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Wake Up in the Morning Dead


And then Winter finally came and it was suddenly bare silver-gray limbs thrust up into cold infinite air, that particular seasonal quiet pierced only by the throttle and whine of planes, cars, and the occasional police helicopter, echo-blare of a train whistle that somehow maps the wind for me when I can be very still and listen. A large red-tailed hawk perching up in the hackberry tree last week. All of this framed by the dirty window I sit in front of in the mornings to read and write.

Temps here in TN are in the 30s and 40s. After I spent the holidays in Florida where it was 82 and partly cloudy every day, this more usual version of winter is a little tough to take. So I’m going back to Florida tomorrow!

Yes, I feel lucky to say that; I’ll be performing for the first time at the 30A Songwriters Festival; playing one show on Friday and two on Sunday, my final set being part of a show presented by the Oxford American. Looking forward to playing some new songs, hearing some friends old and new, and using my off-time wisely, or at least having some fun with it. Unfortunately, day passes for the fest are sold out, but there may still be tickets available for individual nighttime shows. Get the 411 over at Hope to see you there!

In other news, Joe McMahan and I are reviewing test pressings for the double-LP vinyl issue of the latest release, Long Gone Time . . . we hope to have the real thing available very soon! I so appreciate all the support and enthusiasm we’ve gotten from the media, and from you, music lovers; I was happy to see that LGT showed up on many a “best of 2015” list, including the Nashville Scene Critics’ Poll, Twangville, Broken Jukebox, and No Depression. I’m sure I’m forgetting some . . . my apologies. A little scattered today. Just like every day!

Book project/Recording project: I’ve been clearing stuff out, and otherwise organizing what’s here. I have journals and notebooks dating from 1981 to the present. I think I need a full-time librarian to help me get it all together. I want to work on that much-fabled book project this year, and having journals/notebooks/photos grouped chronologically sure would help. When I’m going to have the time and headspace to do that, I don’t know just yet. And of course the “real” book won’t be found in any of those musty notebooks—they’ll be more like totems, artifacts to spark the memory, talismans. I’m also thinking about recording again sometime in the Spring–not sure when (or what) yet, but I’m feeling the push to keep things moving and get some new sounds out there. I’ve got new songs taking shape that I’m excited about. I know–this is weird, man–different from the usual 4-year span between releases that you’re used to, from me. Here’s hoping for positive change, far as old habits go.

pocket notebooks, 2008-2012

pocket notebooks, 2008-2012

Last time I was in New Orleans, in December, I visited one of the best record stores in the world, Louisiana Music Factory, and bought a live James Booker record I hadn’t seen before, called Gonzo. It’s a two-CD release, and the performances are, per usual for Booker, stellar. For a few months I’ve had an idea for a song, like a dry noisy leaf , blown by the wind and tumbling down a street in the back of your head, a piece of a line I’d mumble to myself once in a while—something about waking up dead tomorrow. I put on the Booker record and the first song is “Life”, which I didn’t know at the time, but happens to include the line “I might wake up in the morning dead.” I think this coincidence means more than “there are no new ideas”, but I’m still wondering.  Anyway, that record’s been a good friend lately and I highly recommend it.

I’m halfway through my friend Peter Guralnick‘s excellent biography of Sun Records’ Sam Phillips; one of the best effects of reading the book is that it is sending me back to the music, to some of my very favorite recordings that I hadn’t heard in a while. What else is in the stack? What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, who left the planet all too soon, but left behind a body of work that is, albeit uneven (which would be the case with anyone who was as apparently prolific as Stanford), mysterious and powerful in a way I’ve never encountered. Props to Copper Canyon Press and all responsible for getting this book published.

Happy New Year! Hope to see you soon.


One Response to Wake Up in the Morning Dead

  1. Van DeLisle January 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    and you also made John Conquest’s 3rd Coast Music “Best of 2015”

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