Wounded Bird by Graham Nash

This is one of the rare times I decided to arrange and record a cover. This is a Graham Nash tune from the album, “Song for Beginners“.

I wanted to work out a harmony part for this song, and finally figured out one part. Then I decided to add a third harmony on the final verse.

The song also helped me practice my fingerpicking style on my Taylor 324ce and play around with some recording techniques. I used a vocal mic and the built-in electronics to record the guitar throuh my PRO AMP II preamp.

And finally, the song seemed to be missing something, so I ended up adding a banjo part, which adds a little different feel and timbre to the mix. This is the six-string Gold Tone AC-6 banjitar I recently purchased.

Bit of a Stretch – Lyrics

It’s a bit of a stretch
A bit of a circus act on ice
To say that I know what I’m doing
Even half the time

And yet here I am
I’m singing this song
I’m dancing a dance
That’s supposed to save you

A security guard
Shuffles his feet outside the door
A photograph on the table
Drops to the floor

And here I am
I’m singing this song
I’m dancing a dance
That’s supposed to save you

Sometimes I start to wonder
How I ever got into this situation
Maybe if I’d been more successful
Had a 911 instead of a boxster
Then again I should have stuck with the plan
And became a rock star

Bowstring Lake – Lyrics

My fiancé
She’s got a father in Tapei
Her mother’s down in Bangalore
Trying to find a way

To get back to the city
Where she met her husband first
When he glanced across the table
And he said, “I like your purse.”

All she could do
Was to keep from falling through
And they when they got together
The end result was you
I found the secret to this life
I found that everything was right
When I found you
They moved to Minnesota
Making angels in the snow
He dragged her out to Bowstring Lake
With ice skates in tow

Blinded by the midnight moon
She held his hand so tight
He couldn’t feel his fingers
As they glided through the night

All she could do
Was to keep from falling through
And when they got together
The end result was you

Bowstring Lake – Recording and Mixing Details

Bowstring Lake – Recording and Mixing Details

This song was based on some chords and rhythms I was playing with on my Baby Taylor (3/4 size travel guitar from Taylor). I recorded the guitar first. I originally tried using my full-size Maderia or an electric, but ended up using the Taylor in the final recording. The sound seemed to work and it was the original guitar I used to compose the song.

There are no drums in the recording; instead I tried to base it around some of my own amateur conga playing. My son, Matt, had a set of congas, so I borrowed them and ended up mic’ing them with two microphones, so I’d have a bit of stereo effect.

I originally came up with the bass line on my Yamaha bass, but I found I couldn’t play the riff that well on the actual bass guitar, so I replaced it with a synth bass. I used finger bass sample from the Cubase built-in Halion SE software synth.

I needed a change in the chorus, so I went to my VB3 organ simulator, which has a very nice built-in rotary speaker effect. I like how it fills in the mids during the pre-chorus.

When I needed something to punch out some emphasis beats, I went with some horns, and settled on the Trumpet and Trombone samples in the Orchestral Symphonic plugin libraries I got when I took a critical listening course at Berklee. One of the requirements for the class was to buy this software, which is known for its realism. I’m finally finding some ways to work these samples into my recordings.

I sent the horn midi tracks to an effect channel with a big church reverb to give them some added space.

For this recording, I used effects channels more than usual. I’m finally figuring out why they are more effective than applying effects to a single mono channel. In particular, for mono tracks, I can send the signal to a stereo effects channel, and that provides some panning and widens the reverb or delay I’m applying to the signal.

I ended up doing this with the congas, the lead vocal, and a couple of other tracks.

For the lead solo, I used my Gibson SG straight into the Blues Junior, recorded with one large diaphram mic. I then send the signal to an effects channel with a delay, panned opposite the guitar. I think I might have overdone this, since you can hear the click of the attack of many notes in the left ear can as I play. But I thought it was such a nice big, full sound, it was worth leaving that in.

I wanted to add some sparkle or high-end brightness to the actual chorus and went with a midi shaker patch. I originally tried using my egg shaker, but couldn’t get a solid, consistent rhythm. Using the keyboard and a couple of keys on the keyboard gave me what I wanted.

I added a live tambourine shake on the chorus and used Cubase automation to pan it slowly left-to-right as it fades. I like how it sits high in the mix and added a little brightness to the chorus.

