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The Other Steve Miller
Posted in Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes: Andrea Desmond’s “I Can Wait No Longer”

"I Can Wait No Longer" Main

Things are looking bright for Andrea Desmond and her accompanying White Lights. Three weeks removed from our highly successful and well-attended show at Trinity Nightclub, we have three more gigs in the works — one of which is opening for Floater frontman Robert Wynia — and even recorded a five-song EP with former Vendetta Red guitarist Justin Cronk, which will be released soon (more on that later). And last week, her song “Run” took first place in the Eco Arts Award in the Songs of Freedom category — netting her $1,000 in the process — and on Wednesday, Sept. 26, her song “I Can Wait No Longer” received the most votes in Seattle Wave Radio’s competition for a shot to play at Seattle’s Hard Rock Cafe in November (the qualifying show comes next month at Fremont’s the High Dive). She was also featured in the online publication Enquirer.

Being her guitarist/backing vocalist and friend, this is coolness by association for me as well.

A little more than a month ago, however, Andrea and I were practicing/recording in my kitchen, and somewhat scrambling to find other members for our then-impending show at the Trinity. Hindsight proved that things worked out very, very well, but at the time, tracking down a bassist and drummer seemed a dead-end endeavor. It was in this period we recorded the contest-winning song “I Can Wait No Longer.”

This was one of the first song’s Andrea and I played together; its C-minor ascending chord progression and theme of patiently anticipated-yet-unrequited love both resonated with me when I first heard it in late July, but more so now in this melancholy autumnal weather. It’s pretty great when playing with a full band; the dynamic post-bridge is grand and powerful, destined to awaken listeners from their respective fall-weather-induced ennuis. Acoustically, “I Can Wait No Longer” retains its plangency, albeit in a more intimate, non-amplified way. In my humble opinion, that is.

We recorded “I Can Wait…” in mid-August, on a day that much resembled those of Junuary, though slightly warmer. I spent much of my morning and mid-afternoon wrapping up vocals for the last few songs on The Disconnect (and haven’t touched it since, and for good measure) so I was already in prime recording mode when Andrea brought her MacBook Pro and microphone to my kitchen. Since moving into this new location, I’ve been picking up frequencies whenever recording with my microphone, but this day, when using Andrea’s equipment, these long, invisible waves troubled us not, thanks goodness. (For more information on the different types of electromagnetic waves, read this very fun and education post theon  Passion For Science blog.) She had already recorded her vocals and piano on a Logic file, and all I needed to do was contribute guitars and harmonies. It took a while for me to add my bits, for I am very particular when it comes to guitar-ing, and very self conscious when adding vocals. But after a couple hours and tens of takes later, I was mostly content with my additions, and thought we had a nice little kitchen track on our hands.

Later that week, Andrea and I were double booked for a photo session with Morgen Schuler and music video shoot with Erica Russell of BKissED Photography at Pike’s Place Market. While waiting for our bus  — we were running late thanks to a miscommunication on my part that resulted in me arriving at her place and she at mine — Andrea showed me the final version of the song, mixed and mastered by her friend Njal Frode Lie. What I thought earlier to be a solid, lo-fi recording was transformed into something lush and serene, with a killer electronic drum part to help it achieve a greater dynamic post-bridge. The song far exceeded my expectations, and suddenly, it didn’t seem like a lo-fi, kitchen-recorded track anymore.

We arrived at Pike’s Market about half hour than originally intended just as the sun was setting behind the Olympic Mountains. This could’ve made for difficult lighting for Morgen and Erica, but it actually resulted in a haunting twilight, much like the Elliott Smith song of the same name. Erica set us up on the western edge of the Market, overlooking the viaduct and Pugent Sound, positioned near a large, Seahawks-esque totem pole. We pantomimed our busking-like performance as the song played at full volume from a backpack with iPod speakers, and later moved across the street to a smaller Pike’s Place sign. After a few takes in each location — the first of which we thought a fight would break out between some Seattleites gathered in a nearby picnic area — Erica and Andrea went off to gather some urban glamour footage for the dynamic latter part of the song. Throughout the takes, I did my best to keep a straight face, as I have a tendency to crack up when on camera — which makes me a terrible movie actor — but was luckily able to stay stoic long enough. (Also, I was wearing a pretty goofy shirt for the occasion, no offense to Joe Garvey, who lended it to me three months ago. At least half the duo was looking fashionable that night.)

In the final product, the grace and majesty that is “I Can Wait No Longer” shines clear. Watch the video and see for yourself.