As I have been recording my Christmas Album, I have tried to capture the message of the music and specifically of the Christmas season. My goal is to create something special that people can listen to and grow from. Unfortunately recording is a bit arduous. Your voice is exposed, every imperfection is there for you to listen to over and over again, and it takes a lot longer to record (hours and hours, Saturdays upon Saturdays), than the actual running time of the album.
Unlike performing live, you have a million chances to make one note, or a phrase or the entire song, PERFECT. As a result, it can become tedious and frustrating. I think I recorded "to hear the angels sing" (the last phrase of It Came Upon the Midnight Clear), at least 20 times. Since I strive to be the best I can be, often when I am stuck on a particular phrase or section of the music, I just have to stop myself, and revisit it the next time.
Often when I perform, especially spiritual music, I feel so emotionally connected to it, that sometimes I get emotional and break down. If I anticipate that a particular song has this affect on me, I can combat it by trying to think less about the message of the song, and more about the technique. Sometimes the emotions can take me by surprise and I do lose it a little bit in a piece. If this is the case, the spontaneity of it is usually accepted by the audience, because we are all feeling that way in that moment.
The point. While recording, there is not a lot of room for this emotional experience. It is more detail-oriented and repetitive, and scrutinizing. At the end of a recording session I can sometimes feel quite numb of all emotion and sometimes blank in my mind, like: "So...what did I just accomplish?" This is a stark contrast to performing live. After a performance you cannot rewind and criticize every little note, phrase or aspect of the performance, you are just left with the way you felt while doing it, and it is usually a positive feeling.
So, when my engineer, (after spending a portion of his week mixing about 5 tracks) said in a way that only he can: "This has got a good vibe going...", I felt relieved, glad, surprised, and happy. I have been so engulfed in the whole process, I needed a little good vibe oxygen to reassure me that this is going well, and it could possibly attain it's goal which is to touch people's lives through the message and the music. A good vibe going.