||So, in those next few hours, we had made a dramatic change in the track. At one point Stevie wanted to do something, too, and, of course, what she did best was sing. We played around with some ideas, and, eventually, Stevie and Lindsey were sitting on two high stools out in the studio, each of them in front of a microphone, working on background parts, singing, “You make lovin’ fun, you make lovin’ fun . . .” When I stopped the tape to rewind it, Stevie suddenly looked at Lindsey and cried out, “Fuck you, asshole! You can go to hell!”|
Lindsey responded with a tirade of his own. “When we get back to L.A., I’m moving out.”
“I don’t want to live with you, either!” They went back and forth, screaming and yelling at each other.
I couldn’t rewind the tape fast enough. When I got to the beginning of the tape, I hit RECORD. Stevie and Lindsey looked at each other. Then they turned toward their microphones and, right on cue, right in the middle of a fight, they nailed their parts!
You Make Loving Fun
fun what just happened? I was flabbergasted.
* * * * * * * *
On Monday, November 8, we loaded up “Gold Dust Woman.” We hadn’t done much work on this song since September. We listened to it from the top.
The end always surprised and amazed me. It had this whole vamp rock tag like “The Chain,” all seemingly moving around that great John McVie bass line. How did he do that? It sounded as if he was playing fretless again. He slid up the bass, then he ran down. Check it out at 3:21 in the song. I think this may be one of John’s finest bass parts on Rumours. I really like his chorus slide, too. And how about Mick’s toms—especially in the tag? Those toms were all played on the basic track. With his great instincts, we didn’t need to overdub them later.
The vibe of “Gold Dust Woman” was always spooky, even on day one. After we tracked it, Stevie went out and sang about five takes of ghostlike “oohs” and “aahs,” with a few screams thrown in for good measure. We used some of those in the Gold Dust Woman, we played the track a few more times. Then we decided to see how far we could take it to the dark side. We called the rental company to see what fun stuff they had for us. They told us that they had just received an electric harpsichord, and, if we wanted wild, they would send over their Jet phaser, which would wash all of the sounds around.
In about an hour, we had our electric harpsichord and phaser thingy. The harpsichord sounds similar to a piano, but instead of felt hammers hitting the strings, the harpsichord uses plastic arms to pluck the steel strings, making it sound like a tack piano, only richer and fuller. Furthermore, the harpsichord was electric so it could be amplified. When you do this, it begins to sound very bright and edgy. When we ran the song through the phaser, it added an effect like a giant wah-wah pedal, but with many random and constantly changing sounds. If my description isn’t clear or makes you curious, then you can hear exactly what it sounds like from the start of the song. “
Listen for it's effects
", at 0:09, 0:25 seconds and again at 0:28 seconds. You’ll hear exactly what the mighty phaser does.
* * * * * * * *
On “Don’t Stop,” I could really see that everyone in the band was starting to collaborate and work together. They were always democratic when it came to expressing different ideas, but everyone had an unswerving faith in Lindsey’s visionary ideas and production sense. Lindsey, in turn, knew that he could push the other members of the band to give their best—not just Stevie, but also Christine. After six years of being in a blues band, Christine felt liberated by the band’s shift to a more pop sound. That better suited her songwriting style.
Drums, bass, electric guitar, and electric piano were the setup of the original tracking session, so that Christine could sing and play her electric piano. Later, she and Lindsey would re-sing the song as a
and Christine would replace the electric piano with an upright
Christine was really excited about this song. We got the master on take 25.
* * * * * * * *
On the ride in that morning, Lindsey had told Richard that for Go Your Own Way, he heard an unusual, tribal-sounding drumbeat that would have Mick’s tom-toms playing a powerful rhythm, something like the drums in the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” Lindsey started playing the guitar and singing the drum part he envisioned Mick playing, “Bam, ba, bam, bam, bam, ba, bam.” In his head, Lindsey heard a thundering, offbeat rhythm for Mick to play on his toms. Mick wasn’t sure what Lindsey was looking for exactly, but he knew he didn’t have it yet.
Richard and I went back into the control room to work on sounds, while the band worked the kinks out of the song’s arrangement. Lindsey started playing the song again from the top, and Mick was slowly getting it, but it was very rough. Then John came to the rescue
with his bass
, and I could hear that they were onto something.
“Chorus!” Lindsey shouted, and Christine brought in the organ at the top of the chorus. Stevie shook the tambourine loudly, and Mick, as if by instinct, played the chorus this time in straight 4/4, making for a dramatic change of feeling. “You can go your own way, go your own wa-aay!” Lindsey sang with a huge smile on his face.
Just then I noticed Stevie. She was playing her tambourine, but she didn’t look like she was having much fun.
John, out of nowhere, came up with another of his classic hook lines and played it through the chorus.
“Verse!” Lindsey yelled, and Mick fell back into his
thundering tom beat. Now it was starting to come together.
* * * * * * * *
Back in the studio later that morning, Lindsey still wasn’t happy with his acoustic guitar part on “Go Your Own Way,” and I had to agree with him. From the start, the acoustic sound never seemed to fit this hard-rocking song. But Lindsey was the best. He could really play the guitar.
