Here are the seven originals we need to record for “Three Chords and the Truth”, along with the title cut, which is already finished. Here’s some backstory, as I felt it was important for you to be acquainted with the songs you are bringing into the world!
“Wisdom” is a song I started writing about fifteen years ago for our two boys when they were little bitty guys (they’re 18 and 20 now!). “Wisdom” remained unfinished until early this year, when I finally got the bridge it needed, and I’m so excited to finally have a song for our two sons as I had a song for our daughter on my last CD called “Lily’s Song” The lyric of “Wisdom” is taken mostly from the Book of Proverbs, and was meant to be a roadmap of life for our young sons. But it is the recipe for happiness and fulfilment for anyone, anytime, and at any age.
In a broad sense, my song “This House (Ain’t Home To Me No More)” is about a broken relationship and a good love gone bad. But more specifically, I wrote it about the curse of Alzheimer’s Disease, and its disastrous effect on relationships. I suppose it’s more than a little autobiographical, since Beth and I (and our three kids) are caregivers to my 88 year old Mother with Alzheimer’s who lives with us. In this sense, “This House (Ain’t Home To Me No More)” could be sung from either the perspective of the caregiver or the patient. “This House”–that ain’t home no more–could be the home that’s sacrificed and compromised in order to care for the Alzheimer’s patient, or “This House” could be the mind of the person with Alzheimer’s, where nothing is familiar or home-like, and in which they are no longer able to be happy. Good songs are often like that…they are subjective and mean different things to different people. So what it’s really about is ultimately up to you!
“I Ain’t Playin'” is a Buddy Holly-flavored rock ‘n’ roll tune with a lot of tongue-in-cheek references to the pandemic. It’s about a guy who is demanding some serious social distancing from the gal who has done him wrong. She’d better disappear…this dude’s dead serious, and he ain’t playin’!
Among some of these heavy subjects, we’ve got a lighthearted 50s-style boogie romp called “Lorraine” about young love blooming under the stars in Corinth, Mississippi. Our next-door neighbors are from Corinth and Tupelo, and I’ve always wanted to write a song about Corinth, not because I’ve ever been there, but because of our neighbors who we love, and because I think “Corinth, Mississippi” sounds good lyrically. I’ve also always wanted to work the name Lorraine into a song, because my Aunt Jeanette was good friends with Elvis’ Aunt Lorraine. We stayed at Aunt Lorraine’s house in Memphis when I was a teenager. I’ll never forget Aunt Lorraine showing me some HUGE jewelry of Elvis’ from Las Vegas, along with other personal belongings, with the greatest of these being his personal study bible, a white leather-bound KJV, as dog-eared as any Bible I’ve ever seen. The thing that blew my mind about that Bible was the notes Elvis had written in it. Everywhere in it. There wasn’t a spot in the margin of any page between Genesis and Revelation that you’d have room to write your initials in! Wish I had a cellphone to take pictures of some of that!
Another blast from the past is a song I wrote over twenty years ago called “Lottery of Love”. I always thought “LOL” was a great little blues rocker, decades before “LOL” was even a thing! (lol!) But it never found its way onto an album because there was never a record where it seemed to fit well with the songs around it (until now). It’s about a guy who finally finds his one true love, and becomes richer than any lottery winner. A guy who sounds an awful lot like me!
I’m wanting to re-record a song of mine called “Boss With Hot Sauce”, which first appeared on an album in 1997. It’s a nifty blues shuffle with a title taken from Muhammad Ali’s longtime corner man and poem-writer Bundini Brown. One night, while watching a VHS tape of the Muhammad Ali/Jerry Quarry fight from 1970, I heard Bundini holler passionately at Muhammad from the corner, “Stick him Champ, stick him! You’re the boss Champ! You’re the boss with hot sauce!” I thought to myself, “I’ve got to write a song with that!” The lyrics are light-hearted and are about the “weaker sex” really being the stronger and superior one.
