Friday, December 6, 2013
Odd: Rockwall man played harmonica part in “Timber” by Ke$ha and Pitbull
He made just $1,000 and won't get any royalties.
Pitbull Ft. Kesha ‘Timber’ (Live AMA 2013)
As a harmonica player on jingles for the past 30 years in Dallas, Paul Harrington of Rockwall is used to these kind of gigs. Blow your harp for an hour and a half and leave with a check. So when jingle producer Nick Seeley set up a session at his home studio near Walnut Hill Lane and N. Central Expressway, Harrington took to the assignment like any other job. And now he’s the lead instrumentalist on the No. 4 single headed straight to the top of the Billboard 100.
If you’ve heard “Timber,” the catchy new single by Pitbull and Ke$ha, you’ve heard Harrington. That’s his harmonica that kicks off the song and weaves through the rhythm for the entire 3:24. “It may sound like a loop, but I played that live throughout the track,” says the leader of the Paul Harrington Band, whose blues are rarely played where food isn’t served.
Since “Timber” interpolates “San Francisco Bay” by former War harmonica player Lee Oskar, the only instruction Harrington received through Seeley from producers Dr. Luke, Cirkut and Sermstyle was to make it sound like Oskar. Harrington played to a spare backing track, with just the beat and a synthesizer playing the chord changes. It took him about 90 minutes to nail it.
“When I heard the finished track, I was knocked out,” said Harrington. “Boy, did they turn me up loud.” Harrington received a flat fee of $1,000 for the session. He won’t get any royalties, but he’s hoping the exposure will get him more studio work.
A native of Illinois who was greatly influenced by Paul Butterfield, Charlie McCoy and Stevie Wonder growing up, Harrington played in various bar bands in Aspen, Colo. for several years before moving to the Metroplex in 1983. “Dallas was the jingle capital of the country when I moved here,” he said. His harmonica has been heard on hundreds of radio and TV spots, including Chevy Trucks and McDonald’s.
As for how “Timber”’s producers found out about him, he has no idea. “It was just another session and I did my best,” Harrington said.
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