Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Personal dispatch #7

This is a dispatch from Marty Rod, who recorded a smoldering, gauzy, reverb-drenched rendition of "The Way Young Lovers Do." His cover is like watching a cigarette slowly burn a crisp, black hole in a bolt of silk. Rod told us a little about himself, as well as why he selected this particular track from Astral Weeks.
I was born and raised in Reseda (popularized by Tom Petty and The Karate Kid), which is in Los Angeles suburbia. I'm 26 years old and have been a professional musician, at least in terms of making a living off music, for the past two years. I started singing before I could remember. I started playing guitar at 12 and was writing songs by 16. I think that in today's music industry being multi-dimensional is a necessity to staying active and establishing a career. To that end, I started learning multiple instruments and consuming knowledge on production and recording ever since I was in college. Now I often record and mix many of my own songs. I've done numerous productions for other artists as well as TV shows and films.

I perform with my band and my pet project, Bravesoul, mostly here in the Los Angeles area. I also do acoustic performances in Venice at the Wizend one to two times a month.

I've always been a huge fan of Van Morrison. I was a bit older when I first heard some of the songs off Astral Weeks—most likely in college at some point—and I must admit, I didn't really "get it" at first. I think I had heard "Sweet Thing" and "Madame George" on a road trip and thought they were cool songs, but I didn't really connect with them. I think growing up in a generation that's entirely focused on mp3s and singles, it took me a long time before I realized the difference between a compilation of songs and a true album. Astral Weeks is definitely a true album and it was an eye-opening lesson in that respect. It's something that should be heard in its entirety. Only then can you really enjoy the improvisational and fluid arrangements, and the pure childlike emotions that seem to grow stronger from song to song. It's more of an experience that needs to brew and be felt, rather than a three-minute espresso shot of energy and catchy hooks.

"The Way Young Lovers Do" was one of those songs I heard while listening to the full album. The lyrics immediately moved me. It's not an uncommon theme by any means, but I loved the delicate and innocent way he painted the scene. It was so simple and direct, and the song seems to transport you to a different time and space. It also seems to stand out from the rest of the album both in its simplicity and its more traditional form and structure. In hindsight, that no doubt may have also been one of the reasons I initially gravitated towards that song.

I wanted to cover the song for the same reason i think you should cover any song: I thought I could do it a bit differently. Songwriters like Van Morrison or Bob Dylan are always great fodder for covers because they have very distinctive voices/styles and their songwriting is amazing. In other words, it's not hard to sound different. And the lyrics and melody give you a powerful foundation to pretty much take the song in many directions. In my mind, I wanted to take the song more into the spaghetti western world and make it more of a full-on cinematic experience. I decided to make it a duet for that same reason as well.

I recorded everything in my living room here in west L.A. I brought my good friend and writing partner Jacqueline Becker on board to lend her beautiful voice and make it a duet. The recording and mixing process literally took no more than a single day. It just took a stroke of inspiration and within about eight hours it was all done.

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