The Swansons To Perform With The Nashville Trax A Team LIVE SHOW at Rev-el-ry.


ATTENTION Singer/Songwriters!! What better way to give your band a career boost than an album, video and show package featuring the same Nashville Trax A Team musicians who played on your album?

You get a stellar album recorded, mixed and mastered, footage of your rehearsal, your first single promoted on social media platforms and all footage from a two camera crew of the show that you can use for promotion for years to come!

A single release and vid starting under $2,000, yes, really! Complete 10 song album/show/video packages start as low as $15,000 and 20 song deluxe packages top out at under $45,000! Payment options are available. Get a quote TODAY:

Note that the complete Nashville Trax A Team Players are only available to play live on release party shows playing your album of at least 10 songs and subject to the player’s schedules.

Here’s a Nashville Trax A Team rehearsal Tuesday evening, 9-19-17:

And footage from the show on 9-22-17:


Get Tickets Here

The Nashville Trax A Team: The sound of guitar on country radio for the last couple decades, Brent Mason: guitar; Rascal Flatts long time drummer, Jim Riley; Steve King (Keith Urban) keys; Nashville Trax producer, Bill Watson, bass guitar and band leader; Jenee Fleenor (Blake Shelton & The Voice) fiddle and mandolin; Steel guitar legend Mike Doucheete, all backing the highly entertaining, high octane Joe and Angie Finley of The Swansons!


Joe and Angie: The Swansons

The Swansons have achieved considerable notoriety in the Los Angeles area. They have pop/rock albums out, winning awards and have built a large fan base. But after starting their latest recording project they felt the urge to “go country”.  They wanted a country album and wanted to do it in the Nashville area. After careful research, they decided Bill Watson of Nashville Trax was the best choice to produce them.

The album was started about six months ago and 18 songs have been cut.

This is their first country live performance, announcing their turn toward country music and releasing their new music to the public. Some of the musicians who will back them on the show:

Nashville Session Guitar Player, Brent Mason at Nashville Trax Recording Studio

Nashville Session Guitar Player, Brent Mason at Nashville Trax Recording Studio



Jenee Fleenor, fiddle, mandolin, vocals


Band leader, Bill Watson, and his ’78 Fender Precision Bass Guitar


Jim Riley Playing the studio drum track to The Swansons song, Getting Ready 5-16-17


Jim Riley Cymbal swells

Footage clip from the show, 9-22-17:

Valentine © 2017 Joe Finley of The Swansons, published by Listen Again Music (BMI).


Uptempo Christian Sample Just Posted: Threshold of Love

This uptempo Christian song, part of a multi-song project for this client, has Country, Southern Gospel and R & B influences.

Hot off the press, so to speak, here’s Michael O’ Rourke’s Threshold of Love:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Drums and Percussion: Jim Riley
Fiddle: Jenee Fleenor
Guitars: Shawn Conley, Bill Watson,
Bass Guitar: Bill Watson
Keyboards: Bill Watson
Hand claps: Angela Derrington, Shawn Conley
Singers: A. J. Thacker and Angela Derrington
Tracking engineering: Shawn Conley, Bill Watson
Arranged produced and mixed by Bill Watson

Threshold of Love is ©  2016 Michael D. Rourke, posted by permission. If you’re interested in recording this song; using it in a commercial application such as in a movie or on a website; or singing it in a performing situation please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and song publisher.

If you have a song you’d like to have a similar sound, please reference this URL in your inquiry to

Vocal Tracks Online Service: Hire a Nashville demo singer for your song production!

Why not have  Nashville session demo singer Jennifer L sing your song?

Why not have Nashville session demo singer, Jennifer L, sing your song?

Take a quick look at the choices available at Vocal Tracks Online!

06-12-14 For Immediate Release:

Nashville Trax Launches Vocal Tracks Online!

Many self-producers and sometimes even experienced studio owner/producers don’t have the right singer available for a particular song. Vocal Tracks Online solves that problem by offering the client proven Nashville session singers over the Internet who can be added to their work by trading files online that lock right up to their project. It’s easy and it’s smart business!

