Mortality breeds contempt for life.  We know we all have a short time in this existence, and we all deal with it in strange and unusual ways.  I, like most of my friends, deal with it in the artistic way:  we strive for immortality in stories.  And out of those stories, we really just hope for one thing:

To know we are not alone.

Last night was a changed night.  Last night a different band took 9:15 pm slot at the LJT Music Festival.  As Meagan tied our ties we just looked at each other, jokes and pokes, trying to lighten the mood.  But our eyes were all saying the same thing.  “Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone.”

As we waited behind monitor world for the announcer to kick it off, everyone commiserated.  Bands I hadn’t seen in a long time, friends that I had just seen at Rich’s funeral.  We told quick stories, hugged each other a little longer, and made sure our eye contact said the things we couldn’t express in words.  Then Jay kicked into “Castanets.”

We opened with one of our closers.  The games are over.  The gloves are off.  We’re at war.  A war with monotony.  With dullness.  With wasted time.  And in a glance we committed to each other that this was a war we would win, every time we took a stage from now on.

It wasn’t a blur.  I remember every detail, every thought, every face for those 60 minutes.  I felt each note.  I stomped with all my might.  I counted each tear.  I remember looking into the eyes of Meagan, Manny, Beans, Neil, Thumbs, M-Knight, Muzzie, Brett, Moderas, and countless others.  Cody and I back-to-back.  Willy and I shoulder-to-shoulder.  Dave and I head-to-head.  Blood from bashing Jay’s cymbals with my hands.  The wall of sound flooding over me.  The flood of emotion cleansing me.

It was for Gus.  It was for Rich.  It was for us.

Mortality breeds contempt for life.  We each have a choice, embrace the disdain or live a life of passion.  The choice is never easy, especially with weeks like this past one.  But what I hope everyone sees and what I hope we all show each other with a song, a hug, a smile:

None of us are alone.

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Thunder Road-Bruce Springsteen.

the other day Galleywinter approached me about my favorite Springsteen song.  i did not even hesitate, “Thunder Road” is beyond my favorite.  it is a story that in some twisted way i had lived.

my Mary was blonde;  not petite, curvy and gorgeous.  from the day we met we spent every free moment together.  she understood, she listened, she sang, she comforted, she was honest.  she came to me with no judgement and i gave her all the pieces of my soul.

a year had passed and before we knew, the time had come to take the long walk.  i wasn’t choosing “the road less travelled,” i was flat-out paving my own way.  turning my back on the “promises” and finding my own future.  giving away everyone else’s certainty for my own clarity.  and i wasn’t alone.  my Mary climbed in….

It’s a town full of losers, and we’re pulling out of here to win.

16 years later.  we’re still on the road.

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i’m an artist.

i’ve come under a certain amount of scrutiny in the past two days.  i’ve started doing some follow-up research on this whole “Gibson Guitar Scandal.”  it is each and every person’s choice to decide whether to listen to the sensationalized headlines or to see what’s really going on.  myself and others (lawyers, musicians, business men) are looking into what’s actually happening.  you can ask me and i will answer, but i will not force it on you.

i’m a musician.  i’m a producer.  i make mostly independent albums.  i’m fighting for good music to prevail over corporate mediocracy.  we’ve already come to a turning point where music corporations are grasping at straws to keep their old business models alive.  the internet is evening the playing field and the choice is back into the hands of the fan.

now the government is getting involved.

chastise me all you want.  i’m still going to fight for musician’s rights.  and i’m still going to fight for the companies that make instruments.  most musicians do not have health insurance.  most do not know when their next paycheck is coming. and now our government is beginning to enact laws that will allow them to literally take an instrument out of our hands.  your grandfather’s Martin acoustic?  gone.  BB King’s Lucille?  confiscated.

i will not sit idly by.

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Almost Familiar

my notebook’s a graveyard
my notebook’s a graveyard for love songs
but that doesn’t mean there’s
anything wrong with you…

can i say i believe “Almost Familiar” is the perfect love song?  yes.  will i?  yes.  it’s excitement, fear, confidence and disbelief all blended together in a gorgeous lullaby dedicated to new life.  the foundation of a father.

to say Scott Melott is a great songwriter is an understatement.  listen to the Groobees back catalog, then listen to the Dead End Angel’s “November.”  i could have picked any one of his songs (you’ll find more of his showing their faces as time progresses), so i began with the tune that blows me away upon every listen.  a man not singing for himself, not singing for a “hit,” just singing for the deepest love he will ever know.

buy the song.  put on your headphones.  sit with Scott for 5 minutes.  feel a man’s honest soul.

i’m really gonna need you tomorrow…..

