We all have our foibles, our quirks, our guilty (and not-so-guilty but definitely odd) pleasures. Mine happen to include this: I am (as I have been since I was a teenager) in love with a voice. The voice in question belongs to Morten Harket, the lead singer for a-ha, a band that made it big pretty much everywhere else on Earth but the US (where they’re famous as a one-hit wonder). It is a simply amazing voice, so endlessly capable of variation that it leaves me a bit in awe. It is not a voice one hears on commercial radio in the US very often (unless one counts the continuing popularity of that one damn hit. :) ). The guy’s got a massive range, lungs like a Kentucky Derby winner, and the ability to do everything from hard growly low stuff to a soaring, liquid falsetto.
I am so blisteringly, disgustingly jealous I could just die. And I love it. I cannot apologize. If my love for that voice and its projects is wrong, I really don’t care to be right. I’ve wanted to cover a-ha or Morten’s solo stuff for a while, but I always thought it was entirely impossible. How could I even try?
Still, last December I finally found a song that I felt I could possibly handle: “Should the Rain Fall,” from Morten’s latest solo effort, Letters from Egypt. I had been singing a lot of loud stuff with the jam band and with a progressive rock bunch, and I just wanted to try something different with the ragged remains of my voice. The hardest part, as it turned out, was figuring out how to tab the thing — I couldn’t find anyone else’s guitar tab, and I have no keyboard skills to speak of, so there wasn’t any other way to make the music happen than to do some guessing. I scrounged around for sounds on my little acoustic tenor guitar, and finally figured out an interesting accommodation. It was the first time I’d ever really tried to do that — any other covers I’d tried up to that point relied on researching other people’s tabs or using sheet music. The results were…curious. On the best take, I messed up the words, and my voice was wasted, but still…I almost like it.
It’s not the best performance, but the song is interesting enough. It was, I think, a pretty good attempt for someone who’d never done anything of the kind before. It demonstrates several of my sins as a musician, of course — I need better breath control, my guitar technique is a bit shaky, and it probably would’ve been better in time if I’d used a metronome (I rush like I’m being chased by a bear). The recording is pretty raw — just me playing into my H2 and my Flip — and at the time I didn’t really know how to sync sound and video, so it’s really just the Flip sound, not well EQ’d. Just the same, I like the song, and it kind of works. It’s close to how I feel covers should be, sometimes — not an identical copy of the original, but a personal reading of the idea of the original, unique to the performer who takes it up.
It was a learning experience, anyway, which is why it gets to be Day 2 in the challenge!