RECORDING IN PROGRESS

THE ART AND THE PROCESS OF MAKING MUSIC

 

This summer I will release a new studio album and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it! There is a lot that goes into making an album and over the next few months I want to explain the process from my point of view. If you’re interested, check back here weekly as I describe each step from writing the first song all the way to printing CDs and uploading the album to iTunes and other digital outlets.

Within this blog, you will have EXCLUSIVE access to unfinished music and works in progress, and I would love for this to be an interactive experience for all of us. I invite you to comment on each of the sections, ask questions and such, so that we can all get the most out of this. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

STEP 1:

SONGWRITING

 

The process of writing songs is ongoing and never the same formula. Sometimes you hear a line in a conversation that sparks an idea, sometimes a melody craves an idea or a specific lyric and you go from there. I am my own worst critic so the lyrics of most of the songs I write will never make it off of the hard drive of my laptop but the few that do make it are tossed in the running for a spot on the album. I enjoy co-writing and I love that I get to write with some of my best friends in Nashville. It always amazes me to start off with a blank screen, two or three writers and a few guitars and at the end of the day a new song is born. And each song comes about because of feelings or moods in the room that day.

SONG:  “George Jonesin'”

 

“George Jonesin’” is a song I wrote with two of my favorite people in Nashville, Dan Wilson and Cassidy Lynn Alexander. Both are great writers and incredibly talented artists and I’m thrilled that I get to make music with them regularly. “George Jonesin’” came about because Cassidy showed up to our writing session with a George Jones t-shirt on. She threw out this potential title and Dan and I loved it… then we started strumming this swampy kind of groove that progressively got swampier — mostly because of Dan’s knuckles of steel that he was beating on the body of his guitar like it was a drum set. We all knew this tune was going to be cool as soon as we wrote the line, “She stopped loving me today and I’m heartbroken, George Jonesin’…”


STEP 2:

LISTENING

 

Nashville, Tennessee is a town full of incredible songwriters so it would be foolish not to tap into that resource. So, when creating a new album I always try to listen to at least hundreds if not thousands of songs that I did not write. It’s like George Strait singing “Amarillo by Morning” — he had nothing to do with the writing of that song but he knew it was a hit so he recorded it and it turned out to be one of his most iconic songs. Likewise, some of my favorite songs that I’ve recorded were written by someone other than me and in my opinion, those “outside songs” made the album that much better.

SONG:  “17 Miles Ago”

 

When I was 17 my Grandad took me to the Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a Don Williams concert, and to this day it’s still my favorite concert I’ve ever been to. Now, every time I hear “Lord I Hope This Day Is Good,” my mind takes me back to an afternoon of crappie fishing with Grandad on his pontoon boat. My song “17 Miles Ago” came about with that in mind. Fellow Okies Roger Springer and John Martin wrote this song with me and we started by reminiscing about our Oklahoma roots and discussing how our Dads and Granddads had lots to do with our love for country music. The more we wrote, the more sentimental and downright sappy we  got as we described different songs or melodies that could instantly take us back to a specific moment in time. So the bridge really wraps it up nicely — the lyrics are “Sometimes a melody can make a memory come back to life.”


STEP 3:

PRE-PRODUCTION

 

A producer has many roles, which may include gathering ideas for the album, selecting songs and/or session players (studio musicians), suggesting changes to the song arrangements, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and overseeing the entire studio process. So in the pre-production step, my producer and I narrow down the hundreds of potential album cuts to the number of songs we want on the album, then we determine the best keys for my voice and think through instrumentation that makes the most sense for each song. And finally, we arrange each song and select tempos that work the best.

Here’s a pic of the producer for this new album project, Trent Willmon… he’s an amazing artist in his own right, a fantastic songwriter and producer, and a great friend.

SONG:  “Better With My Baby”

 

“Better With My Baby” is another song I wrote with my good friends Dan Wilson and Cassidy Lynn. I showed up to the writing session that day and told them I wanted to write a good old fashioned, train beat, full blown two-steppin’ country song. So we started in with that feel and by the end of the day we ended up with this song and I knew from the first half hour of writing it that I wanted to add this one to the album!


