Category Archives: New Music Tuesdays
The making of this album has taken up the last year of our lives. It’s crazy to look back at the amount of time and work that went into getting this thing done.
We had just finished playing at Bonnaroo last June when we were approached by someone with a connection to Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. They asked us if we would be interested in recording up there if something could work out. Naturally, we said yes, even though we had just released our self-titled CD six weeks earlier. When you get an opportunity to go to a place like Levon’s, you just make it happen, whether or not you actually are ready for it.
Shortly thereafter, we booked a couple weeks for December 2009. At this time, the reality sunk in that we didn’t really have any new material and that it would be a long fall. Then comes Michael Jenkins to save the day.
Michael, as many of you know, is the source for the majority of our music. During this time, he was living in a cabin by himself and relentlessly writing. We knew that, but weren’t aware actually how much he was writing. He came to practice one day and gave me a CD of 10 instrumental full songs (him playing all the instruments). Many of these ended up being on “Youth”.
We had a show that next week down in Atlanta opening for Band of Skulls on a Tuesday night. I remember having to drive down separately to meet the rest of the band because of some sort of conflict. Anyway, I played Michael’s instrumental CD the entire way down and the entire way back to Knoxville afterwards. Six hours worth. I loved it. My wife was with me and she didn’t even get sick of it. It was that good to us.
It was at that time that I thought for the first time, “this is going to be a great album”. I saw the potential in these early cuts, particularly in what is now “Wide Awake” for some really special music. I knew that it would be hard, but that if we worked like crazy on this thing, we could make an album that we were extremely proud of.
As the fall went on, our days were spent in cubicles and classrooms, while our nights were spent working on the new material, arranging, writing, and playing together. Cozmo joined on in October and it was full steam ahead. This album was our life.
By the time December came around, we were ready to jump in head first and record these songs for the world to hear. We thought they were great, but we had to get them out to you all. As many of our long time readers know, our time in Woodstock ended up being very difficult, but equally great. For whatever reason, we had a hard time getting going up there. Many of us ended up being very sick. We were frustrated. Songs weren’t tight. Things were generally not good. But we fought through, had a breakthrough day, began to heal, and worked like mad to get as much done as we could.
After two weeks in Woodstock (and being stranded in Hershey, PA on the way home, thanks to SNOWPOCALYPSE), we were back home with the skeleton of this album. However, there was still much to be done. James spent his evenings in between shows and practices re-doing vocal tracks. Many other overdubs had to be done, whenever we could find any time at all. Everyone was extremely tired, and at times we wondered if this thing would ever be finished.
We began testing out a few of the songs live around this time. People responded very positively to the new songs, giving us more motivation to keep working hard. We knew we had to keep pushing through and that it would be worth it in the end.
So, as you know, we did finish. We fought through. We got this thing done. And we couldn’t be more proud of it. We sincerely hope that you all will enjoy it.
The last year has been a year full of sacrifice. We have devoted hundreds and hundreds of hours to this because we truly believe in it. It’s been worth every single minute we have spent, because we think it is a big step forward for us. Most everything that you care about involves sacrifice, and we deeply care about this band, each other, this music, and our fans.
So today, July 20th, “Youth is in Our Blood” goes from our heads to your ears. We cannot thank you enough for your support.
This is the LAST New Music Tuesday before the national release date (Tuesday, July 20th) of Youth Is In Our Blood…. sadness. I know. But never fear, the Guv’nahs machine is rolling along at full steam. Have you already gotten your copy of the new album? http://www.thedirtyguvnahs.com/merch.html
We SOLD OUT of the Limited Edition copies last week, but a new shipment came in and we have lowered the price to $12… which includes shipping and handling. The last two songs to talk about on the CD are The Country and Recovery. Recovery was written by Aaron Hoskins, Guv’nahs drummer fandango, so he’ll be chiming in about that tune.
Recovery was the last song we completed before going to Woodstock. Its about going through a difficult point in your life, and feeling like you’re not yourself. When you feel lost, its tough to find a way out. Ultimately, we aren’t bound to the past, and we do control our future. Things are hard for all of us, but if we’re smart, we don’t go through them alone. This song is about the importance of community, faith, and family to get through the rough parts. Alone we aren’t much. Together we’re loud.
