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the latest sound
Bang - Billy Kemp
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In 1997 I was living in Laytonsville, Maryland. It was rural, and I lived on five acres in an old farm house with a few out buildings. One was a barn wood workshop with baton strips about two hundred square feet. I called it the barn, though it was much smaller. I thought it may work as a recording space. I was recording in those days on a Tascam 238 Syncaset, an eight-track cassette recorder, which I still use. That summer I had time to try the barn out for some recording. I tracked enough songs to have a record but never did release them. I was very busy during those years (1995-2005) producing and teaching. I played all of the instruments including guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.

Bang was written in February,1997 on my paternal grandmother’s birthday. I remember that evening well. I was home alone, hanging out in the kitchen in a slightly elevated state, thinking of my grandmother and a close friend. My grandmother was a spirited, independent woman who instilled in me that anything in life is possible. My friend at the time was having some depression, and I was concerned for his well-being. I thought about how different things can be depending on where one is standing. Sometimes moving a bit this way or that can bring clarity and things into the light. 

On this recording I played an ‘80s acoustic Martin Dreadnaught D-35, a 1971 electric Fender Stratocaster through a 1965 Fender Super Reverb amp, a 1968 Fender Precision Bass direct and my brother’s Yamaha drum kit. I recorded the parts in this order - acoustic guitar, vocal, drums, bass and electric guitar. Since I had eight tracks to work with, there was one track each for the acoustic guitar, the vocal, the bass and the electric guitar. The drums were cut on four tracks, one for the kick, one for the snare and two for the overhead mics. The mix was done through a Soundcraft desk, using an Alesis Microverb reverb. 

The collection of songs I recorded that summer was always in the wings waiting to be called to center stage, but was never released. I was going to call the record Bang as well. When putting together the songs for The Painter’s Bucket, I kept thinking about those songs from the unreleased Bang. I’m glad to see a few of them,” Bang,” “You’re Too Old” and “When I Get Out Of Line,” finally released.

The Lyric for Bang

Timing is everything this I know

And you can get down or get back up

And that’s all there is to it


Did you know there’s a full moon over your bed every night

Yes indeed it’s the kind of thing

That once you’ve seen it’ll always be there


And until someone’s lived with you

You don’t really know


You think that until you have cried

You’ll always be smiling

Ain’t that the truth

But when you’ve had a warning

There’s no excuse


Is there some kind of connection

That isn’t so

Obviously you should be

Looking from a different angle


Step a bit this way

Step a bit that way

and then    Bang

It’s right there in front of you


Step a bit this way

Step a bit that way

and then    Bang

It’s right there in front of you


And when you are picking through

The trash can looking for your number

Just remember

It does really matter