STEP 4:

TRACKING

 

The recording process is exciting and fascinating. On the day of the sessions the band shows up to the studio and charts are distributed to each of the players. A chart is basically the sheet music for the songs on the session. In the control room, the producer, the band and I discuss ideas that might make each song sound better and once everyone has a good idea of the game plan each of the band members disperse and go into their own sound isolation booths. The engineer will then basically “press record” and the band kicks it off. At that point, I sing what is called a “scratch vocal” while the band is recording but that vocal recording will be erased and I’ll come back and sing the “keeper vocal” at a later date. After the first run through, the band will typically come back and “punch in.” Basically, that’s where the musicians can fix their rough spots if they made any mistakes.

Here’s us in the studio — that’s me standing in the vocal booth doorway, with Jack Clarke (engineer) and Trent Willmon (producer) on the board.

SONG:  “When The Cowboys Are Gone”

 

I wrote “When The Cowboys Are Gone” with Shane Minor and my producer Trent Willmon. Trent and Shane are both great writers and they’ve both seen their share of success as such. They’ve also spent a lot of time in the saddle and they know their way around a horse, so it was pretty natural to write a cowboy song with them. We were talking about the video of my song “Cowboy Ride,” (click HERE if you haven’t caught it yet) and reminiscing about different heroes of ours who have passed on… and as we were talking, one of us made the comment that they wouldn’t even want to be around if there weren’t any more cowboys. We all three looked at each other and said, “Now, that’s the song we need to write!”


STEP 5:

VOCALS

 

Once the band is all finished and the tracks are all there I’ll come in and put my vocal track on the songs. I normally plan to take about an hour to an hour and a half per song. That might sound like a lot for a 3 minute song but often times while singing in the studio, it is the first time I’ve ever heard this particular song with a full band… so I typically like to sing it through several times just to warm up to it, and see if I need to try anything new or different. Once the lead vocals are all finished it’s time to stack some background vocals (BGVs) on. Sometimes I sing my own BGVs and sometimes I bring in other singers depending on the texture and the feel of the song.

SONG:  “All That Cowboy Jazz”

 

“All That Cowboy Jazz” is a western swing song that is definitely a favorite on this album! I wrote it with Bill Whyte and Zach Runquist. Bill is a hall of fame radio DJ who’s a natural lyricist with a knack for clever, comedic rhymes with big punch lines and Zach just makes you crazy with the ability to play any instrument he puts his hands on, and play it with authority and precision. I hire Zach to play fiddle for me when he’s not on the road touring with Craig Morgan, Lee Ann Womack and other big names. We had a ball writing this song and later that summer when Zach and I were on the road together we sat down in a hotel room and recorded a rough work tape. I played that work tape so the studio band could learn the song the day of the recording session. Mind you, this band had some of the best players in Nashville who’ve played on loads of records. Lets face it, Luke Bryan & Jason Aldean aren’t cutting too many western swing songs, so the guys were thrilled when they got to dust off their swing chops and show off a little bit. I think they all would agree that it was their favorite song to record that day and they did a fantastic job.

I can’t wait for y’all to hear the studio version but here’s the work tape that Zach Runquist and I recorded that afternoon in the hotel room.


STEP 6:

MIXING

 

Once all the recording is finished it’s time to mix. Some say the mix is the most important part of the recording process. A mix engineer’s job is to set all the levels of each instrument at the perfect volume so one instrument is not too loud or too quiet. This can take hours per song. You want to be able to hear each instrument separately but also listen to the song as a whole and have every thing blend together as a cohesive piece. For example, if the lead vocal is too loud it will sound out of place and over powering but if it’s too soft in the mix you won’t be able to understand the lyrics.

Check out one of the new songs as it goes through all the stages, right up to mixing, in this video… and don’t forget to let me know what you think in the comments below!


Be sure to check back right here for the next installment soon!

And thanks, as always, for your continued support…
~ Paul

COMMENTS

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions right here!

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63 Comments

  1. Love to listen to your music. Can’t wait to hear the new album.

    So glad I got to see and chat with you in Grove OK

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Connie! I’m excited for you to hear the new album as well! Great to see you at the concert in Grove.

      Reply
    • Always love seeing what you do…and then hearing the song.

