Back in 1998 I was living in Georgia and I got lonely for all my friends in Minnesota. During that year I wrote a lot of songs because that’s what (some) lonely people do, especially lonely people doing a lot of driving and spending tons of time alone.
In 2020, like a lot of people with time on their hands, I decided to revisit some of those songs that had never gotten recorded before. Inspired by the process of recording music again, after nearly 20 years of not recording my own songs, I decided to (slowly) make my way through the shoebox of old tunes and see if they still made me happy to play. Some of them do.
I’ve been putting the new recordings up here as I finish them.
I’m also going to write up some notes about each song, since one of the things I like to know when I listen to an album is details like when and where a song was written. A little context helps frame my experience.
“Ready for the Fall” was written in 1998 right after I moved back to Minnesota, around Labor Day. Something about the wordplay of autumn and lapsarian and some struggles that my family was having at that time. This was a song that we recorded in the winter of 1998-99 for the first House of Mercy Band album (the “white album”) but our version never quite hit what I heard in my head. This version is closer, and I am grateful that Chris Larson contributed harmony vocals on it, as he and I used to sing it together in those days.
Note to myself that the stream URL for iTunes for Radio Heartland is http://radioheartland.stream.publicradio.org/radioheartland.aac
It was shortly after 9/11, in 2001, that I was listening incessantly to Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator) recording. I had been listening to Blind Willie Johnson quite a bit prior to that, and so I immediately made the titular connection.
The songs about Ruination Day were especially haunting, and I associated them immediately with the attacks on the towers and 9/11. America’s second (or third, or forth) Ruination Day.
Today is April the 14th, the Ruination Day of those songs, and while it seems inappropriate to wish anyone a “Happy Ruination Day” it does seem appropriate to wish you a Blessed Ruination Day, in the hopes that tomorrow is less ruinous.
I’ve loved the Beatles since the summer of 1983, when I was 11 and my aunt introduced me to their records (including some rarity vinyl iirc). The first record I ever bought was the blue greatest hits double record. I played the first side of the first record (Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, Sergent Peppers, Day in the Life) over and over in 6th and 7th grade.
But it’s taken me nearly 30 years to identify my favorite record. I’ve had lots of favorite songs, but Rubber Soul is now officially my favorite record. I realize no one but me cares, but it feels important somehow to have identified an actual studio record, rather than a greatest hits compilation, as my favorite.