The producer doesn’t have to “search and hope” by running Craigslist ads and other dubious singer search methods. They can get proven, reliable talent with great pitch and tremendous skills to make their singing choice a “sure thing” instead of an expensive shot in the dark.

Here’s one of our male vocalists, Jason, on a country ballad:

We have both male singers online and female singers online in almost any style a producer needs. If a producer needs a Jo Dee Messina style powerhouse modern country singer, they can Google “female country singer tracks online” and dial right into our site.

Pricing is reasonable and varies according to the singer’s experience; demand for their services; whether or not they do major label work and other factors.

Home Music Production Tips: Arranging Your Song And Choosing The Right Musicians

David Northrup Nashville Session Drummer, Click Here!

David Northrup Nashville Session Drummer, Click Here!

Want pro sounding, radio friendly productions? Tip #1: Use great players like David. Need more? Try these:

Saxophone Online

Piano or Keyboards Online

Fiddle, Mandolin or Violin Online

Harmonica or Pedal Steel Online

Banjo Online

Acoustic or Electric Guitar Online


Music Production Tip:

How To Arrange Your Song and Choose the Right Musicians

Although I now produce music for Nashville Trax I started out years ago with a little 4 track cassette machine doing home recordings. I can relate to all the problems you’re experiencing in attempting to achieve a professional sound.

One area you’re almost certainly falling short in is  musicianship.Back in the day I programmed a drum machine, played bass guitar, then added a couple guitar tracks, then played keyboards, sang, added background vocals and voila, a one man band!

It didn’t sound bad, in fact it was usually very good. I was a decent player, session quality on bass, and understood drumming to a degree. But there was no way I could play some of those instruments as well as a dedicated studio player who had focused on that one instrument for years, every day, eight to twelve hours a day.

No way could I, a hack keyboard player at best, get a sound out of a $500 keyboard that equaled the tone of a pro player’s $5,000 keyboard, let alone play it near as well. No way could me playing bass to a drum machine match up with a rhythm track created by a session quality live drummer and bassist. Drum machines or drum loops will never deliver the feel and expression of a live drummer playing a custom track on your song.

There are plenty of articles out there about how to mix, how to use EQ, etc. all saying “this is what you do to achieve a great sound”. but if you don’t have groove, pocket, pitch and the basic musical elements, you’ll tweak those knobs until ten days after the world explodes and never get that pro mix you’re looking for. Here’s my tip: Start with pro musicians. If you play, play your best instrument and hire the rest.

Not only will you have trouble making your $500 bass match up to the tone of a $5,000 professional grade instrument, unless you focus on bass guitar to the exclusion of almost everything else in your life, you’ll likely come up short on the performance: the tightness, the note selection, the groove! You most likely can’t and won’t deliver the definitive performance the song you labored over deserves.

If $350 microphones through a $500 preamp typical of the gear used in a home recording sounded as good as a $10,000 microphone through a $2.200 Avalon into $10,000 of software in a vocal chain, no one would buy a $10,000 mic or Avalon or expensive software. But they do. Think about it.

This shouldn’t discourage you, this should encourage you: Just like great quarterbacks don’t play defensive tackle, few people are a one man band and when you get to the “big leagues” of music, almost everyone is a specialist.

What I learned when I moved to Nashville is that live playing and session work are two very different animals; some people are born with a rare talent to play perfectly in pocket, all the time, every time. Many great live players who are good enough to play for major recording artists are not session quality players.  So if you’re doing everything yourself, or using your live band’s local drummer to play on your tracks, it may be fun, it may sound “pretty good”, but it probably won’t give you a truly pro recording.

I do understand you want to produce your project at home or you wouldn’t be reading this post, you’d be reading the one that explains why the smartest thing may be to let me produce your track start to finish. You probably want to play on it, and I know you want your hands on the buttons. But strong caution: if you want a pro sound, if you want to truly compete with demos where specialists are involved in every step and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment are used, choose your best instrument or two and hire session quality players for the remainder. These days you can do that right over the Internet. Need a session quality drummer? Simply click here.

