Saturday, September 22, 2012

Clam Bake City

I've seen it all, this world we're living in
From the smallest branch to the garden wall
Your mother came to me at the Sadie Hawkins dance
Said, "Hey big man, we could have it all"

My Uncle Jim, he wanted her pretty bad
I said, "Man, give it all you got"
He said, "Hey baby, I've got 6 grand in these docks
Your name - I can put it on the deed lot"

I'm headed out to Clam Bake City
Where the grass is green and the trees are pretty
You don't get out of here, you just get through when it's gritty
And I hope you do it better than me

I blew on in, felt like an outlaw in a saloon
Said I will dictate my own terms
Nineteen years later with a four dollar and fifty cent raise
I'm ready to cash out with what I've earned

I get you guys every other weekend
Your mother's hair salon, the council's tearing it down
I always told her she bit off more than she could chew
Hop on in, we're heading out of town

We're headed out to Clam Bake City
Where the grass is green and the dew is pretty
You don't get out of here, you just get through when it's gritty
And I hope you do it better than me

Sometimes I wonder if I'd have been this good with her
I build that bike shed, I fixed my own transmission
I get to read about your games in all the papers
I buy a 6 pack when you win

Your Auntie Sherry, I know she takes good care of you
Sees you off to school each day
Takes you by the cemetery to see your mother 3 times each week
Then I take us all again every Sunday

I'm heading out to Clam Bake City
Where the grass is green and the tall trees so pretty
You don't get out of here, you just get through when it's gritty
And I hope you do it better than me
I hope you do it better than me


© David Newbould 2012

Monday, September 12, 2011


Like almost everyone, the days that culminated in this past weekend were spent sifting through a national 9/11 memorandum, and thinking about not only 9/11 itself, but also trying to come up with some sort of conclusion about the whole 9/11 "celebration". I guess I ended up deducing - typically - that there are millions of wasted words from TV and other news outlets regarding just about any occasion, and this was no different. I did watch news anchors try to fill up hours of TV time talking about whatever they could think of that had to do with the occasion. I watched those towers fall more times than I had in ten years, and I generally wished people with nothing new to say would shut up. Of course I speak not of the memorial services themselves, but just the know.

At the same time, though, something struck me. Peoples' stories are important, and people's stories from that day are very important, and they all deserve to be told. One way to see what makes a society what it is is to look at how its people react to things. Most people watch TV, read books, see movies. The Wire, Breaking Bad...Harry Potter even....all works of fiction designed to both entertain and - to a lesser extent - help us better understand our own selves as a people. What struck me amid all the cynicism pelting down over the 9/11 hoopla is that buried in there are severe works of non-fiction, of people at a real life 11th hour, and they are defining who they are, and who...people are. Not grand swathes of conclusion, but rather just...who some of us are. I felt that if I can devote 20 minutes to an episode of Law & Order, then I owe it more to myself to watch, read, or listen to peoples' stories from that day once again. People close to it, and people not as close. They are more important than Walter White's story, or Nancy Botwin's, and more revealing.

When I personally think back to that day, there are things are burned into my memory that will surely stay forever. I think about how I was - like most musicians - fast asleep at 9 am! But I remember the heart, fear, concerns, and cares - the calls coming through from friends, panicked calls that some had spend hours trying unsuccessfully to make, before finally getting through. I remember the feeling of helplessness I had standing in my Queens apartment, not 5 miles from the World Trade Center, wondering if a bomb was about to land on my very own roof. There is a lot I don't remember - only a few things remain between the time when I woke up and fazed into what had happened, and the time when the NY bridges and tunnels re-opened, and I could go be with my then-girlfriend, who lived on the Jersey shore. She and I had been on the phone until 6 am. She had an 11 am court date that day to settle some custody issues regarding her 7 year old son (she got him). I remember trying to get hold of her to find out what had happened, and - incredibly - wanting to make sure she knew what had happened up where I was (talk about losing perspective). I remember my roommate Aron - a wonderful dude who I've unfortunately since lost contact with - coming home covered in white, having walked his bike all the way from lower Manhattan, and how grateful I was to see him. Myself waking up at 11:30, trying to remember the haze of both of my parents' separate phone calls to me asking if I was alright (and their having to explain why they were asking)...I had collapsed back into sleep immediately after both phone calls ("Huh...what...zzzzz..."). I remember sending out emails to all my friends and family telling them I loved them, saying things like how I was afraid, how I didn't understand this world, and that I hoped I would see them all again soon.

