Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Speakin' The Queens... Pt.1

As the release date for my new album, "Queens English", approaches, I thought it might be a fun idea (if only for me) to try and maybe dissect the record here at the old Blog space. A bit of a behind the scenes look under the hood so to speak. Since I've always dug reading about some of my favorite albums track-by-track, I thought that might be an interesting way to approach. Eleven tracks in eleven installments? Can I pull it off without boring even myself? Got me. Stay tuned and find out. Here goes somethin'...

Track 1: "Who Are Yous? (prelude)" -

Since the title track of the album, "Queens English", is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of all the gentrification/hipster invasions taking place in NYC's outer-boroughs of late set to a kind of glam-rock romp, I thought it might be less stock and more interesting to push said uptempo track to the number two slot in the running order and start the record off instead with a kind of stylized, old-timey sounding, rock-free instrumental. I hoped the disparate styles sitting side by side, one quickly segueing
into the next, might be a cool way to further illustrate the collision of new and old New York riffed upon in the title track and at points throughout the record.

With lofty concept now firmly in place, I needed an actual composition to execute the idea. I'd written an old-style, music hall type song with lyrics
called, "Who Are Yous?" to close out the album; a tune designed to be literally and figuratively the polar opposite of the song, "Queens English". With "Who Are Yous?" having been written from the perspective of an elderly, native New Yorker lamenting the changes transforming his "old neighborhood", I realized I already also had the perfect contender for my intro track - Why not create an abridged, instrumental version of the closing cut, put it at the head of the sequence and bookend everything in the process? Word (or lack thereof) was born.

Intent on getting that string-quartet-coming-off-a-crackling-78 vibe for the recording, I turned to my friend and string arranger, Jacob Lawson. Successfully converting my abstract thoughts into reality, Jacob realized the arrangement I was looking for and we set out to put some zeros and ones in their places. With Jacob kindly and adeptly donning the hats of engineer, mixer and sole player on the track, we layered Jacob upon Jacob until a lush, faux string section emerged brimming with front-parlor, old time dandiness.

Next time on "Speakin' The Queens...", track two, "Queens English". Come on back now, yous hear me?


  1. Sounds intriguing, Mark. I dig the strings on your other work. LOVE the idea of scratchy old time 78.

  2. Have you thought about posting audio clips to go with each post?