JJ SCHULTZ talks about "Bustin' Outa Town"
www.jjschultz.com www.myspace.com/jjschultz www.laststoprecords.com
JJ SCHULTZ "Bustin' Outa Town" (Last Stop Records)
SONG OF THE INDEPENDENT RANCHER
I wrote "Song of the independent rancher" after spending a weekend back in hometown of Rhinelander WI. My father had been a grocer in town - he started bagging groceries and sweeping the floors at a store when he was in high school, and after he got out of the air force, he went back to the grocery store. He worked his way up - produce manager, night shift manager, assistant manager, and eventually he was the head manager of the store. For most of my life growing up, he was the manager. One year, the owner of the store died, and so he went around and rounded up the cash to buy the place. He owned the place for almost 10 years, until... Wal-Mart came and built a super Wal-Mart directly across the street with a big fancy grocery store and my dad’s place was out of business within 6 months. So anyways, I wrote this song after spending a weekend in Rhinelander driving around town with my father and talking about the Wal-Mart and what was happening to my home town. I changed the theme a bit (from grocer to rancher) because I write country songs, not grocer songs...
At the time I wrote Maple tree, I was very much into Willie Nelson's sparse waltzes, and this song is very much a mirror of what I was listening to at the time. I'm not sure where the lyrics came from - I guess it evolved a bit. I think I was initially writing about a father giving his daughter away on her wedding day, but I don't think any of that original content remained in the final version. This is the first of many Truck-driver and daughter songs that I have written.
BUSTIN' OUTA TOWN
Every year since I was 14 years old, I've been heading up to the state of North Dakota to do a little duck and bird hunting with my father and his hunting buddies. My dad has actually been going up there since he was 14, so we have a long history with the area. The towns and communities where we visit are quite depressed - their economy is based on agriculture, and there isn't much money left in that for regular folks. Anyways, I made this story up about two kids living in one of these towns and leaving. Funny thing with this song is I wrote the last verse first - "the mid-day sun is melting tires, causing me concern...." - I intended for this to be the first verse of the song, but after I wrote it, I didn't know where to go with the story, and so I wrote the story up until that point. I just came at it from the other side.
This song is one of my favorites when I do a solo show... I don't quite remember where this story came from - an automechanic and his alchoholic girlfriend (but he's marrying her anyways). I do remember the day I recorded it though... we had the album pretty much completed by the time I wrote this song, and one morning I headed into the studio to work on mixing, and I told the engineer that I had another song that I wanted to do - well he wasn't real excited about stopping the mixing and arranging for the bass player and drummer and all those guys to come back in and lay down their parts, so I told him I just wanted to play it solo and I wanted to do it live (play guitar and sing at the same time). I think I got it on the second take. I'm so glad I didn't dress it up with a lot of production - I think the spare production really adds to this song.
EVERYBODY BUT ME
I had a crush on this girl that I knew, who was also a good friend of mine. Anyways, I told her I had these feelings, and, as things work out, she didn't feel the same about me. Typical. Anyways, we continued to be friends, and it seemed she had a crush on every single guy except me. Random people at bus stops, homeless people on the street. Everybody! (but me). Sigh. Anyways, I wrote this song one night after we had dinner and she was talking about some guy she barely knew and I didn’t think he was worthy of her.
TWO DAY TRAIN
I'm not sure what I was writing about in this one. Thinking about it right now, I think it may be somewhat about the divorce a friend of mine was going through. The thing I always liked about this song is the way the violin came out on the recording. I hired a session violinist for the record, and when she played on this song, she did a number of takes, and when she played the take that made it on the record, the engineer and I both looked at each other and said "that's the one"... well, she didn't like that take at all, she thought her intonation was off in a couple spots. So we had her do another couple of takes, but we ended using the one we liked. I think I like that take for all of the reasons she didn't like it.
MAX MY DOG
When I was growing up, I had a beautiful Irish Setter named Max. Max was an excellent dog, who loved to chase cars - but that's not what did him in. I think stomach cancer is what finally got him. Anyways, he was such a noble dog that I decided that he deserved a song. The story in the lyrics of this song is purely fiction, because he died before I could drive.
NEED A PEN
This is a goofy song that I wrote on my parents front porch swing one morning when I was visiting. I remember recording this one, the engineer kept asking me “what’s the meter of the verses?”, and I didn't have any idea. I never really thought about the beat of this song – I just played my little pick pattern and sang the words and thought whatever the beat of that was, well that was the beat. I don't think there is a beat on the verses, to tell the truth, but I like this song just the same. A side note to songwriters: I do not recommend writing a song about needing a pen – when performed live, people tend to throw pens onto stage…
LIFE (AND THE HIGHWAY IN BETWEEN)
I wrote this song one night after talking with my parents - It turns out this girl who I liked quite a bit had broken off her engagement. Genius me - I wrote a song about telling her how I felt rather than just calling her and telling her how I felt. In retrospect, I probably should have just called her.
JACKIE YOU, JACKIE ME
This song is funny... I work hard on my songs and I think about the words and it typically takes me a while to finish something. But not this song, I wrote this one in about the amount of time it takes me to play it - I was going to a songwriter's open mic, and I wanted something new to play. Anyways, I never really thought much of the song, and I included it on this album as kind of a throw away: everybody who came in to play on the album I had play on Jackie you jackie me. We’d be wrapping up the session, and I'd say "hey, throw a little something on this song". Anyways, wouldn't you know it, but this song (which I put almost no thought into) became one of my most popular songs. I cannot play a live show without playing this song.
