Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm Back

Well, it's been a little over two years and I'm finally back into my 'musical Kate' shoes. I won't bore you with the details of where I've been. Suffice it to say, I had recurring back troubles that made it almost impossible to play guitar, so I watched a lot of TV instead. Anyway, I'm back. My back is back, and I'm eager to make up for the two years lost on my 'Mixed Tape' project. I've put the final edits in, and the final copy is being reviewed by the publisher right now. I am eager to spread this project to the world, and tell you the stories behind my own songs.

In honor of my comeback, I've decided to tell you some fun facts about one of the most popular 'comeback' themed songs out today - On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons.

1. This song was licensed for a soccer video game in 2013, one of the band's favorite games.

2. The PS22 Chorus sang this song at President Obama's 2nd inauguration.

3. At the end of 2013, this song peaked at position #26 on the US Billboard Hot Rock Songs Chart

So enjoy this great comeback song. I know I'll be humming it to myself as I put the finishing touches on my project!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Launch

I have finished my book and am working on the unique versions of the original songs to be included with it. I have started a Kickstarter page to try to raise money to print copies of the book and CD. I'm also hoping to spread the word by going on tour this summer. If you love music, partially fictionalized memoirs, original artists, and/or being part of making something small into something huge - please lend your support HERE or click the box above. I will be running a live chat above starting at 8pm on the night of the launch!

For the foreseeable future this blog will take a break from writing about the stories behind the music, and start keeping track of the story behind this project. Thank you in advance to all who choose to support me. I truly appreciate you helping to make my longest lasting dream come true.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Holiday Present

Several weeks ago I put out a Tweet encouraging artists to submit their own song with the story behind it. I received two responses that I wanted to share with you, my readers. My original intention was to put the story into my own words here for you, but then I thought, "who the hell am I?" and so instead, have just decided to post their own words and music here. So here they are, my holiday present for you, because what's better than new music?!

Angelo Melendez - What Isn't

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is a week of giving thanks and I have a lot to be thankful for. The list is so long in fact that I could take up a whole blog post with it, but that's not why you are here is it? As turkey day has come creeping upon me it's occurred to me that there really aren't a lot of Thanksgiving songs - except, of course, the Adam Sandler classic. Who doesn't love to eat turkey? Well, unless you're a vegetarian, but I digress. It's kind of pathetic actually given the overwhelming number of Christmas songs in comparison. Why no turkey caroling? Why no radio stations dedicated to thankful music? I say - LAME!

So I started thinking about songs that were about being thankful, or giving thanks or just had something to do with the word thank, and there are actually quite a few (still not enough for a dedicated Sirius channel though). I knew that I couldn't feature them all so I decided to pick the one I thought was the best - "Be Thankful" by Natalie Cole.

This is the perfect song for preparing stuffing, glazing the ham, or singing door to door if you want to pave the way for a new neighborhood tradition. It's simple, catchy, and will be stuck in your head long after the tryptophan has warn off. In addition to that, it has a powerful upbeat message that is sure to make even crabby Aunt Cathy smile. It was actually featured on Natalie's 1977 album - 'Thankful' so if you really wanted to get into the holiday spirit you could play the whole thing, although you would probably only recognize the song "Our Love" as it was the only hit on the album - reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

That's my pick - my turkey jam so to speak - message me on Twitter (@kateoquinn) to tell me yours!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two out of Three? Seriously?

It was 80's day at the hair stylist yesterday. There was plenty of crimped and feather hair, leg warmers, bangle bracelets, and I'm pretty sure I might've even seen a Member's Only jacket. In addition to the righteous duds, they also had some totally bodacious 80's music playing in the background. Halfway through my snipping, one of the worst songs of the 70's and into the 80's came onto the boombox - "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meatloaf.

This song was on the "Bat Out of Hell" album - sandwiched in between, "You Took the Words Right out of my Mouth" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". Now all three songs were written by Jim Steinman, which is interesting only in so far as how one person could write such dramatically different lyrics. 

Of course I, along with every other person alive in the 1980's, has heard this song and pondered to themselves - What kind of an a-hole could actually say that to a woman? - but it didn't occur to me until that moment in the cutting chair how terribly awful that song truly is. What's even more pathetic than the sentiment of the song, is the fact that I haven't been able to get it out of my brain for over 24 hours now. What a depressing earworm. 

So I started thinking that maybe the Loaf was refusing to leave my brain for a reason. The first thing I did was to add a new line to my book referencing the song. It actually hadn't dawned on me until yesterday that the lead character in my book, Jay, was essentially singing this song to me on repeat for almost a year before I realized the mute button was on and opened my ears. With that mission accomplished, the earworm still was burrowing its way into my consciousness. Hence, I'm giving the song its own blog post and hoping that that will be enough for the cheesy music Gods. 

The story behind this song? It was an attempt to write a 'simple' song. It was the last song written for 'Paradise' and in a conversation with a cast member of one of Steinman's musicals (he'd been writing them since school-age) he was asked why he had to write such complicated songs. The challenge became to write something simple. During the conversation, Elvis' "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" was on the radio. Can't you write something simple like that? - So he went home and came up with the chorus, "I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you". He called it his most simple song, and the epitome of cheese had ascended past the likes of "Billy Don't be a Hero," "Seasons in the Sun," and even the impossible to beat, "Disco Duck". 

