In February 1999, my world was about to change. My mother was sick and spending time in and out of the hospital, stricken with lymphoma and nearing what were her last days. I spent a few days feeling scared and lost. After all, I had just lost a man who I had considered a step-father for nearly 10 years only a few months before. The thought of losing my mother was devastating.
So, as a project to keep my mind off of what was going on, I decided to record an ambient experimental piece of music. I setup my computer to record and add a delay to whatever I decided to play on my guitar. I didn’t listen to what the computer was doing until after I had “performed” the piece. Once I finished, I let the computer continue “composing” the piece for another four minutes.
Once I had determined the tempo of the loop, I then pulled it into Mixman Studio to create the bass and beat parts. The last part added to the piece were the answering machine messages. I don’t remember why Jeremy left me that message, but it was hilarious! I added the second message about “not feeling so good” and then recorded the messages with a microphone.
I made this piece of music available on a website I hosted around the time called YL-Net. It has more recently been available on my MySpace page. This version sounds better and features updated artwork. I also changed my name on it to use my middle name instead of my last name. So, here it is…the first, but yet old, release by Neil Owen!
Just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2000, I called Corey Miller and Jon Lauman to see if they would be interested in recording a song as a Christmas present for friends and family. To my surprise, they were open to the idea, and we started work on “Let the River Roll On (Without Me)” as quickly as we could.
A few things needed worked out before the project could be finished. I didn’t own a quality acoustic guitar then, so I borrowed one from Chris Trueblood. We also didn’t have enough time to create cover art for the CD, so I contacted my sister, Sue, to see if I could use one of her paintings. With the borrowed guitar in hand, and photographs of a great painting taken, we then set about recording the track and mixing it.
Corey took the tasks of engineering, recording, mixing and burning the CDs. Jon and I worked on printing, cutting, folding and assembling the packaging. Finally, we all signed them. All in all, it was a great experience with only minor hiccups, and our friends and family really seemed to enjoy the music.
I’d like to do another one someday. Until that day comes, I hope you enjoy “Let the River Roll On (Without Me)” as much as I enjoyed making it with a couple of my best friends those many years ago!
About 14 years ago, I spent one evening making some strange music with some friends. Almost 12 years ago, Corey and I cleaned up the recording the best we could and made a few CDs to hand out to friends and family. Around the same time, I posted the album on MP3.com, a website quickly becoming the hotspot for independent artists at the time. It made a quick rise on the website’s charts, but disappeared when the site went down. Now, the album returns to the internet for your listening pleasure or suffering–depending on your point of view.
Pat Metheny is an amazing guitarist. He will sometimes play a strange, multi-necked guitar called a Pikasso guitar. It features 42 strings, and has a dream-like autoharp sound. I have enough of a challenge working with 6 strings, so I think I’ll pass on playing 42 strings, but I’ll certainly listen to the beautiful music they can make!