I had a migraine headache for a week before my trip down to LA to record Sadie. I had never had a migraine, so before we left I went into the hospital for a CAT scan because I was worried there might be a problem with my brain. It came back clear, but the headache persisted. The morning that we left for LA my headache wasn’t as bad but I was starting to get a sore throat and a pretty harsh pain in my lower left abdomen. Turns out that’s where your spleen is. After talking to a few people about my symptoms it seemed pretty clear that I had mono but I didn’t have time to go back to the hospital to check. So we hopped in the car and headed down to Hollywood, hoping for the best.
Fast forward two days. It’s 5 am on Saturday morning. Day two of the three day recording session. I have been writhing in pain all night because of a terrible sore throat. My girlfriend had suggested that I go to the emergency room hours before, but there is a full day or recording ahead of us and the song I’m recording is nowhere near complete. I really don’t want to be stuck in the hospital wasting precious (and expensive) studio time. I finally concede as the sun is rising.
By the time we arrive at the hospital my pain is almost unbearable. Miraculously, we get through to see a doctor within an hour, and soon after he has pumped me with some pain medication that takes enough of the edge off that I can relax a little bit. I describe my symptoms and he thinks its either mono or strep throat. They test for strep first because it is the scarier of the two. The test comes back negative so they test for mono. These results come back positive. I am relieved and I finally sleep.
We get back to the apartment in Hollywood and I force myself to get a few more hours of sleep before I decide whether or not to go to the studio. We have one more day and could possibly finish the rest of the song all in that day. But I wake up around noon and with the good pain medication and some rest I feel like it’s worth a shot to try and get some work done.
While I am in the hospital and resting Phil heads to the studio to work on drum tracks and makes progress where he can. When I arrive, we discuss the game plan and decide that we need to add a bridge to the song and we get right to it. Brett messes around with some chords on the electric keyboard until we find a progression that feels good. Phil goes into the drum room and he and Brett lay down the chords and the drum section at the same time. They nail it on the third take and we keep it moving. Next, I sit with Phil as he comes up with a bass line. This takes about 30 minutes. Once it’s recorded the new part is feeling groovy, but it feels empty still. We brainstorm for a few minutes about what to try next and, to my dismay, it occurs to me that what it is missing is vocals. Not only is my throat ripped to shreds, but I rarely write lyrics on the spot. This process usually takes me weeks, but pressed for time, sleep deprived, and hopped up on pain pills and Dayquil I head to an empty room and begin to piece some phrases together.
After about 20 minutes the bridge is beginning to take shape – “floating or flying, is my bed on fire? Is my bed even a bed, am I dead or tired” – you can see where my state of mind was at this point. I think, “Ok, I’m definitely not going to finish this but I might get enough to put something rough in as a placeholder to build the rest of the arrangement around.” Minutes later something clicks and suddenly there is some life where there were just some rhyming phrases before. I resolve to finish the verse and track it all before our session that day is done.
Not 30 minutes later I’m in the vocal booth, phone in hand with my “notes” app open, spitting straight fire. Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that 😉 … but I got a performance I liked on my second take, got everyone else’s approval and called it a day.