Welcome, welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco! Tonight, I bring you the classic standard “Stand By Me”, made famous by Ben E. King and then covered by John Lennon years later. And, no, I did not base my pick tonight on the cheesy movie we watched while growing up…
Tonight, as it has been in the past with a couple other songs, the version of “Stand By Me” that plays in my head is a combination of the John Lennon version and the Ben E. King version. I hear the music to the Ben E. King version but John Lennon’s voice. It’s probably because Lennon did such a spot-on cover. Man, watching this video of John performing “Stand By Me” just makes me wish he were still alive to make music today. I know he would’ve still been great today and that he would be coming out with the kind of music that Paul and Ringo are coming out with now (not to mention the great stuff George did before he passed-away).
Anyway, I’ve known this song for as long as I can remember- just listening to the radio growing up. Then, while jamming with the Acai Berries a few weeks ago, we happened upon this tune and were going to do a cover video ourselves. But, I figured I could just do it on my own because it doesn’t require another singer or really any other instrumentation (unless you want to be a purist and have someone play the riff constantly in the background).
As much as I don’t like the fact that my studio is gone, I’m really happy with the acoustics I’ve been getting! You know, it’s terrible to have so much echo and reverb when recording a multi-track song, but it’s the greatest thing ever when recording a solo acoustic video like this. On another note, I’m trying to justify purchasing an HDV video camera for two reasons: to play the high definition video tapes of our wedding into the computer for editing, and the prospect of having the Laptop Sessions in high definition! How cool would that be? We’re getting faster internet next week, too, so my uploads wouldn’t be too painful. I’m watching an auction on eBay- let’s see what the Mrs. has to say…
We just found out this evening that we are CLEAR TO CLOSE on the house this Friday- right on schedule! It was a rough ride getting to this point, but everything is finally ni place and we’re hoping that we’re all moved in and set up by end-of-day Saturday. We bought all new furniture, hired movers, boxed everything up, got the condo rented- what a project. The best part is that we’re doing it all at once and (hopefully) that’ll mean it will be DONE all at once, you know? I hate stringing things out. So, this weekend will be very busy. But, hopefully things will be stable enough that I’ll be back with a fresh new video next Tuesday! Then, the Acai Berries are getting back together to record some more tracks- we’ve got a TON of songs in mind, but we’re ready to do about four of them, so stay-tuned.
Have a great week (make sure to stop back on Thursday for Jeff’s post!) and please, please, please wish us luck with our crazy weekend ahead. It promises to be one of the most important weekends of our lives! Until Tuesday…
Hello and welcome to a very special Monday edition of the Laptop Sessions! What makes tonight so special, you might ask? Well, for the first time in months, I’m bringing you a cover song music video of a song that has yet to be released. No worries, though — if you like this song, then you’ll be able to buy it in stores tomorrow.
The song I’m bringing you tonight is “Who Says,” the first single from the forthcoming 2009 John Mayer studio album Battle Studies. There’s a little bit of a story behind this one, so here goes…
I first learned about this album when I happened upon Mayer’s video blog established to document the recording sessions. The first video was a tour of his newly designed and built home recording studio. Do I even need to describe it? Believe me, it’s drool-inducing. Although a couple of the entries were only jams or just a bit weird, I ended up searching YouTube for some of the new songs. As I expected, most were available as live concert performances that someone videotaped and uploaded. I listened to a couple, including “Who Says,” and I started to get excited about this release.
I have a general rule against hearing too much of an album before it comes out. After all, it’s more than half the fun of buying a new album to be able to get in the car, put it on the CD player, and discover the music for the first time. Sometimes this is an exciting, expectation-defying journey (a la last week’s Echo & the Bunnymen album The Fountain). Other times, it can be just as disappointing an experience as one can have (i.e. U2’s No Line on the Horizon deluxe edition CD).
I should also comment on my recent opinion of Mayer.