For the background vocals, I doubled up the background harmonies and pushed them back in the mix. On the chorus I came up with a subtle counter-point melody that’s a two-part harmony. It’s a bit buried in the mix, but I think you can feel it on the “I found” parts in the chorus.

This was another fun project. Took a long time, but I learned a lot and it was a fun distraction. Now on the next song.

Piper Tri-Pacer – Recording and Mixing Details

This song was an experiment in changing time signatures. It starts out in 3/4 time, and then switches to 4/4 time for the chorus.

Track details are as follows.

* Rhythm Guitar – Recorded using my Guild Madeiras acoustic guitar and two microphones: the AT4040 large diaphram mic about 2 feet away from the sound hole, and an SM57 much closer, but off to the right, on the bass side of the guitar. During mixdown, I panned the AT4040 somewhat left and the SM57 slightly right.

* Lead Vocal – AT4040 mic; “Vintage Compressor” and “Tube Compressor” Cubase 7 effect plugins; also added a slight desser and little reverb, using the “Plate vintage” preset (with modifications) of the Roomworks reverb plugin.

* Bass line – Yamaha RBX 170 bass guitar through the Fender Rumble 75, using both the line out and a mic. I didn’t use any effects on this track, but I did use the built-in “Pre” settings on the Cubase equalizer. This enabled me to cut any rumble below about 20hz, which made a big difference. I ended up using the same “Pre” feature cut the low end below about 50hz from the acoustic guitar track, which was competing just a bit with the bass in some parts.

(In the credit where credit’s due department, I have to mention an article on macProVideo.com by Matthew Loel T. Hepworth, which highlighted this new “pre” feature of Cubase 7; otherwise, I might not have found it.)

* Piano – Yamaha S90ES Piano sound, which is included with the main software synth provided by Cubase, Halion Sonic SE. Another benefit to my tweaks to the bass track (removing the low end a bit) cleared out some room for the rumble of the low piano notes.

* Violas (verse) – “Viola” sound from the Halion Sonic SE software synth. I panned it right to offset the slightly left-leaning acoustic guitar rhythm.

* Hammond organ – VB3 VST plugin, which is a software instrument plugin that emulates a Hammond B3. The coolest thing about this plugin is it’s emulation of the rotating Leslie speakers. You can set the level and speed of the Leslie and experiment with the position of the various virtual “drawbars” that represent the physical drawbars on an actual Hammond B3.

* Trumpet – “Noisy Solo Trumpet” patch in the Halion SE synth, mixed later in the song with a harmony of the same patch.

* Background vocals – in the first verse, a simple, single track with no effects, except a desser; on the chorus and in the second verse, I doubled up (recorded it twice) on two different and panned them left and right. I added a little compression and some reverb to the doubled-up background tracks so they recede to the back a bit more.

* String pad during second verse – “Warm Strings & Pad” patch from the Halion SE synth. Added a little airiness during the second verse.

* Drums – recorded live using four SM57 mics on the snare and toms, my two CM217 overheads, and the AE2500 kick drum mic. Played by me, which is relatively easy to tell.

Piper Tri-Pacer – Lyrics

In the far reaches of the airport
Where the tarmac turns to dust
There’s an old Piper Tri-pacer
Who’s steel frame is starting to rust

Her fabric is worn
And her colors are gone
It’s faded like someone
Grown old

But she’s pushing against
The tie down ropes
And it looks like
She wants to roll

I’m going to buy that plane
I’m going to fix her up right
I’m going to point her down the runway

And we’re going to fly
Over the ocean
Banking to the left and right
We’re gonna see the world

Why would you wait
For another day

When a hill of high pressure
Exposed the blue sky
And beckoned for someone
To go for a ride

And why is it so
Clear in my mind

I pull on the throttle
And the Lycoming wakes
The prop starts to spin
And I feel the seat shake

Weight on the Pedal – Lyrics

I was driving home
I was changing lanes
I like to put some weight on the pedal
I like to feel the strength of the engine

I’m no Mario Andretti
I’m no Ricky Craven
But I’m willing to give you a ride
All the way to New Haven

As long as I can drive

Now we’re on the street
Outside the Harkness Tower
I don’t want to leave you here
So we talk for an hour

I’m no Mario Andretti
I’m no Ricky Craven
But I’m willing to give you a ride
All the way to New Haven

As long as I can drive

It’s funny how things can go wrong
When you’re trying to be strong


I’m no Mario Andretti
I’m no Ricky Craven
But I’m willing to give you a ride
All the way to New Haven

As long as I can drive
As long as I maintain some control
As long as I can drive


All the Passion of a Passerby – Details

This song was originally posteed by back in December. Since then, I did a major re-arrangement and remix in Cubase 7.0. I cut it down to just around 3 and a half minutes, changed the melody in the verse slightly, re-recorded the vocals and lead solo, added a piano track, and re-recorded the bass using a new Fender Rumble 75 amplifier. For the re-recorded bass track, I recorded two tracks (a mic track and a line-out track) and mixed them together. The entire mix came together with a deeper, more solid bass line.