*I remember not caring that Rudy Giuliani was a Republican or that I hadn't agreed with practically a single thing he'd done in his 8 years in office. It's true that we're all now aware that he foolhardedly decided to put his emergency response command office a block away from WTC, rather than downtown Brooklyn as had been recommended. And that if he hadn't put it there, we probably would have seen him carting it to Brooklyn rather than walking through the Trade Center ruins. Even still, a thing I remember is being awestruck and grateful at the fearlessness he displayed that day, the resolve. There I was afraid to leave my own apartment, and he was down there - trying to settle on a command post, but also surveying, helping, making decisions, representing our city, and saying "we won't back down". In that moment, I didn't know if anyone could not be terrified, or if anyone knew what to say, and standing there alone, I needed to hear that, and see that. Whatever feelings I've had for the guy before or since (there are a great many), he'll always have that asterisk next to his legacy for that in my book, a man who displayed courage and resolve that morning, and in the weeks to follow. I thank him.

When I look back on that time, much of what I think about is of how much I loved my city, and how much it meant for me to be there when it happened. It was in 1993, fresh out of high school, that I decided to leave my native Canada for New York. The years I spent there - I really can't believe now that it was as long as it was - but it was just something I did because I felt the need to. I was in love with it. All my heroes had excavated themselves from where they grew up to go New York City to make their name. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen... And I had done the same. I remember my mother saying after the attacks, "You need to come home to Canada". I remember thinking no, there has never been a time in my life that I want to be here, and stay here, more than now. I wanted to do whatever I could for the other 9 million people who crowded those subways, rat-raced their way through each day, both loving and hating this place in which they'd they had chosen to dwell. It proved to be a defining moment, and also a final act for my life in New York. Only 4 months later, I would move my career to Austin, TX, meet by soon-to-be wife, and eventually end up here in Nashville. A lot of things have changed, but many have not. I still struggle and work as a musician, I still have guys named Charlie in my band, and I cherish my years in New York. I still wouldn't change anything. And all this hoopla helped make me remember the way I felt in the months after the attack - about myself, my life, and my then-city. You've all heard how nice people were to one another in the weeks after. Maybe not so much about how they soon tightened up, got cold, retreated into their prejudices and fears once the glow of brother-and-sisterhood faded. I guess it happens.

That night, at 5 or 6 o'clock, I got onto the 7 train and went to Penn Station to get the NJ Transit to Belmar. I lined up for my ticket, and an employee said to me, "Don't worry man, today it's on us". I could never have imagined that being said. I sat on the train with countless people covered in white, and got off at my stop. I was supposed to have a show with my band the next night - Wed the 12th - at Manitoba's on the lower east side, and I remember calling my guys and saying, "What do you want to do?". My friend Charlie put it in some perspective. "Dude, 5000 people just died". Yeah... I don't remember a lot of what Jenna and I did for 3 days - probably watched a lot of news - but I do remember driving back into the city and seeing the smoke coming out of lower Manhattan, and remarking that it looked like a massive campfire spreading its smoke over the entire city. I just couldn't get my head around it. I wished that we had spent those 3 days being down there helping people, like my friend Rob did - it's one thing I've always regretted.

We went out to a bar in Long Branch the night of the 11th. There was a band called Khantra playing - pretty young kids, maybe 21 or 22. One of the other things I remember about the day was something the Khantra singer said - profound and on point. Oddly, it was probably the first time in the day that I was able put anything in any sort of perspective. Before one of their songs, he said, "This next song is dedicated not only to all the people who died today, but to all the people who are gonna die still, as a result of everything".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Concert Footage, Neil Young

It's been awhile since I journeyed into blogland, because there just hasn't been that much blog about. For those keeping score, though, I've been working on songs - both alone, and with friends like Kalisa Ewing and Scott Laurent - and also putting together new touring situations for the fall and beyond. The outlook is pretty good right now.