As I wrote in my review of Where the Light Is, I am a big fan of Mayer’s first three releases — the independently released EP Inside Wants Out, his debut Room For Squares, and his follow-up Heavier Things. And yet, just as he gained “credibility,” I lost interest. Yes, his third album Continuum offers some interesting guitar parts and melodies, but I resented the idea that he needed to become a blues afficionado in order to be accepted by those outside his stereotypical audience of young girls. In my mind, this was a step backward in his songwriting. Did no one notice or appreciate the effort he put into the album design for the first two albums, or the backing vocals in “Your Body is a Wonderland” that echo the chorus lyrics of “My Stupid Mouth”? There was so much care taken with those releases that the minimalism of his last release was disappointing. From the title of Heavier Things alone, one could imply that Mayer was interested in tackling more “important issues” and being taken more seriously.
But, even in Heavier Things, he retained his sense of what was important — interpersonal relations, perspective, ambition, etc. On Continuum, political and social issues apppeared as the subjects for his songs, which always seemed out of place to me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have an intense sense of loyalty, sometimes to my own detriment. But I had told myself I wouldn’t buy future Mayer releases to spare myself further disappointment, as I did with Where the Light Is. That being said, I can’t deny that this single “Who Says” sounds more to me like the John Mayer that I enjoyed listening to on earlier works. It’s simple, catchy, and tackles the same desires that my favorite John Mayer songs always did — namely, the desire for freedom from personal and social expectations (think: “No Such Thing,” “Not Myself,” “Bigger Than My Body,” and others). I don’t read the reference to marijuana as a literal desire to get high, but rather as a symbol for what society or one’s friends and family members think you shouldn’t do because “it’s not like you.”
So, I’ll give the album a try.
And you better believe there will be a review forthcoming.
Until then, I hope you enjoy my video tonight. I’m not sure what came over me, but I made this one a real production. I tacked on a purposely goofy intro and follow-up documentary that I hope you laugh at — either because it’s funny or because you’re laughing AT me, as long as the result is the same!
And I know that I have other news and ideas on my mind that I wanted to share tonight, but I can’t remember what they are. So, for now, I hope you enjoy this video and hurry back tomorrow for an all-new Jim Fusco Tuesday, then later this week when I post another music review.
Well, backearlier than expected for another edition of “Ask the Musician” with me, Jim Fusco! If you’ve never seen this column before, let me give you a brief introduction. I’m Jim Fusco of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs and original music video series on YouTube and on our blog here at LaptopSessions.com. Every day, I get thousands of views on my cover songs and original music videos on YouTube. With that popularity comes some great questions from people all around the world. They want to know technical questions, music theory, and other great general music tidbits. I’ve completely submerged myself into making music these past few years and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned- hundreds and hundreds of hours reading, researching, playing, writing, singing, and recording. I’m glad to answer these questions here on “Ask the Musician”!
Tonight, we have an email from christianamagic on YouTube. She writes:
Hi. Just wanna ask. So when you record song, do you only record the audio? or record both audio and video??
and what did you use to edit it all together? Thanks
Well, that’s a good question. She’s asking about the acoustic music videos I perform on YouTube. You know, sometimes I’ve considered going back and recording the audio over the video to make a better take, but I can never bring myself to do it. To answer your question: I record the audio and video at the same time!
That’s not to say that I don’t have to tinker with it sometimes. I remember on a Ben Folds song, “Time”, I recorded the video with the microphone facing backwards! So, you could hear a LOT of piano and a little of my voice. Well, I had recorded this in a remote location, so I couldn’t go back and re-record the video. My solution was to work some EQ magic. I brought out the vocals in the mix. It’s not perfect, but it made due for the video. I guess I could’ve gone back and re-did the audio, but believe me, that would be much more of a burden than it seems. Imagine syncing the vocals up perfectly to a live performance like that?
For hardware, I use a ZOOM H2 microphone that plugs into USB. This thing is great. I used to use the built-in microphone on my Macbook laptop. It’s actually a pretty decent condenser microphone, but my computer’s fan would run so much (and SO loudly), that I had to think of a better solution. Sometimes, you’d hear more fan than song! So now, I keep the microphone close to me (and only turn the front mics on as to not hear the fan noise behind it) and record on the laptop. For ease of production, I use iMovie to edit the video and audio. If I didn’t do so many videos, I might use Final Cut Pro, but even still, it’s nice to have a simple solution to get the song out there in a nice neat package.
I hope this helps and answers your question. Just like Peter Griffin’s advice on Family Guy is “To grow a beard,” my advice to you here is, “To get a Mac!” It’ll make your life a lot easier when putting music videos on YouTube.