WARNING: Super-hero movies should not be viewed while under the influence of the boredom of unemployment.
Press play and listen while you read:
This isn't something that I would have considered writing were it not for my friend, Wendy, who encouraged me to post this blog. It's about the process of sound editing, or in this case, music editing. On the surface it can be a boring and repetitive job, but when you scratch just a little below that surface, the tediousness really shines through. And yet... I must enjoy something about doing it.
This summer after seeing the movie Iron Man, I attained a clarity that's normally reserved for vision quests or near death experiences. In this case it was probably the combination of action movie adrenaline, unemployment boredom and movie-snack sugar. I felt as if I was channeling Tony Stark (for the less geeky of you, that would be the character played by Robert Downey Jr. in the movie.) I knew what I had to do. I would convert the garage into a lab and fashion myself one of those fancy iron suits so that I could fly around and blow shit up! The street cred I'd gain with my kids and their friends alone would be worth the effort.
First, I needed some mood music, so I went to iTunes to download the original Black Sabbath version of the song Iron Man (there were more than 40 covers of the song... Hmmmm.) Now I was really ready for my own ass-kickin' iron-suit-building montage. Outside I went. It took me three or four tries at the combination lock on the garage, and by the time I got the door open I was starting to sugar crash. Then it dawned on me that we're renting and the landlord would probably frown on my converting the roof of her garage to an escape port. I could have worked around these initial setbacks if the garage hadn't been so god-awful messy. I kept thinking, What-Would-Tony-Stark-Do? But then I realized, all I have in the way of tools is a router and a circular saw (sadly, I skipped welding in high school shop class or I'd be flying all over the damn place right now in that suit.) I slumped back in despair and scratched myself pretty badly on the flaking paint of the neighbor's fence. Dammit that wouldn't have happened if I'd had the suit on!
That's when I re-attained the once in a lifetime clarity. I can't weld, but by god, I can sound edit! I pulled myself up, brushed the lead paint splinters from my back and sat myself down at my computer to start listening to some Iron Man covers. I downloaded my favorites and loaded them into my Pro Tools. Then I listened to each version all the way through and cut it up into verses, tagging or cataloging as I went, marking riffs or particular lines from each cover that I wanted to end up in the final version.
All told I used sixteen different recordings of the song and made around 88 edits. The various versions used are: Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, The Bad Plus, BMR4, Bud E. Love, Camille Boscardin, Cannibal Kings, The Cardigans, the Casualties of Jazz, Lotterboys, Opium Jukebox, Sir Mix-a-Lot, the unpronounceable, Van Heffer, Vitamin Lounge, and Vitamin String Quartet.
There's no flying involved and I'll have to wait for another day to blow anything up -- but, I can play it really loud.
Thank you Ozzy and thank you Robert Downey Jr.