I've also been planning my wedding! that I mean that Kim and I have been editing and re-editing our guest list. For those of you who don't know, Kim and I are getting married in March 2012, on a steamboat on the Mississippi off New Orleans. I can barely wait. It's going to be a lot of fun, though I don't know what to wear.

I got some good footage from our Bluebird show awhile back, and have put together a bootleg DVD of it, which I'm going to start selling at shows, along with the already existing 12th & Porter bootleg. To go down a side tunnel though, how sad is it that it's become acceptable now to take a show that you recorded, with you (or a friend's) own equipment, of your own show, packaged yourself...and call it a "bootleg"? I know I just did it, but it's sad, and everybody does it now. "Bootleg" used to carry an element of danger. You used to have to go to conventions, in warehouses an hour outside of town, to buy them from shady weirdos incapable of conversation. And you thought that if a cop caught you with it on the'd get arrested (or at least have it confiscated)! Now we authorize our own :(

In any event, here are a few clips from my Bluebird "Bootleg". Band credits are at the end of each track. If you like the clips, please direct your friends to them:

As you can see, I had a good ol' time with the Windows Movie Maker program.

I'll be doing 4 or 5 shows in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kansas next month. Dates and places are HERE. There are still one or two to be added.

From our Douglas Corner show a few weeks ago, a few more pics from the magnificent Jon Karr:

When I was 14, a guy I knew lent me Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps concert film. It's safe to say that it changed my life, changed the way I looked at music. In the years since 1980, Neil Young has put out some wonderful stuff, a career with lots of highlights. In the 10-12 years up to around 1980 though, he was just a stone cold genius. So uncompromising, so artistically brave. No one else could have made the music that he made. The music affects me now the same way it did when I was 14. It makes me wonder how.

For those not familiar, here's the original Cortez The Killer. A lot of people prefer some of the live ones, with their epic crescendos and valleys, but to me this will always be the one:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Future Wife, and Joe Ely!

What an eventful last 12 days. A week and a half ago while I was performing my second show in two weeks at the Bluebird, my girlfriend Kim was hit by a woman running a red light, injuring her and totaling her car. Fortunately, she was not injured all that badly, and the insurance is going to cover the car. But what trauma.

Then, the next night...I asked her to marry me! This was planned, of course, before the accident, but the surprise for me was that my own brother and his girlfriend showed up at the party (the night was also my birthday), completely unbeknownst to me. Er...from Toronto. Kim had planned this. So that was quite a surprise. But I trumped it! So what a milestone, a moment neither of us will ever forget, and we look forward to the rest of our lives together.

Then last night, my band and I opened for Joe Ely. And it was a great night. As a fan, I couldn't have hoped for anything more. I gave the performance of my life and we got a standing ovation from Joe's crowd. Then Joe came on and did what exactly he's built a career doing - he stole the show. Where we brought the thunder and the electricity, Joe brought the wind, the rain, the motorcycles, the stories, the righteousness, the outlaws, the plains....and the electricity. I feel no bashfulness in saying I felt fearless to give it my all, because I know that you can't blow Joe Ely off the stage. His personality and depth is such that over the course of his show, nothing else matters. I feel no shame saying that I wanted him to steal the night. Because he's Joe Ely. He leaves you with moments you'll never forget. Want proof:

And how are you going to top this:

I'm thankful for the night, and look forward to more great nights.

Here are a couple of pics from Jon Karr (,, who came to a show of ours a few nights prior:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Obama's Birth Certificate

I can think of no more disgusting act in American political culture of recent times than the President of the United States being pressured into finally showing us all his birth certificate. People say, "Why didn't he just do it years ago and put it to rest?" Here's why: because he owes you nothing. Donald Trump is very proud of himself (his words) for making the President finally put this "controversy" to rest. All Donald Trump has done is help torpedo the standards of American decency, brain capacity, and acceptability to unheard of lows. Congratulations, sheep head. The truth is that nothing could be more undignified, insulting, un-presidential for the office of President, than to pander to these baseless assholes by giving them what they deem necessary. Period.

