I woke up and smelled Bacon on the wind. Long pork. Sus scrofa musicalis.
Hunched at my desk as the late afternoon sun was slanting through the back windows, a medium-small fellow happened into my office-cave. He was just below average height, fit and had a youthful glint in his eyes. I put my work away and smiled at him, raising my eyebrows to signal my readiness for talk.
He had laugh lines at the corners of his eyes and hair that seemed to have too much grey for his age. I had met him on the day I had interviewed for the job and over a mediocre turkey wrap we had shared our love of writing and playing music. His name was was Greg Bacon.
“I wanted to ask you a question,” he said, politely standing outside the door without actually coming in.
I waited, eyebrows aloft and quivering like two caterpillars squaring off for a duel. He took a step inside.
“You had said you did a lot of your music on the computer…I was wondering what you used.” He seemed uncertain, but it was obvious he had something in mind.
I told him of my rig and “modest” home studio and we chatted about the minutia of recording at home. He expressed his desire to do “some simple recording” and that he just wanted to “maybe record a tune or something.” He had done it before numerous times, renting studio time or working with friends.
Did I smell something on the wind? A faint porcine breeze?
“Oh really? What have you been looking at?” I said, and a plan germinated within my balding pate.
I should explain, once I was Greg Bacon of sorts. I had been wooed by the lure of music technology and found in myself a lust for the microprocessor. I had spent, and bought, and spent some more, never having enough gear, never having enough software. Always looking to the horizon, gathering, packing in more audio cruft like some insane pika storing grass for winter. I barely made music any more. I just acquired tools. And tragically with those tools came the intense need to infect others…a curse I had lived with for what seems like aeons.
Remember when Dylan went electric? That was my doing. Mid-80’s synth-centric Rush? I was whispering in Geddy Lee’s ear. Van Halen’s 5150? It was yours truly who persuaded that dumb Dutchman to all but drop the guitar that made him famous…oh those were good days! Hairspray and Cocaine and MIDI, oh my!
And here was my next victim, practically asking me to walk him to the digital crossroads for a meeting with Old Scratch.
So it started simply enough. My gear is my curse, but also my barb and the first tastes have always been free.
“I can certainly let you borrow a digital interface for your laptop.” I crooned. “Do you have any mics? You’ll probably need a preamp. No please, borrow mine.”
And so it went, Greg taking the instruments of his doom from my hands and thanking me for them. As I slept during those early days I had dreams of his eventual downfall, reduced to a frozen collector of digital tin-toys. What music could possibly be grown within the black loam that would result from his virtue’s decay?
I watched and waited, providing bile for his newly acquired digital bowel in the form of articles, magazines, internet tips and website. It was just the recipe for musical constipation! Until…
He posted a song. I was unpleased, but didn’t expect too much more.
Then another, and another.
This had to stop! I was frenzied inside as I calmly instructed Greg on mixing, getting a soundstage that he liked, processing, notching, multiband compression. I gave him instructional manuals. I showed him local classes he could take on recording. We talked about monitors and headphones, room treatments and acoustic foam tiling, but he..kept…on…making…music!
Again, he posted a song. Weeks passed and more songs came out, then a flash-player for his website. What’s this?!? Bacon RADIO? Then a sad or maybe wonderful thing happened:
I listened to his music, and I cried. It was so beautiful, like birdsong.
It was at that point that I gave up. I couldn’t hold him down under layers of technology. I didn’t poison his muse, nor even make her belch. He grew. He amplified. He transcended the trappings, my trappings, my trap.
But there’s more to the story.
Last week I wrote a song. My first completed in a while.
And I played it for my family.
And I cried, happily.
Keep the gear. My gift to you. I don’t need it any more.
Thank you Greg.