The Living Room Tapes - Compilation - April, October, 1998
This project got started by one of my "adopted nieces" mentioning in an email how she remembered my coming over to have dinner and playing the guitar and singing. She was only about 8 years old at the time (she's now a mom in her late thirties) but she said her favorite was Puff the Magic Dragon and she sure wished she had a tape of me singing it. Well, with time on my hands during our relocation from NJ to Atlanta I decided to put together a recording for family and friends who might like to have me captured for posterity just in case I walk in front of a bus or something. It immediately got completely out of control. But, that's a story for another time ...
These recordings span the course of the last 20 to 22 years. The quality of the recordings is not bad considering how they were made and the equipment used. I made these recordings myself with old (very old) mixing equipment and microphones that I used to use back in the seventies when I was playing for money (and I bought the mixers used!). The recordings made in 1998 were done on a Sony TC-K650ES audio recorder using Dolby-C type noise reduction.
I do have some open reel tapes in a box in the basement which I would love to have used in this collection. However, my TEAC open reel deck hasn't even been turned on for about ten years, the pinch roller is probably calcified into an unusable solid rubber rock, the brake solenoids have likely seized, and Lord knows what condition the reel and capstan motors are in. So, those tapes may be lost forever. Which is unfortunate since I remember some of the performances as being very good (my voice was 25 years younger and I was playing constantly). The recording quality was quite good and would have served much better as a master from which to make copies.
There are some songs on those tapes that I just don't do anymore that would have been fun to listen to (John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" come to mind). The tapes, made in our apartment living room in Toftrees in State College, PA, had my then-sidekick Ed Tourigny playing electric bass backup, Sharman, Ed's wife Ann ("Dixie"), and our Labrador Retriever "Lightfoot" captured for all posterity as well. Ah, well. Such are the whims of the gods of obsolescence.
The bulk of the recordings were made in April 1998, with some from February 1997. However, the following songs were the ones recorded sometime in the seventies:
My best guess is these were done in the period of 1975-1977. I think these were recorded at home (not sure which one) but it is possible that they were recorded in the audio studio at WPSX-TV. I vaguely remember doing a session there with Dave McCarty (my boss) doing the engineering. The original audio cassette is the cheap 3M type that we used at the station at the time so this seems quite possible.
I have not included the version of Lightfoot's "Same Old Loverman" which I recorded for the "Internet Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, Volume Two" CD in deference to the publisher and U.S. copyright law. My first choice of a song for the tribute CD was Early Morning Rain and not SOL.
EMR is on this collection both because it's one of my very favorite songs of all time and because it didn't make it onto the tribute CD.
The April 1998 recordings were made over the course of two days and almost all were single takes. I set up the gear, tuned up the guitars, sat down and played. The major exception was "Sit Down Young Stranger." Not only is it a difficult song for me to play well but every time I got into it the bloody phone would ring. I couldn't take the phone off the hook since I was waiting for some important calls regarding the sale of our house. One excellent take was down to the very last chord when the phone rang! Considering how frustrated I was getting I hope the performance didn't turn out too awfully bad.
I hope that you are not disappointed with the performances or the recordings. Although I'm my own worst critic I think there's a decent shot at pleasing "some of the people some of the time" with this project. It's the first time I have actually enjoyed listening to myself and I hope you can enjoy them at least once.
"Maybe some lonesome picker will find some healing in my songs." - John Stewart
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