Turnpike Troubadours – 1968

I remember staying with Evan, waking up around 8, and realizing he was already up writing songs. He’s one one of the best, most dedicated songwriters I know. ~Jason Eady

“1968″ is one of those songs that you’re drawn to instantly, but after a few listens you realize it’s much deeper than you first thought. It’ll probably leave you scratching your head and give you an unsettling feeling that you know this song is greatness, but just can’t figure out all the pieces that make it so good.

The main reason for that is that it’s not a straight forward ballad or linear story like many of us are used to listening to. Rather, it’s an abstract song that weaves an amazing, deep story. I poured over the lyrics for weeks trying to make sense of them and finally couldn’t help but reach out to Evan to get a little more info on this song.

The whole theme of this song is having someone that is gone, come back around. It takes inspiration from the deaths of Bobby Kennedy to Martin Luther King, but doesn’t spell out the story for you. ~Evan Felker

This song puts music lovers in a great tension between wanting to understand the story and just letting it soak in for what it is. I compare the tension it creates a bit like looking at a piece of art by Van Gogh where you stare at the beauty of something that seemingly breaks the rules of traditional art. And in this case you just have to sit back and let that music part of our soul be fed by something that may not tell you all the answers to the story. But just maybe… if you let it… it’ll reveal something to you about your own past.

“1968″ by Turnpike Troubadours

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There ain’t a thing in the world to take me back
Like a dark-haired girl in a Cadillac
On main street of an old forgotten town.
The sun light shines in fine white lines
On weathered stores with open signs
They may as well just close ‘em down.

And you look like 1968 or was it ‘69
When I heard you caught a bullet
Well I guess you’re doing fine
And you speak of revolution
Like it’s some place that you’ve been
Well you’ve been a long time gone
Good too see you my old friend.

Oh now that sign is gone away
Replaced instead by silver age
and moonlight falling on the avenue.
Oh and I could sleep if you would drive
I just can’t keep my mind alive
And you’ve got nothing better else to do

And we’ve all been looking for you
Like a hobo you walk in
Well how the mighty all have fallen
How the holy all have sinned.
Is that the clattering of sabers
Or the cool September winds
Well you’ve been a long time gone
Good to see you my old friend.

And there’s just two times a day like this
You find this kind of blissfulness
The sun it sets and rises in the morn.
And we’re shakin hands; I rub my eyes
Free up all my alibis
Just a blinking like the day I was born

And you look like 1968 or was it ‘69
When I heard you caught a bullet
Well I guess you’re doing fine
And you speak of revolution
Like it’s some place that you’ve been
Well you’ve been a long time gone
Good too see you my old friend.

And when the rounds were fired that April you were on the balcony
When ten thousand tear drops hit the ground in Memphis, Tennessee
You were a prideful rebel yell among a million marching men.
And you’ve been a long time gone
Good to see you my old friend
Well you’ve been a long time gone
Good to see you my old friend.

Rave On Buddy Holly – Tribute

Buddy Holly. Everyone knows his name and everyone knows that he’s regarded as one of the greats of all time even though he only live 22 years. Just 22 years… what a sad loss. Most people know him for the song “Peggy Sue” and maybe a few other, but you should really dig into his entire canon of music. You’ll now get that chance on June 28th when a tribute album comes out.

I’d heard about this tribute “Rave On Buddy Holly” months ago and dismissed it as just another announcement of new bands using an old great name to further their career. In fact, I barely scanned the list of performers. And what I really missed was the fine print of “artists were free to explore radically new interpretations.” Which honestly, could be really bad… but in this case is REALLY, REALLY good.

Don’t make my mistake.. look over these songs and names closely:

1. Dearest – The Black Keys
2. Every Day – Fiona Apple & Jon Brion
3. It’s So Easy – Paul McCartney
4. Not Fade Away – Florence + The Machine
5. (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care – Cee Lo Green
6. Crying, Waiting, Hoping – Karen Elson
7. Rave On – Julian Casablancas
8. I’m Gonna Love You Too – Jenny O.
9. Maybe Baby – Justin Townes Earle
10. Oh Boy – She & Him
11. Changing All Those Changes – Nick Lowe
12. Words Of Love – Patti Smith
13. True Love Ways – My Morning Jacket
14. That’ll Be The Day – Modest Mouse
15. Well…All Right – Kid Rock
16. Heartbeat -The Detroit Cobras
17. Peggy Sue – Lou Reed
18. Peggy Sue Got Married – John Doe
19. Raining In My Heart – Graham Nash

Lou Reed is doing Peggy Sue?!?! She & Him doing Oh Boy?! I know there are some Kid Rock naysayers out there, but Well.. All Right is perfect for him and some have said that it’s the best Kid Rock tack he’s ever put out. Justin Townes Earle, The Black Keys, Modest Mouse… you get the picture!

The turning point on this, for me, was hearing a track off the album by Florence + The Machine covering “Not Fade Away”. If the others do half a good of a job as she did with this song, this could be the best thing to happen to music all year. I’m so proud that Buddy Holly is going to be getting the attention he deserves with the new age of music lovers that only know him by name.

