Back To Your Star
I wanted to write love songs in a more impressionistic way. This is essentially a love song but the form is a little longer than a typical pop offering. The words are meant to convey restless movement, a journey. Much of the imagery is from my youth, driving old, used Plymouths and Cadillacs, pulling Uhaul Trailers filled with my Hammond B3 organ and the equipment of a rock band traveling up and down the Western highways of the 1960's. Much of the album carries this lyrical theme.
Here is a more traditional approach to a love song. The kind that is more typical of what I write. But, again, the theme is one of movement, the road. And it is very easy for me to write of California and the West coast. This is where I was musically nurtured to a great degree. In the language of US truckers, a California Turnaround is a non-stop trip from New York to Los Angeles and back. It is also an amphetamine in the form of a pill. My California turnaround is simply an invitation to drive all night with me to the coast. Larry Carlton seemed perfect to offer his guitar evocation of this mood. Sam Levine blows a magnificent sax solo too. And Robbie Dupree joins me singing and supplying the New York City part of the trip.
This is a mixture of imagery and mood from my past, present, and possible future. Dianne was a young girl who lived next door to the band-house I rented when I first went to Hollywood to try and find a record deal. She was still in high school. Maybe 16. I was 19. We had a romance. I remember she used to sit and do her homework with me at night. I lost her along the way but I never forgot the innocence, striving, and romance of those times. I guess I'm trying to get some of them back by reanimating the pictures in this song.
Again I sing more of emotional impressions than events. I also wrote in a more repetitive form musically, so my players could concentrate more on their own impressions and groove and not so much on a chart or a lot of chord changes. Though I still wanted the music to be more than simple blues. The words are about my youth, the present, and warding off the fears of a dystopian future through passionate love and never forgetting how to truly stay high.
This is pure and simply an R&B style love ballad. The kind I love to write and probably always will. Robbie lends perfectly to the mood with his very soulful chromatic harp playing.
Running On Fumes
Mostly an opportunity to groove with a great Jazz-R&B rhythm section. The words are supposed to convey some of the economic desperation of the times. But it's generally meant to be fun. Great guitar work by my production partner and sought-after session player, Danny Parks.
The search for the Princess on the road through my musical past. Back in these days in the American West, nice kids didn't attend Rock and Roll dances. My rock band used to travel the Pacific Northwest in a black, 1948 Cadillac Hearse stopping to play "Stomps" (the word used for dances) in various cities and towns. We'd paint "Big Stomp Tonight" in white shoe polish on the sides of the hearse and cruise up and down main street with the radio playing full blast through the open windows. This, and a few local radio spots, was our advertising. Then we'd set up at the local IOOF Hall or club lodge and sell tickets at the door for kids to come in and dance. Quaint by today's standards of giant arenas, digital projectors, and the whole modern institution of pop music. Anyway, searching for my Cinderella was always my own first order of business.
HWY85 was sort of the local Roman Highway. It went from my little town in Oregon, South through Utah and Nevada. Through Las Vegas and eventually to the freeways and interstates of Los Angeles. Music was the quest. The times were the '60s with lots of creative musical change and social upheaval. We smoked pot, listened to the radio, and dreamed of participating in glorious jam sessions and recording dates.
Kind of futuristic. Fantasizing about breaking through barriers. To that perfect world for perfect love. Danny Parks plays some great guitar.
The Wheels Are Coming Off
I know. This is a real departure. The song is pure social commentary. A bitter love song with parallels to the world we're living in now. Especially here in the U.S. Musically we get into a little more Muscle Shoals/Memphis style Rock. A little less West Coast. Bluesy and rough.
The band travels to a more Southeastern, R&B musical locale. The lyrics express the frustrations, hopes and dreams of a few misplaced beatniks and hipsters.
I wrote this with my old friend and collaborator, Steve Wariner. We wrote and recorded it at his studio near Franklin Tennessee. It is the end of this particular road on this particular journey. The banks of a river. Steve plays his usual, soulful, beautiful guitar meditations to fit the mood of this last piece. I'm not sure who the river girl is. Maybe my mom.