Easy To Be Good

This is the third collaborative song with Kate, and it is my favorite so far. Previous songs are here and here. Here is Kate’s post about making this song.

When Kate first brought me this song, she said “I wrote a country song.” Which was true, but I heard something a little different in it as well, a hymn like quality. And when I played it for her on the piano she loved it. The basic chord structure and vocal harmonies came together very quickly.

For these new songs, Kate has been coming to me with strong melody ideas, which makes things easier since I just need to figure out chords to go underneath. This time I had a few additional suggestions. Originally she had the melody changing on the third part of each verse, but I really wanted to keep the melody consistent and change the harmonies underneath instead. I also rewrote the melody for the bridge.

When working out arrangements, there’s sometimes a lot of ideas kicking around in my head, and I go through a process where I’m adding layer after layer. This song started on piano, then I thought “oh, it has to have a bass part”, then “oh, I need a quiet synth”, then “maybe a guitar strum part”, then “maybe a higher strumming part”. And I add, add, add. But there’s usually a point where I suddenly notice that things are starting to sound worse and I need to start stripping things away again. Sometimes I even end up back where I started — but I always need to go through that process.

In this case the acoustic guitar part was the key to the feel of the song. I’ve been so obsessed with ukulele over the past year that I haven’t even touched the guitar in months, but it was exactly the right thing here. Once I had that everything else clicked into place and recording the parts was relatively easy. This is the first song where the feel came out close to exactly what was in my head.

Recording notes

  • All basic tracking was done in Cubasis.
  • Bass was processed using JamUp. I also experimented with a new playing technique. I read about how James Jamerson (the long time Motown bass player) had a piece of foam under the strings to mute his sound a little bit. So I tried the same thing — I’m not sure it made a huge difference, but I liked how the sound came out.
  • I threw up a microphone for the acoustic guitar, and did barely any additional processing.
  • Piano, electric piano, and the very subtle synth part were all sounds from SampleTank.
  • Once the tracking was done, I tried something new — I exported all the tracks into Auria for mixing. Cubasis is fantastic, but it lacks a few features for mixing that I wanted to try out. I was very happy with Auria for mixing — importing all the audio was a little bit tedious, but turned out to be worth it.
  • Some final mastering was done in Final Touch.
Tagged with: audio, song, riversbend