As most of you know – and for those of you who don’t – we’ve been in the process of producing another record for the past few months now, and because I’ll be on my own and living the musical dream soon, having professionally recorded original songs (kind of like what The Weight was plus the professional part) is crucial to keeping that dream alive. From getting into the doors of venues to getting into people’s ears, being able to direct listeners to original music is a must. So, I rallied the troops, and we packed our overnight bags for Nashville, Tennessee, where the music is plenty and the traffic is apparently awful. Little did I know, the address that Ryan – my friend and producer – sent held little more than an unimposing four-bedroom home with a column on the front porch that simply read, “4115.”
Forty-One Fifteen, Gallatin Pike doesn’t look like much: I have to admit, when I first drove up to its unremarkable driveway and really took in what seemed to be a literal home studio, I couldn’t help but ask, “Is this really where I’m paying by the hour to be?” I mean, you’ve really got to look hard for it. In between its psychic palm reader and chiropractor neighbors, it stands unnoticeably unexpected as a residential building along a strip of commercial ones, and it does next to nothing to advertise itself to anyone who might be passing through. But fortunately, Google Maps is a thing, and we made our way there without a single detour, knocking on a door with the fear that a mother of two might come to the front.
Well, I’m happy to say: books and their covers have never been more misleading. What welcomed us upon our initial steps into the studio was nothing short of a musical amusement park – you know, after you make it through the kitchen. The first room is small, where a previous owner may have placed a dining room table for family meals. But now, it’s essentially a piano/keys haven of tone. From glockenspiels to baby grands, this room had the means to fill the whim of any musician who came in saying, “You know, I really think a(n) [insert obscure musical instrument here] would be great for this record.” But, besides shock value, keys weren’t really the reason we came to Nashville for an entire weekend.
We came for the groove, of course. Bass and drums were the focus of February 19th through the 21st, and man, did we conquer. From personnel to environment, Forty-One Fifteen offered everything a musician could ask for: vibes, character, and even the same brand of coffee I drink back home. Though it was probably just a coincidence of luck – because I drank it like water this weekend – and great taste in coffee, who’s to say it wasn’t meant to be? Don’t get me wrong: Saturday and Sunday were long – especially Sunday since our drive back to Clemson started at 8 o’clock Nashville time – but that’s the beauty of doing what you love. It doesn’t feel like work, even when you start with the sun and end with the moon.
These songs are like my children right now. I know what I sound like when I say that, but there’s really no better analogy. You start with an idea – an image of what could be with a thousand different ways of getting there – and you begin. You set its morals and give it value through lyricism, offering a foundation to start speaking for itself. You dress it up each time in what you think looks good, until it develops its own style and its own way of looking back at the world. You make sure it tries everything because you never want it took look back and say, “What if?” or, “I wish.” And finally, when you’ve done all you can to raise it and make it into the beautiful thing it is, you send it out into the world to make its mark – to fly or fail. I know it’s a stretch, but this weekend, my babies started speaking, and that’s a wonderful, amazing thing because its one step closer to that final image. They aren’t ready to take the world by storm just yet: they’re still crawling around or asking for piggyback rides. But with the right parental figures and all their daily vitamins and nutrients, I know they’ll grow up to be something great. Just you wait.