Each day leading up to the album release on March 10 I’ll be adding a sneak peak to a recording from the album.
Track 11 is Right Before Your Eyes. A phrase I use with my Teacher Ed students is to be aware of the those students who are hiding in plain sight. That idea morphed into the hook line of Right before your eyes. And I think I wrote the first line of the pre-chorus when things started to open up with this global pandemic thing–remember that? Remember when we first started to go out in public and we’d hold our breath when passing someone in the grocery store. Was that just me? And Linnea’s harmony/countermelody on this. Perfect.
Track ten from the new album is Come On In. This was written the week after Any Kind of Weather. The song prompt from the songwriting group I’m in was payphone, but I was fresh off having “binged” and analyzed John Prine songs for a week to write Any Kind of Weather, and so that structure–describe scenes with specificity at the sensual level and then derive meaning driving the character to do (or not do) something. I began with an image of a guy in a bar using the payphone to call his wife and make a lame excuse why he wasn’t coming home yet. That image and word didn’t survive the edits, because well, it wasn’t set in 1990, but hte story was the same to explore. Why is this person choosing to sit in a bar alone drinking when he’s got a warm home to go to?
Track nine from the new album is Come Again the Merciful. This is definitely a pandemic song, with lines like
Aching for those passed
Look ahead and look back
And the chorus:
Come again the merciful
Through the darkest nights
Our loves our lives come again
The eigth track is Growing Old Together. Having a little fun with this onewriting about, well growing old together with a partner.
For the seventh track, the prompt that inspired it was the word “price.” In thinking about that word, I thought of Vincent Price. Well not really Vincent Price but Bill Hader’s over the top version of him on Saturday Night Live. I found found quotes from his autobiography and thought about the conversation one might have with the Vincent Price characature. And to top it off I thought, it’d be better while sitting in a bar listening to Greg Brown. The quotes are from Price’s autobiography and the song references are all referencing Greg Brown songs. So, here’s Meeting Vincent Price in an Iowa Bar (While Listening to Greg Brown). Title pretty much says it all (and then some). Dave Novak provides the very Bo Ramsey-esque electric guitar on this.
The sixth track on the album is Mystified. This is really a love song to my family. Each seen described represents some aspect of my relationship with my wife and my two daughters. And it features Wendy Smith on the penny whistle.
Here’s the fifth track, It’s Hard to Have Hope These Days. I wrote this last spring the day that it was revealed that the Supreme court was voting to overturn Roe v. Wade. I went for a walk and thought of my two daughters and how they must be feeling as young women this day. On the walk I was walking by a pond near my house, there was a warm spring wind, a turtle sunning itself on a log, frogs were singing, and a goose was trolling along with a line of brand new goslings behind it. And I thought of a Greg Brown line in a song, “It’s a messed up world but I love it anyway.” This song is a duet with Linnea as I wrote it as a conversation between a young woman and an old white dude.
Here’s the fourth track, Thinking About You, from the album. I wrote this sitting by the fire pit at the cabin. The previous day had ended with the sunlight washing everything in a golden hue as the sun got low in the sky. And from there, I plucked this song from the ether pretty much as it is here.
Here’s the third track, Any Kind of Weather, from the album. I wrote this from a prompt in a songwriting group that was simply a picture of John Prine. I was visiting my daughter in July in Portland and it was already 90 degrees by 8:00 am. What would John do. He’d describe the details of what he sees and is experiencing and then draw some meaning or story from that. So, that’s the attempt here.
Here’s the second track off the album, Astroman & Vega Boy. A prompt (astro) from a songwriting group led me to a story of a local sports reporter in Houston years ago who stayed atop the Astrodome until the Astros where eliminated from the playoffs. Fortunately for him, it only lasted 10 days where they rigged up a basket to bring food up to him. They dubbed him Astroman. Dave Novak just crushes the lead guitar on this one.
Here’s the first track off the album, Rolling Past Cape Girardeau I wrote the first verse and came up with the title while driving past Cape Girardeau Missouri on I-55 the spring of 2021. It wasn’t lost on me that this city seems to be about located in the dead center of the continental U.S.