Of course, considering the true colors of American brain function were being exposed to include much more jello and pig vomit than most people might have thought possible in 2011, Obama's back was obviously to the wall. How are you going to talk about Global Economic issues, unemployment, the difficulties of dealing with oil prices, troubling nations, and radical movements across the world, when over half of your opposing constituency in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina believe that you are a Muslim terrorist, who fought for the rebel army of Kenya in Stalin's Indonesia, in an attempt to free your people from the surrounding rings of Saturn? How are you supposed to talk to these people like an adult? Like all people with an IQ in triple digits, I was looking forward to the day when this controversy would go away. Maybe Barack Obama would use it to his own advantage, avoiding the question while the little puke Trump's campaign (what's with the shape of his mouth when he talks, anyway?) grew to feverish pitches, only for Obama to suddenly unveil the certificate during the 3rd Presidential debate, a pair of spotlights shining down on the 1961 Governor of Hawaii and the delivery doctor, both sitting idly in the front row. Yes, I wanted this to go away, but I had mixed feelings about the president stooping to this unheard of level of moronic tide in order to do it. And now I feel like I need to take a shower. People claim the race card is overused, and often times it certainly is. I am afraid that this has little do do with anything, though, other than race.

For starters, why did Barack Obama have to show us his birth certificate? Clinton didn't have to. Nixon didn't have to. Eisenhower never had to. George Bush wasn't pressed to show us his high school diploma. John McCain was never going to be made to show us his birth certificate - and his birth on US soil involves a much more precarious set of circumstances than Obama's (even while it is clear that he is in fact a naturalized citizen). Now that it's done, for Obama to show us his birth certificate is for the half black guy with a funny name, with a father from a country most of us know little about, being forced to say, "Here is the extra proof you need to know that I am legitimate for this position. So we're cool?". Why didn't he do it before? Jackie Robinson was given a directive to not reply to racists for 2 years when he joined Major League Baseball. In 1947. 64 years later, why is it acceptable for the President of The United States to have to throw a bone to the same segment of society - 2 or 3 generations on - to allow himself the privilege of being allowed to continue to be their elected representative, when there are no credible facts to the contrary? Well it was possible? The best anyone could come up with was that without the long form birth certificate, anything could be possible, so here are some theories. Well gall darn, I suppose so. Half black, Kenya, Hussein, liberal...with Mitt Romney's health care plan, income tax rates 2/3 the level of Reagan's, and with a former radical Christian minister...obviously an illegitimate Muslim socialist.

The whole rumor initially took off with Orly Taitz - a classic certifiable looney ("...Anyone with an average IQ - 60 - could understand what I'm talking about..."). She got busted trying to produce a phoney Kenyan Obama birth certificate, one that actually had the name of the country wrong - woops - and was fined by the US Supreme Court for wasting their time on it. Four of the movement's biggest mainstream propagators have been Glenn Beck - a guy who in an interview bragged about his lack of education, how, "When i was a kid I saw a guy on TV and thought, 'Wouldn't that be cool!'" - Sharron Angle, who told a group of Asian student that hey, sometimes she got mistaken for Asian while growing up, too...

Sharon Angle

...Michelle Bachmann, and of course Rush Limbaugh, whose fat ass was outraged when Michelle Obama tried to promote healthy eating for kids, because, "she doesn't exactly look like a model."

Let's say you hate Barack Obama. Say you hate him because he chooses to spend on more domestic programs than you deem necessary. Say health care just the way it was. Say you think he's annoying, too into himself, not as funny as he thinks he is, that he came into office unproven, that he rode a wave that had more to do with George Bush, and feeling good about ourselves again, than it did about him being a good leader. Say you disagree with both his foreign policy initiatives and the way he reacts to unforseen conflicts in other nations. Say you don't like him, and say you want him to go down in flames in 2012.

I know you. I know these people. I live in Tennessee, and I know I have friends very dear to me who can't stand the man. That's fine, I accept this. I enjoy debate and I enjoy the "clash of ideas" to further deepen one's position. It's necessary, and without it there is no America. I ask why, though, you choose to sell out not your opinions, but your intelligence. Embarrass yourself. Embarrass the country. You can make political arguments. You can vote. You can get your friends to vote. But you can't take back this wave of paranoia and racism you rode on. You can't take it back, and you should be ashamed. No-one should have to prove their legitimacy in the face of such empty allegation, brought on by people who clearly have agendas of their own. Those people know what they are doing. Newt Gingrich - he knows the president is an American. Romney - he knows. John McCain chose not to lower himself to this. Pawlenty, Barbour, maybe even Huckabee - they all know. You were played. You have cheapened America, cheapened the dignity of the office of US President, cheapened the racial progress we so champion, and now we all have to take a shower and move on.

Shame on you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Those Guys?

Here's a thought: imagine if...anyone else in the world...were held to the same standards of behavior, and perceived moral righteousness, as the American professional athlete seems to be. Carpenters, analysts, stockbrokers...anyone. Imagine America as a nation swimming in a sea of people that looked and sounded like Mitt Romney.

Two days ago, Kobe Bryant got in trouble for losing it on a ref, calling him a "fucking faggot". Weak, offensive words on a number of levels, but let's dig deeper. When asked about the incident on a radio show, Kobe said - as one would expect - that he meant no disrespect to gays and lesbians, that in the heat of the moment he lost his cool and just yelled out an angry slur, he regrets it, and that as someone kids look up to, he would never want them to think that this is OK, or the right thing to do. This saying, of course (faggot) being one that in the homophobe worlds of corporate America and jock culture that Kobe Bryant inhabits, is tossed around almost as much as, "just keepin' busy", or "one day at a time". He also said that he planned to meet with gay and lesbian groups personally to atone, that he believed people have the right to be whoever they are and be respected, and that he took no umbrage with the fine levied against him by the NBA as a result. That fine? $100,000.

So this guy didn't blame it on the referee, and seemed to be taking a somewhat - somewhat - adult level of responsibility for his dumbass actions. Go spend 5 minutes listing to corporate US sports media and all you hear is how Kobe never "apologized". That he probably never would. He never said, "I was wrong". No, he didn't say those words, he expanded to the practical level of what those phrases actually entail. "I will atone", "Don't think this is acceptable", "I will pay for my actions". And for this, he's a morally hopeless cause. Sports.

Quite a contrast from, say, the 4 lunkheads - hit songwriters - I mentioned earlier...singing about queers and how, "That shit ain't never been right". Weird! Clearly we know their actual feelings. They're not going to tell you they lost their cool, or that they're meeting with gay and lesbian groups to try and atone for their sins. Question them they'll tell you about free speech, go further and they'll say it's God's rule, not theirs. OK. They have publishers pitching all their songs to every big Montgomery Gentry in the country, Kobe Bryant's getting fined $100 grand. Why? Why are mainstream athletes supposed to be of a higher caliber of human than anyone else? I seriously don't know. I don't know it's origin. Ty Cobb, one of the original 7 baseball hall of famers, was a worthless, full on racist. And Babe Ruth - hookers and partying...during prohibition! Poor Derek Jeter, he could never get away with that if he wanted to.

Also 2 days ago, Barry Bonds was (sort of) found guilty for lying to the grand jury about his steroid use. In the world of sports, you have to take this purity act so seriously that you'll lie all the way up to the Supreme Court to defend it. Steroids aren't even illegal. They're just illegal in baseball. And they weren't even illegal in baseball most of the time he was taking them. So they spent all this taxpayer money proving what they, you, and everybody else already knows - that Barry Bonds was taking steroids. Whoop-de-do.

In the outside world...who the hell cares? In's a big deal. Why? Several years ago, there was a book - an in depth investigation by some reporters into the secret, underground world of athletes procuring performance enhancing drugs. It was called, "Game Of Shadows". Oooooh. Even Bob Costas was saying isn't this book itself basis enough for the league to terminate certain payers, render them ineligible for the Hall of Fame, file motions, etc, etc. Hmmm. Here's another book I just read - "Life", by Keith Richards. There was more drug use in one leg of one Rolling Stones tour than in the entire history of the NFL, baseball, olympics, and world cup combined. And they've been in the rock and roll hall of fame for 22 years. They probably even had their own wing at some point. Who's going to stop listening to Brown Sugar? Here's another book - "You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again", by Julia Phillips, former Hollywood movie executive. It details enough snow in Hollywood to make the back rooms of Warner Brothers look like the surface of the north pole. Drugs, wife swapping, you name it. Yet are they ever going to take Michael Bay or Jack Nicholson's stars off the Hollywood walk of fame? Unlikely. Why - because no one cares. Who's going to stop watching Taxi Driver? Beyond the spectacle, no one cares what people do who they don't know.