ME AND ELVIS (WE'D BE FRIENDS) + POPSICLES AND CHEESE
When I first started out as a singer songwriter, all of my songs were novelty songs. I tried to make them all funny, and some of them actually were. Anyways, these two songs are my favorites from that era, and felt it'd be a shame to release my first studio album and tip my hat to those songs. I recorded both of these songs live at the Hotel Utah Saloon in San Francisco. For more of my live stuff from the Hotel Utah, check out http://theutah.org/listen.php
JJ SCHULTZ talks about "Sometihing To Me"
www.jjschultz.com www.myspace.com/jjschultz www.laststoprecords.com
THE JJ SCHULTZ BAND "Something To Me" (Last Stop Records)
JACKIE YOU, JACKIE ME
Ahhh, Jackie you, Jackie me... Like I mentioned when I wrote about this song in my "Bustin Outa Town" write up, this song became one of my most popular live songs. I thought I'd include it on my second album, but do it how we do it live in concert.
The band and I would cover this song live, and I always thought we sounded pretty good on it, so I threw it on the record. I remember this one rehearsal, we were working on the harmonies, and Fred Odell stopped and said (in a very serious tone of voice), "hey man, we're starting sound like the %#$&# Eagles!" Coming from him, this was not a compliment... Personally, I don't mind the Eagles, but I could see what he was saying...
DRINKIN' YOU OFF MY MIND
I used to cover Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on fire", but I played it real fast and I changed the beat around a bit. One day I was fooling around with that pick pattern and beat, and I wrote "Drinkin' you off my mind". The chords are different and all that, but in my mind, these songs are forever linked. This song was originally about a truck driving man who was passing through his home town, but I thought I had too many songs about truckers, so I de-emphasized that bit. The line that goes "You'll never fall in love with a big city man, because a big city man's in love with the big city lights and the little white lines" originally was "you'll never fall in love with a truck driving man, because a truck driving man’s in love with the diesel whine, and the little white lines."
OL' BILLY THE CAB DRIVER
I originally wrote this song with a completely different set of lyrics. It used to be the story of a girl and her truck driving dad, and she would go from bar to bar leaving her dad money. She'd "leave a dollar for the driver"... Anyways, again, I felt I had too many songs about truckdrivers, so I changed it up a bit to the story of lost youth and a lost friend. It's one of those "you can't go home again songs", which I know very well - when I head back to my hometown, I hardly know a soul and not many people know me…
I tend to write slow, sad songs - and usually in 6/8 time... anyways, the band and I were playing a lot of shows at bars where they wanted to hear some more rocking numbers, and so I wrote "Speed Train" as a rocker to fill out the set list. It's still a sad song, mind you, but at least it's a little faster and in 4/4 time. I have been ribbed about not finishing my stories in my songs - I sometimes tend to leave the listener wondering what happens to the characters at the end of the song, and this song is a classic example of that. I get ribbed about this, but I do this intentionally - I don't like it when songs try to tell you every little thing and wrap things up cleanly, because rarely is that how things work. This song here, we never find out if she takes him back - we're left with him at the doorstep with his bags and a ring, and I like that.
SOMEONE WHO'S NOT ME
This song here I wrote one weekend when I was attending the wedding of the girl from Bustin' outa town's "Life (and the highway inbetween)". I was wrapping her wedding gift in my parent's basement, and I just had this idea for a song. Unrequited love – what better material for songwriting?
THE LONESOME TRUCKDRIVER
I wrote this song when I was in the midst of my “nobody loves me and love is hopeless” faze. It's a pretty pitiful song, if you listen to the lyrics. I kind of like it though. This is one truckdriver song that I left as a truckdriver song. I don't think it would have worked any other way.
OL' THOMAS EDWARDS
I had a buddy out here in San Francisco by the name of Lee Mallory. Lee was an older fella who'd been playing music for a long time. He had quite some stories to tell: he was friends with the members of the Association back in the day, he was a member of a big famous band named "The Millennium", and he was a heck of a nice guy. Anyways, the cancer got him, and it was quite a shock to me how quickly he went. I wrote this song a couple of days after he died.
Ahh, a song about a girl and her truckdriving dad. It's clear - I'm out of ideas! This song came about when my buddy James Moore and I were playing some guitar one day, and he plays me this riff and sings the first line "You're daddy done you wrong", and he says to me "That's a JJ Schultz song right there", and he asked me to finish it up, which I did.
SOMETHING TO ME
I remember exactly the day that I wrote "Something to me" - it was wednesday, November 3rd, 2004. I remember it so specifically because it was the day after George W Bush was re-elected. Anyways, you can probably tell a little bit of my mood that day from the song... This is another one of those stories that I don't wrap up neatly - we never do find out if the guy in the song pulls the trigger, or if he just lays on the floor and stares at the ceiling. Honestly, and I probably shouldn't let this on, but I don't think he pulls the trigger. I think he just lays there and stares at the ceiling for a bit - but that's just my opinion. We'll never know, really. Anyways, I thought this was a really powerful song and so I made it the title track of the album, and I think it's a nice crash ending to the album as well. It seems each song is more sorrowful than the next, and this is the most sorrowful of them all. A lot of people ask me why I don't write happy songs, and I don't know the answer to that - I gotta say, I'm a pretty cheerful guy. An optimist really. I just happen to like to write sad songs…