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Behind the Music:
Q: What small things?
A: I'm a worrier. Born that way. My mom and dad tried for years to teach me that worrying is a waste of time, but it didn't take. Usually, it's the small things that get me.
I wrote the song “In Small Things” the night before we were going into Candler Music Studios for Day 1 of recording on this record. Stephen Daniel King and I were getting stuff ready for the next day, packing up gear and getting organized. I sat down to write checks for the musicians, and had a serious freak out moment: Making a record is really expensive. I have a job that combines the two lowest paying vocations of all time— art and ministry! What am I thinking? How am I going to pull this off?
Stephen looked at me and said, “You know, you’re always talking to people about having faith, about trusting. Do you think that only applies to the big stuff? It applies to the little stuff, too, you know, like balancing your checkbook.”
Then he gave me a hug and left, guitar slung over his shoulder.
I sat down at my kitchen table, thinking about what he’d said. I had a blank sheet of paper, a pencil and a new prayer.
For me, the hardest things for me to relax about are the small ones— You know, the million small things that make up all the intricate details of the big deal you’re trying to pull off?
In the course of making this album, I learned (and re-learned) again and again to begin to have faith in all things, big and small. I have a feeling I’m going to be working on this lesson for the rest of my life...but this record is a step in the right direction.
2005 Insta-Rock Records Release: Listening
Q: Listening? Doesn’t that mean “be quiet”?
A: It’s been the busiest year of my life so far, and I’ve cherished every quiet moment I’ve managed to sneak in. When I was writing for this record, I found that most of the songs had a natural hush. So, Listening ended up a very quiet record that explores dreams and disappointment, wonder and worry, and relationships, both vertical and horizontal.
It’s perfect for a mellow, rainy night or an early morning. It’s a driving-a-long-way-home-late record, and a cup-of-cocoa-on-a-cold-afternoon record, and a looking-up-at-the-summer-stars-with-headphones-on record. It’s even got a bit of a hipster-dinner-party-background-music possibility. I wanted to make a record that didn’t demand attention, but came by it honestly and earnestly.
“Listening” was recorded at Alex the Great in Nashville, which has been home to a number of fine musical projects including Jump Little Children, Josh Rouse and Butterfly Boucher. We tucked ourselves inside its warm, cozy walls and hid out for a few early spring days while it rained cats and dogs outside.
I got awfully lucky when we put the band together. What a treat to live in Music City where these fabulously talented folks roam around! This is the section where I name-drop like a champ: Players and engineers on “Listening” include Audley Freed (The Black Crowes, Jimmy Page), Gabe Dixon (Paul McCartney, Maura O’Connell, OAR), Jen Gunderman (The Jayhawks, Dag, Caitlin Cary), Steve Ebe (Dixie Chicks, Kim Richey), Chris Cottros (Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Kami Lyle), Neal Cappellino (Allison Krauss, Dolly Parton), Peter Finney (Allison Moorer, Patti Loveless) Tim Marks (Delbert McClinton, Jessi Alexander), Jeremy Ferguson (Apollo Up, Josh Rouse, Swan Dive), Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Patti Griffin, Paula Cole), and recording artists Linnae Cappellino and Sara Beck. We made quiet a racket recording these quiet songs.
Want the Behind-the-Music story on this album? Head to “News” and check out the March 31 entry. It’s quite a story. Especially the part about Neil Young.
2003 Instarock-Records Release: The Someday Sessions
Q: What is a Someday Session?
A: At almost every show since the release of the first record, I've been asked "Why didn't you put such-and-such-song on your record?" Often, the only answer I had handy was "Someday I will." So here it is Someday and these are the Someday Sessions: live, simple and begging to have you sing along.
2001 Spiritual Innuendo Release: If Not for This with Josh Elson
Q: If Not for What?
A: This record is so special to me. Getting to team up for an album with my great friend and writing partner Josh Elson was a huge treat. Working with a group of unbelievably talented players and having Dexter Green's super sharp ear for production made this record come alive. Players include Dexter Green, Steve Ebe, Robbie Harrington, Matt Thompson, Chris Cottros, Michael Inge and Rachael Gill Taylor. Between visits back and forth to San Francisco, CA and Nashville, TN, we've found pieces of ideas that have turned into songs that have turned into a record that we are proud of. If not for love, this record would have never come to be.