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Big E.

there’s an Elvis story for everyone.  and i love them all.  he made music from his soul.  he was told his music was terrible and yet he still made it.  from a deeply buried desperation he pioneered a music that changed the world.

and at four-years-old my short-lived search for a career was over.  i was going to make rock and roll.

in 1982 i watched Elvis Presley perform on stage.

but wait, what?  huh?  uh……

one night i was told to come into the den.  a screen was set up and two chairs were on either side of the projector.  as i sat down with a glass of milk Dad turned off the lights and started a record player.  Elvis:  As Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis began and suddenly, right there in front of me, a man in a white-sequined jumpsuit began winking, kicking, kissing, chopping his way through the hearts of every single person in this crowd.  i was among them.  it didn’t matter that the music i was hearing wasn’t the music being played on the screen.  it was the same performer.  it was the same band.  it was magic.  all caught on an 8 mm camera my father snuck into an Elvis concert.

nothing was the same again.  i couldn’t get enough of Dad’s Elvis albums.  i wanted to watch that concert over and over.  fast-forward 16 years and i’m head-engineer at Cedar Creek Recording working on the same console that recorded the live album that started my journey.

Jamming on the Elvis Neve!

remember the man today.  i’m going to listen to what i consider the most soulful vocal performance ever captured.  the end of this song gives me chills every time.  from the ’68 Comeback Special, “If I Can Dream.”

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I Hope It’s Good Enough Schane.  i can’t say enough about this man.  songwriter.  boot maker.  artist.  friend.  he’s one of the hardest workers i know.  he pushes himself past his comfort zone.  he bleeds for what he loves.  the proof is in the craftsmanship.  and that’s what songwriting is, his craft.

i listened to Antique Noises a few weeks ago, remembering the joy we had making it.  so many songs i love spinning around, and then “I Hope It’s Good Enough” came on.  i was caught in a trance.  such a gorgeous melody pouring affirmations out to a single deserving heart.  it’s not begging or pleading.  it’s not false promising.  he’s not trying to win the girl.

he’s singing a song of honor.  a song of respect.  a song of the truest love.  the love we all pray to both give and receive.

buy it here.

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Top of the World

Patty Griffin.  that’s all you really have to say.  in my humblest of opinions, the greatest songwriter alive right now.  if you know her, you know this.  if you don’t, i beg of you to look into her catalog.  see who has covered her.  this is one of those covers.

Dixie Chicks‘ “Home” holds a special place.  it’s one of mine.  i helped it into this world.  and i sat down and just listened as Natalie told me the story.

this song brings me to tears.  i won’t lie.  no ego.  it’s pure and raw emotion.  regret.  REGRET.  every thing i’ve done, every person i’ve wronged, every time i’ve cut, it all comes out.  i’m hurt, angry, revengeful, prideful.  i’m terrible.  and then i EXPLODE.  i scream.  the melody encompasses me.

and then it’s over.

the power of music. get it here.

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The Pugilist At 59

Matt Skinner was the first person to turn me on to Tom Russell.  i hadn’t a clue who he was and Matt and i were running around Steamboat Springs a few years back prepping for another MusicFest.  as these stories started filling the cab of his chevy, Matt told me about this songwriter who became one of his main influences.  then he popped in “Love and Fear,” and the first tune came to life in my mind.

here you have it.  living.  aging.  not complaining.  not reminiscing.  just surviving.  surviving with that hunger.  that need.  i have that.  as i get older, i find that the hunger grows.  that will to do something.  not to lie down and wait, but to live every day.  this song embodies that lust.

get it here.

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No Way Out

to say i’m a fan of Mike Ethan Messick is an understatement.  i hang on every word he sings.  i engage myself in every tale.  he writes every song for me.  at least that’s what he makes me think.

No Way Out floors me.  i’m every character in each verse.  i don’t talk to the girl.  i don’t get on the boat.  my song is never heard.  each verse brings up old feelings.  hurt.  guilt.  fear.

and yet, it’s inspiring.  drawing you to take the risk.  to give the world what you have.  to leave your blood, sweat and tears on the mat.  to live your life.

you can decide for yourself.  i’m partial.  if you don’t have it, get it here.

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the word less written

i do not remember a time i wasn’t writing music.  even when my father showed me my first bass line, i was twisting it around into something that appealed to me.  melody just made sense.  but it wasn’t until about 15 years later that someone made me write a lyric with him.  Mike McClure had a little guitar riff and a hook line.  in no time we wrote “Fool’s Holiday” (here’s 11 Bones performing it during a MusicFog SXSW showcase).

Mike opened up a whole world to me.  letting my soul out in a new way.  we wrote a few more tunes together and i even found other people that wanted to write with me, birthing more tunes which are floating out there somewhere in cyberspace.  then for no reason what-so-ever, i shut it off.  fear?  pain?  hate?  greed?  yes.  yes to all of those questions and more.  writing wasn’t for me.  i’d never be good enough.  no one would like it.  go back to doing what you know.  why should i even try?

because it’s me.  it’s who i am.  i have a voice.  i have something to say.

i made the decision to shut my ego down.  the bigger the ego, the more you are held back.  i had to let it go.  move into my own life, not my pride’s.

i’m about to start posting new music and poetry.  writings, ramblings, nonsense and all-sense.  putting it out there in all it’s honesty.  this will be it’s first home before i send it out to the rest of the world.  a place for my friends and loved ones to get it before anyone else.

take a deep breath.  open your mouth.  do you have something to say?

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