Musical Archaeology

I didn’t get as much work done today as I would have liked, and what I was working on wouldn’t have been classed much as progress anyway; I’m planning on reprogramming the beat box portion of the new I Want Someone Close To Me. Didn’t get far. Maybe tomorrow, if I don’t start working on The Dream Falls instead.

What I did do today is listen to my current work. I came to the conclusion that it all needs to be rerecorded.

And then I listened to a piece of music that wasn’t really my work. Not really. I mean, I was there when it was recorded. I helped shape it and guide it along a bit. I was its biggest cheerleader when I first heard it. But really, I wasn’t the composer at all. Not even a co-writer. I didn’t even perform on it. In the end, none of us did. And yet, it was the very first piece of bona fide Etcetera music to come into existence.

It’s a solo composition by Etcetera’s original keyboard player, my old friend Dori Downie. She wrote one song for the band, which she reworked and recorded a couple of times before settling on a very dance pop arrangement that broke all our hearts. When we grumbled too much and didn’t work hard enough to learn to play it, she decided she wanted a solo career instead. We broke up shortly before or after that; it’s a bit of a blur.

We’re all still good friends, so I’m not bitter. Just bothered.

See, Dori didn’t really go on to that solo career after all. The song she wrote, in all its forms, has never really been heard. The version she created with our good friend Michael Allen Guild was the most polished, but sadly, I don’t seem to have a copy of it anywhere (at least, not in digital form). I’m not entirely sure, but I’d wager nobody else has a copy anymore either, unless it’s on some dusty old compilation cassette I created and gave to one of the band mates, which they put away when tape players became passe.

The only version I currently have intact is the previous version of the song (let’s call it mark II, since this was before people started time stamping versions with 2.0 and such). It’s the version that Dori started rehearsing and tracking after she’d gotten some direction from her friend Graham, whom I seem to remember had a cool nick name which I’ve forgotten. Smart guy. Great gear hound.

Anyway, this variation of the tune is slightly altered from its original state; a few years ago I ripped it from an old cassette (which I may still have, but I may not), and then carefully edited to remove the embarrassing little misfires and pauses, just to tighten it up a bit and see if it sounded anything like what I’d imagined it could be. It wasn’t. It still needs a lot of work. I guess that’s what I’ve been thinking about most this evening: whether to rearrange Dori’s tune one more time and show her what I heard the first night she started recording it in my mother’s basement. I’ve been meaning to for years. I suppose it would be filed under ‘Unfinished Business’.

I even started learning to play the parts. It’s a bit tricky for me, as I’m out of practice, and Dori really was a technically better player than me. But I’m getting there, and I’m already starting to hear the rest of the arrangement. Just needs some lyrics and a lick of paint. I may start working out the drum track tomorrow, if I’m feeling frisky. Gary’s not due til Friday, so I’ve got time.

Anyway, here’s the track: Better Every Time by Dori Downie

For the record, there was actually one piece of Etcetera music that was technically the first official band piece (i.e. we all wrote and played on it), but it was truly awful. A real stillborn effort. I’ve had more musical farts. I’m sure I still have it on tape somewhere, but I refuse to rip it, on grounds that the innocent must be protected. Releasing that much pure suck onto the internet might cause civilisation as we know it to collapse. It most certainly would put a quick end to whatever musical career I have left to look forward to.

Anyway, hope you enjoy. And if and when I should get around to remaking this classic, I’ll be sure to send Dori a copy, just to let her know I was thinking fondly of her.


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