Game Changer Story Song 10

   Thanks for all the love and positive support for this series about the story behind the music of the Game Changer album. It was fun to record the album, and I am having a great time going back to recount the details of composing and recording it.
Song 10 is From the Country. I’ll say right up front the premise of this tune:  yep, many great things have come from urban areas and big cities; great ideas, great inventions, etc., but in my book, all of the good stuff came from the country! Word.
Musically,  From the Country was my chance to go back and pay homage to my true, original Blues Roots with an all acoustic song. I started out as an acoustic solo act in coffee houses and clubs, and this song is an homage to those days.
I got into music in the first place via folk music. Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly seemed much more real to me than the pop and rock prevalent in my high school days. I loved searching for old albums and devouring the info in the liner notes on the back cover.
When I read that Leadbelly used to be a “lead boy” for Blind Lemon Jefferson ( Lemon was actually blind, and a very tough life was made a tiny bit easier by having someone to walk around and be his eyes and take him from place to place.)
Well, I could not wait to go search out a Blind Lemon Jefferson album! I found a couple, finally, and Whoa! I had never heard anything so plaintive, emotional, stark and moving.
One man, one guitar, throwing down! My life was changed, right there. I was officially hooked on acoustic, old timey Blues music. I started in earnest to learn to play this wonderful new language, so I could express myself in that way too.
Lyrically, Blind Lemon Jefferson was so direct and on point about the subjects that mattered to him, it was the first time I ever connected with an artist who was singing about MY life. Like we were cousins or something.
I became an all-acoustic snob, listening to only my ever-growing record collection of reissues of old 78 RPM records by Charlie Patton, Blind Willie McTell, Willie Brown, and especially Robert Johnson.
I learned to play Slide by listening to and copying the two LP’s King of the Delta Blues. I got so I could cover Crossroads, Travellin’ Riverside, Come in my Kitchen, etc. pretty closely. Great tutor- after that, any other slide artist I tried to decipher was easy.
Came from the Country features acoustic rhythm flat-picked guitar, finger picked guitar, and slide guitar, all played on a steel bodied Dobro. The tone of a dobro is absolutely distinctive and very bluesy. Many of the classic solo artists who influenced my playing in my early stages of performing, like Blind Boy Fuller and Son House, played steel bodied guitars. My slide fills are in the tradition of Tampa Red and Casey Bill Weldon.
I had come across Yank Rachell, an old Blues artist who played mandolin. I went out and bought one in the ’70’s, and had great fun playing along with records, throwing in Blues licks on mandolin. It was not a good instrument for playing solo at gigs, but I resolved to use it someday, some way. From the Country was my chance!
There was a genre of acoustic music back there in the 1920’s called Jug Band music. As happens down in the country, not everyone could afford fancy store bought instruments, like a big double bass, so they made do with what they had at hand.
In Jug Band songs, the bassline is carried by someone blowing low notes into the mouth of an old time stone crockery liquor jug. Very distinctive, very cool, and From the Country is driven by an antique jug from my Mom’s house!
Speaking of making do with what’s at hand, the all important back beat of the song is played by a metal coffee can!
I managed to give shout outs to some of my fave people in the song: Muddy Waters, Elvis, Little Walter, Robert Johnson, Marilyn Monroe, and even the original TLBB.
Who we are today is a culmination of the journey it took to get us here. From the Country is a record of a major definitive part of my journey.   😉

1311 Greaseland Jug !

1 Comment

  1. Hello Tom, I love the new LP. I think you are the first person I know to mention Yank Rachell. I had the extreme honor and schooling to play WITH him at a jam session in the Broad Ripple club district of INDY. Then was slammed when my band Bad News Travels Fast opened his 80th Birthday Party Bash at the Slippery Noodle…it all seems like a misty dream now but he was the deal going down. His daughter on bass was a moving force too. News from the Western Front is Christine and I are pulling up stakes and buying a home in Crisfield MD. We will be there the end of this July. Looking forward to see you again!

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