The only question I can think to ask is which song do you think was the 2nd WORST song of the 1970's?

And one last note - I'd like to give a shout-out to Alex at Lens Crafters for making the proce pick out some awesome stage glasses yesterday. They are purple, sparkly, have a paisley design, and I can't wait to rock them on stage this Friday at the Music Buffet.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recording Session

I've successfully completed my first recording session. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it went really smoothly. We worked from 12-7 on Saturday. I had to control my giddiness at the sight of all the equipment. Once I put the headphones on and could hear my own voice I was in heaven. (I've always been obsessed with the sound of my own voice, which is not something that I'm ashamed of as I'm pretty convinced that all singers must have that same opinion - with the exception of Chad Kroeger from Nickelback because no one likes his voice). 

The concept was - LIVE. I played guitar and sang together. Guitar was picked up through an external mic and through the amp. Vocals were recorded in a different mic. We recorded almost every song in one take, except for 'What We Need' which was just as much of a pain in the ass as the guy it was written for. It's as complicated as I get for guitar parts and we did the songs in the order they appear in the book, so it was late in the day and my fingers were sore. We eventually had to record the guitar and vocals separately on that one because I was wincing in pain so much that it affected my singing. 

In a few weeks, I'll be able to listen and tweak as needed. I'll also be able to see if anything needs to be re-recorded.  As soon as things are polished I'll be offering a first listen to all of you. 

Thanks for all of your support and for reading my blog. I know that if music matters to you all as much as it does to me, that you find this place a comforting one. 

And one last note, I'll get back to writing about the stories behind the music now - at least for a little while - until the next milestone comes down the pipe, or is it pike? Damn - even Google doesn't seem to know - oh well!

P.S. Here are some pictures from recording day - notice the bitching guitars I got to play (not mine BTW - once I found out I had access to a Taylor and 2 Gibsons, my plastic-assed Ovation stayed in its case)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Music Behind Me

I've been stalled out lately. Not with everything, just with this blog. It's kind of hard to write about other people's music when you are obsessing about your own. My music has come out of hiding. I brushed off the tiny black spiral notebook that holds any song I've written of quality. The rest are on scraps of paper and Greyhound bus tickets inside of an old, faded, purple binder on the bottom shelf in my office. They are too embarrassed to be seen (they seemed like good ideas at the time).

So I've been wanting to write about the stories behind my own music, even though I'm sure these posts won't draw a crowd like talking about how 'Pretty Girl Rock' makes me want to stab myself in the eye, at least they are true to me and something that I feel needs to come out.

What caused the musician in me to come out of hibernation? A little divine intervention I think, if you really want to know the truth. My life, as of the past year, has been doing this weird circle thing that most lives seem to do (at least that's what the songs tell you - I hadn't had the experience myself until recently) **Total song side-track - "The Circle Game " by Joni Mitchell or "Wheel" by John Mayer - Discuss **


Back on track - I was dragged to Maine for the 8th grade, what seems like years ago, from Buffalo, NY. I was already a sullen teenager - this move did not help the process. I went to school in a tiny town and lived down a mile long dirt road on a horse farm. I came from a house that didn't have a front yard - what's grass? - I was in shock, in many ways. After a year in that tiny school, I moved on to high school at a slightly bigger, but still tiny by my experiences, school, in a different tiny town. After 4 years I graduated, went off to college, and tried to find out who the hell I was and why I was here. In those 4 years I started playing guitar seriously and had dreams of being a professional musician. I also fell in love, got trampled on, and repeated the cycle like it was laundry day.

Flash forward to 2 years ago. I'm living with my husband approximately 30 minutes from that tiny town that I always swore I would get as far away as possible from and I decide to write a book about that time in college when everything was ripe, in your face, and wrenching. I finish the book and a funny thing happens - I get a job as a teacher at that same tiny school - in the same tiny classroom.

In comes the janitor to clean my classroom and we start chatting. He plays guitar - small world, me too. He's from just outside of Buffalo - smaller world. He runs an open mic night every month - Do I want to come play? Funny you should ask...

And as it is in the circle, my time in the tiny town comes to an end just after a year and I move to another school in (you guessed it) the slightly bigger, but still tiny town - across the street from where I went to high school. There I get an email from someone else who works in our school district, who has heard about me through the man from Buffalo. He has a band that needs a singer. I am a singer that has always wanted to sing for a band. Through our chatting it comes up that I have lots of my own tunes, and even a book that I'm trying to shop. Turns out he doesn't just have a band, he has connections.

So here I am, exactly 2 weeks away from recording my own album of songs that will be a companion to the book I wrote. None of which could have been possible without many, many things happening in my life. So whether you believe, "we can't return, we can only look behind from where we came, and go round and round and round in the circle game," or "that's the way this wheel keeps working", that is the way it has worked for me.