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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

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On New Years day I woke up with words stuck in my head.  Morning clammer of the mind is often dismissible, or at least in need of good coffee for the untangling of coherent thoughts.  But because it was early on New Years day, the house was quiet and the clammer was especially evaluative about the start of a new decade.  I started writing.  Songs often come in two parts for me, the first a flood of inspiration and the second a difficult kneading through the mess.  Four months later while in Mexico, I had finally sat with the morning’s notions long enough to spread out the corners into verses and chorus, with melody and chord structure.  Finishing songs is writing songs, beginning songs is just creating work for yourself.  This one was a struggle to write and I wrestled it for months throughout some reckless personal experiences.

I met a harmonica player, Jack Fretwell while playing in a bar in Bristol, TN.  He was traveling through town like me and we teamed up for a song.  Jack lives in Washington D.C. near my mother in law’s farm, Grace Acres; so of course I found him the next time I passed through.  I took my laptop to his house to do the tracking for a couple songs and a fateful twist of studio happenstance was awaiting us.

There is a lyric in this song at about 1:45 that says, “Clocks will strike and hammers fall, the iron oligarch…”   In Jack’s dining room is an old clock he inherited from his Uncle Pete.  With both of us in headphones and the microphone over the dining room table, in mid-take the clock struck right into our ears over the sound of Jack’s harmonica.  It did so precisely as I sang the words, “Clocks will strike,” in perfect time and in perfect key. Ringing out a solid b flat, for it was 1 o’clock, “Uncle Pete’s Clock” became the name of the song.

I’ll be putting up a song a day everyday this week and next and sharing a little bit about how it was written and recorded.  I will leave out the song’s interpretation, but aid in describing what was happening around the process.  Check back soon.

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