Bedroom Sessions

Bedroom Sessions is a collection of songs recorded (strangely enough) from my bedroom. It has these great plaster walls the lend to some natural echo and the lighting just looks kind of cool. I’ve enjoyed the progress from the first video and will continue to add new episodes here as I record them. You can also go straight to my YouTube channel for the complete playlist.

BS009: “Needing/Getting” and “Want And Able” OKGo and Jack White Covers

I’ve had the idea to play these two songs back to back for a while, but I’m just now getting around to it. If “Needing/Getting” isn’t the flip side of “Want and Able” then they are at least facets on the same gömböc.

I’d like to be more zen and want fewer things. By and large, I don’t feel like I want as much in terms of material possessions. I want more time away from work and the means to do more things creatively. I had originally hoped to get around to recording these songs prior to the New Year, but being busy at work has made less time for me to do the things I want at home.

For some reason I feel like I should be getting all philosophical here, but I’ll let the performance speak for itself. True to the rest of the Bedroom Sessions videos, this hasn’t been super rehearsed and I’ve made a few edits to polish up the performance.

Is this the last of the Bedroom Sessions? I’m not sure. It feels like a natural end, but given that I’m naming this Episode 9, maybe I’ll come up with a tenth one to round out the series.

BS008: “Butterfly” Weezer Cover

December 7, 2020: Today I was talking to my sister, Heather, and I said I don’t know why I’m bothering to record all these dumb videos.

“Because you enjoy doing it?”

No. Not always.

“Because sometimes you enjoy it and you have to keep at it to stay in practice?”

Meh. Maybe?

It all kind of started as something to do when the lockdown started. It was a way to stay busy. Maybe I feel like if I can entertain people a little that I have an obligation to do so? Maybe I feel like people will like me more if I put on a good enough show? Sometimes I feel like playing music helps me keep my emotions in check, but why do I have to share it? Is there something cathartic about leaving something on the stage? I don’t feel like I’m one who requires a lot of attention from other people, but I do like knowing that some amount of people have enjoyed these videos. Anyway, I kind of hate to do two sad songs in a row, but this one is in the can from Sunday. There is a piece of phlegm in my lungs that is making it difficult to record a happier song today, plus I have to go in to work early (and I have not slept enough).

BS007: “Blank” The Smashing Pumpkins Cover

December 6, 2020: Friday I tried to exorcise my demons by playing happy music, getting things done around the house, and generally being productive and doing things I enjoy. And it worked. For a little while. As I practiced a few songs on Saturday I wasn’t sure what song(s) I would try to record today. Today ended up being a day for sad bastard songs.

This is one I learned several years ago. At the height of my open mic days in the early 2000s, Billy Corgan was still a popular local figure here in the greater Chicagoland area. Everyone once in a while some smartass would request a Pumpkins song due to the similarly in our haircuts. I always wanted that to happen so that I could start playing this song. It’s a B-side on the “Tonight, Tonight” single and only the most diehard Pumpkins fans are likely to know it. And that’s kind of why I don’t feel too badly about including a second Pumpkins song in this collection of recordings.

I tried something different with the mix this time around and included some of the audio that the camera picked up. It gives an interesting effect.

Apologies to Scott Lucas for wearing a Local H t-shirt while I cover The Smashing Pumpkins (I don’t believe he is a fan).

BS006: “My Arm” Original Song by John Everett Morton

December 4, 2020: It’s Friday morning and I am in a no good rotten mood. Most of it is stress. Stress at work. Stress with people. Stress about the future and the present. There hasn’t been a day in the last two weeks that I got through without my left eye twitching. There’s probably some amount of people that I could call/text/e-mail and whine to, but none of them have any more answers than I do.

So today I am attempting to practice something called Opposite Action. As I understand it, it means you engage in activities that are contrary to the feelings you’re having. So while my instinct today was to cover a dreary song by Car Seat Headrest, I’m instead playing this original tune that I was pretty excited to write this fall. This acoustic version is maybe less upbeat than the previous video version and it is also down a full step, but to me it is still a happy song even if it does express some amount longing.

