I need to say this loud and clear: I am not really a musician; I am a songwriter who also plays music. I’d like to be a real musician. I’d like to actually play with ease and courage and panache. I am actually best on the harmonica. Second best on guitar. Third best on keyboard. Worst best on bass, mandolin, lap steel. I am also too poor to pay real musicians to back me up on my demos, so I am stuck with doing them myself.
I just keep on hoping and dreaming that somewhere I will be heard by someone who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to recognize a song they can use. If that happened, then I might be able to afford to hire actual studio musicians. This may sound like a big complain/whine session, but it isn’t. I’m just stating the facts.
I can lay in my tracks with each instrument–over and over until I get them right. With the bass, it takes maybe a day or more to get something in there that I like. Harmonica and rhythm guitar usually are one take each. The rest just take redoing over and over and over. Actually, it’s kind of fun. I am learning as I go, and I really like learning. I would never stand up on stage and try to fake it with a bass or steel or mandolin or keyboard, but I am getting by in the studio.
I have discovered that I like my bass playing best. Every bass player I have worked who is pro or semi pro, is just too busy for my needs. They seem to be embarrassed with being heard playing as simple as I need them to play. Simple is the operative word in my studio. My ear likes what I hear from my recordings, so for me, I suppose I am doing OK–so far. I haven’t released any of my new material that I am on, but I will.
I have just recorded fifteen songs with just me, guitar, and harp. I will polish them up until they shine and then release it. This is a truly homespun sound I am going after. I just released a CD titled, “Preachin’ To The Choir” on CD Baby, http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hilarymarcdkx, that is as rough sounding as the material on it. The one I am working on now has a working title of, “On My Mind,” and is down home, country, mashed potatoes and gravy, sentimental, and very simple. I am starting to get happy with what I am doing on it. My harmonica is sounding just right for it, my guitar is simple, and my voice, never my best resource, sounds better than adequate.
I am buying books and studying up on the progressions and forms of chords for various instruments I am using. And, yes, it is hard work, and at times tedious, but It is good work, and it is satisfying.
So, I began this little essay by stating that I was not a musician, and in closing I need to qualify that statement. I have a personal vision of what a musician is: A musician can play just about anything in terms of style and beat and genre that comes to them; a musician also can play lead; a musician can also sit in cold and jam his or her heart out; and a musician is also expert with their instrument. I have none of these qualifications.
Before you, my reader or fan, comes to my rescue and tells me, as so many have done in the past that if I can write songs and then get up and accompany myself in public and hold an audience, then I must be a musician, let me say that while I can do this, all that means is that I am a good performer. I am a good performer and a good songwriter. I can hold an audience and get them all fired up, but I do this with my attitude, stage presence, and personality, not with my expert hot licks on my instruments.
I am not apologizing for what I do. What I do I do well–really well. I just am not an expert with my instruments. That’s all. I wish I were, but I am not. I am, however, learning to be, an expert, when I do that, then I’ll stand up when someone asks if there is a musician in the house.