Between the Grey & Blue
I've been wanting to do a CD combining some tunes of mine, but also doing some favorites of mine written by others, from over the years. I was going to originally call such a project Between the Covers. Apparently that was not a very original thought, the title having already been used numerous times. So still keeping in that frame of thought, I used the title of a Civil War song I wrote and the blue and grey as the separating theme of covers and originals. I used a number of Martin guitars on these songs, mostly my old '71 D-28, but also my D-28 Dan Tyminski, a '67 D-28, a '59 0-18 and probably a couple others (note to self: start keeping a log). I used both my Kentucky KM-750 and Loar LM-700 mandolins, several Dobros and both Fender electric andTacoma acoustic bass guitars. My little MSA pedal steel made a sneak appearance, too. I was fortunate enough to open a show for one of my all time favorite country bands, the Desert Rose Band, back in the '80s up in Eureka. The first song on the CD, "Love Reunited", is a song by Chris Hillman that they did. I hope I captured some of the flavor on my version, because I sure like Chris and his songs! 'Beargrass Creek' is a stream wandering through my favorite park back in my home town of Louisville, Kentucky. I spent many happy times in that park. In 1973 a major tornado ripped through Louisville, fortunately for humans, expending much of it's energy ripping up the century old trees in that park, rather than tearing up the homes it could have. Mike Nesmith was and is a talented songwriter and musician, which in not as well known to much of the world at large, due to his early TV role as a Monkee. I've always liked this song, 'Propinquity.' After I finished it, the harmony flavor I put in reminded me of another group and I joked about the song - The Monkees meet the Glaser Brothers... During the Civil War, sometimes the battle lines were very, very close over a period of days. With the men dug in yards away from the other side, there were instances where at nighttime when they weren't fighting, one side might start singing, for instance, shouting out Dixie. Then the other side would yell out Yankee Doodle, and a singing 'battle' might take place. But other times, a song might just be started by one side or the other to pass the time, and it might be a popular song and the other side would join in, with common music blending across the skirmish lines... That was what prompted the song - 'Between the Grey and Blue'- singing with an unknown enemy soldier across the way one night, then the next day being out for his blood again ... By the way, in the background of the cover photo is a marker of the Mason Dixon line, artistically inserted by MaryAnn. Yet another Kentucky boy of a different generation, but also gone on now - Keith Whitley, had a great hit with the Sonny Curtis song, "I'm No Stranger To The Rain." I really enjoyed recording this, with the wonderful chord variations and snippets of harmony to throw in here and there... A while back, I was listening to an NPR story about children in war zones in the Middle East. Once again, the concept of killing one another over a false construct of a deity of man's own making, and the resulting effect on upcoming generations, struck me in all it's horror and disgust. You've never met, a god - I bet - who wants 'A Child's Cry.' This song reflects a small fraction of the distaste I have for any practice of religion which adversely affects anyone. Pages have been written about this classic, 'The Weight,' so I won't spend any time in any attempt at deciphering it. I don't like added odd measures to songs generally, so I didn't! I also took liberties with a couple of change-ups using a major linking chord rather than minor, just because... 'No Hurry' was written as I approached a milestone birthday, and as I reflected on how many friends of mine whose life path was much like my own are no longer around. We played our music, lived hard, played hard and a few of us are still around, in no particular hurry to see what happens next. Butch McDade, the late drummer of another all-time favorite band, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, wrote this Civil War song years ago. I've always liked it and it seemed totally appropriate for this collection. ' The Last Letter Home'... "Through the day I watched those Southern boys go down. And they lay like Georgia peaches, bruised and broken on the ground." My darlin' MaryAnn, to whom this recording is dedicated, in our early time of dating, once described her lanky, curly headed & lovely self as a brunette dandelion. The rest is history. 'Dandelion Brunette' was on another recording, and won some awards. I figured it could use some more sharing. Rodney Crowell has been my most esteemed songwriter and singer for many years. Anyone who comes up with lines like "I've got a tattoo with her name right through my soul...," WOW! 'Until I Gain Control Again,' is simply one of many, many great songs of his I've admired over the years. One day, after driving an automatic for years, I'd borrowed a friend's truck to move something. As the light changed when I came out of the drive-through with a coke in one hand and burger in the other, I remembered why I hated stick shifts. That began a tongue in cheek litany (which keeps going on...) of things that get "In My Way." Post Civil War bandit, Pancho, or metaphor for something entirely different? This is another song oft and overly dissected, yet it remains a modern outlaw classic, covered by many since Towns wrote it. My take is much more based on the one by Willie & Merle, but then how could I go wrong, tapping talent from those three artists to throw together my offering of 'Pancho & Lefty'? Sean was my best friend and multi-instrumental music partner from shortly after I moved to Northern California from Kentucky many years ago. On 'Sean's Song,' I play an old Martin D-28 I got from his family after his premature death from that lifestyle I mentioned above. This song ended up being a tribute to many of those friends and family gone on before me. The predecessor groups of CSNY, the Byrds, the Hollies and the Buffalo Springfield, all have an incredible influence on who and what I am now musically. I've been playing this song since not too long after Stephen Stills wrote it. I've closed many, many shows with it over the years and once again, I'll just "Go and Say Goodbye."