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Saturday, January 16, 2016

I love it when a song comes together

The one thing I miss most about Psykosonik is the process of creating a song from scratch with the guys. Whether it turns out the way you first conceived it in your head or not, the process is always an interesting experience.
After Gene and I mixed and mastered the record, I listened back and knew we had something. I took a promo copy up to the Bronx and played it for my friends. But when the 45 ended, there was complete silence. Everyone looked at me, and someone said, “Dion, what did you do to it?” They were remembering that night at Ellen’s party and the spontaneity of what we had done.

I never thought I had screwed up the song, but I knew what they meant. I had had those feelings before—a record not quite capturing what I had intended. But with “Runaround Sue,” I knew I had nailed it, even though that didn’t come across for my Bronx friends.

After “Runaround Sue” came out in September ’61 and hit No. 1, I went to the old neighborhood for a party. My friends said, “You know, we couldn’t really hear how good the record was at first, but it sounds good now.” Ellen gave me a hug and said, “Wow, what a birthday gift to watch that song come together.” By then, the song’s attitude had grabbed everyone’s spirit. But you know, as great as that song sounds on the record, it was even better at Ellen’s party. Sad but true.
I get a little of the same buzz from designing games and software, but because the process is so much longer, it's nowhere nearly as emotionally satisfying. With the music, you can hear it decades later and still recapture a little bit of what it felt like at the time it was all coming together. It's really less about the destination than the journey.

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23 Comments:

Anonymous tdm January 16, 2016 8:37 AM  

I loved that song. I was 19 when it came out. I ended up up marrying a girl named Sue.

Blogger The Kurgan January 16, 2016 9:10 AM  

I ended up up marrying a girl named Sue

As a Johhny Cash fan I am triggered by your admission.

Anonymous Man in Black January 16, 2016 9:15 AM  

No man, that was a boy named Sue.

Blogger James Higham January 16, 2016 9:19 AM  

it's nowhere nearly as emotionally satisfying

Wot, you don't get that slow burn?

Anonymous Dave January 16, 2016 9:32 AM  

Okay but where was Blenderman and the SonoViz®?

Blogger Gordon January 16, 2016 9:47 AM  

Will Sue's dating habits, and Dion's apparent betaness, be discussed at Alpha Game?

Anonymous Steve January 16, 2016 9:50 AM  

Never been a techno fan, but Psykosonik are gloriously 90's in the best possible way.

Takes me back to happy times of snogging crop-topped cuties in nightclubs, marathon split screen GoldenEye sessions on the N64, and drinking beer while listening to Oasis in the sunsheeeiiine.

This morning I got up at 0500, then was brutally attacked by a vicious, bloodthirsty toddler in my own toilet because Daddy had the temerity to try and go for a quick poo while the little darling was hopefully preoccupied with The Avengers, his juice box, and a living room full of toy fire engines and razor-sharp foot-shredding lego bricks.

Bring back the 90's.

Anonymous Dave January 16, 2016 10:11 AM  

Buck up Steve, you're saving civilization now.

Anonymous RC January 16, 2016 10:14 AM  

I've always gotten tremendous satisfaction knowing that things I created, software mostly, were working long after I'd been done with them: running a paper plant in Wisconsin, selling movie tickets, managing a mobile network, etc. But nothing in software can resonate in one's mind like a song. I still stand amazed that I can hear a song for the first time in decades and remember the music with perfect clarity and often the words too. Music is powerful. We used silly songs to help our kids memorize Bible verses when they were little and they still stick. Though I have no complaints worth noting, I wish I'd had the gift of expression through music.

Blogger Were-Puppy January 16, 2016 10:34 AM  

Great post.

Music is interesting. Sometimes I would wake up with 2 or 3 song ideas in my head, and jump out of bed and crank up a guitar and record it.

Then later, get with the drummer and it becomes even better.

It's interesting, because if you have a gang that can improvise, there is no telling how good a song can become.

And there is something to hearing some songs you haven't heard in years. It's like they are fresh again.

Anonymous Steve January 16, 2016 11:33 AM  

Dave - Civilisation.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 16, 2016 11:39 AM  

Were-Puppy @10: "And there is something to hearing some songs you haven't heard in years. It's like they are fresh again."

Covers are often like that.

Anonymous IoshkaFutz January 16, 2016 1:21 PM  

Now people let me put you wise

Hold it... wait!

Sue goes out with other guys

There... that's the good part

Anonymous Desiderius January 16, 2016 2:21 PM  

"They were remembering that night at Ellen’s party and the spontaneity of what we had done."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergiu_Celibidache

Anonymous Wyrd January 16, 2016 2:40 PM  

In the early to mid 90s, I used Modedit to compose. Limited to four tracks, I usually divided two for drums and percussions, one for bass, and the last for guitar and synth. Totally brilliant for a virtual power-trio.

As Hannibal said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPQlXNH36mI

Blogger Thomas Davidsmeier January 16, 2016 3:13 PM  

The rest of my family are musicians, and I feel sadly left out. At least I can sing along with hymns, but it isn't the same when you are just the harmony.

One earthly activity we are guaranteed to be doing in Heaven is singing a new song to Our Lord. Might as well start practicing early.

Blogger RobertT January 16, 2016 3:36 PM  

This song aged well. A lot big hits from the 60's didn't travel well. Ditto Dion.

Blogger RobertT January 16, 2016 3:40 PM  

A flash in the pan is a flash in the pan, but the creative process can be agonizingly long. How many times have you edited what you wrote 57 time to find the absolutely best way to say it?

Anonymous Adam January 16, 2016 3:53 PM  

That's why I find writing so much more challenging than writing music. With music you have instant feedback from your bandmates, and you can hear if the thing is working or not. With writing prose all you have is the silence of your own doubts.

Blogger Tom K. January 16, 2016 7:25 PM  

We are going to live forever. So life has to be about the journey, not the dream. The process, not the product.

BUT without the dream, there's no journey worth taking. Without the product, the process is make-work.

Blogger Tom K. January 16, 2016 7:25 PM  

We are going to live forever. So life has to be about the journey, not the dream. The process, not the product.

BUT without the dream, there's no journey worth taking. Without the product, the process is make-work.

Blogger Ragin' Dave January 16, 2016 10:20 PM  

The best feeling I ever got aside from marrying my wife, was a bass player looking at me, saying "Dave, here's what I think it sounds like", playing a riff, and coming up with a drum beat to make it the heartbeat of the song.

Never made it big. Didn't care. We came up with something that nobody else had done. And that's all that matters.

Blogger wahsatchmo January 18, 2016 1:13 PM  

I agree with Steve, Psykosonik was too techno-y at the time for Wax Trax!, but it's actually aged well. I like it better now than I used to.

I always wanted to produce Skinny Puppy music that was dance-able, and there's nothing worse than when a pale imitation screams "The music is shit!" at you 15 years later when you find an old recording. I junked my 4-track once it started glitching, and I should probably have lit all my old recordings on fire.

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