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      • Isn’t that cool! Thanks for the note! See you soon 🙂

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    • Sound great love you songs

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      • Thank you ma’am!

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  2. Loved it! Can’t wait to see you sing it in person!

    Reply
    • Thank you Kim! Exciting stuff happening! Thank you for the support!

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  3. Love this song.can’t wait for the new album.keep up the great music.

    Reply
    • Thank you my friend! Great to hear from you glad you like the new tune!

      Reply
  4. Great job Paul & friends. Love the song.
    I miss George, he was a great guy. You guys are great.

    Reply
    • Hey Julie! Thanks so much for your note. I’m excited to be recording a new album and can’t wait for you to hear it!

      Reply
  5. Wish you knew how to write fun songs…:}

    Reply
    • Ha! I aim to please! Thanks for the note my friend, hope you all are well!

      Reply
  6. Loving George Jonesin. Can’t wait to see you again. Can’t wait for new album.

    Reply
    • Thank you sir. I’m glad you like the tune. I’m looking forward to making the new album and can’t wait for you to hear it!

      Reply
      • Love the new music! Looking forward to hear more. Your style is definately a joy to listen to. Congratulations.

        Reply
  7. Like the song. I think it’s great to hear someone who still does COUNTRY MUSIC, not this stuff they are playing on the radio today.

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    • Thank you sir. I’m glad you like the tune and I appreciate your encouragement! Long live country music.

      Reply
  8. Wow! Can you ever ride a horse!!! Can’t wait to see you compete in the Celebrity Cutting during the NCHA Futurity on Dec 2nd in Will Rogers Coliseum and the follow up party. FANS COME ON OUT TO SEE PAUL RIDE A CHAMPIONSHIP CUTTING HORSE & PERFORM AT THE PARTY ALONG WITH OTHER CELEBRITIES.

    Reply
    • Thank you ma’am! And thank you so much for all your help! Looking forward to December 2!

      Reply
  9. Man this is an awesome song.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kent! Glad you like it.

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  10. Always look forward to your new music, Paul. We’ll be watching and listening for that next creative note. Good luck with the new album. There is some kind of sanity and magic we get from seeing that pen touch the paper!, and then add voice!

    Reply
    • Thank you ma’am! Exciting stuff going on right now. I can’t wait to get in the studio and record this new album and I’m excited for you to hear it!

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    • Like what your coming out with. Keep up the good thoughts.

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      • Love your doing this you are becoming quite a Country music man. Keep up good work.

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  11. Love the song Paul, you guys did a great job keeping the old country cowboy sound.
    God bless you and yours. Can’t wait to see you at the Dog Iron Saloon
    @ Will Rogers Casino in Claremore, Ok next time.

    Reply
    • Thank you ma’am! Glad you like the song! We will be back at the Dog Iron Saloon February 11.

      Reply
  12. Paul
    You have done it again! Love this song!!!

    Reply
  13. Cant wait to buy your new album I’m over here George Jonesin myself waiting on it. Love your music brother. Hopefully I will get to see you Cassidy and Dan again soon !!! Pure Country has returned to Music Road

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  14. Cant wait to buy your new album I’m over here George Jonesin myself waiting on it. Love your music brother. Hopefully I will get to see you Cassidy and Dan again soon !!! Pure Country has returned to Music Road

    Reply
    • Ha! Love it! Thanks a bunch Chris. I can’t wait to get in the studio and record it. It is definitely one of my favorite parts of the the process. The plan is for the album to be out by spring of 2017 but we’ll keep you posted.

      Reply
  15. Absolutely love your style! Your music, your sound is awesome! Thanks for keepin’ it true to the cowboy way/music. Great job Paul!❤❤

    Reply
    • Thank you Ms Hill!! I really appreciate you taking the time to send me this encouraging note! So glad you like my music! Merry Christmas.

      Reply
  16. Sounds good can’t wait to hear the whole album tell your sweet family home and have a Merry Christmas we love you guys

    Reply
    • Thank you Ms Johnson! Good to hear from you. I’ll pass the good word along. Merry Christmas.

      Reply
  17. Like the song. You have that good mellow voice that really fits the music you do.
    I know you listen to a lot of songs to make your albums. Do you ever take songs from some one that has not been published? If so, how would I get one to you? I do cowboy Christian music.

