Yesterday's News on the Vega C-20
Another January, another Tiny Desk contest! This makes my third Tiny Desk entry and starts my third year of posting monthly videos. This entry is another song from the lost All the Fixin’s album, Fact or Fixin. I recorded it in Woody’s office at the Red Wiggler farm using my latest Vega guitar, a small body archtop from 1938.
About the song
Yesterday’s News is a guitar pop song that was one of the last things we were working on with All the Fixin’s before I left Ames for the monastic life of a PhD student at Virginia Tech. I really loved our playing as All the Fixin’s, and I think the material we recorded and arranged in that brief time period was about as good as I am capable of, which is reflected in the number of times I dip into that well for these videos. Back then, I remember we did a KUSR interview where we played this song live in the studio, with Jon Hahn and Mike Kelly beating on the table we were sitting around to provide an impromptu drum track. As I recall, that version of the song actually turned out pretty cool. I have no idea what happened to that recording, or interview. I think Steve Craven was the DJ interviewing us, and I think we were promoting a show at the M-Shop, but it is all very foggy at this distance. I’ve always liked the song, and had always planned to add some more lyrics, but over the years, I’ve gotten used to the idea of simply playing a melodic guitar solo instead of singing another set of verses. Structurally, it works pretty well, and reminds me of the type of thing Badfinger was so good at. Why I chose it for this year’s tiny desk is a little bit of a mystery to me, since stylistically and subject matter wise it is a song better suited to my youth, but I will always love guitar pop, and this song is just fun to play and sing. The way the refrain bounces from a C to an F chord (It’s all over, said and done) and then slips the D7 in there (Yester Day’s) to turn it around to F to C (News is all I am) just works out real nice. I love stuff like that, that is simple, but comes across as expected in an unexpected way. The other bit I have always liked is my use of a chord inversion on the Always thought that you…It’s all sung over an E chord, but it starts in open position, but then I invert it to put an A flat for the bass note. Builds the drama, don’t ya think? Yeah, I need to get over myself.
About the guitar
This is the same guitar I used last month. I really like playing it, and I wasn’t ready to put it down, so I used it again. It is not the best choice for this style of song, but I didn’t really care, it works well enough, and it looks really cool. I find it really interesting that the mahogany body has a distinctive sound that I’ve come to expect from guitars having mahogany bodies. I’m struck by how similar it is to the Gibson L48 I borrowed and used for the Purple Haze video. The Gibson has a bigger body, but the necks are very similar and the bodies produce a nice warm, woody, resonant sound that can be pretty penetrating. Not a deep fat bottom end, but good midrange, and decent bass response if the back is free to ring out. In the future, I’m going to try some fingerstyle blues on this instrument. We’ll see how that goes. For now, I’m pleased that it is versatile and works for a variety of styles.