This Crazy World
This Crazy World I've started numerous projects in the studio (which I hope to release one day), but this is the first studio record of mine that's come to fruition. March 2008 marked the first sessions with my good friend, co-producer, and engineer, Travis Linville. In the first two days, we drank several pots of coffee as I played all the rhythm guitar and bass tracks. Throughout the year, I'd pop in to Dirtybird for a day or two at a time after a Norman or OKC show to make more progress, and eventually added the amazing touch of Ryan Jones on the keys, Chris Becker on mandolin, Jeremy Watkins on fiddle, Lyle Deiter on harmonica, Nooch on drums, Gabe Marshall on guitar, as well as Linville on guitar and dobro. Then we bounced it over to Garrett Haines at Treelady Studios for the mastering touch, which brought new life to the 13 songs which appear on 'This Crazy World.' And the final shout out of this first of many installments goes to Bill, Felicia, Cari and the rest of the gang at Spectrum Media in Norman, Okla., who turned out the first run in time for the Halloween CD release party, as well as this very item that you're shopping right now. 1. 'Loser Friendly' - The opening song for an album is like putting your best foot forward, and hopefully not landing on your face. Musically, 'Loser,' which I wrote intermittently over the last year, is not the flashiest of tunes on the record, but it is my first ever full-frontal politically charged song, and figured since I released the album at the end of a tireless election year, I'd like to put the idea out first as a final finger-pointing to the failed Bush-administration. But thinking about the song's message, it can really apply to any leader of any group, in any country and at any time. It's a timeless call-out for leadership to do right, and features me on vocals and the little Yamaha folk-size acoustic guitar and bass, Travis Linville on Dobro, Gabe Marshall on acoustic guitar, Ryan Jones on keys and Nooch on the drums. 2. 'Little Feet' - one of the older tunes on the album, 'Little Feet' was written & arranged originally for my first band, Prizm, back in 2001. I've been performing it every so often in my solo shows with a variety of looped arrangements, but pieced together a wicked one on the album, which features a drum loop programmed by Linville, who also shredded some jammy, dirty electric guitar in the latter half of the tune. I handled the bass in your face, as well as the banjitar (thank you Casey Peyton for the loaner) duties, and Nooch added the live disco drums to the loop. It, like the rest of the album, is best enjoyed at HIGH volume. 3. 'Like Mike (Gloss Mountain Breakdown)' - Being a child of the 1980s and growing up in the hood, I was a huge basketball fan - used to bet on it, run on the playground, and get dunked on like a doughnut. And of course, everybody's hero was Michael Jordan for a variety of reasons. And he had this ad campaign - I don't remember if it was the Wheaties, Nike, Orange Juice, Duracell or Hanes campaign - but the slogan was 'Like Mike'. In the last few years, I've become a huge fan of another Mike - Michael Hedges - the Oklahoma virtuoso who re-invented the way guitar was played using altered tunings and slap/tap techniques that are mind blowing. Sadly, Hedges died in a car-wreck some 10 years ago, but it's his visionary guitar playing that influenced this finger-picked, tapped and slapped instrumental tune and hopefully it will help to carry on his name for more time to come. And since I couldn't just stick it with 'Like Mike,' I had to tag on the (Gloss Mountain Breakdown) part after discovering this ancient canyon-esque mountain range that lies west of Hedges' hometown of Enid, Okla. On my recent adventures through New Mexico and Colorado. This song is also unlike the others because it features that Randolph acoustic guitar with no fancy layers or overdubs or other instruments. And we left it with it's raw, natural feel to help demonstrate how difficult it is to play the piece, and how I'm just a crumb in the Hedges bread of everlasting life. 4. 'Morning' - This song happens to be the shortest, sweetest, tenderest, and damn near sexiest song I've ever written. I wrote it years ago when I was in my 'dream girl' phase, but when I met Cari, the 'she' in the song was officially assigned, and I ended up falling in love and marrying this woman. I love that 'look of love.' 5. 'Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda' - Well, I've always been the guy who always wishes he could've, well, insert thought, idea, or action here. It's a funny light-hearted tune that first came together in the ice storm of Jan. 2007, when we were without electricity for six days. The song fits wonderfully in a medley with John Hartford's 'Way Up on The Hill Where They Do the Boogie' and Ed's Redeeming Qualities' 'Calypso on the Beach.' 6. 