Watching Those West Coast Apples Grow

April by

April 2, 2011

Here’s something I want to share with you, a song and the process by which it came to be that reflect far more accurately the capacity of Canadians to combine talents effectively than our election campaigns ever do. It’s a song come into being via coalition, you might say, starting for our purposes with Stan Rogers and his east-coast of Canada version of Watching the Apples Grow.

Katie Angermeyer, fiddle player, advocate of old-time country music and music teacher, got hold of it and adapted some of the lyrics to our neck of the woods. She felt it wasn’t quite where it needed to be so she and I, along with fellow guitarist Rick Kobus, sat down at my place and came up with something like the version you can hear here, so to speak. (Seriously….if you feel moved to express delight, upon hearing it, please do.) It’s since been honed a bit, lyrically, but not a whole lot. Arrangement-wise it has gone through a few changes as we’ve tried to structure it to accommodate the participation of the old-time-country group. It may go through more yet.

Whether Stan created the tune or adapted his lyrics to an existing folk melody I can’t say. I e-mailed the agents for his music regarding that question and the issue of copyright (he himself having departed this world) and got no response.

I recently got into the studio with recording genius (and fellow coalitionist on this song) Bill Buckingham and incorporated the song into a session in which we (this is impressive) laid down guitar and vocal bed-tracks for 13 songs in about five hours, all of which I hope to eventually feature on this site as Bill is able to shake loose time to work on them with me.

I really enjoyed that day of recording and for me that comes through on this song, both in the guitar part(which got a little carried away with itself at one point, but I think for the better) and the vocal.  Over this last weekend, to give the group something to work with Bill managed to put a little time in to create the bass part, do some structural editing and e-mail me the version below.

You may wonder where the instrumental energy went when we exit the second chorus, but that is because we wanted to leave plenty of headroom for the group’s other instruments to jump in at that spot, in case Katie wants to use it as a basis for practicing the song. We may throw the Mp3 version into a sound-editing program, copy the verse form and insert it so as to double the length of that passage.

I want to take the level of the bass down at the same time. To my ear it is a little strong. In fact if you have the ability on your player or your tuner I’d suggest you try turning down the bass and maybe adding a little treble.

There’s a couple of small vocal glitches we can fix when I get back into the studio with Bill. You might notice that there is no ‘s’ on ‘tugboat’ in the line that goes ‘while the tugboats tow the timber to the river’, for instance. I don’t know whether running a de-esser on the vocal took it or not but it needs to be plural to reflect the reality….that of an ongoing sequence of boats towing log booms through Welcome Pass. On the odd occasion I’ve seen two come through abreast.


[audio:|titles=Watching the Apples Grow]



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