“Some days you got it all together, you swear you have it figured out. Other days you’re stumbling and a wondering what the hell it’s all about. Life’s kinda funny like that, sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the cat. All you can do is just keep going and thank God for what you have.
Keep chuggin’ along, keep singing your song. Put that plow in the ground ’til the daylights gone. When you look back over your shoulder at everything you’ve done, put the good times in your pocket, let the bad ones make you strong, and keep chuggin’ along.” (Chuggin’ Along – Luke Bryan)
Two weeks down. Twelve to go.
It’s not that I am counting down the days until I am done, this has just been a very stressful and disconcerting week. It’s weird that I have been here for two weeks. On one hand, it feels like I have been here for ages, but at the same time, it feels like I just got here.
The reason this week has been so stressful for me is because it was the first week of CMC Live (our live show we do every week) and I was up this week. The group is split in half, so six of us go each week, and of course I was in the first group. So we found out probably on Thursday or Friday which group we were in, and had to be prepared to perform for “Hammer Time” by Monday. Hammer Time is the time on Monday the staff has set aside for each artist performing that week to get up on stage with their full band and show the songs they are doing that week. It seemed like I had to throw it all together last minute and scramble and get a band together and choose two songs to perform and fit in one rehearsal time at like 11:30 PM the night before Hammer Time. It was rather stressful. I chose to do “Long Black Train” by Josh Turner and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore. Both songs I have performed previously at least once (if not a million times).
So I go to Hammer Time, and my band suggested we do “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” because they thought that song was more prepared and sounded better. So I agreed and we went out and I sang like maybe the first verse and part of the chorus before Warren (the CMC director) stopped me and told me I was trying to sing way too low (which is not something I often hear in my life). He wanted me to try and sing the song an entire octave higher, which was not really possible for me to do pleasantly or comfortably. He told me I needed to raise the key though, and he worked a little bit and decided that it should be in G, which is a sixth higher than I was doing it before. In my opinion that was craziness, but I had to listen to him, so I did it.
Also going on during this week were our first real Track classes, where us artists met with our instructor Rick Elias. He asked us to send him recordings of us. He wanted an original song, but luckily he cut some slack for those of us who had never written a song before (which was only two of us =/) and he said we could send him covers. So I recorded “Long Black Train” and sent it to him. When we got to my turn in class, I was nervous of course for everyone to be listening to this recording, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, as I had expected. Rick basically said I needed more training. If I was serious about being in the music industry, I needed to start taking voice lessons and taking them seriously, because I needed to get better. So that was disheartening because he hadn’t said anything like that to anyone else in the class. But he also said I chose a good song for my voice with “Long Black Train” and mentioned nothing about it being too low. But he said I really needed to work on bringing my voice out. He said it was almost as if there was something keeping it in and muffling it, so I just really needed to work on that and take lessons. So that was great to hear in front of 11 others students right there.
I had to just keep practicing because I had to perform Thursday night. Now with songs that were too low and a voice that wasn’t good enough. Which unfortunately is kind of the attitude I now had about this whole thing. But rehearsals went well, the guys playing for me were awesome and super nice and talented and great. And they were all very encouraging about the whole thing. My main problem now was that singing “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” in this new key was difficult for me. Once I got into it, I was alright, but I struggled a lot to find the notes at the beginning because I was so used to singing it a sixth lower. So that was hard, and I was really worried. At sound check thursday it proved to be real, since I ended up not really singing the entire first verse of the song because I couldn’t find the key, and finally got into it like the line before the chorus. And I had never performed with so much noise all around me, making it so incredibly difficult to hear myself. In the rehearsal studio, we use headphones to hear ourselves, which is weird not being able to hear my voice as it comes out, but only through the headphones. And it was the same on the stage using monitors. I have never really experienced literally not being able to hear my voice as it comes out of my mouth before, but that was definitely the case here. I could only hear what I was getting through the monitor, and that proved difficult for me to sing accurately.
I was very discouraged and Thursday night performance time I was still freaking out about not being able to get the pitch for the song. It wasn’t even as if I could get it before going on stage, because it was the second song, so I had to do “Long Black Train” first. So I did the best I could. I did “Long Black Train” without any terrible messups, although it was pitchy. And then “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” started, and like I had feared, I didn’t find the pitch. I found it much faster this time and was on track by the time I got to the second line, but it was still just a terribly embarrassing moment for me half-singing into the microphone because I know I am not singing the right notes. But I survived it and we went to the Waffle House after the show. First time I have been a Waffle House that I can remember. It was fun. They have some pretty cheap food there. Except that sales tax in Tennessee is really high. Just made my sausage biscuit $1.09 instead of $1.00. Oh well. It’s all about the experience.
Friday was probably the most discouraging part of the whole week. We do what is called Game Tape, where we all gather and watch a recording of the performances and critique them. Alright sounds exciting right? Especially when you know you didn’t do well. Yeah, so that was awesome. Basically we watched mine, and Warren said he didn’t really know what to do, he would have to figure something out. He thinks I still try and sing “like 3 octaves too low” and my pitch isn’t awesome sometimes. So that made me feel really good about myself. After that we had community lunch, which was nice so I didn’t have to cook for myself after being told I suck. So I was just kind of mopey that week. But especially on Friday.
UNTIL Friday night, because John, our Res. Life Director had a fun event planned for us. It is called Nerd Skate. We all dressed up as nerds and went to the local skating rink. Which surprisingly was super packed. I am not used to skating rinks being popular, but it was seriously packed. FILLED with middle school kids. It was funny just watching them stare at this group of 20 some college students coming into the skating rink with our pants hiked up, suspenders on, taped glasses, the works. So that was pretty fun, and then we went to Sonic afterwards and the manager gave us all free drink coupons because of our outfits. So the rough week ended on a positive note.
Next week is studio recording week, so who knows what that will bring.