Xerox Missive

by Minor Stars

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Xerox Missive: Underdogs Going Over the Top

Back in 2004 or 2005, WXYC asked My Dear Ella to contribute a track for a local compilation they were putting together. Around that time we had been writing one of our most adventurous songs to date, the seven-and-a-half-minute epic Xerox Missive, and the compilation was just the reason and deadline we needed to get it recorded.

At that point I was doing all of my own recordings at home on a Fostex R8 reel-to-reel 8-track, but the sheer number of tracks we needed to realize this song called for some creative manipulation. Bouncing tracks several times to other tracks on one reel can lead to a lot of sonic degradation, so we recorded the eight basic tracks (kick, snare, two overheads, bass (mic & di), and two rhythm guitars) onto one reel of tape, mixed that down to DAT, and then dumped the stereo mix back to a fresh reel of tape, leaving six open tracks on which to finish the song. Not the craziest thing ever done in an analog studio by any stretch, but it was the first time I had used that technique. Of course we were then committed to those rhythm tracks once we began overdubbing the two tracks of vocals, additional guitars, Rhodes, mellotron strings, backwards percussion…

Overjoyed at having completed another long psych epic, we proudly submitted it to WXYC for consideration. A few weeks passed before I was contacted by someone from the station. The verdict was that it was just too long to be included on the compilation, but that they really liked it and were sorry. Oh well…My Dear Ella was used to being underdogs who always tried to go over the top, so we weren’t surprised at that outcome. Maybe expecting such a long song to appear on a 50-minute compilation was just greedy. So it joined dozens of songs that eventually ended up collecting dust and not being released at all when My Dear Ella called it quits in 2006.

I want to especially thank MDE’s drummer Jeff DeWitte for this track – we worked really hard together on it. Jeff also co-wrote the lyrics (the ones we didn’t rip off from some book we found in our practice space) and made many of the mixing decisions on it (check out the unusual and extravagant -- and awesome!) use of reverb on the kick drum. And mixing the 8-track tape down to DAT through a Mackie 16-channel board in real time is a unique performance in and of itself. No digital automation, no recall, and tons of music packed onto eight tracks. I remember Jeff and I crouched over the board, all hands on the faders and knobs, eyes on our extensive mixing notes, making many frustrating passes of that tape before getting it right. So it has to be nostalgia that makes me think mixing like that was fun…right?

lyrics

Lyrics:

I will be ready to make the morning come
And I don’t want anyone to know
How long it takes
I don’t want you to go
I don’t want you to go
I’ve been waiting to love you in the sun

In the sun
When starlight dissolves in my hand
In the sun
Wait for me there

I’ve been gathering flowers from your grave
To wreathe around my sunken brow
I’ll wait for you there
I know what you have seen
Why you hang down your head
Your love for me, like the flowers, now is dead

I will...

Call me out, call me out
I love it when you say my name
I love it when you say my name

Call me out, call me out
I love it when you say my name
I know you want to feel this way

Call me out, call me out
I love it when you say my name
I love it when you stay the same

credits

released February 15, 2010

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Minor Stars: Vault Chapel Hill

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