The Country. I’ll keep this short and sweet. Sometimes people love each other but they just don’t live at the same speed, and it’ll never work out. Fact: Not all relationships last forever. This one ended on the side of the road at a rest stop between Nashville and Birmingham. Big thanks to Jill Andrews for singing harmony on the last half of this track. If you haven’t heard her yet then you might need to take 5 minutes and download everything she has right now. www.jillandrewsmusic.com
In closing, let me say your emails and facebook messages of encouragement have been PIVOTAL in encouraging us to move forward with this band. We are having the time of our lives, but the honest truth is that it is really tough to work all week and then be on the road Thursday – Sunday playing shows all of the Southeast and Northeast. Hearing from you guys really means more than you can understand… so thanks.
I want yall to know from the bottom of our hearts, that following your dreams is absolutely worth it. Even if you fall on your face. You learn a lot about yourself and about the world when you put all of your skin in the game. We believe that music still matters, and we won’t give up until we see this trashcan dream come true.
Over the next 6 weeks, we’re playing shows in 8 different states. See you there!
Happy New Music Tuesday! This week both Chris and James will be talking a little about the new songs. If you didn’t check out the music video for “We’ll Be The Light” yet, make sure you do here!
I wrote “Seeds on the Rise” one afternoon in the Fall of 2009 while I was visiting my family’s farm in Townsend, TN. This song is about the struggle of loss. Loss takes on a dual meaning in “Seeds”, and the listener is exposed to lyrics that address the loss of a relationship, as well as the struggle of losing faith. The loss of anything in my life usually forces me to deal with the issue of control, and this is where I started with “Seeds”. In my experience, we are all told from a very early age (over and over again) that our destiny lies in our ability to control it. We must take control of our relationships, take control of our financial security, take control of our direction, lest we lose that control and thus lose our ability to dictate our lives. This, of course, is a myth, and we’re reminded of that truth when we see our control disappear. Lives change, relationships, jobs, etc. all come to an end for reasons outside of our control, and we’re left silently asking ourselves the same question – what is the meaning of this? If we recognize the truth that we can’t control everything we desire to, is there something or somebody who does? Or is all of this just a random sequence of events that transpire without any real meaning or purpose? Are we like the seeds that float over a farm’s field in East Tennessee, thrown to a directionless wind to land wherever it blows us? Or is there something else outside of our control that cares about what happens here? Is there someone or something that guides us to places without catering to whether or not we can recognize or understand where we’re going? These are the questions I wanted to ask when I wrote “Seeds”. If we’re honest, I think we can agree that an unhealthy pursuit of control leads to bitter loneliness. If I spend too much time buying into the idea that “it’s all up to me”, I eventually find myself feeling like “It’s only me.” Life becomes very lonely and brief. But as I wrote the lyrics to “Seeds”, I was reminded of another truth – there is hope. The songs ends with this realization – there is hope for everyone plagued by the guilt of not mastering this illusion we’ve created called control. Our hope in part lies in the love that we have for one another, and more importantly, the love that exists for us by the “someone or something” that does care about what’s going on here.
I hope you enjoy it.
“Song for My Beloved” was written during one of the most tiring weeks of my life. It’s a story of one lover radically pursuing the other and reminding the other that it is impossible for her to run away from his love. Without explaining too much, I’ll just say that it was written a couple days after Thanksgiving 2009 and I had been reading Henri Nouwen’s “Life of the Beloved” while relaxing for a couple days at my parent’s home in middle Tennessee. I was really inspired by Nouwen’s musings about “resting in knowing that you are loved and then living out of that restful place.” This is one of those songs that just felt like a complete gift… like something that I didn’t create and didn’t have much control over. On November 29th I was dog tired, so I laid down to take a short nap… when I woke up from taking the nap, these are the words and the melody that came out.
We’ve all seen it happen before. In fact it might have happened to you. “It’s Dangerous.”
Guy meets a girl in bar, and serious flirtation ensues. Relationship starts that was based on a couple shots of whiskey and a slight hand graze to the back of the neck or the lower back. Guy uses girl for a while and then becomes addicted to the idea of having her around. Girl is completely over the relationship and wants out but is too scared to get out because she is completely frightened that she might grow old and she’ll never find another man. So the girl and the guy both stop thinking, give up, and decide to settle for each other. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, and each time you really wish you could step in and stop it before it starts. This might be my favorite song on the album because of the simple truth that the song ends with,
“It’s dangerous, the first time… you’ll fall for anybody to say you’re in love.”
