Individual Parts For “Wasted On The Way” Harmonies

I finally managed to make a cover recording of “Wasted On The Way,” by Crosby, Stills & Nash. I say “finally” because for years after I did “Helplessly Hoping” (another CSN song) as a vocal harmony demo, people started asking me to do other songs as well. And “Wasted On The Way” topped that list.

I’ve been meaning to do it for years, but finally I did it! Here is the video I recorded showing me singing all the parts:

Ken Theriot cover of “Wasted on The Way”

The Individual Parts

But most people were not only interested in hearing me perform the song – as cool as that is :-). They wanted to be able to perform the song with their friends and sing all the harmonies. The problem is that it is often difficult for people to separate the parts out just by listening to a performance. Since I had to learn the 3 separate parts in order to record this, I have done that already. So if you are interested, they are below.

In order to make the song sound like the original recording, I double-tracked each part, which was and is a common recording practice, and is almost certainly what CSN did in the studio. So if it sounds like there are 2 voices singing each of these parts, that’s because I sang them all twice for the doubling effect.

Melody Part

Middle Part

High Part

How Did I Do This?

In case you are interested in the “behind-the-scenes” for this project, here is a bit of info on how I did this.

First I had to learn the parts

That was not hard for me, since I’ve known this song for decades. And I have the ability to hear different harmony parts. I think it might be a genetic thing, because I can’t explain HOW I hear them. I just do.

Next, I had to learn the chords for guitar

That was pretty easy, since the song uses pretty standard chords – D, Bm, G, and A. Then twice during the song, F#m and D7 make an appearance. I didn’t really care about making the guitar sound like the recording since this is mainly for demonstrating the vocal harmony. So I only had that one instrument. But at some point, I will probably do an actual full cover version with the other guitars, bass, drums and violin solo in the interlude.

Anyway, I first recorded the guitar onto a track in Reaper. I used just one mic for everything – a Rode NT2-A plugged into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface, which is plugged into the computer.

Then I sang each part onto a track

I started with the low part, which is the one I think of as the melody. But since this song is in 3 parts all the way through, I don’t know that there IS a proper melody. But anyway, I sang along with the guitar (listening in headphones) on a second track for the melody part. Then as I mentioned above, I recorded another (3rd) track of the melody. I double-tracked each vocal part.

Then I muted the 2 melody vocal tracks so I could hear myself sing the middle part by itself – again while listening only to the guitar in the headphones. So that was tracks 4 and 5.

Finally, I sang the 2 high parts on tracks 6 and 7.

Mixed It

After everything was recorded, I panned the middle parts a bit (about 30%) to the left and the high parts a bit to the right for a stereo sound. the melody tracks were left dead-center (no panning). I mixed the volumes so everything sounded about even with everything else, and that was it! Of course it took 3 days to do and only about 3 minutes to write :-P.

If you are interested in getting into the weeds of recording vocal harmonies, check out my course Harmony Recording Awesomeness. I go into much more detail and demonstrate how to do this on several songs.

13 comments on “Individual Parts For “Wasted On The Way” Harmonies”

  1. Very nice ,so glad to have this we have been screwing around with this off and on for a year . Thanks again your awesome….


  2. Fabulous! You are inspiring — I’m sure many folks will appreciate the work that went into this, and your insight into the process.

  3. This is fantastic! And thank you for saying that all three parts seem to be the melody all at once. This doesn’t really seem like a song that can be sung as a solo piece.

  4. Great Job, we’re planning to do this song with my band (I am the keyboard player and the only one who doesn’t sing, but this page will be extremely useful to my bandmates ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Looking forward to hearing the full version with the fiddle solo, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Can’t thank you enough for putting this together. It sure makes this a lot easier! Really appreciate you posting this!

  6. Ken,

    Thank you for taking the time to make this incredible harmony tutorial. I envy your natural ability to “hear” all the different harmonies. My retirement project is going to be training my ear to hear the individual notes in harmonies and chords. It will be a long road, but also a fun one. In the meantime, I will be listening to your stuff. Thank you again

  7. I love it. I can hear harmonies but never attempted to record and mix them like this.

  8. Let me echo the gratitude! I have a son who is an excellent choir singer, and I have been longing to perform this song in karaoke with him, especially now as heโ€™s getting ready to head off to college. But I could never catch the melody!

    Now I have something to practice with!

    1. So glad this will help you do something like that! What a beautiful thing :-).

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