In fact, the rhythm section is a huge factor in determining how pro a recording will sound. If you play guitar and/or keys then I think you’d be wise to order a session quality drum and bass guitar track, then use that firm foundation to build on. Even better, hire out a basic rhythm section of rhythm guitar, drums and bass guitar, then build your project on that, adding acoustic guitar, keys, lead guitar and other instruments.

And if your song needs other instruments, they’re easy to add also!

Saxophone Online

Piano or Keyboards Online

Fiddle, Mandolin or Violin Online

Harmonica or Pedal Steel Online

Banjo Online

Acoustic or Electric Guitar Online

Perhaps the biggest decision you’ll make on any song as a producer is choosing the right singer. In my opinion, the singer IS the song! You need a great one to put your song across. You know as well as I do that while you might “sing great” you aren’t the right choice for everything!

Keep this link in your back pocket: Vocal Tracks Online It may bail you out the next time you are trying to record a tune and know you don’t have quite the right singer available.

So back to my roots: after the 4 track it was 8 track reel-to-reel, then 16 track then 8 track digital, then two 8 track digital units midi’d as master/slave, then 16, then two 16 track digitals midi’d to make 32 tracks, a real 32 track digital machine and finally, the king daddy: Pro Tools HD. As I progressed through every configuration known to man, lol, I kept thinking, “Okay, so if I just had more tracks, then I could make this sound like the recordings they play on the radio.”

Guess what? Even with unlimited tracks and a state-of-the-art recording platform I still came up short. It’s probably not more tracks you need. In fact, it’s not any one thing, it’s almost everything! It’s skill, experience, musicianship, outboard gear, microphones, the rooms you record in, your mixing skills, your tracking skills, your experience with arranging, your musical knowledge, microphone placement…man, I could go on for days…okay, minutes at least, lol.

So if I could go back and talk to myself at the 4 track stage I’d tell myself what I’m going to tell you now: “Instead of chasing gear, learn to use what you have better, continually improve your skills at what you have a natural talent for, figure out what you do best, and interface with others who can fill in your weak areas.”

For most home producers, their greatest weakness, their biggest downfall, is mixing. They don’t have the experience, the room, the gear, the expertise, training or more importantly, the ears, to mix at a pro level. So even if you choose to do the one man band thing or hire local live quality musicians, you might want to consider hitting this link for your mix.

As far as arranging a song, the first hurdle is to be sure the songwriting is sound. If your chorus sounds almost indistinguishable from your verses you need to do some rewriting. Arrangement can certainly enhance chorus/verse separation but it shouldn’t have to carry the ball by itself! I may introduce a new instrument at the chorus but I want the note values in the melody or the number of bars on each chord…something inherent in the song structure, to change! If you play the song on acoustic guitar do listeners know when you hit the chorus?

Another good arranging tip: Cover the entire musical spectrum somewhat evenly. How even can vary song-to-song but if you have a ton of guitar tracks and other mid-range stuff, consider helping the cymbals out with a high pitched keyboard pat or a mandolin EQ’d to favor the high end, etc. panned to a different space in the mix than where you’re placing the cymbals. Typically the overheads are panned hard right and hard left so maybe place your mando at 2 o’ clock….experiment to see where it sounds best!

You also have to be very careful there aren’t any “dogfights” going on. That’s where the guitarist and the bass and the sax player are all trying to fill the same spot or worse, playing on top of the vocal. For the most part melodic fills should be played only in between vocal phrases and by only one instrument, unless two instruments are doubling the same part or playing in harmony.

So hopefully some of this helps you achieve higher quality recordings. I’d love to give you more but this post got long in the tooth quite a while ago. Thanks for hanging in and I look forward to giving you additional home producing tips in upcoming posts.- bill watson

Great Day of Tracks Online Work At Nashville Recording Studios

Our fiddle player, Jenee Fleenor solos at a Martina McBride concert. Jenee is available through Fiddle Tracks Online to play on your song, just one of the many world class players on our roster!

A great day of work for our new service, Tracks Online, which offers self-producers high quality instrument tracks over the Internet.

