As Heather mentioned yesterday, recording “You Are The One” was the realization of a lifelong dream of mine to record some of my songs in a studio. I wrote my first (embarrassingly bad) songs in high school, but didn’t dare tell anyone I fantasized about recording them. Back then – before personal computers made it possible to open a studio without hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment – recording was only for big shot rock stars. I soon accepted that watching the video of Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time” was the closest I would ever get to the inside of a recording studio, and it was… until earlier this year.
Before I get to what it was like to finally step inside a studio though I should tell you the story of how “You Are The One” came to be. In the weeks leading up to our wedding day Heather and I were having trouble finding just the right song for our first dance, so one night I had a brainstorm – what if I wrote and recorded a love song for Heather and surprised her with it for our first dance?
I wrote “You Are The One” the next day, and started looking into what it would take to get a professional recording of it. Unfortunately, the quotes for studio time and musicians were pretty daunting, and those costs, combined with how quickly the few remaining weeks leading up to our wedding passed, meant that I wasn’t able to able to realize my big surprise for Heather. (We ended up dancing to Paul McCartney’s “Calico Skies,” which is a beautiful song we both love.)
Later, when I played Heather “You Are The One” and told her I had planned to record it for our first dance, she was like, “Ugh! You should have done it! It would have been so great!” Oops. Guess I dropped the ball there.
Last year Heather told her friend, Brittany, about my dream to record my songs in a studio, and she mentioned that one of her best friends from high school, Casey Clark, now has his own recording studio. After hearing my story from Heather, Casey kindly offered to record my songs at half price, and, on my birthday last year, Heather surprised me with the news that my dream was finally going to come true!
On the big day I walked into the studio of 3Pmusic Productions with my guitar and met Casey, the producer who was going to be my Rick James.
Soon I sat behind the glass in the recording booth clutching my guitar and wearing headphones (just like Eddie!). Casey put on a “click track” (a beat that helps you play in time) and pointed at me. I was immediately filled with nerves.
I took a breath, then looked to the guitar pick in my hand. A very kind person had sent this very special pick to me after Annie was born, and I had made certain to bring it:
Seeing my girls’ names made me feel like they were with me in the recording booth, and I quickly relaxed. My nerves were replaced with a positive energy.
It was surreal as I strummed my guitar – not just because I was finally doing what I had dreamed of doing for so long, but because the experience of recording is very strange.
Instead of playing in a relaxed environment at home with friends and family as I was used to, I was sitting in a sterile little room with a man staring at me through the glass waiting for me to play the part correctly so we could move on to the next part. No pressure, right?
One of the hardest aspects of recording is trying to put across a relaxed performance that captures the emotion of the song in such a synthetic environment. Making this especially challenging is that, in order for the song to sound right in the end, there is a huge emphasis in the studio on technical performance – playing at the right tempo, hitting the exact right notes, etc. Focusing on doing the technical stuff while capturing the “feel” is hard, especially with that darn click track in your headphones!
Casey was a great help in coaching me to get the right performance though, and luckily for me I had a little help when it came time for Heather and me to record the vocals:
Music has been such a huge part of my life with Heather and the girls that it was so meaningful to be able to share this amazing experience with them… Heather sang on the song, Annie was in the room during the recording, and Maddie is being honored with the result on her birthday.
I want to thank you all for buying the song and listening, but more importantly, I want to thank you for remembering Maddie on her birthday and helping to support babies like her in the NICU.
You Are The One made it to number 4 on the Amazon Singer-Songwriters chart yesterday!
Buy the song to support Friends of Maddie!