Having grown up seeing images of the Beatles recording at Abbey Road, I’ve always wondered what it was like inside a recording studio. I finally got my chance. Last weekend, my musician friends abducted me to record a theme song to my new ebook: Tarot: The Magician. The results were tremendous.
The “John Lennon” of the group was Bradley Coy. This was a surreal experience for me in many ways, not the least being that I taught this young man back when he was in sixth grade. He was phenomenal musician then and even better now.
He recycled an old melody he’d written to create the “theme song” for my book. Now I know what you’re thinking: books don’t have theme songs. So true. But book trailers do. I have animated a book trailer. Being that I have only enough knowledge of music to be dangerous, I wanted some sort of professional song to score the 40 seconds of animated trailer.
Given my druthers, I probably would have lifted a song, ran it backward through some filters. It wouldn’t have been good, but serviceable. Fortunately, Bradley materialized form the musical woodwork and transformed his melody into a perfect compliment to the atmosphere of the book.
We visited the recording studio of David Morgan, who has outfitted his room with more guitars and sound equipment than the average Guitar Center. He had recorded plenty of albums there for local artists, but he was curious about scoring music to a video. It turned out to more tricky than you’d think.
Bradley would play the melody flawlessly, but the timing to the video eluded him. Or he’d nail it, only to boff a chord near the end. Thankfully we had the guiding presence of Mark C. Jackson, a fellow musician and writer. He knew that the first dozen takes were simply warm up for the real performance. As we neared that “perfect” moment, his energy spiked. He leapt out of his seat to encourage Bradley to create the perfect mixture of melancholy and gloominess (yes, that’s the tone for the book).
Bradley’s whole take on the melody was one of a vintage piano with a vaudevillian touch. He and I both share a yen for the Beats and the Surrealists. It seemed natural that the music for a surrealistic novel be a riff from the 1930s.
What was I doing during all this? Not a lot. Mostly I played the documenter, snapping pictures to capture the moment. Bradley finally nailed it, leaving the end of the melody dangling like an unanswered question. It might bug some people, but for me, it was simply perfect.
You can listen to the track here. The full trailer will be revealed at the end of May.