All the instruments were recorded into Steinberg Cubase 6.5 and Cubase 7.0, using a Firestudio Project audio interface. All effects are from the Cubase built-in plugins, running on an iMac.

Rhythm Guitar: Gibson SG played via my stock Fender Blues Junior, mic’d with a Shure SM57. I used no pedals or other effects on the track–just the natural overdrive and a little reverb on the amp. I used a capo on this song, placed on the fourth fret.

Bass Guitar: Yamaha RBX 170 bass, played directly into a Fender Rumble 75 solid state bass amp. I mic’d it with an SM57, but also recorded a line-out track at the same time. Then I was able to mix them down to get the sound I was looking for.

Drums:These are live drums, played by me. After laying down the basic rhythm and bass tracks, I developed a drum rhythm with a snare hit on the third beat of the measure for the first half of each verse. Then I switched to the emphasis on the 2nd beat of the measure at the end of each verse line. This seemed to work pretty well, as I naturally had a more driving beat on the guitar rhythm as I wound up the chord pattern.

The drums were recorded using my usual setup: SM57 on the snare, Audio Technica AE2500 on the kick drum, two CAD CM217’s as overhead room mics, and an old Shure BG 5.1 to pick up the toms. I added no effects are on the drums whatsoever–only a little EQ adjustments to the kick drum tracks–both of which come out of the two-channel AE2500. You’re basically hearing the room (which is rather small) and nothing else but the Tama kit.

After laying down the drum track, I re-recorded the guitar rhythm and bass lines. This made them a bit tighter with the drum groove, although if you listen carefully, you can still hear some misses on the kick drum–a sure sign of a drummer still learning to play. I later re-recorded the bass track with the new amplifier.

Vocals: The final lead vocal track is actually just one track with two effects on it: a little compression and a thin plate reverb.

For the chorus and bridge, I added a two-part harmony, doubled and panned right and left. No effects on the harmonies in the chorus. On the bridge, I added some room reverb only to the lower harmony, which seemed to be just enough to help it blend together. I also added a single lower harmony line on the first half of each verse, panned slightly right, to give some depth to the vocal.

Organ pad: For a simple fill pad, I used the General MIDI Rock Organ patch that comes with the Cubase-provided Halion SE software synth. I panned it slightly right, since I the rhythm guitar is panned slightly left.

Lead guitar riffs: I struggled a bit trying to find a proper lead sound, but ended up going with a simple twangy sound, since I wanted to use my G&L ASAT Classic tele on the song. This is also played directly into the Blues Junior with no effect pedals–just some adjustments to the tone and some reverb coming from the amp.

All the Passion of a Passerby – Lyrics

Strolling round this town again
It’s almost quarter after ten
And I’ve yet to find
An old friend

Seems no matter how I try
I can’t find them all this time
They’ve moved on
And why can’t I

Maybe it’s time
I shed my skin
Dug myself out
Of this hole I’m in

Throw me a shovel
And crack the whip
Maybe this time
I won’t trip

Peggy called me on the phone
Her breathy voice is all her own
She brings me back to where
I don’t belong

I met her by the five and dime
I bought her flowers; they looked fine
She smiled sadly
And untied the twine


I woke up one day and the sheets were tangled
All night long my throat was strangled
By the thought that it might pass me by
With all the passion of a passerby

Dangerous Wonderings – Lyrics

From high up on the mountain
A heavy fog came setting down
Woke me up from a musical dream
Orchestral strings and crash of thunder

From the source of that distant reservoir
I build a city of happy inhabitants
They roam about and deal with life
Until they start to wonder
(Dangerous wonderings)

Point it out to me one more time
I didn’t hear you the first time
You’ve got that megaphone in your hand
But it doesn’t help me understand

High up on the mountain
I felt the wind and the sun in my face
If only you could stand here with me
And feel the sun and the wind the way I do