Sunday, 5 July 2009
Finally, it is done. Album #5 is officially finished. Making a record is a bit like baking a cake (no, it isn't in any way remotely like baking a cake, unless your cake cost you thousands of pounds to make, isn't appreciated by anyone - even close relatives - and is eventually given away slightly stale at jumble sales) but bear with me, I've started this analogy so I'm going to finish it.
Once you have spent time gathering the ingredients; a pound of finely sifted experience; a few drops of bitter disappointment; the zest of renewed self-belief; and some sultanas... the album baking process unfolds slowly over time, changing slightly with each added ingredient, until finally, with your album starting to resemble the finished product, it is sent for the final mastering process.
At any stage something could go wrong, you could balls up the recording, the mixing, the track order (who apart from me actually listens to albums in order these days?) and finally the mastering. Assuming that you've actually started with half decent songs in the first place.
It is a stressful time. Will the cake rise? Are the ingredients better than the whole, will it come back from the bakery with "happy birthday, Tim" written in pink icing? Will the analogy you've embarked upon ever make sense?
But after many months (years when you include the writing period) your album/cake is finally finished, you can sit and stare at it while it cools on the shelf, hoping that maybe this is the cake the public have been waiting for. The one that will change the course of history, the one that will have cookery writers and celebrity chefs knocking down your door for an interview, or at least enable you to take the cake on the road, slicing it up night after night for the delectation of cake lovers everywhere.
It is also a time when your sanity is stretched thin, and those close to you worry that you are beginning to confuse making records with baking cakes. Apparently it can happen.
Fortunately for me then, that there is no time to dwell on this, as album part 2 requires attention, and the songs that were left off part one find a home on the sequel, and the process begins all over again. It's already been a good summer (bearing in mind I hate summer and all that goes with it, give me a good winter any time), I have a tour to look forward to, the occasional fishing trip, and some gigs to see.
It is vital at this point to start listening to music again, without it being a technical exercise. To enjoy the cake as it were, without tasting the baking powder and suet. ( I don't really make cakes, but those sound plausible ingredients). So if anyone has any recommendations new or old, I would appreciate it. I watched Glastonbury and thought it was the best line up ever. Of course, I would like to have played, I have fond memories of my time on the other stage, back in 1948, shortly after the war, when times were hard but we were happy. Much like today. Except for the happy bit.
So, I hope you're having a good summer, at some point I'll start divulging things about the new record (and let's face it, 45 seconds after we've sent it to the first journalist it'll be online somewhere) and then we can once more debate the quality of the cake, how it compares to other cakes I've made, and does the world really need any more of my cakes. That sort of thing.
My current musical recommendations are: Kevin Devine, Brother's Blood. Not just 'cos he's a mate but it's really great songwriting. And anything by Leadbelly, especially Laura. My favourite track of the last year.
I'm reading lots of political memoirs, readying myself for the inevitable Tory victory that will send me deeper into middle-aged depression, and I particularly recommend Chris Mullin "A View From The Foothills".
I'm still continually watching the "West Wing" on loop, as nothing has ever bettered this show - despite what journalists tell us. Yes "The Wire" is good, but you know, not that good.
Oh, and I'm working on a song that may require your help at the shows. I'll keep you posted. Right, I'm off to watch Federer dispatch Roddick in 3 sets. Tennis is almost like sport. Enjoy your Sunday.
P.S Speaking of Wimbledon, I've just remembered that my actual 5th birthday cake was in the shape of Great Uncle Bulgaria from the Wombles. Daddy had just come back from the Crimea and what with the South Sea Bubble bursting, we had to make do with...... ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz