Article and Interview by Jim Walsh, Bloomington Center
Perhaps wondering about how that perfect summer pop gem ended up in your jogging ear buds is like wondering how the patty between your sesame seed buns came to be-maybe it’s best just not to know how things are made, you know, so it doesn’t ruin the magic.
But there’s certainly magic to be found in the song-crafting of CIP’s latest crooner, Sean Cortright. His voice and songwriting are reminiscent of the late Johnny Cash, with a mix of Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. I sat down with Sean in his penthouse apartment overlooking the bustling Bloomington downtown metropolis area to talk the making of his latest hit single, his future album plans, and his thoughts on the process of recording.
Sean, how did you come up with “Lucky Man”?
Let’s see… The song is about my travels through North America. I had been to these summer camps for three summers that were travel camps. I guess I kind of just started writing down a list of places I had been to until I came up with the first verse: “Graceland and Hollywood, on a plane to JFK.”
Were you really on a plane to JFK when you wrote that line?
I was not on a plane to JFK as that line was written, [laughs] but I’ve been on a plane to JFK recently!
Did you have the music first or the lyrics?
I basically came up with the music first, with the help of a friend who used to help me with song writing while I was in high school.
What was the hardest part of recording this song?
Since it was the first time that I had actually recorded just myself playing rhythm guitar, it was a bit… uh, I had to concentrate more than normally.
It makes many musicians uncomfortable to hear their own voice. Do you feel uncomfortable listening back?
I actually really like the sound of my own voice. I have a lot of family members who have inspired me to sing all my life. Starting with my great-grandfather, he used to play guitar when he was 13 but mostly just sings now.
Did the recording end up differently than you were expecting it to sound?
It sounded a little differently than I expected. It now has more of a country feel I was going for. The bassline really added to the country feel.
What did you enjoy about the recording process?
It’s interesting seeing how the different pieces come together. As the tracks get recorded, it’s kind of like watching a painter paint their artwork.
So you didn’t record all the instruments at once?
No, at first we recorded some drums that we later took out of the recording because it didn’t fit. We did use the drums as a “click-track” to set the tempo for the song. We recorded several takes of the rhythm guitar next. Then we did the vocals. Bass came next. Then there was the guitar solo. And then the tambourine.
Tambourine came last?
I believe it came last. Probably because it was easy to make sure the tambourine was staying on beat with the rest of the song. The rhythm of the guitars was more natural with imperfections.
Do you prefer to let those little imperfections come through?
Yes, I usually do because it sounds to me like it’s more human that way.
Are you planning on releasing an album?
I would certainly love to. Hopefully in the future I can. I have two other songs that need to be recorded. I’m still working on just making a myspace page!