Richmond Fontaine finished the last leg of "The High Country" tours in early November 2011. Our last show of the tour was in Galway, Ireland.
After the tour ended, I had the good luck to fly to Florence, Italy for a few days to hang out with Stiv Cantarelli. Stiv is a longtime friend, bandmate, touring companion and mastermind behind such bands as Gold Rust, Satellite Inn, Jimmy Cooper Club and Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers.
Coincidentally, Bob Dylan and his Band were playing in Florence while I was there. On 11-11-11, natch.
Florence is probably my favorite city that I have had the pleasure to visit. I've been fortunate enough to spend a good amount of time in Florence during the last 6 years. I love walking the streets, taking in the sights and sounds, and the Renaissance architecture, the old cathedrals and the museums are breathtaking.
Plus I get to hang out with Stiv and his wife Anna, eating good food, drinking good wine, and talking about music and life.
On this visit, while walking alone down toward the Duomo in the city center, I came upon the idea of writing an acoustic 'lost love' ballad. I thought it would be great to come up with a male and female duet, centered around heartache and regret. You know, the stuff of classic country songs! Maybe the fact that I had been away from home for a few months came into play when I came up with the idea.
Well, before I knew it I had come up with a verse or two and a melody. I kept working it over in my head as I walked. I had never really composed a song without an instrument. So this was a new experience, exciting and liberating.
I had just come off a tour where I had gotten to hang out with the amazing Amy Boone. Amy was singing and playing keyboards with the band. I had talked with Amy about the possibility of singing on my next record, which I was due to begin in December. I had her voice in mind as I wrote the song.
That night I wrote out another verse. Then is was time to have some fun and check out the Dylan show.
On the first leg of my flight back to Oregon, sitting in the plane, I came up with the bridge for the song. As it turned out, my flight into Amsterdam was delayed, and I missed my connection. It ended up being one of those classic messed up, long as hell travel days back home. I think it took something like 24 hours to make it back to Portland. But I pretty much finished the song in my head during all that. It helped keep me somewhat sane. The only other thing I remember about that day was watching some classic Paul Newman movies on the plane. So, the day was not a total loss!
The day after I got back home, I sat down with my guitar and firmed up the words and music in about 5 minutes. It's a pretty straightforward song.
As it turned out, Amy was not able to make it to Portland to work on my record. But I ended up working with the very talented Michael Jodell. Michael had sung on my first record as well. She has a great voice and wonderful style.
For the recording, Michael and I sat face to face in Mike Coykendall's living room. We cut the track live, with me playing the acoustic guitar. I think we did about 5 or 6 takes, and we had a keeper.
Paul Brainard came in next and added some tasty pedal steel guitar.
Next I added some mandolin, using my classic old mandolin from the 1930's that Jeff Robbins found for me. For those keeping track, that same mandolin was used on Lost Son and Winnemucca (Paul Brainard played it on both those records), as well as another recording where Petra Haden played it. It was actually the first time where I got to play it on record. I was very happy to finally play it on record myself!
I will always envision the beautiful streets of Florence when I think of 'Our Own Kind of Love'.
WE HAVE OUR OWN SMILE
WE HAVE OUR OWN TEARS
WE HAVE A WAY
WE HAVE OUR OWN KIND OF LOVE
THROUGH ALL THE GOOD TIMES
THROUGH ALL THE BAD TIMES
THROUGH ALL THE YEARS
WE HAVE OUR OWN KIND OF LOVE
AND I WISH THAT I COULD BE THERE
TO HOLD YOU TONIGHT
BUT WE BOTH KNOW THAT I'M
NOT THAT KIND OF GUY
AND NOW I'M LEAVING
GOING DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN
KISS OUR BABY GOODNIGHT
WE HAVE OUR OWN KIND OF LOVE
c 2012 boguemusic bmi
Thursday, November 22, 2012
'Scholls Ferry' is the first instrumental piece that I have written on the piano. It was written during a somewhat tough time, in the cold, grey days of January. I had a piano in the living room, and I would work on the song as a way to take my mind off of my troubles.
At the time, I was listening a lot to this incredible album by Peter Rowan and Tony Rice called Quartet. There is a song on that album called 'Trespasses'. I must have subconsciously lifted a bit of the melody from that song and used it as the opening figure of 'Scholls Ferry'. I didn't notice this until later, but it didn't bother me too much as it is just a tiny bit of the melody. And I am sure that figure has been used in another thousand songs as well!
We recorded 'Scholls Ferry' for You Came Through with Ralph Huntley playing the piano and Sean Oldham on drums. They recorded live together. I think they ran through three takes. It was great having an amazing pianist like Ralph play a song that I had written on the piano. He added some nice touches to the song.
Afterwards Ralph added organ to the song and I added bass. Then Dan Eccles added the yearning lap steel part and also some acoustic guitar.
