On The Eve Of The Second Weekend At The Fur Peace Ranch
Well, my old pal Mr. Casady came in last night and at noon today we are going to do an interview for Weekend Edition on NPR. It’s amazing how many people are coming out of the woodwork to talk about Steady As She Goes, our new CD.
Normally I don’t respond to people’s opinions about my work… I mean after all, an opinion is an opinion and I sure have plenty of the myself. In any case I got to thinking about the gentleman who took issue with our rendition of Children Of Zion. First of all… the guitar I’m playing is not a Les Paul. It’s a Chet Atkins SST which is sort of an electric/acoustic guitar with the same strings on it that I use on the good old Jorma Kaukonen Martin M-30. The sound one hears on this cut from my guitar is amplified through a Oahu Steel Guitar amp from the 30’s. I certainly did not record this version of the Reverend’s tune in a light hearted way. There really are no light hearted songs on this project… not even Mama Let Me Lay It On You or Vicksboro Stomp. Now of course, art is in the eye and ear of the beholder so I would never argue any of these points with anyone. There are plenty of players out there who can play Rev. Davis’ music more authentically than I. That has always been the case and the good news for me is that at this point in my life I only have to sound like me. All this said, I love our version of Zion because it is so different. If you think about my version of Death Don’t Have No Mercy, my arrangement does not even really follow the Rev.’s chord changes.
In the spirit of this conversation, I read a review of my song ‘Things That Might Have Been,’ and the reviewer didn’t like my use of phrases like, ‘In the garden of life, nothing blooms on it’s own.’ Well… You just can’t please everyone that’s for sure… but you can be honest, and that’s what I am. I know some stellar song writers… Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson, Jim Lauderdale… These guys and those like them write song after great song many of which are recorded by other artists resulting in ‘Mailbox Money,’ which we all love. I would love if some big star recorded one of my songs (I smell college fund) but that’s not why I write songs. My songs are almost always in some way a chronicle of my life and that’s all I can do.
Hey listen… it really is all good. I can’t believe that at this point in my life, people are still inviting dialogue about my work. How much better than that does it get? Maybe I’ll write a song about it.
OK, moving on. Jack and Barry and I as acoustic Hot Tuna will be holding forth at the Fur Peace Station this weekend and then it’s off to Florida and then back to the Ranch and then off to New York City. I must have lost my mind to say yes to all this, but what the heck? This is what I love to do.
OK, opinions about art, mine or others, never rubs me the wrong way. There are other opinions that make me crazy but these aren’t they. How much better that that…. wait a minute. It does get better than that. Yesterday my almost five year old daughter Izze and I went to fly a kite after school. We were on the soccer field at OU and it was very windy. We got that Star Wars Kite up the minute I let go of it. I was the handler and Izze was the pilot. We had all the string on the reel up in the air. After about a half an hour of flying she reeled all the twine in, picked up her kite and put it in the back of my Jeep with a smile of satisfaction on her face. We went home, cooked hamburgers together and watched half of American Idol together.
It doesn’t get any better than that.