TERRY LEE HALE
talks about "Shotgun Pillowcase" (Borderdreams)
Also available via Glitterhouse and Blue Rose Records mailorder.
Where songs come from is of course a subject that could be written about at some length. The whole process for creating and putting together the songs for "Shotgun Pillowcase" can be read on my webpage at: www.terryleehale.com
(specifically: http://www.terryleehale.com/writings/various/shot.html>). I believe that one of the reasons this particular record has such a special "vibe" has very much to do with the process I used in the songwriting itself. Please feel free to check out that rather long article. Below you'll find a song by song short description of each song.
HEARTS- A wonderful movie written and directed by Miranda July entitled "Me, You and Everyone We Know" was directly responsible for Hearts. There were these cool scenes of internal dialogue that were being directed at each other- but silently- by both the man and woman characters. I used the same back and forth shifting- first the woman then the man speaking through the 4 verses (I want him, I want her, Ect.). I came home from the movie and these lyrics just tumbled out onto the paper.
BIG SIGH- The actual words themselves were in response to a breakup I was going through a few years ago. This was the more positive of a few that were written. "My dreams about you darling and you're always only mine." Ect. I was listing some reasons why I still wanted to be with her and explaining why I was still in love. That first version though was more of a ditty-light and airy- and not the more soulful version recorded for Shotgun. I never really played this live much but it just kinda hung around until this record. We slowed it way down, I discarded some of the lyrics and voila! New life for an old song!
GLITTERATI- Written by Chris Eckman. (Maybe we can get his words here some day?)
CABLE BALLAD BLUES- Songs written from an outsider's point of view have always been an easy place for me to start from and this was no exception. Point of view, always important. The refrain: "I've got a chrome plated, hide-away gun, I've got my high top shoes." was from a long unfinished song (maybe 10+ years) that I dug up and used here. I wrote a story to fit that refrain and this "Breakdown shotgun in a pillowcase." was the other starting place. I actually did have and own a breakdown shotgun which I carried around for a few years in a pillowcase underneath the seat of my '67 Malibu. The gun was given to me when I left Texas in 1979 and heading north. It was my friend Big Bill that sawed the barrel off of this old 16-gauge. He thought I might need protection up north for my young family and myself. I never had to use the gun though quite thankfully.
HE'S STILL DRINKING- The seeds from this little musical interlude began with the loop which itself was created by producer Chris Eckman. Before entering the studio Chris and I had made an agreement to try and create some new music during the sessions. This was one was created from scratch using Chris's loop as the basis. I added the Dobro, then the glockenspiel and he added some treatments at the end. The title is mine. Studio fun.
LEVEL 20- During the fall of 2005 there were lots and lots of riots taking place quite near the place where we live just outside Paris. The image of running teenagers and pursuing police was constantly on the news for a couple of weeks. The lyrics here just painting some part of the picture of what I saw daily and from what I know (and learned) about from the housing projects around here. Level 20 would be the floor and number 43 the apartment perhaps. Actually this song also came from some studio magic and I do share songwriting credits with Chris for it. My original version was more of a straight-ahead rock song but that version never really fit with what this CD was about. One night we were listening to some of Chris's loop creations (he has an immense library!) and this one popped up. I just grabbed the lyric sheet and sang along. Simple really. The Dobro with the Asian feel came naturally as well.
Photo copyright by Peter Pricken
NO DISTANCE LEFT TO RUN- This song was written by the members of the band Blur- (song Albarn / Music Albarn, Coxon, James, Rowntree). Chris is actually the one that suggested this song, perhaps as an exercise as much as anything else. Of all the CD's I'd ever recorded the one thing I'd never done was record someone else's music. I fell in love with it on the first listen. As done by Blur the song is a lush and aching lament highlighted by Graham Coxon's beautiful and far-reaching guitar playing. This song is unlike anything I'd ever done before -written or played- and I'm sure that was partly Chris's intent when he suggested I learn and record this number.
EVERGREEN- I will often write away my blues when they occur and I guess I am no difference then lots of other artists in that respect. Writing sad songs certainly does give one perspective (hopefully positive) about any given situation. I'm not sure exactly what I was being depressed about when this was written but the words are clear enough in regards the subject.
WORK SONG- Simple enough I think. I just get so tired of all the whining that takes place these days (has it always been like that?). I include myself (at times) in this category as well. I think I just sat down and wrote this one out in a few minutes. Roll up your sleeves!
OLIVA- An instrumental and where do those ideas come from I'm not sure. I play guitar every day and if I let them, songs will flow naturally from those practices. I'd been playing a lot of classical guitar this past year and the instrument itself can often be a source of inspiration. Almost like the song is "inside" the guitar. I also enjoy the way the guitar has these kind of moving, piano pieces that twirl and twist around each other.
STREETS OF STONE- A very, very difficult song for me to write. I think it took me something like 3 months of solid writing everyday to finish this baby. Still, I'm quite proud of it. Another "blues" song but not depressing. I like to think that it takes place somewhere in Europe (streets of stone). Once again, I believe I had the guitar parts to this song before the words. Often when I practice I'll turn on the tape recorder (mini disc actually) and then just play the guitar and sing or hum along. Afterwards I'll go back and find the seeds of the lyrics "inside" the humming or mouth noises. I'm sure that's where this song began. Of course having the seeds and then having the fully completed lyrics can be a long and far stretch sometimes for songwriters. I was actually writing/editing this song even as I was recording it which is something I'd never done before.