Health and Burn Out
Between hospital trips, doctor appointments, and back pain that can get pretty severe, work on Volume Four (henceforth referred to as V4) saw numerous delays. Every time it felt like I was getting wheels back on, something came up and caused another delay.
“Go On”, which is the first track of V4, began life nearly a year ago on June 7th, 2022 (coincidentally my wedding anniversary). It, along with “It Feels Familiar”, was written using the process used for my previous releases, which was putting the drums together first and then writing the guitar and bass parts.
Like most of the other 24 original songs I’ve written for KCWM, the bones of it and the transitions between parts came together really quickly. If I’m being honest, the guitar parts aren’t exactly breaking any new ground. The verses are Fsus2 – Am…two whole chords. I do actually throw in a G chord on the second and fourth cycles of the verse. Even if it’s a simple chord progression, it’s always good when a song takes shape quickly
I recorded a couple of rough drafts, was happy with the direction it was going, but there were issues with my timing. Eventually, being my worst critic, along with working on music every day for hours at a time finally caught up with me and I felt burned out. It was like a flash fire too…sudden and devastating.
I abandoned “Go On” and the framework that would eventually become “It Feels Familiar”. I wouldn’t play guitar for the rest of June, all of July, and a good way into August of 2021. I’d end up writing some songs on my acoustic in mid-August, recorded them to my phone, but never feeling the draw to do much work on them.
In January of 2022, I was hospitalized in the ICU for seven days with a condition called Diabetic Ketoacidosis, or DKA. I came close to dying. I had to add the toll that took on my mental health to the whole burn out. However, at some point, given the create date on the files of January 29th, I rerecorded “Go On” using Amplitube 5. This version showed improved timing and a small evolution of the second guitar part, and I also added a third guitar part and partial bass line. Unfortunately, both physical and mental exhaustion prevented completion of that version.
Interestingly, I both remember and yet don’t remember doing this. Have you ever had someone share a memory of you doing something that you don’t remember doing, but when they tell you about it, you’re kind of like, “Well, yeah, I guess that sounds familiar”? That’s how I felt when listening to that newer version.
Coincidence or a Sign?
Sometime in February or March, I met up with my friend JD and had lunch. Once we were done, I wandered into a nearby pawn shop. Now, this was a pawn shop I’d driven by numerous times after having lunch with JD, but I’d never wandered in. This pawn shop is part of the same chain where I bought my ’92 Telecaster, but their pricing scheme has been updated. On top of that, when I have gone into a pawn shop, it seems like they rarely have anything good.
This time, however, they had something good…a pair of Rode M5 small diaphragm condenser (SDC) mics. I’d looked at this particular set on Sweetwater and Guitar Center’s online store numerous times but never pulled the trigger. This time, however, they were $70, which is considerably lower than they cost new. They didn’t have the clips that hold the mics in place, but I found one on Sweetwater that would fit it and ordered a pair for an additional $20, which made the total about $100 for the set after tax. Looking now, they run $190-$200 new, so 50% off for mics that appear to be in “like new” condition is great!
For those that might not know, a pair of SDC mics are great for recording acoustic guitar. The most common method used is aiming one of them at the sound hole and the other at the 12th fret or so. I bought them. I’m by no means a mic expert but when you watch videos on recording acoustic guitar, a matched pair of SDC seem to be the most popular choice.
• Was this a coincidence? I rarely go into pawn shops anymore and when I do for the first time in over a year or so, I just happen to come across a crazy good deal?
• Was this a sign? I’d put off recording for almost a year and needed a push. I’d been wanting to record acoustic guitar again but was unhappy with how my current mics sounded. A paired set of SDC mics were what I’d been wanting, but just didn’t have the budget for.
Whether it was a coincidence or a sign would likely depend on who you asked and their perspective of the universe. I choose to see it as a coincidental sign.
That being said, the mics and mic stand I eventually bought for them would sit collecting dust until June.
Starting Over Fresh and the Parts
As I mentioned at the beginning, the chords for this song are simple. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, I was strongly opposed to two chord parts. I stupidly thought it was the sign of weak songwriting. I changed my tune at some point in time because sometimes simplicity serves the song better.
The progressions are as follows:
- Verses: Fsus2 – Am for the 1st and 3rd cycles, Fsus2 – Am – G for the third, and Fsus2 – Am – C – Dsus4 – D for the fourth
- Chorus: C – Am – E – E7
- Bridge: Octaves played A – B – C – D – E
None of those progressions are exactly reinventing the wheel. Sure, Fsus2 isn’t as common of a chord, but it’s still pretty vanilla.
I was pretty happy with the acoustic guitar tone I captured, though at times you can hear the sound of the pick on the strings, but I’ve read that playing with a pick can do that. Perhaps I should look into a felt pick for recording acoustic guitar.
I recorded the song twice, both times using my 2015 Martin JCPA4 acoustic guitar for this track. I did not record a track via the pickup, but will do so for future recordings.
Unlike most recordings where I pan the rhythm guitar on the right side, I panned the two mics hard right and left to create a more stereo sound. The second take I panned L75 and R75
“Go On” is named in honor of ProbablyGoon, one of the first Twitch streamers I found and someone I am happy to call a friend. From the beginning of KCWM music, he has been incredibly supportive of the project and naming a song after him is something I’ve wanted to do from the earliest days of planning this volume.
The song originally started out with a name involving the word Panda, as Goon is a sentient panda who, at least at one time, claimed to be an escaped Russian experiment. “Friendly Panda” and “I’m Friends with a Panda” were original titles, but “Go On” seemed to be a better fit should lyrics ever be written for this song.
OK, Wrap It Up
“Go On”, especially with the piano and acoustic guitar, is one of my top three favorite songs that I’ve written for either KCWM or Cold the Winter. It falls under the laid back banner I wanted for this volume, even if it’s a bit upbeat and the guitar during the bridge and at the end drives the song a bit more.