"They Called It Music" - 3/28/2013

It has become a bit of a tradition for me to write a little blurb giving some background for each song on a new Gibson Brothers album.  It is fun for me whether anyone reads my ramblings or not.  Thanks to those who do.  I have been told by some that this helps them get into the songs even more.  “They Called It Music” was released on Tuesday.  Thanks to all who have picked up a copy already.  If you love it, tell your friends.  If not, well, let’s keep it our little secret.  I am proud of this record, of the band and of the songs.  Here’s a little of how it came to be.

1. BUY A RING, FIND A PREACHER – Joe Walsh and I were rooming together last summer in Staunton, VA, when we started this song spurred on by a conversation.  Later in the summer, Leigh helped us finish it in the van before our first set at the great Red, White, and Bluegrass Festival in North Carolina.  It tells the tale of a rambler getting ready to settle down…almost.

2. THEY CALLED IT MUSIC – Joe Newberry gave me the idea for this song and I ran with it.  Joe was listening to an old-timer play banjo and asked the man, “What did they call this style when you were a young man.”  The gentleman replied, “Son, they called it music.”  A few months after Joe told me of his encounter, I pulled off an Adirondack road and wrote the song.  I had been thinking for a while that music has been a salve down through the years, and how it was important to peoples’ lives before anyone figured out how to make a dime off it.  Think of all the great music that occurred before recording, before anyone thought to put labels on any of it.  It’s more important than any label.  Music is proof of God.

3.  THE DARKER THE NIGHT, THE BETTER I SEE – The multi-talented Joe Newberry showed us this honky-tonk ‘grass song before a show at Janet Kenworthy’s Rooster’s Wife in Aberdeen, NC, last year.  He said he wrote it with Leigh’s voice in mind.  Leigh nails it here.  Leigh nails every song these days.  I am so thankful that Joe shows us his songs first.

4.  DYING FOR SOMEONE TO LIVE FOR – Shawn Camp wrote this song with Loretta Lynn a few years ago.  I heard him sing it at the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer Festival in Ohio.  I could hear it as a brother duet and asked if we could record it.  I bugged him for two years and he relented.  Thanks, Shawn!  I think it is achingly beautiful.

5. I’LL WORK IT OUT – Shortly after I quit teaching, we were at a photo shoot.  For some reason, I decided to pour my guts out to the photographer, relaying to him my worry about the future, of taking this leap of faith into the music business full-time.  He said, “You’re a smart guy.  You’ll work it out.”  That funny little phrase has stuck my head and come back to me time and time again in the last fifteen years.  Leigh helped me finish this one.  I wrote the majority of it years ago but was never happy with the chorus, but thanks to Leigh, now I am.

6. SOMETHING COMIN’ TO ME – Shawn Camp is one of our songwriting heroes.  He’s just golden.  Leigh and I had wanted to write with him for years.  Unfortunately, our writing session came less than a month after Dad passed away.  There was a dark cloud over us, and nothing was coming.  Shawn was kind about it.  “Aw, boys, some days I just don’t have it.”  We were the ones lacking.  He excused himself and Leigh and I looked at each other disgustedly.  We’d blown our shot at writing a song with the great Shawn Camp.  I was absent-mindedly picking a melody on the guitar when Shawn re-entered the room.  “Hey, what’s that?” he asked.  I said, “Nothing.  It’s just something coming to me.”  That was all Shawn needed.  He led the way and we did get our song.  Shawn said, “We need to get your daddy in there.”  Daddy plowed the fields and worked the land/Said the crops don’t always turn out like you plan/Following behind him I learned what a man was supposed to be/Ain’t I got something comin’ to me.  Yeah.

7.  DADDY’S GONE TO KNOXVILLE – Mark Knopfler is a band favorite.  The guy just seems to do everything right.  We had always loved this song form his Ragpicker’s Dream album.  I think it makes a great brother duet vehicle.

8.  DUSTY OLD WORLD – I wrote this on a beautiful spring morning last year on a walk in the French Alps.  I had planned on singing lead on it, but at the last moment I asked Leigh to sing lead.  I think it sounds like Marty Robbins Meets Flatt and Scruggs.  I hope it does, anyway.

9.  HOME ON THE RIVER --  We had never recorded a Delmore Brothers song before and decided it was time.  They were such a wonderful brother duet that people don’t talk enough about these days.  We plan on exploring their music some more.  I love this old Gospel song.

10.  I WILL ALWAYS CROSS YOUR MIND – Our Adirondack friend Roy Hurd wrote this with Elizabeth Hill.  We actually recorded a different version of this song over a decade ago.  That version never came out.  Well, you can’t keep a good song down.  This one never left our minds.  My wife has complained that we don’t do enough love songs.  Well, here’s one, Baby.

11.  SUNDOWN AND SORROW – One of our all-time favorite bluegrass bands is Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass.  Bob and his son Danny just sang so well together and their band always had such a strong rhythm section.  I loved their grit.  We learned a bunch of their songs when we were young bluegrass pups, and this is one of them.  Danny carries on the tradition today and it is always great to cross paths with him on the Bluegrass Trail.

12. SONGBIRD’S SONG – After three sleepless nights in Denmark last spring, I wrote this song.  I was frustrated, just lying there listening to my heart beat and trying to settle my racing thoughts.  Hearing the birds each day around 4 a.m. was my cue that trying to sleep was useless.  I’d give up.  At least I got a song out of it.  I am so proud of how Leigh, Mike, Clayton, and Joe played on the record, but especially on this song.  I gave them no direction on this song arrangement-wise in the studio.  I said, “Let’s just play.”  I wanted to capture a moment.  I didn’t want anyone to overthink it.  They did great.  They helped transport me back to that lonely hotel room in Aalborg.