4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder

edit reel

In 1979, my monthly advance from my music publisher was a princely sum of money. I  still received my wages from window cleaning so with my advance money on top of that I could afford to buy some state-of-the-art music equipment. I hired an upright piano. Even though I could only play chords on the piano I thought it might give some extra colour to my songwriting, and piano chords would certainly add some weight to my demos.

I bought a 4-track, quarter-inch, reel-to-reel tape recorder and a 2-track reel-to-reel tape recorder. I was so excited when I took these shiny brand new tape machines out of their boxes, all I could do was to sit staring at them. I had no idea how to work the machines, but I knew I’d get to grips with using them by deploying the hands-on method. This was a massive leap for me. I went from making one-take live recordings onto a cassette player, to recording on a machine that The Beatles used to make their early recordings.

From then on, when I had written a song and was going to record it, it was a whole new ball game. I had four individual tracks to play with and more if I so wished to  ‘bounce’  tracks. This meant I started to create bass guitar parts, licks and riffs for guitar and piano and singing harmonies to my lead voice. When I was satisfied I had all of my instruments and vocals recorded, I mixed the tracks to how I wanted my demo to sound and recorded a stereo mix onto the 2-track tape recorder.

Great fun!

Songwriting Tips


Budding songwriters often ask me, how I set about writing a commercial song, I answer, create a list of song titles.  If you have a song title then at least you have a subject to write about. Let’s analyse the song –  ‘Single Handed’ Haywoode. The chorus lyric states:  ‘Single handed, don’t wanna’ be Single Handed. Boy what’s the good if you follow a star when you’re Single handed.’

When we strive for something great, ‘follow a star’ we need to have someone at our side through the highs and the lows of our journey – we ‘don’t wanna’ be Single Handed.’

This song title is loaded with possible things to say about being ‘Single Handed’.  Listen to the song to hear what I wrote in the verses.

You need to get into the habit of wearing your song title glasses, then everywhere you look you will see song titles.


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