Since I am about to embark on yet more high-powered recording sessions starting tomorrow, it brings to mind many things that have happened to me over the years in such situations. And I can tell you that many of these happenings were very uplifting, which is as it should be, while unfortunately, many were rather rough and disappointing as well!
The main thing to keep in mind with these “heavy” sessions is to remain calm and cool and to not let things bother you too much. Decisions can fly around all over the place, and can change as quickly as the wind! I can recall when I was recording with Paul Simon on his Capeman album about 12 years ago, he had me playing on everything, and was absolutely loving all my ideas. This was a great recording and creative environment to work in, since he gave the players such freedom to come up with the right parts. That’s always a [plus for me, because not being a reader, I always relished the kinds of session that allowed me this creative freedom. After all, why have me there, if not for MY sound and MY ideas. Otherwise, you just might as well hire just any old adequate guitar player who can simply read the parts, and do what he/she is told! Meanwhile, on this one song, “Trailways Bus”, Paul had me take a lovely and long acoustic “Tex Mex” kind of solo, which I thoroughly enjoyed. He also loved it too, and it was basically a one take solo. But sure enough, out of the blue, he decided to take my second half of the solo and wipe it out with a trumpet solo that came right out of my section. I didn’t realize how much this kind of hurt me, but I apparently started walking around the studio like I had lost my mind, and Paul said “now Arlen’s gonna get all upset about me taking away half of his beautiful solo!” Well, he was certainly right, but his apologies afterwards certainly eased the pain, and after all, it’s a Paul Simon record, and I’m still getting to play and solo on it, which is definitely a feather in any guitar player’s cap!
So you must learn to take the good with the bad when it comes to recording dates. I mean sometimes, I felt like I was treated like I was “just any ole guitarist” who was just there to be told what to do, which of course for me, was torture, because whatever I did, it was never right anyway! Also, there were other times where they felt so honored to have me there that it almost didn’t matter what I played, they would simply love it all! Most sessions fall somewhere in the middle however, and it is during the act of the recording itself, where you really get to shine, and to show just why you should be the one who has been chosen for this particular music. Show your versatility, your restraint, you good taste, and above all, always play for the song, and you should make out just fine!