I play guitar.
I also write music, but not as often. The last album I wrote was “Desert Center” with my rock band Felt, which I contributed all but one of the songs lyrically and in retrospect it was a very dark and miserable album. Between the heavy influence of my favorite songwriter Adam Duritz (who does not know the word “happy”) and my own need to vent the miserableness of my late 20′s the album was very lyrically dark. For some reason I felt like everything I wrote needed to be something from my own experience to be believable on some level..once life didn’t suck anymore (met a great girl and got married, had kids, started a business, etc) I essentially ran out of things to bitch about. Lyrically I dried up for years popping out the occasional song for Felt but not really finding it in myself to put words to paper in any meaningful way.
Last year I decided to do a blues album, which I thought would be something different to write and perhaps easier. Its a style of music I’ve always listened to and played regardless of whatever else is going on for me musically. I could write some songs that outside of the realm of rock music and perhaps do something “fun”. And the songs came very quickly, much easier to write than rock music for me but only a couple of songs had upbeat content. The rest of them were the stuff of the blues…and country music I guess. Broken hearts, hard times, betrayal, old trucks, I had it all. But suddenly was writing songs at a quicker pace that were stories all themselves in one way or another…I didn’t have to be miserable to be creative (or interesting).
This week I put a CD together of 10 of the 14 songs we had recorded that I thought together made a good album. I wanted to listen to the rough mixes while I was driving around and get a feel for what I had and I even gave a copy to my wife to check out for a little outside input.
Most of the time this week since its spring break I’ve been driving around with my kids in the car and they’ve gotten a kick out of listening to the music, too. I’ve noticed my 4 year old daughter (who just started Piano lessons and loves to sing with whatever is on the radio) trying to follow and sing along with some of the songs which definitely made me smile.
This morning though, after a short ride where we heard the songs “I’m Gonna Leave” and “Someone Elses’ Fool” (you can guess what those are about) my daughter says “Dad, I just want to tell you that if you marry another girl you’re not allowed to have another family”.
Turns out, one of her favorite shows on Disney Channel had just introduced a story line where one of the girls had just met her new step-brother and they weren’t getting along (apparently Disney is “getting real” with their children’s programming these days). My daughter spent two days listening to her father singing songs about “I’m gonna leave if you’re gonna stay” and “I’m going back to see my family, going back to meet somebody new” and so on and thought that I was actually going to do those things. And she didn’t want to have to meet a stinky new step-brother or anything like that like they did on her TV show.
So I spent a few minutes explaining that I wasn’t going anywhere, Mommy and Daddy are very happy and very much in love and that sometimes when you write songs you are telling stories that aren’t from real life because you want to write something interesting for the listener. My son at that moment piped in with “well, why can’t you write a song about a happy family and their dog?” I replied that I couldn’t do an entire album of songs like that and while the blues has lots of happy songs I needed some sad stuff too…and Jack already has a song that we recorded
A snippet from a rehearsal of the instrumental “Jacks Jump” that was my sons favorite “going to school” music for a few weeks:
Anyhow, once that crisis was averted I was able to drop my now-smiling children off at their grandparents shop and go on with my day.
As far as the album goes, I’m actually very happy with the music and the performances that that band has put in and Producer/Engineer/RIngleader Scott had not only gotten some great sounds but also pulled some great performances from everyone and helped me edit my songs and guitar playing into what I think is a pretty cool sound. I’m hoping to have a finished product to share with everyone this summer but in the mean time here is a rough mix of the instrumental “Pop!” from the album: