Show and Tell

I’m not sure if it’s a Libra thing,

or a writers thing, or a guy thing, or what, but I seem to move through life like I’m on a pendulum, throwing my enthusiasm in definitive directions, but only for a relatively short time.  I enjoy the feeling you get from rushing around in a frenzy and huffing and puffing and getting it all done.  There is one bi-product of this though, that is harmful to productivity and its something I count on my heroes to help me overcome.  I’m talking about the void, the aftermath, the morning after, when you seem to have created this empty space in which its ok to do nothing.  It’s the “well-earned Sunday-off” mentality.  Sure we all need a break, but when you’re on the pendulum, it means there can be significant amounts of time you spend neglecting your craft, your hobby, your loved-ones….. Whatever the case may be.  Balance is hard to achieve.

In these lulls I put on music that brings me back to motivation, and appreciation.  I just wanted to take a minute to speak about two heroes of mine.  Pinnacles of songwriting.   Songwriters who, in my mind, never leave the workshop.  Folks who live in constant service of the muse.  Even if it’s not true, the idea that there is someone out there more accomplished and talented than I, pushing their envelope and discovering new things, motivates me.  Here are a couple of songs and writers that make me want to be better.  If nothing else, you may want to give these songs a listen in some down-time.  Some very mellow down time…..

 

Tom Waits

Day After Tomorrow

This song is on Waits’ Real Gone Album.  Its a letter home written by a soldier, a commentary on the war he’s been through. Nothing I can say about the song, could speak as clearly or with as much meaning, as the song itself, that’s why I love it.

This is Tom

This is Tom

“What I miss you won’t believe, shoveling snow and raking leaves.”

When few words can do the work of many, when the same words can mean something different, each of the 100 times you hear them, that is something work towards I think.

“You can’t deny, the other side, don’t wanna die any more than we do.”

“Tell me how does God chose, whose prayers does he refuse?”

 

These are words that collect us together, they include everyone.  An atheist prayer, a criminals apology, bound by human flaw, no matter what choices we make.. Thee common denominator.  So many in songwriting strive to dwell in the existential.  Very few songwriters can do this from the pews, rather than the pulpit.

“And I know, we too are made, of all the things that we have lost here.”

Bravo Tom.  If its possible for something to feed you, and keep you hungry at the same time, this song does.

Gillian Welch

Revelator & Dear Someone $ Hard Times.

Gillian Welch won a lifetime achievement award at the Americana Music Awards this year in Nashville.  She went on after Loretta Lynn played to a sold out amphitheater.  I watched the amphitheater empty out while Gillian played, and I realized in that moment, that I am not on the pulse of what is meaningful or popular in music to the masses.  But it’s ok, because every time I have encountered a beautiful scene on a long drive to somewhere, or been alone with my son when he has discovered something new in the world, (to his own towering amusement,) every time I want access to feel something important, I put Gillian Welch on, and that is enough for me.  It is the music I listen to the most.  The writing is mystical, and enormous in its simplicity.  There is so much room for the listener in these recordings, and the sadness, the tearing up, the joy, the calm it induces, the impression of it always, is flexible.   Not to mention the harmonies…

I have no idea what these songs are “about.”  The word Revelator is a word Gillian made up, and then went ahead and defined in the song.  The artistic license in that decision alone inspires me to no end.  If you’ve ever been to an Alternate Routes show, and watched a 6 minute guitar solo, you can rest assured it is not Eric demanding he get to do that before we go on stage.  Allowing an artist to unfold, and to take his or her time is something I need on stage.  I need to be apart of something that redefines itself all the time, something that goes beyond where you thought it would end.

When I saw Gillian Welch play at the Ryman Auditorium. they played “Revelator” last, and the guitar solo was 8 minutes long.  When the audience found themselves beyond that wall, beyond the boundaries they thought the song was made of, and we all turned around and looked back at the shore from that long

This is Gillian

This is Gillian

distance we had been carried away from it, we had been somewhere unique and adventurous, together… and everyone stood up.  When music reaches, when it disorients us, when it brings us out of our own heads into a new place, where we don’t feel like we know anything, where we don’t feel expected to know so much, to a place without precedence , where we can be children and things are possible again, thats when music matters most to me.  That’s the music I’m trying to create on my best day.

So here’s to some pretty ditties and some lofty chatter.  Thanks for reading, I realized today I have no idea how to use apostrophes…

Big Night for Old Friends at the CMAs

In radio interviews and at shows we talk a lot about how we made a commitment to being musicians at a time in our lives when some of our friends were heading off to law school and med school, or joining the Marines, or heading off into the financial industry, or whatever.  If you spend 10 years working at anything, with a little talent and a lot of hard work, you are bound to ascend the ranks no matter where you start or what you’re doing.  Sunday night I was watching the CMAs (Country Music Awards) and a very cool thing happened, that seems to be happening more and more these days.

We were watching Little Big Town perform with Trombone Shorty and the performance was amazing.  Towards the end of the performance a cool-looking guy in great hat, and a mint condition Gibson ES-330 stepped out in front, joined the front row and ripped a guitar solo for 20k people at the MGM Grand in Vegas, (and God knows how many more people sitting on their couches at home.)  I turned to my wife and said, “Hey that’s Evan Weatherford, playing the guitar, I slept on a mattress in his living room once in a while, when I was living in Nashville.”  It was fun to play it down, even though the fact is, I was so ridiculously proud to know this guy, and there was something so exciting about knowing that a guy as humble and hard-working, and talented as my buddy Evan, has ascended the ranks and has made it as far as he has.  There is no telling what he will do next.

I’m telling the story because we are getting to a point in our music careers where the hard work is really starting to pay-off, and the seasoned players, writers, and musicians are starting to emerge at the top of the game.  Jay Joyce produced our first two records in Nashville, and its safe to say that he and Dave Cobb are probably the hottest producers in County Music right now, by far.  Jay produced Girl Crush, performed by Little Big Town and has been winning awards left and right.  He’s produced albums for Eric Church and Carrie Underwood, Amos Lee, Patti Griffin, and so many more. In a couple years, I would be willing to bet you won’t be able to name a top-tier recording artist who hasn’t worked with him, or is hoping to.  So here’s to my buddy Evan, I wouldn’t say we are great friends or anything, but at a time when we were both scraping away in Nashville he had a mattress I could sleep on, and I texted him after the CMAs, and he shot me a message right back.  Its little things like that, that keep you motivated, and make you proud to be swinging away in the music business.

Evan is on the far right in the red carpet photo, standing next to Jay Joyce, and the video of the performance is below.  Bravo Fellas.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 8.27.36 PM

Evan Weatherford on far right.

http://www.axs.com/watch-little-big-town-trombone-shorty-join-forces-at-the-2016-acm-awar-80504