I'm putting together some new songs at Wilburland Studio. It's great to work with some of may favorite musicians again: Molly MacMillan on piano, Doug Robinson on bass, Mike Wellan on drums. Plus I'm meeting some great new players. Tunes include PLAY DIRTY, a punchy jazz song; I DON'T HAVE TO KNOW, a folk-ish ballad; COMIN' HOME TO YOU, a fun, upbeat number; and TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, a poignant rock epic.
The Dao of Spartacus Jones
I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
In a dump, a rundown shack by the railroad track
down by the riverside, in a crossfire hurricane
under a bad sign.
Standin’ up and talkin’ back
Born to be wild
Born to run.
Song sung blue.
It was the night they torn old Dixie down
Sweet home Chicago, that toddlin’ town
They left me there to die or grow
And the straw boss said, well bless my soul
I been down since I began to crawl.
The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.
Write your own songs.
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
Learned to spin fortune wheel and throw dice.
My mama done tol’ me Papa was a rolling stone
But I kept on rollin’ and controllin’ them bones
I was just thirteen when I had to leave home.
She won’t approve of things I do or what I am
I gotta be me
Ride away from tears and sorrow.
Playin’ in a travelin’ band.
I write the songs.
King of the road.
The leader of the pack.
The wayward wind.
I never looked for trouble but I never ran
If you want to start a rumble don’t you try it all alone.
When you’re hot, you’re hot
Stay off my blue suede shoes.
I am a rock.
Like a rock.
All or nothing at all, half a love never appealed to me
It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
My girl Delilah, Louise, Nadine, Lola, Mabellene
Sweet Caroline, kisses sweeter than wine,
Cindy, Oh, Cindy, Peggy Sue, Long Tall Sally
Proud Mary, Lady Jane, my Michelle
Rhapsody in the rain
Little Latine Lupe Lu, Peggy Sue and Suzy Q,
Barbara Anne, Suzanne, Cathy’s Clown, Maggie May
Heather Wood, and Katy did
Lucy in the sky, American Pie, Good Golly Miss Molly,
San Antonio Rose, sweet Georgia Brown
You can tell everybody this is your song
You prob’ly think this song is about you.
Honky tonk women give me the honky tonk blues.
I ain't good lookin' but you know I ain't shy.
Ain't afraid to look a girl in the eye.
Like lightning striking again
Let me stand next to your fire.
Lay down Sally
Lay, Lady lay
Gimme some lovin’
Let your love flow
Just catch that wave, don’t be afraid of loving me
Light my fire
Use me until you use me up
I am the words you are the tune
Let’s spend the night together
You can leave your hat on.
But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills
Why should we let it linger on when the thrill is gone
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
How insensitive I must have seemed
Time after time
That’s what you get for lovin’ me
I who have nothing
I’m a fool to want you
No, you don’t know me
I only have eyes for you
If it takes forever, I will wait for you
A day in the life of a fool
Now and then there’s a fool such as I
You’re the reason I’m travelin’ on
The last train to Clarksville
Baby, the rain must fall.
And echo in the sounds of silence
The shadow of your smile
There’s always something there to remind me
Things we said today
In the heat of the night there’s a cold sweat creep ‘cross my brow
Try to think that love’s not around, but it’s uncomfortably near
Down at the end of lonely street
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
Tall and tan and young and lovely
I’ve got you under my skin
I’m so into you
You give me fever
Loves strange ways
Black Magic woman is tryin’ to make a devil out of me
Devil woman let go, of me
I’m not your steppin’ stone
That’s no way to say good-bye.
All the burning bridges that have fallen after me
There are patterns I must follow just as I must breathe each breath
Quiet nights of quiet stars
Has anybody hear seen my old friend John?
All the leaves are brown and the skies are grey
One tin soldier rides away
The falling leaves drift by my window
Round like a circle in a spiral
Chain of fools
The empty bed blues
There’s a bad moon on the rise
This ain’t no technological breakdown
I’ve seen the future, brother and it’s murder
We’re on the eve of destruction
We’ve got a right to be angry
Caught in the crossfire
Walking the tightrope
I am a man of constant sorrow
Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
I’m older now but still running against the wind
I’ve really got to use my imagination
To dream the impossible dream
But that’s not the shape of my heart
When all the rest are gone, I’ll be holdin’ on
I'M NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE
We were mongrels and misfits, the mutts of the earth. They called us juvenile delinquents because we had exhibited one of the seven warning signs of thinking for yourself: saying “fuck you” instead of “Yes, Sir.”
The good boys had crewcuts; so we grew our hair long.
The good boys played football; we played guitars.
The good boys saluted the flag; we laughed at it.
The good boys were cowboys; we were Indians.
In the Cicero Kid’s mom’s garage, we formed our first band: The Wastrals.
This was our anthem.
For those of us who survived with our spirit intact, it still is.
It's Not Whether You Win or Lose, But Who You Play With
The other night, I had the great pleasure of being in the studio with LaTrece Stevenson. She's a terrific singer with a very Old School gospel/soul voice, and a loose, easy style that sounds effortless -- but only comes as a result from great and joyful effort.
I brought her in just to do a few oooo's aaaahhhh's and sha-na-na's on a tune called "Play Dirty," but she sounded so damn good, I kept expanding her part. I also decided to re-cut my own vocal on the spot, setting up almost a duet type thing with her, even though I was still mainlining the lead. You see, you're profoundly influenced by the energy of other musicians. It changes your energy, changes your performance. Trece is a powerful energy,upbeat in spirit, and, as a result, my own performance moved up a few notches. I love when that happens. Working solo for so long, I'd forgotten how sweet it can be. I don't think I've ever seen my engineer-cum-father-confessor Will Russell smile so much.
Now I find myself making up excuses to work with this lady some more, and looking forward to the next time.