1. Soda Pop (3:29)
This catchy, rollicking little ditty, was inspired by my day long BMX bike trips around Milwaukee in the heat of summer. It was a time in my youth, when a cold soda was a real refreshing gift on a scorching day. The chorus to this song, interestingly became a double-entendre. I play tenor and harmonica on this track and Jim handles the percussion, bass and electric guitar parts. It’s clearly the most pop based song on the album and very different from a lot of my folksy songs.
2. Peshtigo Fire Song (2:25)
October 8th, 1871 is a day when America stood in horror as both Chicago burned and Peshtigo, Wisconsin went up in flames in what would become one of the most catastrophic fires in American history. The song itself was inspired by the book Fire n Ice.
3. We Could Ride (3:46)
We Could Ride features old time banjo a la clawhammer with Jim’s fine guitar accompaniment, harmony vocals, bass and drums, turning this paeon to the open road, into a super charged bluegrass n country infused romp. Note that this was written in the midst of the COVID pandemic at a time when most of us were all climbing the walls and dying to get out. For Jenna Lynn.
4. Wait (3:51)
If you only knew how many people I know who’ve lost their lives to drunk drivers, you’d be horrified. This is a tune that I wrote, that sounds like it could have been penned for MADD and urges the young drinker to consider the implications of their actions should they drink and drive. I wrote this one on my 1948 Martin tenor with a spooky arpeggiated picking, that drives it along and is complemented by Jim’s tasteful electric guitar work.
5. Jericho (3:29)
This is a folksy number that I wrote in response to the wall of lies, deceit, hypocrisy and misinformation that was the Trump administration, and their attempt to overturn an election. Beware of false prophets and what you trade for your vote! Tim Dekker adds his fine fiddling to this track, giving it a folksy bent along with Jim’s contributions on guitar, vocals, bass and more.
6. Oh My Jenna Lynn (4:29)
This song was inspired by Lou Reed’s classic, Sweet Jane. It celebrates my love for my wife and for our reconnecting after 30 years of absence, following our high school romance.
7. Black Hole #19 (4:30)
I penned this folksy tune after the loss of my father in-law Bill McBain, to COVID-19. I perform this on ukulele with Jim filling in on guitar. It talks about the madness that was the pandemic, misinformation, rage and the ensuing grief that followed.
8. Old Friend (4:26)
This tune is an ode, that I wrote to an old pal of mine from grade school after we reconnected online during the pandemic. I was a real bright spot for me to discover that an old friend I’d lost long ago, was alive and well …missing me as much as I missed him. This song was written on my 1948 Martin Tenor with Jim’s dynamite guitar fills and solos helping to create a rich tapestry of sound on this touching tribute to a great old friend.
9. Heart Like Lighting (3:41)
This tune reminds me of a few old southern rock favorites from my youth with a slightly folksier angle to it. I wrote this as a tribute to my wife Jenna Lynn who showed up when I was at a very low place in my life, when I was alone and a single father, after the loss of my first wife Carol to lung cancer. I like to say that Jenna, the daughter of a heroic Milwaukee Fire fighter, was willing to rush in, to our rescue, when others would have run away. Her open heart and patient spirit have been nothing short of a blessing. That’s why we call her Lighting heart!
10. Already Been Done (ABD) (4:14)
In my youth, I was a huge skateboarder. I was wild, crazy and reckless and I’m still feeling it via the injuries that I sustained while out having fun. These days I still long board, but minus the tricks and I wear protective gear to boot! ABD is skateboard slang for “It’s Already Been Done.” This song has a lot of other skateboard slang woven into the narrative. I wrote this on my 1948 Martin Tenor Guitar and it has a Woody Guthrie meets Pearl Jam kinda vibe. Jawbone Jim’s hard-driving electric guitar weaves in and out to create what I can only describe as grunge-folk!
11. I’m Going Up (3:28)
In my travels across this great nation of ours, I encounter so many homeless folks, tent cities and cardboard shanty towns. With a sign in hand, there they are, at the end of every freeway exit ramp, asking for that which we can easily spare…a buck or two! I wrote this folksy song of hope, about grace, redemption, addiction and recovery. It’s about crawling back up from the lowest rung on the ladder. If it hadn’t of been for my daughter and my wife Jenna, I too, might have disappeared into the darkness, that consumes us, when our mental state and life throw us the hardest punches.
The chorus says….
“Don’t look me in the alley, don’t look for me at the Sally (Salvation Army)
Don’t look for me in the jail, no, this time jimmy I won’t fail.”
12. Love Is a Pillow (3:48)
Originally written for my solo mountain dulcimer self- titled album. Jim and I felt that this touching love song and story needed to be given a full instrumental treatment to suss out the sonic potential of this heartfelt love song. If you come to my live shows, you can hear me tell the whole story of a tragic care wreck, loss of an old flame, loss of my 1st wife to cancer and reuniting with my wife Jenna and how we metaphorically use the pillow as an expression of having been there for each other, at critical moments.
13. Unheard (3:34)
This spooky minor keyed song, was inspired by the many news stories of police brutality, particularly that of George Floyd. I wanted to capture the sense of urgency that my African American friends often express to me about driving while black, the profiling that they all too often experience and the pervasive racism that continues to haunt our streets.
When I wrote this song, I had spent a lot of time talking to some of my friends who often felt victimized in their own neighborhoods, I also spoke to friends of mine in law enforcement, trying to understand what their daily lives are like out in the community and why these things keep happening. I am still left with many questions, anger and hope that we can train our community servants to be better prepared to truly protect and serve.
I am no fan of defunding the police, I do believe that more must be done to train our public servants in de-escalation, mental health education and crisis intervention techniques. The song begs us to ponder this statement: “The content of my character, not the color of my skin, ain't that the world the Lord asked us to live in?”
14. Don’t Cut Your Ear (3:29)
The swing rhythm of this piece is always makes it a crowd favorite. The song delves into mental health, faith in yourself as an artist, and the enduring quest that we as creative folk must traverse, as we juggle the act of trying to ply our craft with the need to make a living and gain some respectable level of notoriety. All that glitters is not gold and as the Japanese proverb goes: “Beware, the reverse side, also has a reverse side!”
The chorus is highly sing-able:
“This world is rough, rough, and you gotta be tough, tough, tough! When things go wrong, wrong, wrong, you gotta be strong!”