And now sit back and enjoy “Not Fade Away” by Florence + The Machine. It’s got a New Orleans blues feel to it that is beautiful.

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P.S. Here is The Black Keys doing “Dearest

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7 years is shorter on paper

I try not to do a lot of comparisons between the music business and other industries because I often find that the analogies break down fairly quickly. But I’m going all-in today and comparing music (or insert your craft here) to Apple.. specifically to Steve Jobs. Bear with me, it’ll get clear shortly.

In 1997 Steve Jobs came back to Apple as CEO at a time when the company was floundering and barely making a profit. Bill Gates of Microsoft even said “What I can’t figure out is why he is even trying?” But in 2004 Apple’s Market Cap started to come off of a flatline and begin to rise. History shows us that from the moment Jobs got back he started setting in place ideas, practices and execution that only started coming to fruition 7 years later.

7 years. It so easy to look back and say that 1997 to 2004 were “growing” years for Apple… that they “learned” alot. Whatever. It’s a whole different story if you are Steve Jobs living each of those 2,555 days and not seeing any progress for your efforts.

If you add another 7 years to 2004, you’ll land right into 2011 where Apple just surpassed Microsoft and Intel combined in Market Cap! Unbelievable. It makes those first 7 years seem even more insignificant, but I still think Jobs would disagree. Those first 7 years for him were painful, dark and dismal no matter how great he’s doing today.

So you’re a band.. you’re an artist.. you’re making this thing that you hope everyone will love. But night after night the ticket sales don’t show it. You have to sleep in the van because there’s no money for a hotel room. You only have 100 followers on twitter… what gives? That “thing” that you made is only getting 50 views. You’ve paid your dues.. where are the monkeys that light your cigars with $100 bills?

I don’t have the answer to that. And neither did anyone else for Steve Jobs.

7 years is still 2,555 days when you’re living it and it can be a hard life to lead, no question about that. But if you believe in your craft and it is good, people will find it. Hard work, determination and perseverance will, in the end, pay off. I know this to be true.

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Are You Living?

Sing it like it’s your last day. ~Sean McConnell

That quote sounds a lot like the saying, “…Sing like no one’s listening, dance like there’s nobody watching…”, except that there’s a whole lot more urgency to what Sean said.

Music is something that penetrates our soul and can change our emotions and outlook… and Sean McConnell knows it. He’s not saying that if you were to die tomorrow, you’d regret not singing with everything you had. He’s saying that if you don’t sing with everything you have, you’ll miss out on living today.

On the way home from that show, I plugged in The Raconteurs, turned up “Level” as loud as it would go and sang my head off. Not like “no one was listening”, but like I was LIVING.

You should try it… you’ll feel alive.

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Music – The Conversation

You’ve all had the conversation where someone you know comes up to you and says “Hey, have you heard the new Jason Aldean song?” First, you cringe.Then you get into a conversation about it. You’ll try to mention Randy Rogers or Jason Boland, but you find that the other person just doesn’t want to talk about anything but Jason Aldean and his stupid new song! In other words, the conversation… is over.

You walk away wishing your friend would just listen to you a little more. Wishing that you could get one more chance to talk about YOUR favorite musician. Frustrated. Hoping that you’ll run into them again so that so can tell them how these bands changed your life.

You walk away thinking “There’s so much MORE to this conversation!”

And there really is so much more. But here is the thing… we are all guilty of it. That’s right, even our indie country scene is not immune to one sided conversations. You think you are open minded, but you’re not. I see it all the time in the various blog and media outlets… we have such a one track mind when it comes to what we like that we are just as guilty of shutting out new or different music as “Jason Aldean fan”.

Admittedly, I’m the chief of sinners when it comes to this. I’ll latch on to 3-4 bands and dig in without letting any others in. But the more I just simply realize that there’s more to the conversation than just my side, the more I’ve noticed new and different music. I don’t even have to look for it.. all I have to do is simply be open to concept that there is more out there than I like right at this moment. When I get to a venue with a band I don’t know and don’t like at first listen… I stop.. I remember that there’s more to it than I think… and try not to make any judgements right away.

The more we all realize there is more to the conversation, the healthier our music scene will be.

You don’t like it when those pop music fans won’t listen to you, so don’t shut it out when the same happens to you.

There’s more to the conversation.

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Chris King – Parade

Generally speaking I’m not a fan of duets because they almost always seem forced to me. It’s like everyone is sitting around and thinks, man a duet would be great, but never go back and tell the other person that maybe it wasn’t so great. “Parade” is a duet with Jamie Wilson that breaks those rules and is a wonderful song, not only because it’s a good “duet”, but because it’s so well written and performed as song.

At it’s core “Parade” tells a story of two people that just can’t get it together to be in a real relationship. Sound familiar?