'Thrift Store Shoes' - My first ever blues song (though blues aficionados will call it a swing tune, which it is) came to life in early 2008 when I was debating the next pair of shoes I wanted to get. And since I don't really like buying 'new' stuff anymore, I decided I'd hit the resale shops in search of my next set of soles. On the album, I just wanted it to be the biggest jam possible, and since all the musicians involved are respective badasses, it kind've ended up that way. 7. 'Fortune Teller' - this tune was written with my friend Dan Rose sitting outside of a local artists end-all, clear-all garage sale. That particular Tahlequah artist was Murv Jacob. It was a beautiful day. We were all sitting on the sidewalk, and I bought one of Murv and his gal Debbie's old rocking chairs. So I sit around with a guitar in hand and pencil and paper, which Dan and I traded back and forth. I ended up with the piece of paper with all our lyrics, which kind of fit together in a surreal way. A few months later, the music came to me on a road trip riding around with Bill Erickson & the New Migrant Workers and I found the lyric pages, so they naturally came together. The song makes me think of the old Tom Hanks movie, 'Big,' a scary psychedelic circus led by Steve Earle, and feeling like an outcast. Luckily, though, there's a pocket full of red and white peppermints. And a little help from Travis, Jeremy Watkins and Nooch. 8. 'Living Out Loud' - A funny song that came about from my college daze. Has a good-feelin' Phish/Neil Young vibe to it, and features fellow musicians Chris Becker (mandolin), Ryan Jones (keys), Nooch (drums) backing up my electric guitar debut. The lyrics can be taken anyway you want to. Best enjoyed at a LOUD volume. 9. 'Next to Me' - A sweet song about longing to be back with my lady so I can breathe easy again. Jeremy Watkins, who would later play fiddle on the track, would say, 'That sounds like some good ole country music!' Surprisingly enough, I think he's right. There's alot of Travis' guitar on it and the train beat thrown down by el Noocho. If anybody would like to buy this song and put a pretty faced, Takamine strummin', Nashville nitwit behind this tune and put it out for greater public consumption, you'd be smart. Musically, it has alot of the same characteristics of one of my older tunes, 'Born to Roam.' It's just a whole step lower. 10.'Oklahoma Brokedown Blues' is a few years old at this point. Wrote it when I started getting into the swing and jazz side of the acoustic guitar thanks to cats like Linville, Thomas Trapp and Rob Webb. The lyrics teeter back and forth between fantasy and reality, the fantasy being tied to the ideas of Okie grass, and the 'Kansas sucks, Texas blows' thoughts, while the realities of heartache more common than roadkill, beautiful sight after every turn, and the man looking down on long hair and hippie clothes are staunch. 3.2 beer bars, well, I've sang whiskey songs everywhere from Webbs to Roxies to Brewdogs to even the freakin' Spider Dome. Do you know about the Spider Dome? Better not, unless you've been broke down in the country just south of Stillwater. And the guitar and piano work of Linville and Jones, respectively, is completely sick! 11. 'All By Myself' was written after getting out of a undesirable creative situation. I played solo gigs for years, but got into a band and devoted all my time and creative energy to it, only to have it all blow up in the end. That's the life of most bands though, and when I got back to playing solo gigs in Sept./Oct. 2006, I remembered how much fun it was. And like Tim Reynolds once told me, 'Easier to breathe.' Truth be told, the right collaboration at the right time feels just as good as being locked into the one-man-groove. I love that energy. But sometimes you need to be all by yourself. 12. 'Hillbilly Reggae Girl' is the only song not written or arranged by me on the record. It is a Bill Erickson song and I highly encourage you to check out the rest of his song catalog. Linville set up a reggae loop and laid down the dobro, Lyle Deiter flew in the harmonica and I dropped the reggae bass line throughout the tune. I also chanked it up with Casey Peyton's banjitar - a banjo with a guitar neck and strung like a guitar. Turn it up and bounce! 13. 'Turn Out the Lights' was one of the first five songs I wrote back in 1999. It's a tribute about the unfortunate loss of two of my cousins, who also happen to be brothers, Mike and Dan Mack. The song feels kind of lost and empty, which completely is reflected in the tone of the song. Mikey and Danny were killed in seperate accidents in southern Arizona, and it was tough for me because you're not supposed to have favorite cousins, but me, Mike and Dan shared several of the same interests and always got along. I miss them terribly and they're survived by their dad and mom, Don and Libby, and their oldest brother, Nate.