I use an 8 track digital recorder that is no larger than a cigar box. While it has 8 separate tracks which can be bounced, punched in, dubbed, edited, moved about, etc., the machine only allows two inputs at a time.

This is no problem as long as I’m recording solo, as I can generally only handle two things at once (guitar and voice; percussion and voice; piano and voice; etc.).

Sometimes, when I’m covering work already recorded by someone else, I place the existing recording on one of the 8 tracks. Then, I can record on an open track as I play along with the existing song. It’s distracting, but with concentration and care, I sometimes can make that work. Then, after I have my basic tracks completed, I can delete the one by the other artist.

With “Southern Nights,” I tried that, but I couldn’t sing it in the same key Toussaint sings it in; so I gave up on trying to sing and play along with his recording.

So, I separated the vocals from the piano by plugging the electric piano directly into the machine; and then recording my singing at the same time on a second track. The machine has a built in mic, by the way.

This worked pretty well for me as a mistake in one part of the vocals had no effect on the piano track, and vice versa. The machine allows minutely precise “punching in.” That is. I Identify a part that needs to be redone; set up the machine to record again. Play the “tape.” Then at the precise moment where the mistake needs to be replaced, punch the “record” button and begin singing. Then, punch it OUT again when I’ve gotten through that passage.

Mess up? It has an “undo” button so that I can try it again with a fresh start.