Day 4 began packing my stuff at Skeet's and trundling it down the steel staircase to my van at 7:15 in the morning. I had a breakfast with a friend at the Pancake Pantry, a fine Nashville establishment that usually sports a line around the block on weekends. We were there on Presidents' Day so our table for two was pretty instantaneous at eight. I trust any restaurant that brings maple syrup to your table automatically, and the buckwheat cakes were made all the better with it. After breakfast, I got the music landmark tour of Music Row. Lots of places to record your hits. I saw McGhee Entertainment's facade and Blackbird Studio but the most exciting thing was seeing Ray Stevens walking up to the gate of the Ray Stevens Building as he was beginning his business day (you better take care of business, Mr. Businessman). Ray was my only star sighting while in Nashville, unless you count meeting Daniel Tashian at Brad Jones' Alex the Great recording studio. Brad I know from Will's involvement with Matthew Sweet (they were his rhythm section), but Daniel I know only from reputation. He was mixing some of his new band Silver Seas' new album with Brad, drinking coffee and telling tales. My friend had to get to work so we let them get on with their day, and I rejoined my van and guitars, in search of what to do next.
I had planned to call Bill Lloyd about writing a song, but I got stuck in gear with the idea again. My co-writing fears rose in my throat and I didn't call him until late in the day after his phone was off.
Next stop turned out to be a Starbucks for eMail and IM catchup time.
We got the sequence hammered out to something we all liked. That procedure is so difficult since there's no specific criteria that seem more important than others in your attempt to put songs in order for their eventual presentation to the world at large. It was different, to say the least, when there were two sides to think about. But they've always had to start and end, and you try to work with the illusion that people will hear all the songs on the album at least once. Shuffle them around, what sticks? Chris is very careful especially about the transitions between songs in terms of their keys and their energies; I get antsy about tempos. Does the 'single' go at the front? Do you put the cover as the first track? (We are.) Ballad glut? Are the lyrics of the chorus of one song too close in form to the lyrics that begin another? Now that people can make their own playlists and buy individual tracks, does it matter even? You want to put your best foot forward and give your record every chance to succeed, and you don't want to cringe every time you play it for someone else. We went through about twenty different sequences, batting them back and forth like a badminton birdie over our inter-net until we reached some form of compromise that we both liked and the record company liked and that we though you all would like. My internet connection on the road being either nonexistent or prohibitively expensive to stay on too long, and my present iTunes/cd burning woes have made checking these things out for the jots and tittles much less easy for me. I tried to listen to a sequence on a part of the ride down, but the cord that goes from the cd player in the car to the headphone jack of the laptop is about eight inches long; I was going to have to have the computer on the edge of the seat to reach, so I junked that idea and tried to swing around on a disc of many of the mixes I made when my burner was cooperating. Now I'm just listening to a collection of Bo Diddley's instrumental treasures, courtesy of my pancake pal who provided me with a lot of listening for the ride. The record's sequenced, and I think all's right with the world.
I called Mike Costanzo, my guitar tech from Hootie and presently co-producing Susan's new album with Mike Mayeux. He said to come by, and I set the phone GPS to his address and was there.
Mike is an amazing technician. He kept my guitars and the Hootie Hammond organ running for many years before he decided to try his hand at engineering and producing. We had many laughs and close calls on the road over the years, and I have missed his company the last couple when he was in Nashville trying to establish himself in his career.
It was fortuitous for me that he had Mayeux's mobile recording truck parked in his back yard. He wanted to hear my new record, and I wanted to hear it over real speakers in a sonically appropriate location, so we plugged in my laptop and listened over his Yamaha NS10s, speakers I'm very familiar with. Sounded great, of course, and Mike was very impressed, I think.
Chris called and asked me to go through the song transitions one more time, so thanks to my timing with Mike C., I was actually able to do that for him on the fly.
Mike played me some of the remix of Susan's first album, and it sounds very good.
My host made spaghetti and sausage, and we drank iced tea and talked about the shitty economy and family. It was a nice visit that ended with me trying to sleep in the van but freezing myself back in to crash on Mike's couch.