NEW MUSIC TUESDAY: Dear Jamie

This song started coming together in October 2012 after a close friend of mine told me the heartbreaking story of her 25 year marriage getting torn apart by the addiction and drug use of her spouse. A couple of their kids still lived at home during this tragedy and had to witness not only the drug use, but also the accelerated screaming and fighting that ensued when divorce eventually came into the picture.

I kept thinking about how one day I would have a few kids of my own, and how the two parents in this story were once young just like me… with hopes and dreams and tons of uncertainty ahead of them. What drove the husband in this story to becoming a junkie? How many years of poor communication did it take to get there?

There is no solution offered in this song. Only pain and disappointment is expressed. However, the MLK speech at the end of the track does offer an alternative.

Thanks for listening.

James

NEW MUSIC TUESDAY: Someone To Love

This isn’t a love song, but it is a song about hope.

If you’re like me, then you probably make a ton of mistakes. You do things that you wish you didn’t do, and in your lowest moments you promise yourself that you won’t do them again. The bad news about these demons and these vices is that they never stop. Most of us won’t admit to our struggles and so instead we just keep ourselves really, really busy and we avoid any conversation that has actual substance or value to it. We fill up our brains with social media, alcohol, gossip, sarcasm, competition. We’re weak. I’m weak.

Somehow amidst all of this obvious weakness, we believe that we have the strength and mental stamina to mute the noises and voices that run around in our head. We don’t. These noises can’t be stopped on our own. The only hope we have is when we share these struggles with other people.

This song is me admitting to you that I can’t do it by myself any longer. It’s the drum that I’ll beat until the day I die.

James

NEW MUSIC TUESDAY: Tarwater (The Fighter)

I met Davis Tarwater sometime around 2004 and his story of persistence and triumph are what inspired this song.

He grew up in Knoxville and started swimming competitively at age 7. Coaches noticed that he was gifted from an early age and his personal dedication to becoming faster and stronger eventually propelled him to a state title in high school and an opportunity to swim collegiately at the University of Michigan alongside teammate Michael Phelps. The opportunity was incredible, and Davis grabbed it by the horns. While at Michigan, Davis broke all kinds of records, got named an All American multiple times, and he qualified for the Olympic trials. Most interesting to me though is that while at Michigan, Davis switched his competitive focus from the freestyle to the butterfly.

All of these honors were huge achievements, but the paragraphs that follow are what inspired me to write this song.

Tarwater qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and finished fourth in the 200-meter butterfly, missing the Olympics by less than half a second. (The Top 2 Qualifiers from each event make the Olympic team.) He was heartbroken, but knew that he could give it another run in 2008 so he continued to train for 4 more years alongside Phelps and other Olympians.

In 2008 he qualified for the US Olympic Trials once again, and Tarwater was quoted by the Knox News Sentinel as being “stronger than ever.” In the prelims and semi-finals he swam two of his fastest times ever, placing him in the finals where he needed to place in the Top 2 to make the 2008 Olympic team.

Tarwater swam his personal best time ever, but he fell short and placed 3rd… missing the Olympics by 6 tenths of second.

Heartbroken again, Davis formally announced his retirement from swimming and decided to attend graduate school at Oxford.

But sometime around 2010, he got the itch one more time… and he decided that he wanted to compete at the 2012 Olympic Trials not only in the butterfly, but also in the freestyle.

It was definitely the best decision of his life. Davis trained harder than ever, and swam faster than ever.

In 2012, Davis Tarwater made the Olympic team as a member of the 4 x 200 Relay Team.

Upon hearing this news, I got so pumped up that the lyrics to this song literally just flowed out of me in an afternoon. Michael crafted all of the music and recorded a demo. We sent it to Davis while he was in London prepping for his Olympic race, and according to Davis he listened to it right before he got in the pool to swim the race of his life.

If you’re wondering, that big heavy thing around his neck is an Olympic Gold medal.

American Songwriter Premiers Three Little Angels

Thanks to American Songwriter for premiering our new song “Three Little Angels” today! Another track from Hearts on Fire, “Three Little Angels” features guest vocals from Amy Helm. Check it out below and let us know what you think!

Click Here to Hear Three Little Angels

NEW MUSIC TUESDAY: Lovin

Sometimes you think that a song is finished, but in reality it’s still a long way’s off. Such is the case of Lovin…. which might be more appropriately named “Lovin 3.0”.

This song started as an acoustic riff that Jenkins had been playing for a while and we thought that it was going to have that “Beast of Burden” / Rolling Stones vibe to it. Originally the chorus to this song was the sexually charged:

“Your sweetness really turns me on,
making me the weakest man you’ve ever known”

and the outro to the song was the repeating phrase:

“I’ll make a living out of lovin you.”

We started working up some demos and we realized that this song had a lot of potential but that honestly it wasn’t really hitting any of us as hard as we had hoped.

A few months later a friend of ours suggested that we move the “Your sweetness really turns me on…” chorus part to the front as the intro and to move the “I’ll make a living out of lovin you” part from the Outro to the chorus… so we did.

Confused yet? So were we… the song just wasn’t done.

Well, the good news is that sometime last summer we were throwing some wiffle balls around the backyard when Jenkins said to me, “What if something bad happens in the story at the end of this song? Or there’s some kind of confrontation between the couple that is having this sweet romance story?”

Thus…. the turning point. We dropped our wiffle ball and plastic yellow bat and ran back inside to chase down the inspiration. Luckily, we found it… I ran into the vocal booth and we recorded the melody and most of the words that filled out the outro to Lovin. It was an absolutely fantastic afternoon.

Truthfully, completing a song is really all about capturing a moment. It’s about cutting to the bone of a situation that you’re in, and letting the honesty bleed out. If I knew how to do it on cue at any time then I would, but I think the only answer for a songwriter is to be ever open to the creative muse and the opportunity of a song.

James

MORNING LIGHT – NEW VIDEO & FREE DOWNLOAD!

We are very excited to share with you the first single off our upcoming album! Check out our brand new music video and be sure to grab your free download!

– TDG

MORNING LIGHT

CLICK HERE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

KICKSTARTER UPDATE: Help us record this song!

Thank you SO MUCH for helping us with this KickStarter campaign! Because of you we have already raised 66% of our KickStarter goal! If you haven’t yet decided to give to the campaign, or if you would like to upgrade your KickStarter package then we would genuinely appreciate it. Our DESIRE is to share this new music with the entire world and we need your help to make it happen. Please, please, please spread the word!

This is a new song we’ve been working on called “Ever Start to Wonder.” It’s an acoustic arrangement, but the recorded version would be full band. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Justin, Aaron, James, Michael, Cozmo, and Kevin
http://www.helptheguvs.com

Free Christmas Download!

The holiday season is all about giving, so we’d like to give you a free download to get you into the Christmas spirit! Above is a link to our cover of The Band’s 1977 song “Christmas Must Be Tonight”; click the download button on the bottom to download the MP3. We’ll always associate this time of year with our time spent at Levon Helm’s home in December 2009. It was such an honor to work with a musical hero of ours, and we’ll never forget Levon’s generosity and encouragement. In honor of the late Mr. Helm, we recorded this song last winter with our good friend Josh Oliver on the harmony vocals. Hope you enjoy!

-TDG