Recording "Broken Wings"
The final track on the CD-version of Clay Aiken’s “A Thousand Different Ways” is an update of “Broken Wings,” originally recorded by Mr. Mister for their 1985 album, Welcome to the Real World.
In this interview, the second of five podcasts available on iTunes, Clay talks about his history with the song in an amusing anecdote from his childhood. Moving forward to his latest album, he discusses how he conceived the unique sound for the track, which was produced by Emanuel Kiriakou, also known as Eman.
Credits also include Morgan Grace on the “ethereal high parts” and Erin Taylor, who wrote and recorded the poem for the spoken word section of the song.
A Thousand Different Ways is available at Amazon.com but for the complete CD, buy the iTunes exclusive version, featuring "Lover All Alone," songwriter Clay Aiken's magnificent collaboration with his friend, Grammy-winning producer and composer David Foster.
(Excerpt: Clay Aiken, “Broken Wings” from A Thousand Different Ways)
Some of the other songs… actually, “Broken Wings” has a little bit of a similar memory to it, because when I was a kid there was this show called “Star Search,” and I’m sure everyone remembers “Star Search” with Ed McMahon and (booming voice) '4 1/2 stars'. When people got to go on, it was kind of the original “American Idol.”
My mother had this dream that, as a child, when I was 10 or 11 --- now I don’t know if I necessarily sang well at 10 or 11, but I would sing, and most kids wouldn’t just jump up and sing at 10 or 11.
I remember my mom got me a tape with karaoke tracks on it, and I don’t remember all of the songs, but one was “Footloose” and one was “Broken Wings,” and it was our plan that we would at some point record “Broken Wings” with me singing it and send it in to “Star Search” and see if I could get on “Star Search” singing “Broken Wings.” We never did, we never turned it in. I don’t know what happened, I probably just --- I've never been that type of ambitious person who wanted to be a singer so badly that I would risk rejection… I never did ‘Broken Wings,’ but that’s the song that was gonna make me a star 17 years ago and so… (laughs) It’s kind of neat that now we got to do it again and, again, that song is really special to me because we did change it up so much.
I was listening to the radio and heard, I guess, an Evanescence song and just that ethereal, whole different vibe to it, and I called Jaymes [Foster, the CD’s Executive Producer] up, I said “You think there’s a song on the album that we can do this with, and maybe have something whispered in the background?” and she said, “I think ‘Broken Wings’ could work like that.”
We sent it to Emanuel Kiriakou, the producer, and said "This is kind of what we want to do, make it eerie, make it haunting,” and he came back with what he came back with.
We went into the studio and I recorded my part, and we hired a young girl to sing the ethereal high parts, and we were sitting in the studio, and --- I’m going to make fun of myself a little bit. My voice probably never changed from elementary school, I don’t think, I was an alto when I was in middle school. Still am. (laughs) We were sitting in the studio and she was trying to find her (sings high note) 'Ahhhh' and all that stuff, and I was singing the high notes for her, saying "okay, do this, do this".
We found that there were gaps again for a place, maybe to put in a poem. We called a friend of mine who kinda had written stuff before, and initially thought we'll have her just say the lyrics to the song in the background. And instead she wrote a poem that kind of went along with the song’s title and the song’s message and put it in and she read it and got completely finished with it and at the very end, I said "You know what, say your last line again ‘we are broken, but we are moving still’ after I’m finished singing and let that be the last line of the song, ‘we are broken, but we are moving still’.
She did it, and we all just got these chills, and I went (really excited) “Now say ‘a thousand different ways’ the same way!”
‘A thousand different ways’ was not in her poem initially, but I just thought, “Well, this is gonna be the last song on the album, so we’re gonna have the last words on the entire album to be ‘A Thousand Different Ways.’
(End with excerpt from “Broken Wings”)
Tomorrow: Part Three: Clay on Selecting Original Songs
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