It's been a while since I've written on here. And not for a lack of things to talk about. There's been a lot going on. Let me give you some of the highlights of the last month or so.
Nathan Thomas, my bassist and main go-to-guy, and I have started pre-production on what will eventually turn into the next album. Since moving to Nashville (and a little before) I started demoing ideas on GarageBand. From simple acoustic sketches, to full-blown homemade productions, I've gathered around 20 songs now. Nathan and I have choosen 5 to focus our attention on.
* So Hard to Find an Easy Getaway - the oldest song of the bunch. I originally wrote this song in the Spring of 2008 while visiting my cousin David in Texas. We briefly played it during the last days of the Traveling Mercies. It didn't seem to fit the mood of "Shouting At A Silent Sky", but I kept the song around. Recently, I've revised the lyrics a bit, and we've brought it back into the last few shows. The song has a Chuck Berry style narrative about a troubled flight from Seattle to Texas, and has a Stones-eque loose rock feel. "Well, Austin might as well have been Boston / San Marcos might as well have been Spain / I left the clouds hoping for sunshine / but the dust bowl was flooded with rain / Yeah, the world is so strange it's so hard to make an easy getaway."
* Southern Pines - I started writing this song in the Fall of 2009, and it's gone thru quite an metamorphosis over the last few months. There's a time-change on the chorus, which I kept going back and forth on, but I think it'll be an interesting record when it's done. Like, "Easy Getaway", this song has a storyline narrative, but there are more layers to the lyrics. I originally wrote it as a sort of jazzy tin pan alley tune, then it became more like an Irish Folk song, and now it's going more riff rock. So we'll see where this one ends up. "You took me in under your spell / You clipped my wings and I could tell / Your ivory tower was now my prison cell / I plead my case and I rebelled / Your love letters were all misspelled / And I escaped without a word of farewell."
* What is this Love? - This song burst forth over the Summer of '09, and I've hardly changed a thing since. It's got an almost Latin groove to it, and it feels really fresh to me. Songs about love can be the most challenging since there have been so many great songs (and plenty of crappy ones) written about the subject over the years, but this one comes at it from a unique angle. It's more about the mystery of love, with contrasting sensual and spiritual themes. "What is this love that is spreading / What is this love like a virus / My heart pumps it to my brain and I keep waking up everyday / Just when I think I've had enough / What is this love?"
* When You Found Me - This was the first song I wrote as I settled into Nashville. Again, it's always nice when a love song presents itself and it's not a complete throwaway. The song revolves around a repeating blues riff, with a hypnotic groove, during the bridge it switches between minor and major in a way that hopefully wakes the listener from their trance. instead of focusing on how great life is with this new lover, it focuses more on how bad life was before. "When you found me I didn't believe in love / I'd been burned and I'd been bluffed / Wasn't a woman I could trust / I was blind I could not see / When you found me."
* I Know I Should Know Better - It's ironic that this is the title of the first song I'm re-recording. I originally wrote and recorded the song for the Mercies' first album back in 2007. But over the last couple years, I've felt like I could re-approach this song and breathe new life into it. It's always been an important song to me, and where we are taking it now should be a whole new experience for the listener.
So these are the first batch of songs Nathan and I will be focusing on once he gets back from his Honeymoon.
Honeymoon? On Saturday, June 26th, Nathan married his long-time sweetheart Leslie at a beautiful ceremony in Dickson, TN. They are now off to Mexico for the week. And the rest of the band has been busy as well - over the last month Aaron Tosti has been sharing his drum talents with Run Kid Run, The Almost, and will soon be on the road as a drum-tech for Underoath. Eric Newcomer has been on the road playing bass with House of Heroes, and our most recent addition to the band, the amazingly telented keyboardist Travis Terrell has been driving a bus for Peter Frampton. Yes, Peter Frampton!
So all that to say, progress is gonna be a little slower than I'd like, but hopefully we can find a day or two when each of these great players can add their magic to these tracks. The goal from there is to get these pre-production demos into the hands of people that might be able to take the project to the NEXT level. Whether it's a producer, a label, or whatever - we should have some good tracks to pass around.
So what have I been doing with my downtime? Well, I'm still working three days a week at the best honky tonk on Lower Broadway - Robert's Western World. And lately I've re-discovered my love of painting. I've started a series of "Heroes", and I've almost completed my first two - Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. For Nathan's wedding gift I painted him a portrait of Prince (who is his favorite artist).
As always there is more to talk about, but I've said enough already.
But you'll be hearing from me soon, I promise.