Side note: My favorite all-time moment from a Guv’nahs’ band practice came from when we put together the final ending structure for “It’s Dangerous”… you know, the part where the horns are blaring, the organ is soaring, the guitars are wailing, the drums are pounding, and i am repeatedly screaming “It’s Dangerous!”…? Well, in the moment of pure jubilee that it all came together…. my good friend and bandmate Chris Doody stood up from his keyboard, screamed aloud, picked up our gum-ball machine and hurled it across the room… the glass shattered with a loud boom, exploding approximately 500 gum-balls into the practice space atmosphere. In unanimous approval we all stood up, rejoiced in our successful creation, and immediately went to Barley’s Taproom for a celebratory $2 pint.
The chorus of “Courage” was originally inspired by that moment that happens right before you kiss someone for the first time.
“Courage moves within me,
makes me shake.
Looking for an ending,
without the way.”
When I was in 4th grade, I encountered my first “kiss on the mouth experience.” Someone dared me to kiss my 4th grade girlfriend right before we got on the buses. It was awesome, and successful. I remember my entire body shaking right before the kiss… like a tidal wave of nerves that made my skinny little 85 pound frame convulse with an uncontrollable fierceness… but then the lips contacted, the trembling ceased, and all was well.
The first verse of the song outlines a simple truth,
“What you want is never enough
what you got will leave you in want
where you stand, you’re waiting in a line
put your hand in mine.”
Thesis: You’re not actually kissing someone until your lips touch someone else’s, and you’re not actually doing anything important until you get up and set out to do something important. To do something great you don’t have to know where you are going, but you do have to find the courage to get started.
Music video is coming REALLY SOON. I promise with my whole heart.
Happy New Music Tuesday to you all. I’ve been on vacation for a week so I’m feeling pretty fantastic.
Update: Good news on our end… we hired a publicist this week to help us promote the new album and her name Sheryl Northrup of Northstar Entertainment in Los Angeles, CA. We are very pumped to have her on board Team Guv’nahs. Onto the new music…
“Blue Rose Stroll” isn’t a new song, in fact it’s really old. It’s the oldest song that we still play live, and since our old EP “Don’t Need No Money” is out of print, we felt like we needed to re-record this song. It was actually the 3rd song that I ever wrote and was inspired by some true and some partially-fictional events about my extended family. Tell your mama… and think Footloose, but even more rural.
“New Salvation” is a rock song about running hard after something/someone and sticking with it/them through thick and thin. If you don’t like rock and roll then you won’t like this song. At minute mark 2:02, Chris lays his entire body into an organ solo that makes me wanna break my microphone stand every time I hear it. Lyrically, my favorite part of this song is the second verse… and it’s mostly inspired by the following quote from Thomas Jefferson.
“The worst day of a man’s life is when he sits down and begins thinking about how he can get something for nothing.”
“Don’t even know what you’re looking for
so it will never come
And you’re standing there waiting
like sand in the sun…
out there looking for a melody
with your fortune telling eyes
i’m gonna be your fascination
baby be mine.”
I don’t believe that all things happen by chance… and if you’ve been following us for long, then it’s no surprise that we believe in a bigger, and more mysterious world than that. Personally, I think that the secular and the divine run headlong into each other every single day and that incredible things happen when people work hard, live humbly, and give credit where credit is due. You just gotta stay curious and dig in.
The music video for “We’ll Be the Light” is coming soon, I promise.
“Wide Awake” was inspired by a George Orwell quote, “To see what is right in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.” I first read that quote in 2005 and it’s been stuck with me ever since. It resonated with me because I often attempt to conquer a new task, win someone’s approval, or set sail for some new adventure without first looking in my front yard to see what’s currently going on. It’s easy to become addicted to adventure, or to believe that life is all about what I see, what I do, and what people will think of me when I am dead and gone. This song is about slowing down and falling in love with the person, place, or thing that is right in front of your eyes.