First a 10 a.m. at Nashville Trax Recording Studio to record four tracks of Mike Duchette Steel Guitar Tracks Online and two tracks of harmonica.

Then it was off to our Pro Tools HD sister studio in Hendersonville, TN to produce seven tracks of piano and strings played by The Oak Ridge Boys long time band member, Sir Ronald Fairchild, for our Piano Tracks Online service on a project for a client in Quebec, Canada.

Just in time too, Ron had to catch the band bus to the airport at 4 a.m. for a flight to play at an Oaks performance in Puerto Rico. Five star hotels, a one day paid layover to do some sightseeing, catered food, all to do a one hour show…hey it’s a tough life but somebody has to live it!

Finally, caught up!

Until returning to the studio where a Banjo Tracks Online order had just been confirmed via e-mail. The client’s mp3 will arrive in a few hours. Love it!- b.e.

Need an instrument track? Saxophone? Harmonica? Dobro? Mandolin? Nashville music producer Bill Watson will choose the perfect session player to add to your mp3 mix and send it back as a high quality .wav file that will lock up perfectly for your mix and give you exactly what you need to make an impressive, spectacular song demo or master!

Tracks For Your Project Cut In A Nashville Recording Studio? It CAN happen!

Why NOT have Blake Shelton's fiddle player and session quality musician Jennee Fleenor on YOUR project?

Why NOT have Blake Shelton’s fiddle player, session quality musician, Jennee Fleenor on YOUR project?

Nashville Trax Recording Studio announces its Tracks Online service allowing self-producers to add session quality instrument tracks recorded on quality equipment in a Nashville recording studio to their projects:


For Immediate Release

Many musicians throughout the world produce projects on home equipment as well as at local recording studios. The problem? There are only a few handfuls of session quality musicians in the world and the majority live and work in Nashville, TN. It’s known worldwide as Music City for a reason.

Often, a producer outside Nashville needs a specific instrument track and soon discovers that many great live players simply don’t have the impeccable timing and skills required to play at session quality.

Even if they can access Nashville players, how do they know which ones are really able to deliver the tracks they need before investing? Are they really session quality players? Will they record the part at their home using inferior home grade equipment? Digital is digital but commercial quality preamps and condenser microphones are not part of most home setups.

Enter Nashville Trax Recording Studio Tracks Online Service which solves the problem with low cost individual tracks by proven musicians delivered over the Internet.

Basic rhythm tracks like drums, bass guitar, piano, keyboards and guitar can be ordered or even mixed and matched to track together, all recorded on quality gear with an experienced producer/tracking engineer overseeing the process.

Other instruments like saxophone, mandolin, fiddle, steel guitar, even vocals and more are also on the menu.

A fringe benefit of the service is that most of the players available have credits you can use to help promote your project via a press release, on your website, etc.

Bill Watson, owner of Nashville Trax Recording Studio reports some early success, “I think we’ve tapped into a real need with Tracks Online. Within the last 24 hours we’ve received confirmed orders for a banjo track, two steel guitar tracks, and a harmonica track. We hope to have continued success and increased volume because obviously, at the price point we’ve set, there’s a very low profit margin per track.”

For more information as well as a sample of the work available visit Fiddle Tracks Online.

Blandness Doesn’t Happen Here

Bill Watson, Owner & Producer of Play It Again Demos and Nashville Trax

Bill Watson, Owner & Producer of Play It Again Demos and Nashville Trax

There’s a reason why our services are in demand; why our recordings thrill our clients, why some folks view us as ‘the best” and why our demos get signed by song publishers so often. It’s a world view, a philosophy gap between what they’re doing and what we’re doing. It’s a belief system.

It’s an approach and thought process applied to every song at Play It Again and Nashville Trax that is world’s-apart different than what most producers use, the final recordings reflect that approach, and it’s systemic, injected at every step of the process.

