Note: Updated 3/25 with better audio…

Like most of us, I’m stuck at home tonight. Normally I’d be out playing music – so in an effort to not let the crazy state of the world get me down, I poured myself a beer, set up some microphones, and recorded a set of tunes. This is 100% live – all I did was remove the silent bits in between the songs, the sound of me tuning up, and attempts at two cover songs that crashed and burned… Other than that, there are no vocal fixes or overdubs or anything like that.

If you’re bored at home and looking for something to listen to – this is for you…

Kepi Jensen – Live from Home 3/20/2020

Songs:
1. Highway One (Instrumental) [0:00 – 1:26]
2. Stay [1:27 – 5:38]
3. If You Leave [5:39 – 9:22]
4. PollyAnna Gets the Blues [9:23 – 13:53]
5. Lucky Now (Ryan Adams Cover) [13:54 – 16:52]
6. Dear Jessica (I’m Sorry) [16:53 – 19:38]
7. Too Far Gone (Song for Amy) [19:39 – 23:50]
8. Wasting Time (w/ ‘With or Without You’ by U2) [23:51 – 27-13]
9. Whatever [27:14 – 30:00]
10. Drown (in Whiskey) [30:00 – 34:04]

I hope you’re all happy and healthy. If you like this sort of thing, let me know and I’ll do it more often.

INXS was one of the first bands I really got into. When I first heard “Don’t Change” off of their album “Shabooh Shoobah”, I absolutely loved it. Like many INXS fans, I discovered them after seeing the video for “Need You Tonight” on MTV. I then went out and bought that album and went back through their catalog. This song has stuck with me as one of my favorites through the years.

For my recording I turned up the guitars (I am, after all, primarily a guitar player) and made the drums and bass a little more prominent than the original. For the drums, I cheated and used a drum track I found online, everything else is me. The rhythm guitars were recorded direct into my PC using the Ampire plug in to get the tone I wanted. The lead guitar is my Laney amp mic’d. It took me several hours to get it right, but I’m happy with the result. The keys are a combination of my daughter’s keyboard and midi plugins.

The hardest part to record for me was the vocals. I knew going in that there is no way I could record vocals that come even close to Michael Hutchence’s original vocals. I mean, his voice is one of those iconic singing voices. So from the start, I just wanted it to sound like me singing one of my favorite tunes. Even with that mindset, it took me several takes to get vocals I could live with – it turns out this song is just outside my range.

Anyway, enough of that – here’s me playing one of my favorite songs. …I hope you enjoy.

Don’t Change (INXS) – Recorded by J. Jensen/Written by INXS (M. Hutchence, A. Farriss, T. Farriss, J. Farriss, G. Beers, K. Pengilly)

Sometimes no matter how much you put in to a song, it never really develops into a fully formed song. This song is exactly that – I had this idea for a song months ago. I wanted to do something that started with organ that would build as drums, bass, and guitar joined in. So I sat down and worked on exactly that – I thought a simple chord progression would work nicely, so I chose Am – C – G for this. I added the sound that a record player makes when the record has finished for some atmosphere, played the organ and added a simple keyboard line over it – added bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and then…. well, nothing. The idea has run it’s course. I’ve been going through a bit of writer’s block lately and I think I put a lot of pressure on myself with this song, hoping it would somehow get me out. But, so far, the song has refused.

This kind of thing happens a lot to me. I thought some of you might find it interesting to see the process. Eventually this song will become… something after I revisit it. But for now, here it is – unfinished. 🙂

Unfinished Thing – December 2019

I have to admit, I’m a bit hesitant to post this because I suspect most of the people who come here to listen to my tunes won’t like it.

I recorded this as a challenge to myself to try something out of my comfort zone. This is a song I’ve always loved but never learned how to play, until now.

I remember when I first heard this song in High School – a friend of mine was listening to it on their Walkman (remember those??) and let me listen. My first response was “WHAT the F#$@ is this??”

I immediately (I think it was the same day…) went out and bought The Cure’s Standing on a Beach and listened to it constantly… After that, I moved on to The Head on the Door and eventually worked my way to Disintigration – which is such an amazing album.

Anyway, here’s my take on The Cure’s A Forest – I hope you like it, but if you don’t – I understand….

A Forest (The Cure) – All instruments and vocals by Kepi Jensen – November 2019

For the 2nd edition of Song Stories, I thought I’d talk about my song “If You Leave”. I’ve recorded this song with a full band in the studio three times, the first time was way back in 2006 (or so – my memory isn’t what it used to be)… The first time, I went to my friend Chris Thayer’s studio and played while he recorded a drum track, which I took back to my studio to record my parts over. I used his drum track on two versions I recorded – I can’t find the first one (that’s probably for the best!) – but here’s the second one, which I recorded in 2012…

If You Leave (2012 Demo)

Last year, I sat down and recorded another version – this time with me playing all the instruments. Here’s the latest version…

If You Leave (2019 Demo)

This new version is faster, which I think helps a lot, but it’s still not quite right. The difficult thing about being a song writer and recording your own stuff is sometimes you just can’t get the sound that you hear in your head to come out of your equipment. I’ll probably keep working on it and record a new version in the coming months.

So what’s the song about??
The song is about a time when my girlfriend (a long time ago) had broken up but were still friends and still a big part of each other’s lives. I reached a point where I didn’t feel like I could move on unless something changed – unless she was less a part of my life. So the song is about that search for independence which follows a friendly break up… I’ll leave it at that, you know – in case she’s reading… 🙂

I thought I’d kick off my blog by writing about one of my original songs – “Stay”. I like writing about music and the creative process behind it, so I plan on making this a common theme on this blog. Hopefully anyone who reads this is into that sort of thing…

This song actually started when I was in High School. The lines “If you love me, I’m not sure/Love’s a disease and there’s no cure.” and the chorus “If I promised you the world, would you share it with me?” actually came from a poem I wrote for an English assignment in high school. (oh so many years ago…) The rest of the song came about in roughly 2008 while I was thinking about an old break up and remembering how I felt at the time.

The chorus on this song has gone back and forth between “If I promised you the world, would you share it with me? Would you give it all away – just to let me stay?” and “Like a whisper on the wind, I can feel it coming in. Please don’t come my way, unless you think you’re gonna stay.” Although I like both choruses for different reasons, ultimately I decided to keep the original chorus. Here’s a really old demo with the “whisper” chorus…

Stay (“Whisper” chorus demo)

Unhappy with that version, I sat down last year (2018) and decided to re-record the song with the original chorus. For this version, I wanted a more gritty, electric guitar driven sound. I liked the original guitar solo, so I went back and listened to the solo on the version above and re-learned it to record again…

Stay (Kepi Jensen Version)

Late last year, my good friend and musical guru Daniel Small and I sat down and recorded this song again at his studio (which is much nicer than mine). The result is the version below, which is by far my favorite recording of the song.

Stay – Swamp Yankee Version

This version has me singing, playing acoustic guitar, and keys – Daniel playing drums, bass, singing, mixing, and whatever else he felt the song needed – my musical partner in crime, Joanne Elmoznino singing backing vocals – Jim Rizzo playing electric guitar – and “the other” Jim (who doesn’t have an online presence, so I’ll leave his last name off) playing that incredible guitar solo…
I call this the “Swamp Yankee” version because everyone who appears on this song is also in Daniel’s band Dan and the Swamp Yankees. (Check them out on Spotify when you get the chance…)