Ok, week made. Fan sent me this yesterday. One of my absolute heroes Mr. Gordie Johnson rocking our T-Shirt in the studio. If you don’t know Big Sugar and you are a guitar and blues rock fan, stop now and immerse yourself. The man had a Gibson Guitar signature guitar AND a Boss Suit endorsement. Legend. Gordie wearing our shirt, Joe B shoutout in his live this week, all the critic justification I’ll ever need. ROCK AND ROLL.
Folks, I can’t begin to say what this means to us or how humbling it is.
Lots of stuff going on behind the scenes that I wanted to share but didn’t want to spoil, Joe trying to help us is one. Don’t even have the words to express my gratitude at the moment.
PLEASE if you’re a fan/friend of the band drop by Joe Bonamassa on Instagram and show him some love on this post, would mean the world to us. Thank you!
The Cold Stares making of “WAYS”.
After the “Mountain” album when we began to think about the next record there were a few things I knew I wanted to do. First, we had used some material that had been around for awhile for “Mountain”, and this time I wanted to write all the songs completely fresh. So in January I set out to write 12 songs from scratch that no one had heard us perform, and try to mostly not let them out of the bag until the album launched. Secondly, I thought it might be cool to construct the 12 songs for the record as 3 separate EP’s or collections of songs that basically were from the 3 areas of inspiration for the band. One, hard rock. Two, the blues. Three, country,western and folk ballads. Three different “WAYS” if you will.
So I wrote the songs in groups separately, each with their own mindsets as separate pieces that could stand on their own, but also in the end combine into a 12 song album.
When it came time to record, the original plan was to record the three EP’s in three different locations, each to have some meaning to it’s segment. The blues EP we thought we might cut in memphis, the hard rock EP maybe NYC or LA, and the acoustic EP I had planned on cutting out west in New Mexico while we were on tour for SXSW. One of the other things I had intended to do was to record the EP’s in studios that had some history and legacy that fit that style of music. In the end, and after a ton of research, most of the studios where our favorite albums were recorded were now either not open, or in disarray.
Sam Phillips studio in Memphis was on my radar for the blues EP, but when I started to really research the albums that had been made there we found that it was the one studio where really all three of our influences had really been recorded there. Some great blues albums, but also rock and roots stuff too.
So we booked a week at Sam to cut the entire record with the exception of some acoustic tracks that I planned to field record some of the parts. One thing we didn’t take into consideration was that making a record using a vintage based studio with great analog gear also meant us dealing with 70 year old equipment which can be temperamental to say the least. What started out as a few days ended up being over a month of back and forth trips to memphis to complete the album. By the end of the process we were absolutely exhausted, with sometimes 50 hours worth of driving in a week, and not near that in sleep. But in the end, we were both very happy with the result and I feel we got we wanted. We cut all the tracks live in the same room our heroes like Jerry Lee Lewis, Howling Wolf and Bob Dylan had. I sang on Wolf’s old microphone, and we sat at Sam’s desk upstairs and made revisions in the same chair Elvis sat in. We made an honest blue collar rock and roll record with a tip of the hat to our heroes, and hopefully left another memory in those walls.
Leading up to the release of our new EP “The Southern” next week I’m going to post the lyrics to each song on the album with an explanation and a little background how each song originated. You guys always ask at shows where some of the songs come from, so hopefully this is something you’ll enjoy. The first song is “Cold Black Water” the third track on “The Southern”. CT
COLD BLACK WATER
I wrote this song specifically about Jeff Buckley. During the time that my music persona really formed, Buckley was a huge influence on me. Everyone now debates on Jeff’s greatness, but to me it’s not as simple as one or two songs, or his voice, or his arrangements. Jeff Buckley’s greatness was the intangible thing that makes all artists great. It’s the thing that can’t be explained, but can be felt when you hear or see their work, or soak up when you are around them. Tim Buckley, Jeff’s father died around the same age as Jeff which is very ironic. And then the way Jeff died, in the Mississippi river, clothes on, in a moment of freedom when he decided to wade in to the water that night, that longing to push it, risk it, live it, like I’ve waded into trouble so many times in my life but somehow by the grace of God emerged. Of course Jeff didn’t. And we’ll never know what he might have become. But for those of us that were impacted by his work, he is a Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison type figure. Enigmatic. Mysterious. But in the end human. As soon as I picked through the opening riff to this song in my living room, I saw that water surrounding Jeff, the darkness of the current, the moon above him, as the world around him was touting him as the savior of rock music, what the moment felt like to fade into that murky water. Wrote the song in one long poem in the moments following.
Here are the lyrics, as well as some explanations in parenthesis.
Cold Black Water
Don’t you call my name Peter don’t you dare (Matthew 16:9 )
I been treading in the water and a fever running through my head
They say I was the chosen one who’d make it all alright (Jeff’s critical acclaim)
But I’m sinking in the Cold Black Water down here tonight. (drowning)
I was just trying to find a place I could rest my shoes
Quarter mile off of Beale I could still hear them sing them blues (Beale street where Jeff was found in the Mississippi river)
Bottle of wine singing hallelujah right across my lips (Jeff’s version of “Hallelujah” is still daily discussed, and his love for wine was known)
Current of the ole Mississippi dancing at my hips
Swing low, low brother won’t you drag that line (metaphor for them dragging the river for Jeff’s body)
Swing low low never know just what you’ll find
Every child of God gotta answer when it comes his time (we are all going to die, quicker you wrap your head around that, the better you’ll start to live)
Don’t you shed no tears for me on that muddy ground
Don’t you waste no wine for me when they lay me down
Don’t you stray down in that water just to see my face
Come up baptized trying just to find some grace (Grace was Jeff’s critically acclaimed masterpiece album)
Swing low, low brother won’t you drag that line
Swing low low never know just what you’ll find
Every child of God gotta answer when it comes his time