Here’s a song I never expected to cover: Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me,” a collaboration of the Phil Henry Acoustic Trio with my duo Pepper and Sassafras—officially released today as a single and available for streaming and download on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and CD Baby.
The idea of covering this song popped up in the fall of 2017, when Wendy and I were playing a house concert with our friends Phil Henry and Gary Moon up in Vermont. We were brainstorming songs to do together, and somehow Phil got the left-field, inspired idea of covering “I Want You to Want Me” with acoustic instrumentation and lavish three-part harmony.
Working in his home studio in Vermont, Phil made a demo with multitracked vocal parts and emailed them to everyone, and we had a blast performing the song at the show as a quartet.
Which got us thinking that it would be fun to a real group recording of this arrangement. So over the winter Phil laid down his core rhythm guitar and vocal tracks, and the rest of us recorded the other parts in our respective home studios.
In the Syracuse area, Wendy and I did our vocal tracks, I added the second/lead guitar part and electric bass, and Wendy played glockenspiel. In Lake George, New York, Gary Moon created a percussion track on a Korg Wavedrum synthesizer. And in Boston, multi-instrumentalist Jeff Kimball (the third member of the Phil Henry Acoustic Trio along with Gary) played piano. We all Dropboxed the audio files back to Phil, who added a touch of organ, mixed everything down, and voilà—we had the track.
Which then got us thinking that it would be fun to make a video too. Again, the DIY tools of this era made it easy to collaborate remotely. We literally phoned it in: we all shot smartphone videos singing/playing our parts along with the master track. And then Phil, who’s got lots of audio and video production chops along with being a great singer-songwriter, edited the clips together. The video is also posted on Facebook (with a little surprise at the end).
This whole project was a lark for all of us, but already it’s going places. As I update this post a few days after the release, the Facebook video has thousands of views and is being shared in wider and wider circles.
Who knows what’s next?