Pardon the Interlude: Live vs. Studio

By Alexandria Sardam

It’s one of the oldest debates in history. This very issue on the tips of countless tongues, slithering back and forth between one form to the latter as one side strikes with crippling precision while the other attacks unexpectedly, sinking its venomous bite when and as it pleases. It’s the debate between what truly gives the best, possible sound of a musical experience. It’s the debate of live vs. studio.

For the average listener it’s an easy decision toward the crisp and reliable studio resolve. But for the detailed listeners, the hopeless romantics of listeners, it’s not an easily made call for their split appreciation straddles the sheer simplicity of an expected, glossy finish yet deeply yearns for some sort of improved, “my love” to follow the inked lyrics that have always been and always will be in the song, “Yellow.”

There’s an undeniable calm that comes with a studio version from its definite length to its consistent sound. There’s no distracting chants, or first-time-concert-goer’s shrills that selfishly strips the song of whatever meaning it holds in the eye of each beholder. Every note hits perfectly whether it’s sung or blown out of a trumpet.

Aside from a near-perfect execution, the ensemble used to craft such a spectacular is in full formation, rested and ready to crescendo at the most climactic moment, all at once. Studio is never too much, administering just appropriate dosage to make things feel right and complete.

It’s wickedly conscientious, just as dependable as an always enthusiastic greeting from a furry friend upon coming home. That warmth and that consoling song will always be present within a studio take. And then for the live aspect. The tricky, little, pesky live songs that thrill listeners with unexpected twists, turns drops and loops-the perfect song for the true adventurer and free spirit.

These renditions capture only a mere essence of what the tune was, reinventing it into something sometimes more magnificent through things as grand as adding a twenty minute jam to something as minuscule as adding an additional lyric. Yet for someone who appreciates the little things, it’s in the live versions that these studio songs peel back their black and white facade, bursting into a swarm of vivacious color.

It’s when you’re listening to Live Rust by Neil Young and you can hear the thunder in the background build as Young convinces his audience to stop the rain with repetitive chants of, “No rain, no rain.” Every word recited before “The Needle And The Damage Done” is relative to the circus of preceding chants and uncontrollable forecast.

That roaring storm and crowd creates a mood that will forever coincide with my feelings and emotional ties to that song. It’s in those unexpected moments of live recordings that celebrate songs. There is certainly something interesting to be said about how music is received, whether it be studio or live. Music itself is a tool for interpretation but perhaps it’s most fulfilling resource rests in how it’s explored.