First, I respect the fact that the client probably worked hard scraping together every penny of the cost in the hope she or he can hear their song on the radio someday. It’s not my job to make that happen. That’s beyond my control. That’s up to people further down the line. But it is exactly my job to provide them with the hope that it can. It’s my job that every time she listens to it the rest for her life she’ll be so very glad she took this step and proudly plays it for anyone who will listen.

Second, The Macarena made it to radio, sold 15 million copies and is ranked fifth on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. It’s also the #1 dance song of all time. How many producers would have heard a rough of that and proclaimed, “This piece of $&^^% is going nowhere,” as the session players nodded in agreement and they proceeded to methodically suck the life out of it with perfectly polished, colorless vapidity, guaranteeing it wouldn’t?

I smashed my crystal ball long ago. The darn thing wasn’t working.

Third, I believe in God. Not an impersonal, historical, ethereal being of some sort that floats in heavenly clouds somewhere, occasionally beating up on Amorites. But a God who’s alive and who cares about every person, listens to every prayer we toss up and sometimes responds with an answer that defies both the laws of physics and logic of man, i.e., a major or minor miracle. No big deal for the creator of this world and everything in it. No big deal for The Master Physicist, The Master Physician, The Master Musician, The Master Everything.

If He decides a client’s song should become a hit there is not a man, a woman, a radio programmer or an army that could stop it. And since, for some inexplicable reason, God doesn’t generally bother to consult with me first as to which songs will move on to a better place, I figure I better darn sure do my job so it sounds as good as it can when it gets there.

We all have religion.

Maybe you’ve always believed in God. It just seems right and you don’t question it. You stand on rock.

Or maybe you’re “smarter than average.” So smart maybe you don’t believe in God at all. You know He’s a no-longer-necessary myth, and instead, believe in whatever the atheistic wing of the scientific community feeds you. You buy into their agenda driven “there is no God” mantra and smirk at people who do believe in Him, that’s your religion.

Hey I’m cool with that, you can believe in anything you want to, but I wonder: When you face The Big Thing you can’t handle on your own, will your worship leaders, Maher, Hawking, Dawkins and the rest, be there for you when you need them? Is that a rock you can stand on?

If you’re extremely intelligent, way beyond simply smart, you question everything. You use the gray matter number you were blessed with to actually think for yourself. You’ve researched enough to comprehend how every discipline interfaces with both the Old and New Testaments, you understand how they support each other, and you can see how it all works so perfectly together it’s difficult to deny. You’ve already wasted time on the “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” path. You can explain Vishishtadvaita in detail and at one point in your life Scientology seemed like a great idea.

You aced physics; watched Field of Dreams a bunch of times times; studied world history, couldn’t stop reading Infinite Jest and back in ’03, took temporary refuge in the triple gem. Initially you devoured Loftus, and later, Sobel, with great interest but ultimately rejected their arguments as unconvincing quasi-logic that circumvents the whole point. Sometimes, you really can’t get there from here.

In ’08 you had that weird encounter with the ex-meth head trying to feed you some crap about Jesus and how he’d been washed clean by The King of Kings or something. In ’11 you watched the kids getting stuffed into body bags and wondered where God was when the bullets started flying.

That same year you read that damn J.D. Salinger book again. You bought the Harley, got the tattoos and headed north on sabbatical road. You cried unexpectedly at Gettysburg, what happened there just overwhelmed you all of a sudden. At The Wall you met the vet who was missing both arms. He told you he was a devout Christian stamping his ticket to Heaven because he’d already been to Hill 881 and wasn’t ever going back.

The phrase “Man’s inhumanity toward man” kept playing on your mindscreen and the word “hope”… it was actually bugging you. You knew they sold it at the local church, but was there any such thing?

It was late 2011 when that osteologist said, “No doubt about it, you’re Native American Indian,” confirming the speculation. Then came that crazy dream where the Comanche war chief wearing a full headdress peered down at you from the clouds and said, “The logic is strong in you my son, but it’s emotion that will save you.” What in the hell did that mean?

You understand Higgs boson and E= mc2. You get String Theory, Romans 8:28 and The Big Bang. You’ve done the math for yourself, revealed the flaws, stared the beauty of it all right in the face and you’ve reached the inescapable conclusion that God had a hand in creating everything, and has a hand in everything you experience.

