Things I Meant to Say...

A Song of the Week blog by Seth Ellsworth. Acoustic versions of unreleased back catalog, the occasional cover, as well as fully produced tracks that never made it to post-production. If/when I exhaust the back catalog, I'll try to start writing new songs.Good stuff!!

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So, I’ve been working on this super top secret project a lot lately. Good things coming, I swear! :)

So, I’ve been working on this super top secret project a lot lately. Good things coming, I swear! :)

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9 Plays
Seth Ellsworth
Goodnight

Lyrics

Well, I’ve been posting up here with pictures, and articles, and just general nonsense since mid-March, but no music. That had to change, so here’s a re-record of the song “Goodnight” from my Long Silence record (you can hear the original recording here). You know the story: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, stripped down performances, lo-fi production, etc. I feel like I’ve again captured the “If I’d have recorded that record today, this may have been how it sounded,” vibe, which is good. And, I didn’t obsess too hard about it.

So, why did it take so long to record? Everything and nothing. One problem I have with my creativity is that my will to work ebbs and flows. So, when it’s there, I tend to get a lot done in a small amount of time. Unfortunately, this timing can depend on logistics like when someone is borrowing my guitar, or an essential piece of home studio gear breaking, or traveling with family, or I’m busy at, and tired from, work, or a host of other reasons that get me sidetracked from the song for the blog. Once I’m sidetracked, the apathy of the ebb can take hold, and then who knows when I’ll ever finish.

Another factor that can, and did, eat up time is the fact that I use these small recordings to experiment and try to learn new things about making cool sounds. Logic Pro 9 has a great feature called FlexTime, which allows you to bump and stretch notes to correct them if they’re off rhythm, and quantitate audio, which allows you to snap in tracks to the click of the song (it’s been around with midi for years, but just came to audio with Logic 9 in 2009). I didn’t use either of as much as I intended on this song, nor did I use FlexPitch (new in Logic Pro X, which was released while I was mixing the song), which is a pitch correction feature. Neither of these is really how I roll, but I still want to be able to access them in tasteful ways when necessary. The only things I did were lock in the acoustic guitars (two takes, double miked, which cleaned them right up and accomplished a sort of chorus-y sound), the shaker, and the bass in order to provide a steady rhythmic foundation. I also flexed a note in the shaker that I must’ve played off time and sounded glitchy after snapping the entire track into place. I’ll work more with it and the FlexPitch in coming projects.

Logic Pro X

I had a lot of difficulty dialing in the vocals on this one. Part of it was due to the doubled lead vocal and only one track of each background vocal. However, the major obstacle was the persistence of the bothersome frequencies I hear that don’t bother anyone else and, in some cases, others can’t even hear. This issue is the main reason I’ve gone to only mixing small recordings. It nearly drove me insane (literally) by the end of the Assassins EP mixing process a few years back. I had my hearing professionally assessed, and they told me that I have better than perfect hearing, which is a relief. However, if there’s nothing wrong, then what’s wrong? In order to work on these small recordings, I’ve had to learn to trust my instincts and be reasonable and know that others aren’t going to hear what I hear, so don’t overdo it. I also run things past Chris throughout the mixing process. The only way I knew I was okay with this recording was because he listened to it with me the other day and said the vocals sounded nice and full. I’m trusting him because that’s not what I’m hearing. Truthfully, I hate the way things sound overall on this one. It’s not a fun situation in which to make music, which is why I don’t do it as much as I used to. Others are just better at it and do it more efficiently and without all the mental anguish.

As far as the song itself; it’s another from the turbulent era in my life where most of the songs on The Long Silence originated. When I’m not medicated, my best creative work occurs during times of great duress. Of course, there’s the major reference to “the girl,” but the song is really about purpose. We all need to feel like our life has some kind of direction and meaning. Back then, I had a strong belief in the idea of “calling.” When my short-lived solo music career crumbled, I was left drifting, then unemployed, then directionless. I was unable to point at a reason for my existence or a direction that contained meaning. Truthfully, I spend a lot of time wondering about purpose. Sometimes it’s a little clearer than other times.

Actually, I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last six months seriously weighing whether right now is another time for some big changes in my life. I’ve arrived at another crossroads of disillusionment, discouragement, and restlessness in almost every area of my life. This has remained despite the summer months that act as a recharging and refocusing time. I’ve found that I go in cycles with this. I don’t stay put, or the same, for any longer than 3-5 years. In fact, the current stretch is the longest that I’ve been able to “stay put” in my entire life. I’m coming up on six years of relatively little change. This will be my fourth year in the same building at work, which is twice as long as I’ve remained anyplace else. It’s a make-or-break year for me in a lot of ways. I’ve been without a meaningful dating relationship for almost four years. There are obvious realities and frustrations that go along with that. You start to settle into certain ways, and become way more demanding. I think it’s just human nature. I’ve noticed it in others, and it’s happened to me despite my attempts to resist it. I don’t know what my next move is in any of these and other areas. I guess I’m still “in it” (to quote Garden State) and haven’t figured out the details yet.

More than anything I seem to have a constant question that nags at me. At what point does life stop being more and more weird? The older I get, the weirder it seems to get. Even if I’m just existing, and not stirring up trouble of my own, it seems like there are so many strange things and weird experiences in this world. Things that stay with you for a long time. Things that a person shouldn’t have to experience or watch someone else experience. It is really discouraging. It makes one lose hope and become jaded. I used to be a big dreamer with high hopes and ideals for my world and my role in it. At times, I still am. However, more and more I spend more time trying to come to terms with reality in a way that doesn’t end in complete frustration. I’ve said it before, and I guess I’m saying it again, there has to be more to human existence than this.

Sorry to leave it on such a bummer. Like I said in a previous post, I’m a confessional songwriter, so there’s a lot of thinking behind the songs. I hope to be back with another song soon. Stay tuned!

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Free Sample Platter, by Lost Orchards

Hey! Hey! I did some recording today. Hopefully soon I’ll have a new song to post up here. However, my friends in Lost Orchards put out a six song free sampler on their bandcamp page (click on the title link to go get it). Some of my past work as a session player and in audio production show up on it. To give credit where credit is due, the newer songs were tracked by Ron & Chris and mixed/mastered by Brian Skeel. It all sounds really nice. I hope you enjoy it!

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Nihilistic Romance

More from the heart and soul of Listen to Your Friends month. My roommate, Chris Vogt, just started a kickstarter for his new EP. Go help him out. I’m going to be playing and singing on it in some capacity, so I’ve heard some of the early mixes. The songs are pretty great. Worth a few bucks to get it out there.

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Craft Beer

Lately I’ve been way more interested in drinking craft beer than finishing the song for this blog. Stay tuned…

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"1987" by Bruce Kline

In the spirit of Listen to Your Friends month, I wanted to let everyone know that my friend Bruce Kline released an EP a few days ago. It’s fun! Check it out!

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cannon.fm

Another local music app for iPhone is cannon.fm. It was released a little over a year ago around the same time as ColumbusLocalMusic.com. The thing I like about it is that there isn’t a ton of overlap, so both are valid and relevant. Cannon.fm was developed by Columbus-folk, but is also serving other markets as well. So, if you’re somewhere other than Cowtown, this might be a good option for you.