Reinterpretation: Making Old New

Back in 1992 I recorded a song called Goodbye Cassiopeia. It was released much later in 2007 on my Songs for the Sacred Age collection. The song is a very simple and straightforward tome about free-will, and I feel it’s a perfect message to include on my upcoming album (tentatively titled Reality Jockey).

I’ve recorded about 200 songs throughout my career (give or take) and this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to re-record one. My skills as producer and engineer (as well as my gear) have gotten exponentially better over the past 30 years. My first instinct was to try to simply recreate the original song note-for-note but with higher sound quality. There have been many instances in the past few years where artists (for licensing reasons) would recreate their old catalog, and in the case of the band Squeeze, in a note-for-note fashion.

While I think the message of Goodbye Cassiopeia is timeless, I feel the music I recorded for it in the early 90’s is less so. I’ve decided to completely reimagine the song for today, in a modern style with modern tools. As mentioned, I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s a welcome challenge. It requires trust in myself, but more importantly, and much more elusively, the ability to simply ‘play’.

When I sit down to write and record a new song (a process which happens concurrently) I generally pick sounds and instruments and then get down to making verses and choruses. Then I listen to the song hundreds of times, making adjustments until it’s perfect. With this new remake, I’m daring myself to let go and experiment. Try out a ton of different sounds for each part. Move the parts around. Find a new voice for the song in general. I have to ditch the pervasive ‘productivity’ mentality and just let myself swim around in the sounds for awhile, and have a good time doing it.

Most of the time, I am so concerned about getting a song finished, or ‘in the can’ as we say in the recording world. I can tell that remaking Goodbye Cassiopeia will require more of the ‘just play around’ approach. It’s the only way the new version of the song will reveal itself.

This topic reminds me of an older blog post I made about the 4 Roles of Creativity. In order to re-imagine Goodbye Cassiopeia, I need to spend more time on Step Two: The Artist. To play with sounds and arrangements for hours like a little kid might. It’s so hard for this adult to do, but this will be an excellent exercise.

I’m excited to hear what happens next.