A year earlier I had recorded a version of 'Scholls Ferry' with Kirk VanDerveer at his studio. On this version, I play the piano and organ, Kirk plays acoustic guitar, Sean plays drums and Skip Von Kuske plays bass. This version may eventually end up on the forthcoming Uncle Fester album. But in the meantime you can listen to and download it at my Bandcamp site: http://daveharding.bandcamp.com/
Scholls Ferry was a ferry that ran across the Tualatin River, located southwest of Portland, Oregon. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholls,_Oregon
Sunday, September 16, 2012
For such a seemingly simple song, "Grasshopper Blues" took quite a long time to come to fruition.
I began writing the song at Long Lake, Michigan in August of 1992. I was kind of doing a play on words on the Robert Johnson song "Rambling On My Mind".
I finished the song in Eugene, Oregon in the Autumn of that year.
At the time, the song was an uptempo 'groove' song, with lots of room for soloing. I used to perform it a lot in that style with my friend Dave Gonella.
Then, a couple of years ago, I struck upon the idea of slowing the song down a whole lot. I heard it now as something that might fit in with Neil Young circa On The Beach, or something like that. I also changed the final line to "I'm gonna have a mighty strange time", which seemed to fit the new mood of the song better.
The recording of "Grasshopper Blues" for You Came Through happened pretty fast. Dan Eccles and I had rehearsed the song once before, with me on acoustic and him on lap steel guitar. It's a fairly straightforward song, so we were really going for the feel more than anything else. And Dan is all about 'that feel'.
We set up in Mike Coykendall's living room late one night, Dan seated about 12 feet from me. After we got our levels, we recorded the song three times. I was kind of nervous, because it is such a slow song, with the vocals way up front. But Mike put a cool effect on my voice, and I was digging it.
After the second take, I thought we had nailed it. But Dan thought we should try one more. I thought my singing was a little better on the third take, but the second take had a better vibe. So that was the keeper. A little later I added some upright bass to the track and that was it.
I'm crawling the horizon
Got scrambling on my mind (x2)
As soon as I find my shoes I will be fine
Tadpole in a bucket
His Time is left behind (x2)
I ain't no prince but I've been trying
Gonna find me a grasshopper
Gonna ride him to the stars
Gonna buy me a grasshopper
Gonna ride him to the stars
Of course I'll bring along
My steel guitar
I'm crawling the horizon
Got scrambling on my mind (x2)
Don't know when I'll get there
Don't know what I'll find
But while I'm gone I'm gonna have me
A mighty strange time
c 2012 boguemusic bmi
Monday, August 6, 2012
I wrote "Shores of Cornwall" several years ago while staying at the house of my friends' Kirk and Sandra. I remember it was a sunny Autumn day and I was sitting in their dining area with a nice breeze blowing in through the open door that leads out to their back porch. I was playing guitar. The verse and chorus of the song came to me rather quickly. I heard the song as a kind of hybrid of Van Morrison and The Pogues, with a big drunken pub-choir singing along on the chorus.
I carried around the verses of the song and a chorus with me for a few years. But the words that I had written for the chorus did not seem strong enough to me, they seemed like 'dummy' lyrics that didn't really say anything. So one day while driving at work I focused on coming up with a strong image to go with the lyrics of the verse. I had come up with a few ideas, then 'rocky shores of Cornwall' popped into my head. I knew pretty much instantaneously that that was what I was looking for. My Grandfather was born near Cornwall, and I have always had a romantic notion of that part of England.
Once I got the image of the new chorus, the direction of the story of the song began to take shape. It was a mixture of fact and fiction, like most things are. I went back and tweaked the verses a little bit and wrote several new verses to fit the story of the song.
I had a tough time singing the song, even as we were preparing to record it. I tried changing the key of the song, but that didn't seem to solve the issue. I think that I was intimidated by the song, both the emotional content and the fact that it had so many words that needed to be sung convincingly. I am proud of the song, and quite frankly I think that I knew that I could not pull it off.
But I tried to sing it in the recording studio, but gave up after suffering my way through it a couple of times. I thought of having Michael Jodell sing it (she sings elsewhere on the album), but it really needed a man's voice. So somehow or another I talked my producer Mike Coykendall into singing it. He has a real cool voice. He was a little reluctant, mainly because he had just played a show the night before and also he was coming down with a cold, so he thought that his voice was a little 'creaky'. But I thought that the raspiness in his voice made the song that much more real. Regardless, he nailed the song in two takes.
It was Mike's idea to have Jill Coykendall play clarinet on the song. I loved it. I knew I wanted another instrument on the song, but I did not know what would sound good. I think that the clarinet adds to the song's mournful, Celtic feel.
Michael Jodell added some beautiful singing to the song, especially in the final chorus. I think the call and response of her singing on the final chorus really tells the story of the whole song. The other musicians on the song are Ralph Huntley on piano, Sean Oldham on drums, Mike Coykendall on autoharp, and me on electric guitar, bass, organ and backup vocals.