Not that I'm bemoaning the unjust prosecution of today's professional athlete for purposes of sympathy. They will be fine. I just don't expect any more out of them than I do anyone else I don't know. It's amusing that they are held to these standards - righteous standards beyond those of even other famous sects of our culture. People lie, cheat on their wives, and take drugs in all walks of life. I'm sure some hockey players are great people, some meglomaniacal pricks, and some a bit of both. Jose Canseco is talked about like a lost soul, like he's beyond hope, like reading his book is like reading Bernie Madoff or something. A look into the way the other side thinks. Yet everyone reads Keith's book like - Rock it! Same people. Cooperstown and Cleveland could have been contracted by the same parent company. When people want to think about having a good time, they live vicariously through rock and rollers. When they feel like they need to be Jesus Christ, for some reason they choose to live vicariously through these guys. No middle.

I'm not saying I feel badly for them, I'm just glad I'm not one of them. Who wouldn't want to be Keith Richards? Who would want to be Barry Bonds?

Or Jimmer Fredette. One day he's going to reveal himself as a flawed human, and all hell's going to break loose. I know The Fleet Foxes don't feel that pressure, or the next guy on the ladder at Ford.

So choose rock and roll.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

James McMurtry at The Bluebird, Me at 12th and Porter

Lately I've found myself at The Bluebird Cafe a lot. For those who don't know, The Bluebird is a legendary, extremely renowned acoustic listening room in Nashville. 99% of their shows are songwriter rounds, and they have 2 rounds per night: a late round with mostly established songwriters who have lots of hits sung by other people (Montgomery Gentry, Reba MacIntyre, etc), and an early round with mostly songwriters with no hits. Sometimes you see some amazing music. People like Tony Arata, Georgia Middleman, Walt Aldridge, Rivers Rutherford...people with soul, and songs that go beyond being just hits or cuts. Then a lot of times you hear weak carbon copies of older better songs, exclusively about Jesus, whiskey, I'm-from-a-small-town, guns, mama...all fine topics, I suppose, but please - this territory has been freakin' covered. Sometimes you see everything wrong with country music rolled into one show. Last month, I happened to see a late round with 4 lunkheads who were actually worse than the early round (a rarity). Every moment was catered entirely to the "proud of my 15 IQ" crowd, much flak was given to the one guy in the round who forgot his baseball cap, and they worked hard to alienate as much of the crowd as they could with insanely stupid jokes (eg. "What's emptier than an empty soda can? A democrat's head"). Then they started gay bashing, right there the stage. And eventually - you can tell where this is going - they sang a whole gay bashing song they had written. Imagine. This isn't some hole in the wall off the highway in rural Kentucky, this is an esteemed club. Then to finish off the set, we find out that one of them is the guy who wrote "She's Country". So they all played that. Yee haw!

