Strangely, since my last blog, lamenting the lack of progress on my CD, I’ve actually made quite a lot of progress. Today, it dawned on me that what I’ve been doing is “digital archaeology.”
If and when this CD is finally finished, it’s doubtful the average listener will ever fully appreciate just how much went into it. Far more than the average CD. Let me explain (With the understanding that only the true music-recording-geek will fully appreciate what follows…).
First, there were songs Clark Findley and me were recording/tracking at his studio, and at a studio in Fort Worth, seven to ten years ago now. At the end of that process, I had a CD that, recording-wise, was 90 percent done (maybe more…). For all sorts of reasons, it was never released.
I’ve continued to write songs, of course. But it’s now become clear to me that some of those older songs –once in line to make the (ahem) cut– now won’t. They’ve been replaced by five or six newer songs recorded more recently (some, this year, even).
So, in order to really connect the dots, I needed to go see Clark and get those older files from him. But it’s been so long that neither of us now use the recording software (Cubase) or the operating system (OS9) we used back then. (Actually, even more technical and more confusing: Some of the Cubase songs used OS9, and others OSX. Yeesh)
Add to this, Clark’s gear got caught up in bankruptcy involving the studio where he worked. It was all his gear, but he couldn’t access it. So, for a couple of years, the files were, physically, in a small room in Fort Worth.
When I went over there in early October, we were able to export/save just about everything from those old recording sessions. By exporting some of the tracks at Clark’s (Cubase SX), and also exporting others here at home (Cubase 5, using my own old pulled-out-of-the-closet-G4, booted up in OS9), miraculously, I’ve imported them all into my studio here at home (Logic Express) with no problem at all. (Other than keeping everything straight…)
Included in these archaeologically recovered cuts is great session work by Rick O’Connor, Bruce Hathaway, and some mighty tasty piano by Tim McLemore. The incredible Reggie Rueffer plays fiddle on two of the recovered tracks, and it’s absolutely amazing.
But it doesn’t stop there, since I am also dealing with two self-inflicted wounds that resulted in even more lost files over the years.
The first was my computer getting stolen, right off my desk, early last year. I had three brand new recordings of three brand new songs on it at the time. And, yes, I’d failed to back up. (That’s the “self-inflicted” part)
Sooo, in recent weeks, I bit the bullet and totally reworked those songs too. Rerecorded/retracked them from ground zero. Which was a lot of work, since two of them are actually among the most complex cuts that will be on the new CD.
The final bit of archaeology necessitates from when I inadvertently erased an external hard drive. I was trying to reformat at small thumb drive, chose the wrong icon, and erased a key major external storage drive instead. (Yes, this time, I was backing up. Yet, I still screwed it up)
Some amazingly good data recovery software meant that, ultimately, there was “good news” and “bad news.” The good news was that every single file was recovered. The bad news is none of the original file names associated with any of the recovered data, nor did any program files survive.
In other words, every track from every song was saved. The hours of work, edited/mixing them was not. With no file names, I was left with a huge pile of sequentially numbered audio files to listen-through. Just under 800 separate audio files, to be exact…to listen to and to sort, in order to find the very few I needed. (BTW…it was the same process for recovered pictures, mp3s and everything else that got erased)
Amazingly, after months of on and off sifting, I’ve been able find all of them. Again, this includes real treasures, such as a session my friend Billy Jonas did back in 2003. But, most amazingly, it includes vocal work Rachel Bissex did on two songs before her death. Clearly, that is not stuff that can be re-recorded.
Recopied/Exported files from Clark, that were archived and locked away for years…
Recovered filed from my own hard disk, sorted through after a stupidly-painful erasure…
Re-recorded songs to replace the ones that got stolen with my computer…
After years of looking at this mountain of work, and feeling nothing but hopeless/helpless about it, it’s really coming together. Just one more song to re-track, and then they’ll all be in Logic, ready to mix and master. Beyond that, perhaps just a few more vocal takes to clean some stuff up. Maybe a little bass here and there. But nothing major to “find” any more. It’s all been found or recovered. Amazing.
So, if all that was way too computer-geeky for you (likely), the punchline is this:
Real progresss. Things are looking up.
As I said last time I blogged about it, “a little at a time.”
Man, that really is a lesson I keep learning, through a lot of work, a lot of patience, and some digital archaeology.
(As always, if you like this post, then “like it” or “share it” on Facebook by clicking the box below, or send it to your friends…so others can see too…and leave a comment…EF)