Finally, there’s a folk ballad called “American Eulogy”, which is the most political song I’ve ever written (it’s maybe the ONLY political song I’ve ever written!). “Eulogy” has been a very unique and amazing song for me. I began performing it on my livestream in January of this year, and in the few times I’ve performed it in live concerts, it has gotten more response and praise from fans than any other song I’ve ever written, and maybe more than any song I’ve ever done! In March of this year, Beth and I performed it live for a taping of PBS-TV’s “Song of the Mountains” in front of a socially-distanced, masked audience at the Lincoln Theater in Marion, Virginia, and it received a long and passionate standing ovation, in spite of the masks and distancing! The way “Eulogy” came about was—like most of this album—another happy “accident”! One night, in early January, while lying in bed, I was writing some couplets and rhymes about the state of our Union, upset at the kind of country that we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. I didn’t know what I was writing, but I knew it wasn’t a “song”…it was more of a rant that rhymed! It had a lot of Dylan-esque imagery, and it had a rhyme pattern, but I wasn’t thinking about melody, or a chorus, or a middle eight. I was just pouring out some thoughts—quite cynically I might add! I hadn’t written anything like that before, and at no time did I have any intention of it possibly being—or becoming—a song. So with no clue what it all was, or why I had written it, I finally put it down about 3am, and when I woke up the next day, on January 6th, I turned on the TV and saw our nation’s Capitol engulfed in chaos. It was then that it struck me how relevant everything I had written the night before had now become. That afternoon and evening, I gave it a melody, and tidied up a few verses, and by bedtime that night, I had “American Eulogy”! I don’t believe in “accidents”, but believe that what we think of as “coincidence” is actually God working anonymously, so I’m giving Him all the glory for yet another amazing intervention. The fact that this song has had more effect on people than any song I’ve ever written—when I didn’t even know I was writing a song—is proof that every good and perfect gift comes from above! We’ve finished recording “American Eulogy” with full band, and it’s wonderful. We are very proud of this one, and can’t wait for you to hear it!
I named this record “Three Chords and the Truth”, after Harlan Howard’s brilliant definition of country music, although this is not at all a purely country record. “Three Chords and the Truth” does feature some traditional country music, but is much more of an “Americana” album, exploring more of a singer-songwriter vein than my past records, and has—as usual for me—a very eclectic mix of music. The covers we’ve already recorded and have in the can are gems from Elvis, the Louvin Brothers, Marty Robbins, Big Joe Turner, the Everly Brothers, and Ray Price. We have everything from a one-hundred year old Spanish folk song to a coffee song by the Ink Spots! I feel that all the material and recordings we have so far are outstanding and believe these new originals are going to combine to make a stone cold killer album. Of course, with all these covers and six new originals (seven with the title cut), some of the cover songs probably won’t make it onto this album, due to space. So we will have to make some artistic decisions so that all the songs on “Three Chords and the Truth” flow and fit with each other. That will leave a few for later, releasing them on another album, or as singles. But leftovers sometimes make the best meals, and everything we’ve recorded has been at such an incredibly high standard, that we’ll have plenty of “Good Music for Good People” to look forward to, even after “Three Chords and the Truth”.
Those of you who have read the article “The Rest of the Story” will understand why we had such a big batch of covers and no originals. It was because we didn’t know that we were cutting an album! By the end of 2019, we had ten solid songs in the can, but all covers. We needed originals. Strong originals. So my new best friend and producer Trevor Titian suggested that I write a song with the album title, and that’s how I came to write the title cut “Three Chords and the Truth”, which we recorded with musicians in Tennessee and Ontario. It’s odd that we had named the album “Three Chords and the Truth”, before there was a song called “Three Chords and the Truth” on the album! But whether the cart was before the horse or not, the song turned out beautifully. It has a real traditional feel, with fiddles and pedal steel guitar (another first for me on record), with a very personal lyric about pain, redemption, and holding fast to the things that are really important. And like all the others, I’m in awe of how it sounds!!!
I’m pleased with how my songwriting seems to be getting better as I’m getting older! But it’s difficult for me to be completely objective about my songs, and whether these are truly better than others I’ve written I just don’t know. I suppose that’s for others to decide. But I do know that these songs are very different from previous songs I’ve written, and the way I’m writing has been different and perhaps deeper and more personal than ever before.
So there you have it! These are the songs that you’ll be investing in, songs that I hope you will enjoy and feel a deep, personal connection with (as I do) for years to come. And it is right for you to feel that way since you are responsible for bringing them to life!