And one day your epiphany: the day everything you’d ever learned and everything you’d ever done morphed into a big, red, flashing arrow pointing straight at Acts 4:12. You got on your knees, accepted Christ, and got up knowing nothing would ever be quite the same moving forward.

You started attending the local church and confirmed you were right about what they sell there but pleasantly surprised to find it wouldn’t cost you anything, only everything. And man, what a cool little band they have, with drums and guitars and backup singers even. Maybe you can be The Catcher In The Rye someday after all, stand with arms stretched wide on the edge of the cliff… perhaps save a few of His children from the evils of adulthood. Maybe just by playing your bass guitar.

That phrase you used so often, “I think I’m on the right path now,” faded away, because you know you are.

Welcome to the rock.

You also trembled a bit because you realized when God walked this earth in the flesh he didn’t seem to like the people who had it all together much. He didn’t seem to gravitate toward the rich, the famous, the powerful or the “smart people” very often. No, He owned those categories yet He had a propensity for hanging with the uncool people and with the not so bright people and you hope He compares your intelligence to His so yours is so absolutely dwarfed by His that the difference between a “mentally challenged” man’s 60 and your 160 is insignificant. You hope He notices just how stupid you really are and you hope and plead He wants to hang out with you, too.

Caught up in your own little selfish schemes and dreams you thought you were a success, or “on your way to becoming a success” but you now know you’ve achieved absolutely nothing, to date it all adds up to a big fat zerol. You realize: It doesn’t matter how much education you have, how much art you create, how many millions of your billions you give to charity, how many books you write or how high your IQ is.

Unless you accept Him and make Him the center of your life you’re a failure. There are no other success options, His Way is the one way. Walk any false path you choose but you’ll wear out eighty pairs of shoes without getting near the real prize of truly having it all for eternity.

You understand now, you can’t impress God with looks, power, celebrity, money or anything of that nature. The last shall be first and the first last. He’d surely rather hang with that ex-meth head than your miserable self.

God can’t co-exist with impurity. You need to wash clean and return to the truth, the faith, the love, the purity and the innocence you had as a child, that’s what God digs. That’s why Jesus loves the little children.

You need to hide all that stuff you did and the only way is to erase it through the blood shed for you on the cross. Justice must be served, one way or another.

If you can’t get back there, to that childlike innocence, faith, love and purity, you’ll end this earthly journey having only consumed a lot of mind candy on the wrong path in pursuit of false promises from your false gods, named or unnamed. A total waste of time.

At some point in the timeline we perceive, (that Einstein proved is not only malleable, but doesn’t really exist at all, no surprise, Old Testament authors revealed that fact thousands of years ago: God is everlasting, without beginning or end) all you’ve worked for will be nothing but your bones buried in the ground. That ain’t much.

Einstein proved that “all time is now”. Come on, you’re smart, you know all about attoseconds, right? And you can bridge that into the Planck Scale that deals in trillionths of attoseconds where the space and time relationship begins to come apart at the seams.

Just beyond Planck is where time stops. And God starts. You know it, damn it, and they just won’t admit it. Man, do you need to find that childlike purity now.

Man, do you need to find the hope that DFW’s university degrees, high IQ and fame couldn’t impart. For all his wealth, philosophizing and alleged brilliance, David Foster Wallace was unable to find enough hope to prevent taking his own life. He knew where to look for it but casual church attendance doesn’t grant immunity from hopelessness. “Being a Christian” doesn’t grant immunity from hopelessness. Making Jesus the absolute center of your life does.

Crack open The Holy Bible and read quotes from His mouth. Immerse yourself in His wisdom. Follow His example. Let Him lead you. There you’ll discover hope in abundance. Hope is a beautiful thing.

The choice is clear. Jump on the Jesus train, ride it like everlasting life depended on it because it does and go to your God, the lamb slaughtered to satisfy justice for you, washed clean by His blood. Clothed in innocence fully able to withstand and dwell with your brothers and sisters in Christ in His glorious light and love. Forever free, forever happy, forever positive, forever rid of every negative emotion.