After this I’m going to try to put on some happy music, clean the house a bit, and maybe this afternoon I’ll pay a man to install another shiny piece of metal in my face. No sad songs. No drugs or alcohol. No naps when I don’t really need a nap. Wish me luck.

*For the first time in these Bedroom Sessions I made an awkward edit in this song to improve the flow. You’ll see it if you look carefully.

Edit: You can also see the original version here.

BS005: “Boy’s Best Friend” White Stripes Cover

December 3, 2020: And I’m back with Episode 5. Of all the songs I’ve covered so far, this is maybe the one that deviates the least from the original. There’s no piano, I didn’t tune my guitar to open D, and I’m not using a slide, but maybe someday.

Also, I must confess that I used a heavier hand in making the mix to kind of help some of the dynamic shortcomings in the performance. This doesn’t help that my guitar doesn’t terribly like Drop D tuning, but The White Stripes were never about being perfectly in tune. This definitely falls under the wabi-sabi category.

There aren’t many words to this song and it’s not very long, but I love it so much that I was singing along to it as I was editing the video. It was inevitable that I was going to cover a White Stripes song, but I’m a little surprised it was this one. I’m also surprised how seldom it occurs to me to play it. I forget it is in the repertoire because I assume everyone wants to hear “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground” instead.

BS004: “Creep” Radiohead Cover

December 1, 2020: NSFW F-bomb version, with apologies to my grandmothers and my sister’s impressionable children.

I don’t mind being a weirdo, in fact, most days I’m kind of proud to be a weirdo. However, I don’t much care for feeling like a creep. Most of the time I know better and I know that the people who really know me also know better. And yet there have been a number of times this year where I have been made to feel like a creep. Much of it is the fault of my perspective. Is perspective the word? Or maybe letting others’ perspective reflect back at me? Continuing…

This 90s hit never got too stale for me and when I’m having one of those failure kind of days, it feels good to spend five minutes belting this out. The trick is to not spend too long dwelling on that feeling and move on.

This was recorded November 28, 2020 along with the first three songs of these sessions I have shared. I was going to save it for later, but I don’t have another ready and this takes the pressure off me this morning. Maybe this is as far as these sessions will go, but I hope not. The look is interesting to me.

Anyway, last night was one of those no good failure kind of nights that made me come home and wonder how I’ve let my life get this way. So here’s “Creep”. I’ll try and get my sulking done within the hour.

BS003: “Intro/Stop Sign”: Original Songs by John Everett Morton

November 30, 2020: “Intro/Stop Sign.” This pair of original songs is how I very often kickoff a setlist for a live gig. Although they were written months apart, they just seemed to go well together and “Intro” is short enough that it seems odd to shoehorn in between any other two songs. If I were recording an album, these would be the first two tracks. Am I recording an album? No. Not yet.

BS002: “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” Wilco Cover

November 29, 2020: Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” is the song I’ve covered for the second mic’ed up tune of the Bedroom Sessions. The studio version that leads off the 2002 album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, is so layered with instruments that it borders on cacophony. Beneath those layers are just three little chords. I’ve delighted in belting this out at a number of house parties and open mics. If I opt not to include it in a set, it is likely because I’ve chosen another wonderful Wilco tune.

BS001: “Thirty-Three” The Smashing Pumpkins Cover

November 28, 2020: The first of my mic’ed up Bedroom Sessions songs. A couple of my friends, and I’m sure some of you, are going through some hard times and this feels like a “hard times” song to me.

Notes on a couple of my favorite lyrics: “Deep in thought I forgive everyone” – I feel like that is important to remember whether you need to be forgiven or do some forgiving.

“And for a moment I lose myself wrapped up in the pleasures of the world.” – The moments are fleeting and who knows how many you’ll get, so enjoy them while you can.

I tweak the mix a bit, but there’s no pitch correction or anything like that. These Bedroom Sessions songs will be imperfect, but honest.

BS000: “Waltz #2 (XO)” Elliott Smith Cover

This video is more like “proof of concept”. Shown mostly for posterity, it’s the precursor to the Bedroom Sessions recordings. No audio mixing or video editing. Shot with my Moto G Stylus phone in my bedroom.

Edit: Not enough practicing beforehand, either.

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