisis, Rickie Lee Jones, Michael Franks, Lost Tribe, etc. etc. Circus Money, with tracks like Paging Audrey, Upside Looking Down, and Downtown Canon reaffirmed that Walter Becker as a songwriter (as opposed to simply as producer) is fully capable of the intricate, the lovely, the sublime. This track, the first Walter Becker Media release from the 1992 Signet sessions—the initial recording attempt (let’s call it “the first whack”) at songs being considered for Walter’s first solo album—sheds some light on the aesthetic decisions behind the songs that eventually made the cut.
Between these sessions in 1992 and the release of 11 Tracks of Whack in late 1994 was the completion, mixing, mastering, and release of Donald’s Kamakiriad album, with every bit of overdub, percent of a percent decibel shifting below the threshold of human hearing, and all that. Though Walter initially set out to make an album in much the same way he had always recorded—in studios with studio musicians and all of what we here in the deep south call “the fixins,” he eventually decided that these songs were served best by a stripped down approach, laying them and himself bare for all to hear. 11 Tracks of Whack is Walter making a deliberate decision for his album to be something decidedly other than simply Steely Dan with a different singer. Though not every fan “got it,” there were those who did get it, and got it immediately. “FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, WE find out who put the edge into Steely Dan,” wrote John Pareles in his New York Times review of 11 Tracks, “[Becker]’s still smart, still a wise guy, still as cagey as any songwriter in pop. But now, he's also willing to show some bruises. He's older now; he doesn't have to worry about being cool.”
And that’s really it. Walter didn’t have anything to prove that hadn’t been proven over the course of 7 Steely Dan studio albums and a subsequent decade producing stelar music for some of the world’’s most demanding and sophisticated musicians. All he had left to do was to serve the songs that he wrote, and he determined that the best way to do that was not the way he had done it before. I’ll admit that during my first listen through this track, I found myself wondering what if...what if Walter had given his first solo album the full Steely treatment? Would the album have been bigger? Would it have dominated the pledge drive of every NPR pledge drive for years to come? Would fewer people have headed for the restroom when Walter stepped to the mic at Steely Dan shows? Would the songs have been better? Subsequent listens have answered that question, for me at least. Walter knew what he was doing and made the album he needed to make. Go back and listen to Book of Liars, to Surf and/or Die, to any of the eleven...er...twelve tracks of whack and you’ll hear it.
-- Matt Kerns
This might be a bit of a stretch, but does anyone know where I can find the sheet music that was shown in the slideshow for this? I’d really like to try to play it in its entirety but I haven’t been able to find anything other than pieces of the sheet music shown in the slideshow.
I do so love this song. Such a perfect groove. Such soul. My God... I don't have the words.
Gorgeous artwork to accompany this brilliant track. Sometimes I really think that some of these art designs should be physical they're so cool with logos and artwork.
As for the song itself, brilliant late night jam. The kind of track you listen to at two in the morning when you're fret with worry from a bad relationship and need something to relate to. Some of the turns of phrases in this are wonderful, and showcase Becker at the top of his game with zingers.
It's January 1st 2021 and before I check out any new material I had to play this Incredible song that Matt presented us a Year Ago.. This song, to me, is a perfect example of Walter as a Super Hero.. Everything about it is Perfect and it has become a sort of theme song for Truth, Justice, and the Honest Truth of the Current Era.. Thanks once again, and may Peace prevail... Lary
I've had months now to go back to this recording and listen over and over again. Even after my previous posts in this thread about it, I felt the need to come back here and reiterate: Jesus this song is fucking incredible. And again, thanks again for all you do for us @Moderator: D-Mod and @Matthew Kerns.
This is REALLY strong material. Never mind the hiss - no one gives a proverbial when a song shines like this one does. Let's have some more of those outtakes please! Worthy of full release.
This song is Walter Becker's Mona Lisa.. Lary
I just listened to the new higher quality version of Love in the 4th on repeat while prepping for dinner tonight (now I have a bowl of fresh guacamole sitting on the counter, I chuckled to myself when I was putting the finishing touches on it right as Walter sang "It's getting older - But it ain't getting better.") A definite improvement in quality, though it's still got the distortion from being a bit too loud. God what a good song this is. In a way I'm disappointed I didn't appreciate the demo version before, but in another way I'm loving getting to hear this with almost completely fresh ears. My personal highlights: "The train is rolling out of the station / Across the platform another train is pulling in" is such a clever phrase anyway, but that phrasing when Walter sings it, with the change in tone of voice and hesitation before "pulling in..." Perfect. The bridge section with Bob Sheppard's sax solo really steals the spotlight. The chord changes mixed with the incredibly melodic sax lines really paint a picture.
Thank you Matt for Just Another Story; great post. I'll pick up on one detail here that resonates with yours - yes I did go listen to Surf... which I will on the slightest provocation. This song is played over a G pedal in the bass as the thrilling harmony shifts around above it (reharmonizing the bass rather than the usual other way around). As a tone picture, the unmoving bass is the ground, earth, and the guitar is something moving above, the clouds, a glider. Toward the conclusion, somehow, the song texture deconstructs, Walt's groaning embellishments, the sole bass fill (the ground relents, opens), and the chanting is eventually left bare, continuing, and pulling up into a final unison, a... G#! Which is then the dominant of the the next song Book of Liars, in C#. Perfect, chilling. Not all details of high production relate to lush sensual comfort; hard poetry ("... 'chute never opens") requires a different approach as in this masterpiece.
Thanks for that background Matt. Interesting that you blended the demo vocals with the backing band track, now I can listen to it with a whole different perspective. How many of those Signet sessions do you guys have with no vocals? Is it like the whole album? I’m trying to understand how those sessions relate to the Lost Tribe sessions. Thanks again
Good Gawd ! Ooooh, I missed out on the Weekend Party track, but I was the first one to hear this Primo Download and it is Absolutely Exquisite ! This baby is Bad to the Bone.. I'm talking Jump Back Jack, late at night B&B, with a slow-draw Cuban.. son of a bitch sax, like you never heard before, and a vocal presence from your own private club.. This song is Exquisite... Lary
Hey everybody -- I was maintaining radio silence during the "exclusive" period; didn't want to blow it with too much information on a public page, LOL you guys dispatched that silliness toot sweet, with everybody saying everything about everything, 'cause you wanted to schmooze ...and so you did -- loved it! Love the enthusiasm. So much to say about this track, and especially the historical stunner it represents. Speaking of stunners, big thanks and props to Matt, for his book-worthy essay in the first post (to be clear; you'll see my avatar because I posted the stuff, but Matt is the author throughout). More about that too, later. Tonight (oops --this morning!) I'm just gonna start stabbing everybody's hearts. Then after a few catch-up Zs I'll jump back in and try to catch up.
Thanks, everybody, for -- how shall I say -- offering the contents of your lower colon about this. Thought of another way, big love if you had one more bang to give, and gave it to Walter & friends.
PS: Download is up, with way mo' better sound. For Weal