I get asked all the time. I usually say, "I don’t know, I just open my mouth when I sing and that’s what comes out."
Growing up we were raised on the classic rock and roll, the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, when mtv was actually music television. I didn’t learn about the really old stuff until high school when my fascination with the labor movement and the histories that never got brought up in textbooks led me to seek out the roots of all that music. The field recordings of Alan Lomax and Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music had just been rereleased and I devoured it all. I have always been one who out of fear or a need for security, tried to keep a full time job and pay the bills, so I traveled in my mind down the roads of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and the Carter Family, weaving elements of history and traditional country and blues into my music and lyrics.
Hard times and trouble have always been a natural subject for some reason. I wrote songs when I was 5 years old about how nobody understood me. Somehow, the country sound just lends itself to the way I feel, and the stories I want to tell. Tired workers and lovelorn losers with a folk intellect, not the jet set but the old Chevrolet set. And I’ve never been much of a musician, so whatever I did had to be simple.
For me so much of the history of American music is based not just in the drive to make “art” or perfect it, but to escape what can often become the drudgery of the working class life and to escape poverty when most of the avenues offered by mainstream society just aren’t any fun.
I mean for some people they work, but I hate computers and don’t really have very good social skills. That is part of why I have tried so hard in the past few years to really make this work: to make a record (that fortunately some people like) and promote it, even if it means playing in Los Angeles to 5 people.
I never figured anyone would really like this stuff, so it’s pretty cool that I’ve been able to play shows with James McMurtry, (even though he didn’t talk to me, I guess he’s shy) Kinky Friedman, Fred Eaglesmith, the Gourds, Eilen Jewell, and Dave Alvin. I never thought I’d be playing the No Depression Festival or Bumbershoot either, so let’s just see what happens next...