Over the years, when you get a new tune going, you've got the chance to fine tune it over several live outings, or get it down in the studio as blueprint and go from there. A lot of times after playing something live (especially in a band setting), the song will start to reveal itself and maybe a new guitar part occurs to you, or a “concert ending” replaces a fadeout, etc. Other times, a song can get too overcooked and this usually happens in the studio when you've listened to a tune too many times.
“You Can't Win” off of the House of Rust is one of those times I should have been listening a little closer. The title came from a long lost book by a fella named Jack Black (not that one) that I highly recommend, if you can track it down, and the verses came together over a couple years, live versions, and band members. We cut the tune completely live in the studio at Sparta Sound with Rich Mattson in the fall of 2011 and it came out about two years later on a record I rather neglected at the time, but have come to love and have been revisiting a bit this fall/winter for its 10th anniversary.
Long story longer, among the lines in the song that I dig, is one in the first verse turnaround that goes “head is starting to spin, got a belly full of gin…” except that on the recording, I sing "head is starting to swirl"." With the ravages of time, I can't recall if I missed that, or just decided to keep it because the performance was good and since it was live, we couldn't punch a new vocal in. In any case, in recent years, when the tune gets played, it always stings a bit that I didn't fix it. But hey, songs are living things, and the record is just…there forever.
In the spring and summer of 2020 (remember that one?), I set out to post a tune a week from the Shed Bar in the backyard of our house in St. Paul on YouTube. The Shed Bar sessions were my contribution to that weird climate, as I kept the livestream thing to a minimum. That time wasn't great for just about everyone and I was nearing the end of a very prolonged battle with the bottle, so these videos aren't always my finest moments, but they are honest and the tunes therein stand up for themselves. Here's the performance of the song from 5/4/20. Please hit the ol' subscribe button on the channel if you like the tune, and I'll be looking to add more to the channel as I can.
There will be a “Setting the Record Straight” Vol. 2 post at some point soon…hopefully not many more than that.