Thorn in my Side

Here is our latest track, a song called “Thorn in my Side.”

Tom: vocals, electric piano, organ, drums
Alan: guitar, bass, backing vocals

download mp3

lyrics & music by Tom Sanderson

There is a thorn in my side
The pain can’t be denied
The cause is my own pride
There is a thorn in my side

My pride is wrecking my heart,
Ripping my bones apart,
Throwing that fiery dart
My pride is wrecking my heart

When I rise to start the day
Get on my knees and I pray
For some deliverance from this sin
I so carelessly let in


I feel lifting of my burden
When I ask The Lord His pardon
In sincerity, in pain
The Lord puts me whole again


So I know that every midnight
Fades to shadow in the daylight
So we too can rise once more
Though my weak legs still are sore


Recorded by Tom in Silver Sand Studio and by Alan in U-Turn Studio. Mixed and mastered at U-Turn Studio on Linux Mint 19.3 using Ardour 5.12, Guitarix, Dragonfly Reverb, Linux Studio Plugins, and Calf Studio Gear. Video created with Kdenlive 17.12.3 using images processed in GIMP 2.8.

Notes by Tom

“Thorn in My Side” had its musical origins while on a family excursion on a houseboat with two other families in Lake Powell (Utah/Arizona) in I believe summer 1990. This picture is from the excursion.

Tom (farthest left) with his family on the Lake Powell trip where this song idea came to him.
Tom (farthest left) with his family on the Lake Powell trip where this song idea came to him.

I think I had a good time but at 13-going-on-14 I was rather subject to boredom when the houseboat was docked and no motorboats were about to tether us about on innertubes. I think I just felt a bit left out as all of my siblings had church friends among the vacationing children there except me. It was one such day when I was either bored or lonely (or some combination) when I was trying to find flint rock in the sandstone hills by myself that I came up with the chorus to this song, except with the words “somebody’s calling my name/don’t know who’s to blame/don’t know who’s to blame/somebody’s calling my name.” I had written a few songs at this point but many of them were incomplete or lyric form only. I didn’t have a tape recorder on this trip or even paper so I sang the song fragment to myself for about a half hour while I believe I was pounding out the rhythm and learned a big lesson in mnemonics: repetition works, at least excessive repetition, in locking something within the cranium (I later used this technique to remember a chorus for another song some six years later). For the musical landscape of this trip I remember three tapes: Crosby Stills & Nash’s “So Far,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Raise!,” and a Willy Nelson compilation that someone else had brought.

For reasons that have faded where this fragment hasn’t, the song didn’t get finished after 3 decades. I think I got hung up on the working lyrics. At any rate, 30 years later I was trying to figure out a last song to record using my PSR-550 keyboard and messing around I must have had a combination that seemed to finally unlock this fragment. I had originally pictured the music as a rhythmic straight 4/4 with a jungle rhythm. However the song finally found full form in shuffle-blues-rock format. Lyrically and musically it wasn’t a big leap from loneliness to world-weary.

Tom with Roland FA-06
Tom with the new Roland FA-06

I recorded the demo sequence with a pre-programmed musical style, intending to replace the “click track” with new performances on the new Roland FA-06. I sang over this demo sequence to demo it to my cousin Alan for petitioning his help in finishing the project. I committed myself to give a really good track to Alan, one that he would want to add to. I received the synth in a big box and this was its first task. I did record drums, Wurlizter and Hammond B-3 from the Roland synth but I found my playing was a bit loose. I then started from scratch, creating a sequence on the FA-06 with roughly the same arrangement. The sequencer is able to quantize (round up to the nearest selected note) either pre- or post-performance, and with varying degrees that I have yet to figure out. I got off the rhythm on the drums a little, but I was really impressed with the quality of the sounds. I was able to export the project to multitrack waves but in a learning-curve moment I accidentally deleted the sequence when powering the keyboard down.

Using the exported tracks, I transferred them from the FA-06 SD card to the Tascam DP-24-SD card and imported them as a new recording (I still kept the old one for historical purposes). With the demo sequence, I felt like modelling the recording after J. J. Cale but the finished FA-06 tracks made me want to give the vocals a Joe Cocker treatment, or my rough approximation. I did have some raspiness in my through which was good for the track. A re-recording of the vocals a couple days later added a lyrical and phrase correction based on Alan’s ideas. After that point, Alan was full steam ahead and I really love the ideas – the soul/funk that he brought to this collaboration. It was the first time we ever worked on the same tracks from the ground up, unlike “Pity Party” where we made separate recordings and stitched them together

Alan plays the Ibanez AM-53.

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