Sunday, September 16, 2007
Pretty Pink Rose (instrumental remix)
pretty pink rose (instrumental remix)
volume 3 number 23
david's idea of doing one of his new songs as a "duet"
was of course a very exciting prospect.
he had made a demo version of the song in L.A.
with the back-up band of another famous singer,
and that's as much as I can say.
david 's office sent a cassette of the demo.
excitedly I opened it and played it.
"oh gawd", it was awful!
imagine how I felt.
here I was on the verge of touring for a year with david bowie and thinking we might produce a duet of perhaps a "hit" song of david's only to be confronted with something which sounded lifeless, limp, and plodding. I didn't know quite what to do. but as I listened to the version again and again I realized underneath what was clearly a poor recording effort there was indeed another classic bowie song. soon I couldn't stop singing it. what a great chorus.
the problem was of course in the rendering. first, the rhythm was all wrong. it perplexed me for a while until I remembered something from the very early beatles records. often the rhythm paul and ringo would create sounded as though one of them was playing straight 4/4 while the other was playing closer to a shuffle feel. this gives the rhythm a unique "pulling" sensation that seems almost like half-time but isn't. using my old 1955 Ludwig drum kit and the growling sampled bass sound, this is the way I approached the tempo and feel of my version.
second, I felt it needed an intro of some kind so I concocted a way of playing the chorus melody and then bursting forth into the "rock" song.
there was one part of the demo I adored. it was a line being played under the chorus vocal. on the demo it was a keyboard sound, but I preferred the sound of a double-tracked guitar.
the way the melody sat through the verses allowed for a "call and answer" approach which I rarely get to utilize. the singer sings, the guitar answers; the singer sings again and the guitar answers. this has been the bread and butter of blues guitar players forever, but it's often applied in rock songs as well. (think led zeppelin or early jeff beck/rod stewart)
it takes a certain kind of guitar style to make that work. something melodic yet at times flashy. fortunately, I found a new "trick" while working on pretty pink rose. I was using stratocasters equipped with Kahler tremelos at the time (pictured below). I discovered you could adjust the tip of the Kahler tremelo arm downward facing the strings and then play the strings using the tip itself. like "tapping" only using the tip of the tremelo arm instead of your right hand fingers. it was the perfect bit of "flash" I was looking for. and it just happened! I had never seen it done before (or since).
the final step was to present my version to david and hope he liked it, which he did, and then to add our memorable vocal session. later that year while on tour it was decided we should do a video which was filmed in one day in an abandoned railway station in Germany. somehow fitting.
the version presented here is the instrumental remix which allows a more clear listening to the track beneath the vocals. it begins with another atypical humorous ad-lib by Mr. B. that's as they say, priceless.
voice: david bowie
bass, drums, guitars: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis. on November 11, 1989
david's voice was recorded at Right Track Recording
in New York City, NY. on January 15, 1990