My mission: teach myself how to use my new recording rig, while simultaneously defiling a national treasure. The year was 2012, and I’d just finished installing Logic Pro 9 on my Mac. The only thing left was to plug in my new studio monitors. I finally had a serviceable, if rudimentary, home recording solution. Once everything was powered on, it didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t know what to do. Until then my recording experience was limited to making four-track demos, or else having someone turn the knobs for me.
I set out on a Saturday morning in early December to make something – anything – hoping to gain some insight into how it all worked. First, and most importantly, I needed a song. Unfortunately, my mind was blank, and I couldn’t recall a single song I’d ever heard, nor could I remember any of the hundreds of songs I’d written. I shook my head to clear the cobwebs, and, just then, a peaceful feeling came over me. With it, the song: Dayton, Ohio 1903 by Randy Newman. Why? I have no idea. Like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, it just popped into my head. Might as well tackle, not only one of the most prolific songwriters of the fifty-years, but also one of the most distinctive voices in music of any genre whilst I make my shitty demo.
Mr. Newman’s original is a moody and sparse arrangement, evocative of a time neither of us ever experienced, but still seem to remember. Mine is a much more upbeat affair, sounding not unlike seventies soft pop, recorded in an attic by someone who didn’t know what they were doing. Mission Accomplished!