I guess I better explain what a 1 take wonder is.
A 1 take wonder is an artist/musician who performs/records their part, (either it be a vocalist, guitarist, drummer, etc) in 1 take. I know, it doesn’t really sound practical or professional – but I am guilty as charged!
For as long as I can remember, I have been a 1 take wonder.
It wasn’t anything that I planned or even thought about, it just always turned out that way. Anytime I would record my vocals, the first take was always the best. Ironically it always wound up sounding the most authentic and emotion filled. Don’t get me wrong, I would always record a few takes. But inevitably, 9 out of 10 times, my 1st take would be used.
There is something ‘perfect’ about our imperfections.
Whenever I am listening to a song and hear little flaws in a vocal performance, I think to myself, “Ah that must have been a 1st take.” It makes me happy that there are artists out there who don’t design their brand around sounding flawless. I seem to gravitate more towards singers that sound raw and not so polished. But let’s not get it twisted – there is a difference between singing off key and out of tune. I’m talking about when a singer gets so emotional that their voice cracks or squeaks – and they decide to leave it in the song. That is a ‘perfect’ imperfection!
Things changed once I joined a band…
When Lee and I decided to form Spicy Folk and began creating music solely for licensing opportunities, those “perfect imperfections” became multiple takes. Believe me, I understand that most music supervisors have very high standards, but geez, this meant that I had to deliver a polished vocal every time. Ugh, so long 1 take wonder! Yeppers, those 1 takes became 2 or sometimes 3 takes. And even if the 1st take was the best, there was always something that needed to be redone. Whether it be a word, a sentence or a verse – if it had to be sang again, that is what I did.
Is there that much of a difference between the 1st take and the polished take?
This is a song we wrote called A Sailor’s Tragedy. The first time I recorded my vocal, it was around 95 degrees outside & I forgot to turn the AC off, and unfortunately my microphone picked it up in the background. Ohhh noooo, what a bummer! I absolutely loved the vocal, it was packed with emotion! You can hear the AC humming on my dry vocal track, but when mixed in, there was no trace. Listen below…
Lee did a great job with cancelling out the AC in the background. However, we both felt that if we were going to pitch this to a music supervisor, it had to be done better.
So I prepared to redo my vocals. By “prepared” I mean I literally closed my eyes for like 2 hours just listening to the instrumental over and over, trying to recapture that original feeling & get back into that headspace that I was in the first time I sang the song. I got through it, but I didn’t feel emotionally connected. I told Lee how I felt, and he actually agreed. There was something special about that 1st take. But, ya gotta do whatcha gotta do! Below is the final version…
All in all I was (and still am) very proud of how it turned out.
I’m very lucky to have a partner who has golden hands and ears . He mixes and masters all of our songs. And although he polished up all of my little quirky imperfections that I’ve grown to love so much – I know it was for the betterment of the song. (Shameless blog plug)
With all of that said, I still say nothing captures the feeling better than the 1st take. So let those imperfections shine!
So tell me, are you a 1take wonder? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.