At the other end of the spectrum, in every conceivable way, you have James McMurtry. Here's the thing with James: he rocks. James is out of Texas, and as far as my world goes, in terms of Texas songwriters you have Townes Van Zandt, James McMurtry, and then everyone else. Guy Clark and Willie too, I'll give you that. So James played last night - part of the 1% who gets his own show - and I spent 6 weeks making sure I could be there for it. Amazing. And then...then...sadly, a tragic confluence of events made it so that I could only stand down the back hallway of the Bluebird and listen. I hadn't seen James play in about 2 years, and my soul was painfully aware of the landscapes of which it was being deprived. I used to see James all the time in Austin - he plays almost every Wednesday - and I never had to go too long to start missing him. My old guitar player Charlie is very close to him, and he used to go on about him (like a number of things, I came to find out later that Charlie was right and I was wrong). Like all of the best things ("Exile On Main Street", Bob Dylan, broccoli rabe), James took some extended exposure for me to really come around. Some things plant their talons in you and just grow. With James...there is a way of writing songs that makes you pause and breathe between the lines and notes, like in a novel. What's in the lines somehow emotes this strange shadow that makes you look for what else is there, like he's not telling you everything (and James tells you a lot). It's never finite, it can always change. It's between you and the song. It's endless. What makes it great is what is in the lines, but what makes it everlasting is what's left between them. His characters' landscapes, stories, emotions (or sometimes lack thereof) - the way they're spelled out is very real and you can practically reach out and touch them. Or at least you can feel them brush up against you like an impending tornado squall. The dry, often twisted, pain that these people go through - you feel them, and they don't leave you. And that's what James does. And the authority with which he delivers his songs! It's terrifying! Not for the faint of heart. James McMurtry as a pure singer will never be confused with Aaron Neville or Smokey Robinson, or Norah Jones. Not so much a "singer", per se. Think more Lou Reed. His voice is one of those very rare voices, like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, whose sole timbre is the truth. "We Can't Make It Here" - 3 chords and the truth - that's it, folks. Yet embarrassing as it is to say, I routinely well up when I listen to his music - the vivid pictures and relationships he hits you with, how it could be you, me, someone we love, anyone. How can someone's voice weigh so much, and yet still walk with a light step? The unique and personal melodies he delivers, that belong only to him. He's really a one of a kind, is James. And last night I found myself welling up from the back hall (secretly, of course), listening to so many of these stories going by, too far away from me. "Ruby And Carlos", "Holiday", "Rachel's Song", "Hurricane Party"...on it went. Finally then, towards the end of the show, I was able to go sit down and watch, to close my eyes, and go there. "Levelland", "Lights Of Cheyenne", "Peter Pan". It hit me hard, maybe harder than if I'd been able to watch the whole show. It was the soundtrack of the last 5 or 6 years of my life. I'm considering driving to Birmingham Sunday night to see him again - properly. I don't think I'll ever do that for the "She's Country" guys.

James McMurtry isn't for everyone. Some of you know him, some of you don't. Ruby And Carlos came out right before I packed up and moved to Tennessee. On the studio version, my friend Harmoni sings a harmony part on the chorus. It's one of the most breathtaking fleeting audio moments I know of, I get all John Boehner every time, choking up.

Holding back the flood just don't do no good
You can't unclench your teeth and howl the way you should
So you curl your lips around
And you taste the tears and the hollow sound
That no-one owns but you
No-one owns but you


A couple of weeks back, my band and I played 12th and Porter. Like always, I unknowingly booked a gig in the middle of another Nashville initials week (CMA's, AMA's, CRS, etc etc). My friends Kevin Gordon and Rick Brantley - both excellent - were also on the bill. I think we had 14 total payed at the door. Combined! Oops. And these guys are actually pretty successful artists! But...I will say, for me it still ended up being a very memorable night. When my band and I started, there were 4 people in the crowd. Somehow, by song 3 or 4, another 10 or 15 people had trickled in (there is a lounge outside). Sad, but...what a difference! We didn't know who they were, but they were way into it and stayed for the whole show. It's a small room, so 18 people - it can feel OK. We had 3 new songs in our set, and it was the 2nd show with our newest guitar and bass players. And everybody just played great, and it was such a high! 18 people and it was one of my best band shows. It's crazy, when you forget about your expectations and just go wherever the pitch is, you can sometimes be liberated. Always...always...a pieces of my heart is broken when I put effort into getting people out to shows, and they don't come. Posters, handbills, emails, texts, blogs...and then no-one comes. You can't understand unless you've been there. You feel like what the hell are you doing with your life? We had a special long rehearsal the night before, to work up 3 new songs for this big show. Don't get me wrong, it's not like it happens every show. But when it does, oh is it brutal. It's indescribable, and it can take you to very low places. The winning thing is, though, I'm having so much fun with these guys in the band...we just said fuck it - let's just have fun and give these 4 people a night they'll not soon forget. So Jen Cancino, Larissa, Andy, Kim - thanks! We'll think about who's not here later. I'll think about how far it puts me in the financial hole later. That's the plan, let's execute.

I don't get to play with my band nearly enough (it's economics), but this night showed me that with these guys, no matter what the situation, I think we'll overcome and prevail. And it's going to happen. We've pulled it out every time, but somehow 12th and P took things to the next level, for me anyway. It was fun as shit, and I couldn't be more psyched for the next time I get to play with these guys, and show more than those 18 people what we're capable of. The club loved it, said forget the numbers, we're having you back.

As for life, Kim is doing great, Alaska is doing great, its 78 degrees, and we're cooking out tonight. Thanks for the grill, Dad.