I Know Why He Acts This Way

Found some old notes I’d written about my favorite Jude Cole album. Twelve years ago, actually. Much has changed. Like, now I’m happy. Also, I’ve seen Madison.

  • Speed of Life — only one I’ve heard on the radio. Great tune, fascinating mental imagery. I have a live version recorded in some radio studio, too.
  • Believe In Me — “I may not make a million dollars, but a million dollars won’t make me.” He sure knows how to write. Simple tune with wonderful lyrics.
  • Move if You’re Going — not my favorite music, but it’s about getting on with your life after tragedy. I listen for the lyrics.
  • Lowlife — not what it sounds like. He writes lots of musical prayers. I sing ‘em real loud.
  • Joe — oh so scary song about a perfectly normal guy; except he’s having an affair with his neighbor’s wife while he beats his own; wishes his kids would just leave him alone, and ends with him sitting in the basement holding a Purple Heart and a loaded gun. I’m almost crying writing this; at my lowest times, this song really really helped me not to end it all, and I don’t know how or why. Kiefer Sutherland, who loaned Jude his guitar to record his very first album with, does some of the vocals. Listen with headphones in a dark room. It’s a deeply moving song for me.
  • Sheila Don’t Remember — he really doesn’t understand why this girl he had a one-night-stand with doesn’t even remember him. I’ve looked for something deeper, but I haven’t found it.
  • Take The Reins — when you let others control your life, your heart, your mind, you’re in trouble. Take it back, ’cause no matter how hard it is, it can’t hurt the way it does right now
  • Madison — I have no idea what this is about, but it sounds like a ‘never going back’ tune. I was born in Wisconsin, but I’ve never even seen Madison.
  • Hole at the top of the World — another sad song about a dead marriage. For a happily married guy, he sure nails the feelings.
  • Heaven’s Last Attempt — a gentle but powerful song about how the right kind of love might save your life. Or, might not.

Badlands = Good Listen

Finding new music that hits me viscerally is sublime. Recently, No Depression introduced me to Eric Tingstad and his take on Americana instrumentals.

Eric Tingstad, BadlandsWhen my copy of Badlands arrived, it stayed in the CD player in the car for over two weeks, playing over and over again. Nearly every track is on my all-night music list (I never sleep without music playing. I’ve heard some people do. Seems odd to me.)

Instrumentals are hard to write. Continue reading Badlands = Good Listen

Better a Kansas City Star Than an Omaha Nobody

I love singing along with Kansas City Star. It’s one of those silly songs Roger wrote that leaves out all the struggle and heartache, and puts in everything that’s right with our hearts and heads.

Besides, how often do you get a trombone solo and scat vocals in a country song? Yeah, Roger had a hard time coloring inside the lines. Continue reading Better a Kansas City Star Than an Omaha Nobody

Happy Heartbreak #2: It Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Pretty sure Roger never meant us to take this one seriously.

My friend and I went to the picture show in town
They called his name and said his house and just burned down
I took his hand and offered him my sympathy
When suddenly, I remembered that he lived with me
Continue reading Happy Heartbreak #2: It Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9

A hallmark of Roger Miller’s songwriting is what I call his happy heartbreaks: the saddest stories, told with wit to cheerful music.

Just as Hitchcock makes pokes us with the incongruity of life by making us laugh during a terrifying scene, Roger reminds you that life isn’t the events, but our reactions. Even the poor guy standing in a train station somewhere 110 miles from Baltimore sounds more resigned than heartbroken when he says “I don’t think she loves me any more.” Continue reading Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9

Doughnut Holes and Roger Miller

Jazz musicians occasionally highlight a melody by playing all the notes around it, leaving a hole where it should be. If you’re paying attention, you’ll “hear” it.

Some smart doughnut shop decided to stop rolling all the doughnut holes back together to make more doughnuts, and just started frying up doughnut holes to sell. Continue reading Doughnut Holes and Roger Miller

USSS: Ross Durand

takes a lot of songwriting confidence to take on the challenge of writing an entire song for each line in Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Takes a lotta songwriting chops to pull it off.

This year it looks like Ross Durand is going to finish this seriously ambitious and musically satisfying project. Continue reading USSS: Ross Durand