3 years less 3 days ago I put out my last record..
The night before I spent 13 hours on a Greyhound bus going from Canada to New York City for
an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. As fate would have it, my flight was
cancelled after a massive storm blew into the eastern seaboard, closing all NYC airports.
When I reached the border, the customs officer was quite amused by my reason for going to New
York. “To perform on a late-night television show,” I said. She probably thought I was nuts,
but let me get back on the bus. I later recalled someone backstage saying to me, “You know,
honey, most people just cancel.” Not likely.
And so, two years after my first album Failer was released, a year and half of amazing times
followed. I got to play on Austin City Limits, open for Willie Nelson, John Prine, Aimee Mann,
My Morning Jacket, John Mayer and Bryan Adams. I was invited to perform at Farm Aid ( I cried
when Neil Young played “Old Man”), played the Grand Old Opry (Colin, my husband and bandmate wore
his original Nudie Suit!), had a song in Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown, toured Australia, Europe,
in a van, in a tour bus, by plane, by ferry, solo and with a band…... and then home.
Most people put out records more frequently than every three years, but
after a long run on the road, I had some things I wanted to do.
First I bought a Heintzman piano and committed the fall of 2006 to
learning how to play. I worked at a winery in the spring, practiced
my violin more than I have in years, gardened relentlessly, started
jogging, played a few random shows, and sung on some friends’ records,
including John Doe’s song “Golden State” which I’m very proud of.
In January 2007, I started working with Jim Scott at Plyrz studios. I
had wanted to work with Jim ever since I read his name on the back cover
of Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac. We hit it off so well mixing my last
album Back To Me that it was an easy decision to go back for more and have
him work on this new album Asking For Flowers. A dream come true, I had to
frequently pinch myself having him by my side during the making of this record.
It was such an honor working with Don Heffington, Bob Glaub, Benmont Tench,
and Greg Liesz, who mainly served as my band. It is always a risk recording
with people who don’t know you, but not in this case. “The Cheapest Key” was a
song I wasn’t sure was even ready to record, but after a few passes, we had the
take and it remains in my mind the most fun song I’ve ever recorded. “Goodnight,
California” is a six and a half minute song we got on the second take. It
features a bass line that was played impeccably by Sebastian Steinberg, with
John Guinty on Hammond. “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory” was a song I
wrote after Jim Scott overheard me singing one line I had written. He pushed
me to finish it at the hotel that night, and with a little help from some wine
I did. We tracked it the next morning. Most of the vocal is live off the floor,
as is all of Greg Liesz’s amazing pedal steel part. My mother is featured on the
“oohs” in the choruses, which I threatened to take off the track when she
complained about the title of “Sure As Shit.”
Kevin Fox, a longtime Canadian acquaintance must be mentioned for arranging the
strings, but for also letting me play in the string quartet. I also recorded with
some other Canadian friends including Gary Craig (drums), Bob Packwood (keys),
Justin Rutledge (vocals), Paul Reddick (harmonica) and of course, Jim Bryson and
Colin Cripps. In my living room we recorded some piano, electric guitar and Jim
sang on “Asking For Flowers.” We had to turn off the furnace in between takes
so we wouldn’t hear the rumble of the boiler.
My hope for this record was to play with some musicians I had not yet worked with.
To see through a sonic vision living in my head. To commit myself to being precise
as well as open-minded. To have bare-bones folk songs, but also lush instrumental
pieces. Most importantly, I wanted to write songs that tell a story, be it mine or
someone else’s with honesty and integrity. These songs came from a very true place
in my heart, perhaps the reason they took so long to write. Plus, I finally got to do
my first guitar solo (it’s on “Run”), which is a major accomplishment when you’re
married to a guitarist extraordinaire.
And so now I’m looking forward to all the touring ahead, reinventing the songs as we
play them live, and seeing new and familiar faces. I feel so privileged to do what
I do and aspire to be great at it. I know I’ve rambled too long now, but if I didn’t
want to be great, I might as well just stay home. And I don’t want to. I’d also prefer
not taking the Greyhound bus to Letterman anymore.