I got the very first line from a buddy of mine who was talking to me about this girl he wished he’d never met and the song is based upon that idea, I think – two people with this mutual feeling about maybe wishing they never crossed paths. ~Chris King

It’s written in a way that leaves out enough detail that it could be any of our stories. As Chris and Jamie sing their way through the “conversation”, you can’t help but visualize yourself behind the lips of the singer. It’s very rare in today’s country music that what you hear takes you past just an emotional feeling into a personal feeling, but this one nails it.

When Chris and Jamie sing “Lock up your skeletons and throw away the key” something in me just clicked and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I wrote that line off as being a “well written hook”, but quickly realized its just flat out “well written” in the sense that it’s very personal. Now apply that thinking to the whole song and you know why this is one of my new favorites.

“Parade” by Chris King & Jamie Wilson

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If I never would’ve seen you parade across the floor,
then I never would have let you walk my heart out the door
on a leash, and it’s a shame, but I won’t say your name
out of kindness for the future young suitors you’ll bring…

So lock up your skeletons and throw away the key,
nobody here’s leaving but me.

You were waltzing around like the man of the hour,
and you pulled me away with a red paper flower
from a man, in the back, with a brown leather sack
full of chances and dances that you’ll never get back…

So lock up your skeletons and throw away the key,
nobody here’s leaving but me.

I don’t know about you, and I sure don’t know about me,
but sometimes the nighttime is the greatest of friends…
and sometimes it’s just an enemy.

Find the drapes, pull the cord, drop it down to the floor.
I’ll give you a hand, but I won’t give you more.
Blow a kiss, take a bow, it’s all the same anyhow.
And it’s there, in the air, between you and me now…

Oh and maybe I was foolish and maybe I was blind,
or maybe I was looking for something harder to find
than a night full of lust, oh but darling it’s a must –
if you plan to keep kicking bad habits like “love”.

So lock up your skeletons and throw away the key,
nobody here’s leaving but me.

Lock up your skeletons and throw away the key,
nobody here’s leaving but me.

The Significance of the Tweet

I can almost hear how the conversations went….

Musician 1: “You have to get on Twitter.”
Musician 2: “What?”

M1: “It’s a way to promote yourself and connect with the fans! You just type short little things about what you’re doing everyday or where you’re going.”
M2: “Why?”

M1: “I know it seems like a pain to tweet that we’re playing in Denton when fans can read it on our site. But check this out.. I’ll take a picture of you right now and send it to the fans!”
M2: “WHY are you doing that?!”

M1: “They want to know what’s going on. But we’ve got to do it in under 140 characters. So lets see… ‘check out this pic of…’”
M2: “What?!!”

M1: “You have to get with the times! @JackIngramMusic is all over the twitter!”
M2: “Why did you just say ‘at’ Jack Ingram and then add ‘Music’ to his name?!”

I can’t believe Twitter has gotten the celebrity traction it has when you look at it from that standpoint, but it’s really hard to argue that it’s been a huge tool to connect fans with those they love. It may seem silly to follow what a musician is doing, what happens on the road, what backstage looks like or even pics of them with someone else famous, but all those little thing help to remind us of a connection we have with them and their music.

The more of an emotional bond you have to something, the more you are willing to sacrifice for it.

With the help of Twitter, fans have an emotional bond to the vision of the music the band is putting out… and as a musician, it’s hard to argue with that. For new musicians, twitter, myspace & facebook is all they’ve ever known and is sometimes the main reason that they’ve gotten traction as a musician. While it may be a part of the new “workflow”, some of the more seasoned veterans have had to adjust to adding in something that isn’t songwriting, performing or doing an interview on the radio.

I’m entering the 12th year of using the internet to support & promote music and this past year has been the most positive I’ve seen. Back when there was just an email list or forums, there was so much anonymity involved. Anyone could log on and make some wise ass comment about an artist and no one would know who they were. This was why Galleywinter caught so much flack over the years… and for good reason. On the surface, it was a haven for stupidity and anonymous opinions, but deep down there was a community of people that loved each other and loved music. Once we removed all anonymous opinions and stuck to real people it changed everything about what we’ve done and how we’ve been perceived.

Twitter has done the same thing. Everyone can see through the bullshit on Twitter. If someone says “Randy Rogers is a dick for not signing my poster” we all know that person is a coward because they didn’t say “@rrbchoir is a dick for not signing my poster”. See the difference? The second one puts their comment directly in the hands of Randy Rogers.

That subtle difference is a game changer. People can not only have an immediate connection to a musician, but there is also an inherit sense of accountability. It’s like the drunk guy bitching at the back of the bar. No one pays him any attention becuase he’d never actually go up to the merch table and talk to Randy about it.

When we get past the small negative aspects and look on it as a whole, Twitter is working better than forums ever did. I believe that fans are bought into the bands they love more than ever, all becuase of a website that lets real people answer the simple question of “What’s happening?”

You don’t have to be on Twitter to write good music or create something cool. But if you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to let people experience what you just made and connect to it in a very real, very emotional way. Which is kinda the point, right?

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