Like 85% of the songs on this album, “Ain’t It Strange” started with the musical inspiration of Michael Jenkins. The words to this song kinda all came out at once. It’s nice when that happens. I distinctly remember the day last summer when this song came together in my head. I was sitting in front of a chalkboard in the basement of Buehler Hall at the University of Tennessee, studying for a final exam in a chemistry class when the chorus and the first verse came out. “Ain’t it strange? Ain’t it crazy? We’re all looking for the same thing?” 2 years prior I had enrolled in a graduate program in public policy and administration because I wanted to learn the true difference between conservative and liberal politics… I wanted to find common ground. Well, I didn’t find the perfect solution. But I think I am getting closer to a place where I think for myself and form my own opinions on things. And that’s a battle in itself. Listen to the song for more details.
Happy Tuesday everybody. The Guv’nahs had a great weekend. For starters, playing in front of 11,000 people in our hometown at Sundown in the City was completely surreal. Thanks for all the support and a special thanks to the 130 of you that bought our CD after the show. Official CD release date is July 20th! (that’s when it’ll be available online and on iTunes, etc.)
I also MUST pause and say that last Friday’s show in Nashville was a TOP 5 show of all time for me. Having 175 people crammed into The Basement was absolutely electric. I seriously felt like I was about to catch on fire at one point. Thank you Nashville.
Ok, onto New Music Tuesday.
“Walk With Me” was originally inspired by a REALLY bizarre dream I had in August 2009. This dream involved a man and a woman who’d been dating each other for over a year and had been living together for about 2 months. The man loved her deeply and really wanted to take their relationship to the next level. In fact, he had already bought a ring to propose with, but he was super anxious because his girlfriend had this really strange medical condition that he just couldn’t get over and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to deal with it for the rest of his life. See, his girlfriend had this problem where she would talk in her sleep all night, every night… and it wasn’t just the talking that bothered him… it was the stuff she would say. Every night, as soon as her eyes closed… she would begin to whisper all of her secrets and her insecurities into his ear. Stuff about her past boyfriends, family problems, people she’d wronged, …secrets that no one else would ever know about… and she didn’t even know she was telling him. For weeks he would try to block it out by wearing ear-plugs, but curiosity killed him every night… he would take them out and just lie there listening to her spill her guts. He would go to work every day a zombie because of not sleeping the night before. His boss had confronted him about his slacking off. The whole situation was beginning to get dangerous… knowing EVERYTHING about her, and her not knowing that he knew. Her main recurring sleep-monologue was that she should just run-away from the relationship because eventually he would realize that her past was rocky and scandalous, and that he would eventually reject her because of her imperfections.
Even though the story is bizarre, it outlines a basic fear that we all have… the fear of being truly vulnerable and then getting rejected.
This song is the man’s outcry of acceptance to the woman… his telling her that he knows all of her problems and accepts her anyway.
“Walk with me, show me your secret
Wake up please, sing it out
The good and the bad, they all get together
Got to open your eyes, and stay awhile.”
Yall be easy. Tell your friends about the Guv’nahs.
Today is the kick off of something we’re calling New Music Tuesdays. Every Tuesday from today until July 20th (our national CD release date for Youth Is In Our Blood), we will be releasing NEW SONGS that you can stream on your computer. We’ll also be writing a short blog about those songs… how they were created, what they’re about, etc. We’re so glad to be sharing these with you guys.
The first song we’re releasing is titled “Baby, We Were Young”. It’s the first track on the new CD. It’s an upbeat rock song about being young and way too idealistic. It’s about having youth in your blood and thinking you’re invincible. It’s also about taking once experience and quickly dreaming way too far down the road about what might be. Michael had come up with the guitar riff for the verses and I just loved it. Couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. For a couple practices I would just ramble a bunch of Rod Stewart lyrics over the music because it felt good… but I couldn’t really figure out what this song needed to be about… so we put it on the backburner for a few more weeks. Then one day in November I was running errands around downtown on my lunch break with that stupid riff in my head, just humming along. Up ahead of me, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful young lady packing her car and it looked like she was leaving town for something. When I drove by her, I looked a little too long and nearly got in a wreck like an idiot. Laugh if you want, but you know the same kinda thing has happened to you. Her plates said Shelby County, TN and I was feeling romantic so I just wrote a song about what it would be like if we fell in love.
Hope yall enjoy the tune. We’ll be in your town soon.