The Devil & The Open Road
some information on the new album "The Devil & The Open Road"
for those of you who are interested in how these songs came about and what
inspired them. I don't mean to bore you or sound pretentious by mentioning
some authors, musicians, or filmmakers who've influenced these songs. In
case I still do, please forgive me.
Trouble With The Law: I was inspired to write this one by the Jerry Lee Lewis-biography "Hellfire" written by Nick Tosches. Jerry Lee was the cousin of TV-evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and he grew up in a very religious household. What impressed me most was the sense of guilt and having to pay for one's sins that's purveyed by the book. There's also a strong notion of fate and not being able to escape the bad blood that you might have. Anyway, I tried to capture some of those sentiments in this song. Robert's driving beat accentuates the story very well, I think.
Pawn Shop Girl: Just a fun song that I wrote after listening to lots of Buddy Miller & the Derailers. Sort of on the edge between rockabilly and country. I made a point of not using more than three chords (I forget what point it was). The actual recording turned out more rockabilly-sounding, I think.
An Eye For An Eye: Two books about the convicted murderer Gary Gilmore moved me greatly. One's called "Shot In The Heart" and it's written by Mikal Gilmore, the other's "The Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer. Both books along with the movie "Dead Man Walking" and the accompanying soundtrack nourished this song.
Snake Tattoo: For my best friend Chris. It's about friendship and trust and reliance. Needless to say, that I had to take some poetic license because the original song about two guys watching soccer on TV didn't sound so interesting. The song really took on a life of its own. Obviously, the aforementioned books on Gilmore played a role here too.
The Deal: I've seen way too many Martin Scorsese movies but I haven't yet heard a mafia song. Here's my attempt. Of course, it's really about trying to do the right thing with your life. Sometimes you need to hang on to your dreams. Quite raunchy, musically.- I'm aware of the fact that this lyric is heavily indebted to Springsteen's "Jungleland."
Memory And A Dream: As in William Faulkner's "The Sound & The Fury", I wanted to describe an incident from a child's perspective and then have it unfold. Maybe it's closer to his short story "That Evening Sun" because I'm only using one narrator.
Dry Spell/ Wasteland: The dry land suite. There's an analogy between the dried up land and the dried up love affair of the narrator. Women and weather are equally hard to influence.
I Dreamed I Saw My Tombstone: This is basically a weird song and it's basically true too. On the first day of winter I went for a walk and ended up in the cemetery looking at all the gravestones and getting strange thoughts.
Rainville: It was hard work to write this song. Took me ages to fit all the information I wanted to put across into the third and fourth line of the song. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's (at least) two sides to each story.
Awful Pretty: When I get ambitious, I write stuff like this. At one point, I'd actually given up on the idea of writing from a sex offender's point of view and almost forgotten all about it. One day, my friend Dennis Schütze unintentionally challenged me by asking whether I'd ever finished "that kinky weirdo song." When I went back to it, I'd gained a new perspective and I changed a few things, wrote two new verses and put the whole thing together.
The Devil & The Open Road: I had the title before I had anything else. Combining two clichés seemed like a good idea to me at the time. A lot of songs on the album touch moral and ethical questions, I suppose, and this one does too. It's hard to always do right and never veer from the good path and the guy in the song has finally grown tired of trying to. Probably not a very pc concept. I really think we got a good recording of this song with the tension building up nicely. Great slide work by Ed.