Or you can consume your speck of time, this thing called life, what native Americans call “The breath of the buffalo in wintertime” on some other path. In laugh worship with the atheist high priestess Griffin; devouring the Barker scriptures; spending your days loving things while using others instead of using things and loving others; bowing with genuine reverence to the money, fame and celebrity gods.

Doing your own thing.

If that’s your path do enjoy the party while you can. The impurities none of those activities can wash away will drive you far away from His glorious light described in 1 John 1:5, where the real party goes on 24/7 without end.

Welcome to hell. Just you. Your thoughts. Alone. In darkness. Forever.

How’s “This is all about me,” working out for ya?

Hey, tell yourself that Bill Maher joke again, the one about the difference between God and the tooth fairy. Still hilarious as ever … isn’t it?

Maybe that being washed clean stuff isn’t a bunch of crap after all. But no one can get back to that childlike purity without Christ. No amount of self-discovery, meditation, absorption in Secular Buddhism or anything else can get you there. John 14:6.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, the creator of this world and everything in it, you’ll rediscover your innocence. You’ll be infused with talent, knowledge and wisdom from The Master Of All Things. Through Him and His Word you will find ultimate truths, you’ll achieve humility and discover whatever else you sought looking for love in all the wrong places. You’ll stand on rock.

And with all that comes the knowledge that perfection is an interesting sidebar, something we all fall a bit short of no matter how hard we try. Except Jesus. He was the unblemished Passover lamb of all Passover lambs. The one without sin, slaughtered for you, buddy. Oh, do you get it now.

You can bet Jesus plays perfect notes. He’s the Master Musician, The Master Everything.
But I don’t even want to ask what His session rate is or how far ahead He’s booked. I’m thinking those numbers would be kind of scary.

But that’s okay. If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s that producing great tracks has little to do with playing notes perfectly anyway, mere mortal musicians will do. The attempt to play perfect notes can be part of creating exceptional tracks but that’s a given and, except in the case of keeping a singer on pitch or something, for the most part that’s not my job.

I hire world-class musicians, if I write good charts, they’ll deliver the right notes. My job during tracking, in my view, has almost everything to do with understanding what the client’s goals are, catching the proper emotion wave and making sure we all ride it together to the mix at Payoff Beach. My job is to ensure that the finished recording will move people.

Listen to the great tunes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s before pitch correction and editing out every drop of spontaneity was possible. Perfection? Not exactly. You can hear a little tape distortion here, an out of tune guitar there, a little tempo variation. Listen close and maybe you’ll hear that noise where the drummer accidentally hit a rim and made an unwanted click.

But guess what? Some of those recordings are definitive versions that could be covered by a thousand artists and would never be equaled, let alone topped! Obviously the producer didn’t say, “Let’s run that again guys, it isn’t perfect yet.” Instead he recognized, “Man THIS IS IT! This excites me, it’s perfect even with imperfections!” Kind of like Jesus thinks about His children as they stumble toward His light and He pulls them on in, I guess.

Before charting even a low-budget demo. I listen. A lot. It’s partly to determine what the songwriter is trying to say with the lyric, but ultimately it’s mostly about discerning what shade of emotion they are trying to evoke from people who hear it. Then I start writing charts and thinking in terms of arrangements that move everything toward that one goal.

At times we hit the mark here so well that musicians who aren’t even playing on a song are high fiving and the musicians playing on it are obviously excited.

On one session, a player who I’m pretty sure hasn’t been out of a session chair in years, became so fired up as the arrangement built, he actually stood up to finish playing his part. A small thing but huge for the song because the other musicians knew what it meant and it made them play with even more intensity, “Holy moley, if he’s playing standing up, this is historic! I better beat the living pillows out of this drum!” My philosophy is: When pillows start coming out of drums you know you’re doing something right : )

If you want “bored-before-the-chorus-hits” mediocrity disguised as perfection, you’d best go to one of those other places.

Blandness doesn’t happen here- b.e. watson