We mic’d up his Martin and went out to the studio. He put on his headphones and experimented with playing the acoustic while using different timings. Then, on one of the takes, he played this really unusual guitar part with accented timing.
“Hey, what did you just play?” I asked him.
“That was really cool!” Richard added.
Lindsey knew it, too. “Yeah! Roll tape. Roll the tape!” We did, and he got that part in only two passes. Check it out; this
unique strumming starts playing at 0:03 into the song.
Lindsey was so happy after he played it that he grabbed Richard and me and hugged us together. Better than being choked, I thought.
He asked us to play part of his
guitar solo before we left.
* * * * * * * *
original version of Songbird still resonating in my ears I headed for our first live Rumours recording
I had made special arrangements at the Zellerbach Auditorium for March 3, 1976. I wanted the orchestral shell placed onstage to project the sound of the nine-foot Steinway out into the empty hall. I had also rented eight $3,000 classic tube microphones and placed them throughout the auditorium to pick up the lovely nuances of the piano. Then, as a surprise for Christine, I had requested that a bouquet of roses be placed on her piano with three colored spotlights to illuminate them from above. I really wanted to set the mood!
At least four 250-foot cables were rolled out and into the hall. One was a 220-volt cable to power the truck; two other cables (called snakes) carried the twenty-four individual mic cables inside; the last snake also handled audio and video communications so that we could see and talk to the stage.
When Christine arrived, we dimmed the house lights so that all she could see were the flowers and the piano with the spotlight shining down from the heavens. She nearly broke into tears. Then she started to play.
In the truck, I listened to every pair of mics to see what I liked and what I thought needed to be changed. The piano sounded fantastic. I listened to the
mics closest to the piano and also those
ambient mics further away. We soon realized that Christine needed to play a consistent tempo, so we asked her to play to a click in her headphones the way Mick did. She tried it and hated the click popping in her ears.
“Ken, I can’t play my lovely song with this bloody fucking clicking blasting my ears!” she said, irritated.
“Okay, I completely understand. How about if someone else listens to the click and plays an instrument in your headphones?” I asked through my talkback.
“Who would that be?” she asked.
“Well,” I paused. “I could give Mick the click in his headphones, and he could play his snare drum in a room somewhere, quietly using brushes instead of drumsticks. You could play your piano listening to Mick’s snare in your phones.”
“Or . . . it could be Lindsey on his acoustic guitar,” Richard added, finishing my thought.
Lindsey agreed, and we put him on the other side of the orchestral shell so that his guitar wouldn’t be picked up in the room mics. We fed the click to Lindsey, and he counted off the intro.
Christine and Lindsey started playing Songbird together.
* * * * * * * *
For the next few hours that day, we layered and massaged “Strummer.” I can’t stress enough how much different “Strummer” sounded at this point than it did from the final mix of “Second Hand News.” In the final version, the snare was really bright and ringing. In the original, John had played a completely different walking bass part, and Christine had played some sort of busy Celtic organ part. For starters that day, Lindsey played a new, more sparse bass part because he thought the original one was all wrong for where he felt the song should go.
Next, he started experimenting with dry, stiff, aggressive
strumming parts to fit into the hole that he had just opened. Finally, we added an acoustic guitar that can be heard at 0:06, 0:09, 0:21, and 0:25 in the song. Lindsey’s new acoustic strumming part completely beefed up the rhythm running through the song. Then he had another idea.
“Second Hand News” had quite a few interesting textures in it. One thing a lot of people remarked on was that the snare sound was very thin and ringy—not exactly what was considered state of the art at that time. The song had kind of a retro sound, but that was cool. Another great thing about this song was that it had a percussive roll that was created by hitting the seat of a
Naugahyde chair that we found in the studio.
Found sounds had always interested Lindsey. He loved it when you found something that didn’t sound like music, but you could incorporate it into a recording and make something unique and interesting of it.
* * * * * * * *
We eventually added twenty parts to “Oh, Daddy,” including additional vocals. It was during one of those early overdub sessions that I loaded up the big twenty-four-track tapes and started to rewind them to the head leader. Earlier, the maintenance engineer was setting up the tape player, and he had left a scope on the tape machine right where the reels went. So, before I loaded the tape, I moved the scope up on the meter bridge above the reels, out of the way.
As the big tapes were rewinding—really cranking—the scope vibrated off the machine and—luckily—fell backward away from the tape. As it fell, though, it landed on the power cord and pulled it out of the wall, sending the machine into a free spin, which snapped the tape in half before I could save it.
“Shit!” I turned around quickly and saw the stunned looks on the faces of the band, as if I had just mangled their baby.
It was destroyed. There was nothing I could do. I cut out the bad tape and spliced the good tape back together. I rewound it a bit, pressed PLAY, and hoped for the best. The tape had almost made it to the beginning of “Oh, Daddy” when it broke, so I thought we might get lucky. The organ started to play, and then, abruptly, we heard Christine’s voice sing “—addyyyy.” We had lost the “Oh, D———.” Fortunately, when we heard her sing, “-addy,” so adamantly, we all laughed. Even Christine.
“Make a note. We’ll have to fix that,” I joked, nervously. We didn’t fix it for about a month. We got so used to it starting that way that we nicknamed the song