Returning to the first draft

From a recent NYT profile of Clint Eastwood:

Some directors are known as an actor’s best friend. Mr. Eastwood may be the writer’s. “He didn’t change a word,” Mr. Schenk said. “That never happens.”

Mr. Eastwood said he learned his lesson after making extensive revisions on the script for “Unforgiven,” then calling up the writer, David Peoples, and announcing he was returning to the first draft. “I’m emasculating this thing,” he told Mr. Peoples.

I enjoy listening to demos of successful/good gospel songs when I can, and there are a handful of cases in which I hear the demo, compare it to the recorded cut and think some version of this very thought: shoulda returned to the first draft.

Update: Reader j-mo asks for an example. Good question! One answer: “Yesterday’s Bread.” It’s one of those demos that uses better and more famous singers (in this case the omnitalented Terry Franklin, holding down three different parts) than the recorded cut (Karen Harding). Harding’s rendition wasn’t bad but hearing Franklin’s version, you realize how much more the song can be when it’s conceived of and arranged as a southern gospel song - which is to say, built around close harmonies - than as a vehicle for a gospel soloist.

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Comments

  1. j-mo wrote:

    What are some specific songs you have felt this way about?

  2. Pedantic wrote:

    I know family harmonies are supposed to be especially tight, but I guess singing 3 parts yourself would also guarantee some pretty good harmonies as well.

  3. cdguy wrote:

    Pedanti — #2 — There was a discussion monts ago on this site about family harmonies, and someone mentioned that it may not be so much genetics, as learning to sing together from birth (well, maybe not birth, but at a very young age). If 3 or 4 people have been harmonizing together for 10 or 20 or 30 years, chances are they’ve learned to match vibrato, and second guess what the other’s going to do next.

    My older brother was my accompanist for about 15 years, so he knew what I wanted, often without me having to tell him. We developed hand signals, too. I’m sure it had nothing to do with genetics, and everything to do with familiarity.

    Of course, there were some jestures I wouldn’t give him in church, but that’s a different story.

  4. Kyle wrote:

    I much prefer the original demo of “Gospel Road” to the Kingsmen’s version on their latest CD….

  5. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Lari Goss included a quartet version of “Yesterday’s Bread” in one of his choral collections, _The Cross Said It All_. It was better than Harding’s version as well.

    http://www.wordmusic.com/products/book.cfm?upc=080689379178

    or

    http://www.wordmusic.com/products/book.cfm?upc=080689031274

  6. quartet-man wrote:

    Okay, I have to ask. Where did you hear Terry Franklin’s demo? Was it on a accompaniment track, choral collection, various artist’s compilation, one of his CD’s or what? I know spmetimes Daywind has used Demos for acc. tracks on various artist compilations and they use artists like Michael English. Otherwise I’m not sure I have heard of songwriter’s demos seeing the light of day for the average person to hear.

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    Pardon my typing. Of course I meant “an accompaniment” and “sometimes.”

  8. AnnD wrote:

    I agree with #3 cdguy….it’s not so much genetics as familiarity. We often heard (The Downings) from folks that it seemed we could almost read each other’s mind when on stage….that included listening to each other and concentrating on matching the others’ tone, breathing together, etc. I can’t say it was something that was “thought out” as much as it was just caring about each other and being aware of those other people singing with you….tuned in. ad

  9. Gear Hound wrote:

    I believe Terry Franklin has done many of the Daywind accompaniment tracks, often doing all the parts. Producer Gary Prim can confirm this. But I know he also does songwriter/publisher demos too.

  10. mark forester wrote:

    Terry sings on a lot of the demos for the songs Jim Brady writes. I have demos of Terry and Jim doing Truth Is Marching On, Promise Made, Testify and a bunch more of the songs Jim has written. Terry rocks.

    I have a demo of a song that Jim wrote and Terry sang called He Remembers To Forget. It is a killer song. It is getting picked up by a major artist soon. Killer Song.

  11. Cliff Cerce wrote:

    I wrote the cover story on The Booth Brothers in the January issue of Christian Voice Magazine, which just came out this week.

    I agree with what Ann D said in #8.

    When I interviewed Jim Brady for the article, he said the following (which I quoted in the article):

    “If Ronnie’s singing with a particular type of vibrato, I try to match that vibrato. If he’s singing a certain vowel, I try to match that vowel. Because Ronnie and Michael are brothers, their voices are similar and they speak their words in a similar way. So, I try to match their vowels and the way they speak and sing, and I think it helps us make a tighter blend.”

    They work “smart”, just as The Downings, Couriers, and other such groups did in times past.

    I love it when an artist realizes he must work on his craft to perfect it - and then actually does hone it to as near-perfection as possible.

    Groups that have reached the top did not get there by accident. Hats off to The Booth Brothers and the other afore-mentioned groups - nd others - who worked hard to rise above mediocrity.

  12. Dianne Wilkinson wrote:

    Merry Christmas, all! This seems a fitting time to discuss the incomparable Terry Franklin, as he is surely a great gift in my life. I am privileged indeed…he does the vocals on all the songs I write and most of my co-writes. I have artist friends who keep the demos from the pitches long after the songs are cut…keep them in the car, and keep listening to them - just to hear Terry sing them, and Tim Parton (another amazing talent) play them. Only the Lord will be able to measure the impact the gifts these two dear men have had on my writing ministry over the years. I am their biggest fan, and welcome one more chance to tell them so. Terry and Tim…”Dynamic Duo”…you are the BEST!!! Love to all…Dianne. P.S. Some of their demos of my songs which were recorded JUST like the demos include “What We Needed”, “Strike Up the Band”, “He Said”, “That Little Baby”, and “He Already Sees”.

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