My Home Recordings

All the People

My two children, when they were little, loved to hear me recite Humpty Dumpty when they went to bed, but they didn't remember that name.  The remembered, sort of, the line about "all the king's horses."  So they would ask me to "say All the people, Daddy!"

In the early 1990s I was feeling some "empty nest" pangs while writing some tunes for a friend's 50th birthday party and found a song forming around childhood memories and the Samuel Barber songs, "Knoxville, Summer of 1915."  I set about writing a lyric with seamless elision between all the syllables, and came up with "All the People."

I recorded it in 2016 on a Joel Sahlstrom custom 000 guitar with a maple body and Addirondack spruce top and beautiful blue paua decorations.  Karen saw it in Music Folk when we visited there one day and she told me to try it, and when I did, she said, "that guitar is coming home; happy birthday!"  Click on the picture to listen to my song.

Sahlstrom000Guitar

Buckets of Rain

It's hard to sing a Bob Dylan song without trying to sound like him.  He tends to define the nature of his material.  I wanted to learn the guitar part to this 1974 classic, and then I had to learn the song....and then I had to admit that I prefer to hear him do it!  The guitar I liked best for recording this song in 2016 was my McIlroy cutaway with a walnut body and cedar top.  The walnut gives a clarity like no other wood.  I have three walnut guitars, and none sound like each other.  Click on the image below to hear my take on Dylan's arrangement.

McIlroy Guitar

Darcy Farrow

I first heard this song by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell on an Ian & Sylvia record when I was in college.  My favorite performance of it is on YouTube, bu Ian and Sylvia and Linda Ronstadt.  Steve Gillette does a very affecting performance, too, but I prefer the stripped down playing of Ian Tyson.  John Denver made this song famous, of course.  I worked up a new arrangement for my home recording in 2016.  After trying several guitars, I settled on the Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Model, with a body of Honduran rosewood and a top of Addirondack spruce.  I bought this from the same man who sold me the McIlroy.  What I liked about this guitar was a subtle quality of "bounce" in the bass notes.  It's a dream of a guitar to play.  Click the image to hear the song.

Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Model Guitar

Jamaican Farewell

When I was a pre-teen, Harry Belafonte exploded onto the music scene with a record titled "Calypso."  We played it over and over, and when I got a guitar, Belafonte and the Kingston Trio were my main sources of tunes to work up.  Lyrics by Irving Burgee to what may have been a Jamaican folk tune.  The problem of singing this song is like the problem of singing any Bob Dylan song.  If you take on a "Jamaican" sound, you're flirting with "cultural property" that isn't rightfully yours.  I don't think I get free of my fond memory of Belafonte's sound in this recording.  The guitar is a custom  Joel Sahlstrom Small Jumbo of Bolivian rosewood and sinker western cedar.  When I sold the car of my late wife, Kathy, I used the proceeds to fund my first new guitar in many decades.  I tried many fine guitars at Music Folk, and this was the last one Colin handed to me that day, and I knew instantly that this was the guitar for me.  Click the image to hear the song.

Sahlstrom SJ Guitar

Ride a Weathervane

When I was a new father and came to the realization that a baby is a human being, I wrote a poem that concluded with the image of a "girl with a little face riding a weathervane."  Before her first birthday, I put together a tune and then a lyric that captured images of a new life in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The guitar for this one is a Gibson J200 of maple and Sitka spruce for the top.  I think of it as "my Elvis Presley guitar."  The sound of the maple fit the arrangement better than the other choices.

Gibson J22 guitar

Under the Portland Weather

The Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey is a favorite of mine, and the sings have beautiful guitar parts that have been worked out by a collaborator of his.  It's challenging to sing David Francey songs in one's own voice, because he has a distinctive sound and the sound fits the words.  However....after I worked up the "ostinato" figure in David's accompaniment I decided to write an extended guitar solo to complete the pensive mood of the lyrics, and this led to writing some intro and connective bits.  It's a hybrid arrangement that sounds best on my custom Rod Schenk FE cutaway made of Hawaiian Koa with a stiff "select cedar" top.  No other guitar in my collection makes such chime-like treble notes as you will hear on the ending of this piece.

Schenk FE guitar

Page last modified April, 2017