When Owls Fly

The Average White Boys haven’t done a parody video in quite a while. I have several parodies in the works, and I finally finished this one I’m calling When Owls Fly. For anyone who has seen my other parody videos, When Owls Fly is quite different because

1) I arranged the music for the parody
2) I played all the instruments to create the music
3) Several parts of the video refer to the original video When Doves Cry by Prince, so it is more of a true parody compared to the other parodies I’ve done.

I started working on When Owls Fly last summer, collecting video and audio clips of the owls while out walking in the bosque. After I got an idea to make a parody based on Prince’s When Doves Cry, I had a problem because I needed to do my own arrangement of the music to make it work with the concept I had for When Owls Fly.

I hadn’t played my flamenco guitar for several years because of numbness in my fingertips from chemo, and pain in my hands from arthritis. Therefore, I couldn’t simply borrow an electric guitar and lay down guitar tracks — I couldn’t play guitar well enough. I don’t play the keyboard, so about all I could do was lay down percussion tracks.

While casually looking at cheap electric guitars on eBay last August, one of the guitars eBay’s auto recommendations suggested was to look at a Gibson Les Paul Studio guitar. The description said it was in very good condition, it was all black, and the price was right. I snatched it up thinking that an electric guitar would be easier to play for me to start relearning to play guitar, plus I would have an electric guitar for parodies like When Owls Fly.

After practicing the Les Paul for several weeks, which is much easier to play than my flamenco guitar, I started figuring out the intro to When Doves Cry. Over the next three months, I began to get a little better at playing the Les Paul, so I got out my flamenco guitar in mid-November. Those few months of work on the electric guitar paid off, as now the flamenco guitar was not quite as challenging to play. It is nice to be playing again, no matter how rough my playing is.

Last October I started making the video clips for the parody. I laid down the percussion tracks in November, and I finally got where I could play a reasonable facsimile of the introduction on my Les Paul, and recorded the introduction. Next, I laid down the rhythm guitar track using the Les Paul, and finally, I added the recording of the owls hooting. I mixed the intro guitar, percussion, rhythm guitar, and owls hooting together, ready for the vocal track.

After I recorded the vocal track, which is not even a close facsimile to Prince’s vocals — c’est la vie since I’m not much of a vocalist — everything worked well together; however, the arrangement was missing the keyboard in the original song. I don’t play piano or keyboard, so I got the idea to play my flamenco guitar in place of the keyboard that’s in the original song. I laid down the track playing my flamenco guitar last week. My flamenco guitar substitution isn’t anything like the keyboard in When Doves Cry, but I believe it works pretty well for the owls. After adding some finishing touches, I completed the final mix, put it all together with the video clips and produced the video below.

Since I’m using my darkroom for my recording studio, the music comes out a bit raw sounding from the confined space. Furthermore, my mic input doesn’t work on my MacBook Pro, therefore, I am using the microphones built into the computer. The built-in mics are okay for voice, but fall a little short for musical instruments, in my opinion, but that’s what I have to work with at the moment.

If you are not familiar with When Doves Cry and would like to see the video that inspired When Owls Fly, you can watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/UG3VcCAlUgE.

When Owls Fly
Inspired by When Doves Cry by Prince
Arrangement by Timothy Price
Lyrics by Timothy Price

Look and I will take a picture
See you engaged you never miss
The grass I lie in covers me
Oh I see a starling
Got a picture of it

Seems what I see from the backyard
Oh some yellow flowers in bloom
All insight with the roses
We feel the beat
The beat unseen but heard by you

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold
Maybe it goes notwithstanding
That you look like your father, so golden
And also you look like your mother
Hooting never so tongue-tied
You hoot and peep at each other
This is what it sounds like
When owls fly

I stand back in a black trench coat
Feel how the sweat dribbles inside
I’ve got the dizzy eyes looking up
Can’t see to face you
You are up so high

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold
Maybe it goes notwithstanding
That you look like your father, so golden
And also you look like your mother
Hooting never so tongue-tied
You hoot and peep at each other
This is what it sounds like
When owls fly

Now I can see that you’re standing
To fend for yourself in a world so cold? (A world that’s so cold)
Maybe it goes notwithstanding (Maybe you are like your father)
That you look like your father, so golden (Ya know he’s so golden)
And also you look like your mother (Maybe you’re just like your mother)
Hooting never so tongue-tied (She’s never tongue-tied)
You hoot and peep at each other (Why do you peep, why)
This is what it sounds like
When owls fly

40 thoughts on “When Owls Fly

  1. Wow. You got so much in. I do want to say I especially love the flamenco guitar and I am glad you didn’t play keyboard. I really like the trench coat, bicycle, and the land. The owls, well…there is nothing to say. This was a fabulous surprise tonight.

  2. I am listening to your music now, Tim. Nice video! I am not familiar with the original, so will have a listen there too.

    I am glad you used the electric to get back into playing.

    • Hi Lavinia. It’s still a struggle to play both, because I’m not very accurate with numb fingers and since my fingers swollen most of the time, they are slow and stumble over the strings.

      • I’m having to be careful with my own hands now when I’m working outside. They get stiff more easily. I hope they can find a way to help your hands and the swelling.

  3. Yeah! A new song from my favourite internet band, the AWB! I always enjoy your creativity in the musical world, Tim. And the combination with great photographs and video makes it top-notch. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Herman. I appreciate it. I think creative is about the only thing I have going for me in the musical world these days.

  4. Hey Tim – it seems like you really had fun making this, and the end result was pretty sweet. That Prince video sure is trippy! I wish you didn’t live so far away from me, after following your work for this long I really wish I could have a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with you (despite our significant political differences). Keep on rockin’ in the free world…

      • And… I have enjoyed it again! I re-read the notes. It seems that the Who hoo of the owls is actually them! Fabulous!
        Flamenco guitar is great, and I can’t believe you had to use the computer mike!
        I think your recording set up is a lot better now?

      • Yes those where the owls hooting in the recording. I have improved my recording a lot and I think my playing has gotten a little better.

      • For sure… everything is a lot better.
        It’s like my drawings. The more I do and things I try… the better it gets.
        I like your guitar playing… a lot, a lot!

      • Well. Thank you Resa. As you know I love your drawings and especially your art gowns.

  5. Oh Tim. That was wonderful. Mary and I just watched. So glad to see you on the levee with your camera this evening. Well done.

  6. Hi Tim, “When Owls Fly” is certainly a labor of love. I really enjoyed reading how it came together and all the layers that went into the making of the music video. Very creative, the lyric is clever and humorous. I think the flamenco guitar substitution worked out really well. Super-super parody!

    • Hi Mia. I’m happy you liked it. Getting back to were I can sort of play guitar has been quite a process. Making parodies makes the process more fun.

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