An Old Song, A New Recording (Plus a Playlist)
I’m sure some folks would wonder why I retread the older material that I originally released twenty years ago (and wrote ten years before that): I’ve always had a vision of what these songs should sound like, and I finally do have the right musicians to make that sound come to fruition. The real gem on this recording is the bass playing by Julian Michaelski, which creates a sinewy and yet pensive sense of yearning. Paul’s drumming is steady throughout, but when it kicks into high gear two thirds of the way through the song, suddenly this tale of a journeyman with no destination realizes his homing beacon has been inside of himself the entire time (okay, that's a LITTLE bit Wizard of Oz-y, I know!).
Anyway, this song is part of the ENDLESS STREET: A SPIRITUAL TRAVELOGUE collection, which we are reworking while we work on our new albums, so that there's always a little *something* to offer each month until we’ve got a full project realized! Please give the new song a few spins to help us earn a few pennies to continue our musical journey (and also because you'll like it if you like pensive songs in the Americana vein of music!).
It's been a little more than five years since I left the streets of my hometown behind, running from eighteen years of boredom and a sense of self that I had not defined. Past the Thirteenth Street Bridge and the littered Third Ward yards, Now my life's become a catalogue of maps and picture postcards Beckoning from somewhere out of view. I'd seen the quiet desperation take the lives of those I knew like some disease. I'd seen the burn-out high school jocks, homecoming queens turned twenty-something divorcées. I had to purge myself with fire under the Arizona skies, Stand hip-deep in the Salt Lake just to wash away the lies, The hypocrisy that I had bought into. I run away but the footprints I leave look like yours. I wake at night sweating. On my lips is the taste of your skin. There's a tear in my soul where you've sealed yourself into my heart And I'm damned if I know where you end and where I begin. For twelve thousand miles of two-lane and cactus tree prairie, I could still feel your heartbeat familiar against my chest. I tried to call from a pay phone in Texas and hung up at the sound of your voice. I can only send you these postcards from the American southwest. I passed a mesa in New Mexico where two nuns have kneeled a thousand years in prayer. Is it the power of their faith or just inertia that keeps them prostrate there? You can hunger for immortality until the day you die, But before you eat you'd better drink, you said, because you're humor's running dry. You warned me and I knew that it was true: I may be standing on high ground but I am flooded with these memories of you.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll have another single available for streaming, “Slipping Through My Hands.” Like “Postcards,” “Slipping” is a very old song in my catalogue for which we’ve finally got a final studio version available (well, technically, we’ll have two studio versions: the full length album version, out later this year even though it’s already mixed and mastered, and the 3:38 single edit, which we’ll put out into the world first, on September 19).
Some people may wonder, given my prolific outfit, why I would choose to retread such old numbers in my catalogue. Well, they are my children, and in some cases, they just took a lot longer to grow up. But the thing is, these are songs that know who they are, and I’ve finally got a backing band to give them the arrangement they’ve always called for. Like “Vapor Trails,” which we released last November, these are songs that have been part of my live catalogue since the 90s but had only existed in stripped-down acoustic versions before. Now they’ve got their epic production value as well. And I think that greater numbers of people are likely to be exposed to them if they are given that production value (because that’s what it takes to get playlisted and/or reviewed/blogged about), and that a larger number of people will respond emotionally to the core sentiment of the song if it is offered up in a way that expect a professional recording to sound.
That said, in anticipation of “Slipping” and its imminent release, here’s a playlist I’ve conjured up for “Postcards,” a song I wrote about what it takes to leave your hometown behind, and the degree to which you carry that hometown (or former love, or whatever analog you can relate to) on your back and on your sleeve and in your heart before you can finally come to terms with how it both defines and is defined by you, as well as the degree to which you aren’t completely defined by (and can’t arbitrarily define) the external influences in your life.
Some of these songs are influences on “Postcards” lyrical composition or its sonic expression, particularly those from the early 90s or before; some are songs that have come along since I wrote this song back in the early 90s but which I felt had a kindred spirit to the ethos and pathos of ENDLESS STREET: A SPIRITUAL TRAVELOGUE, the collection from which “Vapor Trails,” “Postcards,” and “Slipping Through My Hands” are all culled.
Because not everybody has Spotify, I’ve included links for the Playlist on both Spotify and YouTube. It’s nice to get counts on either. Or both. This is a great playlist, so it’s not like you can only listen once. Listen a bunch of times: YouTube pays artists better for streams, but having followers on Spotify is good for my RPK stats. So, like, yeah, whatever.
Much love to you all as the summer days wind down.
The photograph above was taken back in the fall of 1992, right about the time I first wrote and demoed “Postcards.”
The Random Hubiak — This’ll Be Our Year
Rickie Lee Jones — Flying Cowboys
Jackson Browne — I’m Alive
Tom Cochrane — No Regrets
Dar Williams — As Cool as I Am
The Foxfires — Soaring Stones
The Alarm — Sold Me Down the River
John Stewart — Price of the Fire
Del Amitri — Move Away Jimmy Blue
The Blue Nile — Over the Hillside
Cold Weather Company — Hey Bodham Dae/What Do I Do
Tracy Chapman — Fast Car
Out of the Valley — Grace
Bruce Springsteen — Candy’s Room
John Mellencamp — To the River
Erin McAndrew — Skeleton of Life
Stevie Nicks — Rock a Little (Go Ahead Lily)
Shawn Colvin — Steady On
Mark Sylvester — Prelude, Caravan
Bob Seger — Shame on the Moon
Johnny Cash — I’ve Been Everywhere
R.E.M. — Near Wild Heaven
Hothouse Flowers — Hardstone City
World Party — God On My Side
Edie Brickell — 10,000 Angels
The Foxfires — Fall Equinox
John Denver — Rocky Mountain High
John Hiatt — Real Fine Love
Counting Crows — Perfect Blue Buildings
Neil Young & Crazy Horse — Pocahontas
Emmylou Harris — Ballad of a Runaway Horse
Tori Amos — Tear in Your Hand
Led Zeppelin — Over the Hills and Far Away
Rosanne Cash — Sleeping in Paris
Kent — Saker Man Ser
Tom Petty — Learning to Fly
Stevie Nicks — Think About It
Syd Straw — Think Too Hard
Journey — Faithfully
Luka Bloom — Hudson Lady
The Blue Nile — Headlights on the Parade
Finger Eleven — One Thing
Sheryl Crow — Leaving Las Vegas
Matt Tarka — Vision Hazy
Bob Seger — Against the Wind
Joni Mitchell — Amelia
Fleetwood Mac — Storms