    Reply
    • Thank you Mr. Meyer. I appreciate your feedback. I do listen to lots of songs before recording an album and I have taken songs to listen to from unpublished writers. If you’d like to send an mp3 of a song that you think might fit, you are welcome to email it to mailto:info@paulbogart.com

      Reply
  18. Thanks for the music business insight Paul, this is an amazing idea to do as you make the new album, it’s another thing that separates you from other artists; “Believe ability”, and you have my friend!!

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    • Man, thanks Bill! You are an encouragement to me. To be honest I can’t take full credit for all the marketing ideas but I am thankful to be surrounded by a team of folks with great ideas and strategies and the ability to help me implement them. Thanks for the shout out!! Happy New Year!

      Reply
  19. The first album I heard was “The Ride”. My husband and I traveled from Ok. To Florida for Thanksgiving. It was a long ride but we enjoyed that album so much. We’re looking forward to this new one. Can’t wait!

    Reply
    • Hey Brenda, thank you for your note. “The Ride” was a fun project to record. I haven’t titled this new album yet but I think you’ll like it as much and hopefully more than “The Ride”. We are staying true to the country music that I love but but the music and writing has definitely evolved a bit over the last few years!

      Reply
  20. Love it!! These songs are so awesome(so are you)! You are doing a great job! I can’t wait to hear the finished album!!

    Reply
    • Sweet Tanya!! This was a fun surprise. Thank you for commenting on this and thank you for your constant encouragement. I’m literally typing this while watching you feed our baby boy and it’s a beautiful sight that I’ll always love. I’m so thankful for you. Love you.

      Reply
  21. great song

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Ed! I’m glad you think so!

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  22. My friend this is great as always… one thing is for sure, I hope I’m not around when all the cowboys are gone. Powerful and meaningful just like “Cowboy Way”. Hope you can make it to Dixie National

    Reply
    • Hey Mitchell! You and me both, I hope I’m long gone! I’m glad you like the tune, my friend – thank you. I won’t be at the Dixie Nationals this year ’cause I’ll be one the road with the band. Best of luck to you down there!

      Reply
  23. Love your music Paul! We wish you could come back to MN.! 17 Miles might be one of our favorites but we seem to have a number of your songs that are our favorites !

    Reply
    • I’d love to come back up to MN!! I don’t have anything on the books as of right now but I’ll see what I can do! So glad you are enjoying the tunes. Thank you for your encouragement!

      Reply
  24. Young man , you are Great !

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    • You are too kind Ms Patsy. Thank you so much!

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  25. Love the new music! 17 miles ago tugs at my heart strings. You are my FAVORITE cowboy…can’t pick just 1 favorite song though.

    Reply
    • Glad to know I’m still your favorite cowboy! I have a feeling I’ll be playing second fiddle before too long, what with Jett in the picture and all! 🙂 Thank you for keeping up with me on this recording blog. You’re the best. See you soon.

      Reply
  26. 17 miles ago makes the memories run through your mind. Great song!

    Reply
    • Thank you friend! Kind of a sentimental, contemplative kinda tune… Makes you think. Good to hear from you.

      Reply
  27. We love your music ,can’t wait to get your new album

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Belinda! Can’t wait for you to hear it!

      Reply
  28. Love “All that cowboy jazz” & “Better with my baby” reminds me of my favorite song “Barefoot Baby. See you soon Paul.

    Reply
    • Thanks a bunch Daniel!! Really glad you like them and I’m super excited for you to hear the whole project! I assure you, we’re hurrying to get everything finished up so we can release the album hopefully late this summer. Take care!

      Reply
  29. Be glad when the album comes out.

    I would like to know if Cowboy Ride is on an album or just a single.
    This is the first song I heard of yours and got me hooked.

    Reply
    • Hey Ed, I agree with you, I’ll be glad when the new music comes out too! Cowboy Ride is on my album called “Oklahoma Wind” and it is on iTunes but if you don’t do the whole streaming thing, you can order a CD on my website at http://paulbogart.com/shop. I’m so glad you like my music and thanks for the support!

      Reply

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