FOR ALL THE TEARS I'VE CRIED
FOR ALL THE TIMES I'VE LIED
TO MYSELF IN VAIN
DOWN IN THIS LONELY ROOM
UNDER A BLOOD RED MOON
THE NIGHT TEARS INTO MY SOUL
I'LL NEVER FORGET THE PAIN
ALL THE SCARS REMAIN
FROM THE DAY I TURNED AWAY
AND EVERY TIME I REACH THE BOTTOM
THERE'S SOMETHING THERE THAT PULLS ME THROUGH
FEELING RAVAGED AND FORGOTTEN
WHEN THE WIND PICKS UP AND I CAN SEE
THE SHORES OF CORNWALL COMING INTO VIEW
LOST ON THE RIVER'S EDGE
WHERE I MADE MY PLEDGE
TO YOU BEFORE YOU LEFT ME
TIME AND TIME AGAIN
THINKING OF YOU MY FRIEND
AND I CURSE THE WAY THE LIGHT
WAS TAKEN FROM YOU
HIGH ON THIS LONESOME RIDGE
I'VE LOST THE PRIVILEGE
TO LIVE THIS LIFE ANYMORE
I'LL NEVER FORGIVE MYSELF
AND THE WAY THAT I DEALT
WITH THE TERROR OF THE SICKNESS
GROWING INSIDE YOU
c Dave Harding boguemusic bmi 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
I had no intentions of working on a new record. Richmond Fontaine had just finished recording "The High Country", and we were in the process of beginning rehearsals for the tour in support of "The High Country".
But then over the course of a month or so I banged out half a a dozen new songs, and finished up some other songs that I had been working on for awhile. It soon became apparent to me that I really liked these songs and wanted to record them while they were still fresh and new. I had a busy schedule in the Fall (2011) touring with RF, but I was sure I could fit in some time to record these new songs. I also wanted to push myself to finish and hone the songs to completion. I always work best with a deadline looming over my head!
So I booked some studio time with Mike Coykendall at Blue Room Studios in Portland. Mike had recorded and produced my first record Across The Road, and had worked with Fontaine on Post To Wire, The Fitzgerald, and Obliteration By Time. He has also worked with such musicians as Fernando, M. Ward, She and Him and The Old Joe Clarks.
I contacted many of the same musicians who I had worked with on my first record: Sean Oldham (drums), Scott Hampton (guitar, dobro, slide guitar), and Michael Jodell (vocals). I also brought in Ralph Huntley (piano, organ, accordian), Dan Eccles (lap steel and acoustic guitar), Paul Brainard (pedal steel guitar), and Jill Coykendall (clarinet). As on Across The Road, Mr. Coykendall played a whole bunch of stuff as well.
The recording went great. Mike and I worked together, and quickly got down to business. I wanted the sessions to be kind of loose, so several of the songs weren't completely worked out until we got in the studio. I wanted to try and keep everything as spontaneous as possible, limit the number of takes, and strive to capture the magic of several musicians creating something new in the studio.
As on my first record, Sean Oldham was the heartbeat and muscle. I worked out the songs with Sean at his studio, finding the right tempos and feel for each song.
Scott Hampton brought some great melodies to the songs with his playing. Scott is a songwriter, and he approaches each song with an eye on how his musical lines can best build the song into a whole creation. He has so many great ideas. I just love his playing. The melody guitar line he wrote for "Shelly's Song" just kills me. And his playing on "Judgment Day" is out of sight!
Michael Jodell is great to work with. She has a sweet soul, and it really comes through in her singing. Michael sang harmonies and background vocals on many of the songs, and duets with me on two of the songs: "Goodbye" and "Own Kind Of Love".
"Own Kind Of Love" was written about a month before the recording session. I was walking the streets of Florence, Italy when the tune and lyric came to me. It is rare for me to write without an instrument, so this was a nice treat. I finished the lyric off on the plane ride from Florence to Amsterdam. It was a real pleasure to sing it face to face with Michael in the studio only a month later. Paul Brainard's gentle pedal steel playing adds the right amount of ache to the song.
"Scholls Ferry" is an instrumental, the first song I have written on the piano. On the demo I played the piano. But for the studio version I had the maestro Ralph Huntley play the part. Dan Eccles added the Beatlesque lap steel part.
Dan also adds beautiful lap steel to "Grasshopper Blues". This song is an older song of mine. I used to perform it uptempo, but recently slowed it down to JJ Cale speed. I like it. Dan and I recorded it late one night in Mike's living room. I believe Take 2 was the keeper.
"Shores of Cornwall" was written on guitar, but for the recording we based it on Ralph's piano playing. Ralph added some great gospel touches to the song. When it came time for me to sing the lead vocal, I was having a tough time singing it. I think the song was too emotional for me, and the playing was so great that I didn't feel like I had it in me to match the intesity of the performance. I jokingly mentioned to Mike that maybe he should sing it. (I think secretly I really did want him to sing it!). He was a little hesitant to sing as he had a cold and had just played a gig the night before, so his voice was pretty rough. Well, he came down and nailed it in two takes. And I love the feel of his voice on the song. It feels like he is living the song. Mike's wife Jill added some wonderful clarinet to the song as well.
Well, now everything is recorded and done and ready for everyone to listen to. I worked with my old friend Mario on the artwork. He does great work.
I am very happy with how the record came out. I think it has a great feel to it. I hope you will like it too!
YOU CAME THROUGH IS AVAILABLE AT BANDCAMP.COM: