Sometime in 2019, I moved into my very own recording studio. Now I can finally explore songs that I may have written the night before or some of those old riffs from years ago. This is a big deal for me.
Just after 2019, of course, COVID hit, and we all hunkered down and watched as our world as we knew it changed in myriad ways.
Mental health for all of us became more serious, as being cooped up and somewhat freaked out affected everyone. I have dealt with a certain variety of panic disorder since the age of sixteen, and in these recent years, my panic disorder has morphed and twisted and brought along some darkness that seems to appear out of absolutely nowhere. It can be terrifying.
THIS IS THE SONG was written in the middle of a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t see straight, and lately, I have thankfully found my acoustic guitar as a refuge. If I just hold on to that guitar, play chords, and hum melodies, I can start to climb my way out of that hole. For those of you who have never experienced something like this, count yourselves blessed. To those of you who recognize what I am talking about: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Again, sometime in 2019, I was asked to contribute to the great Sam Cooke song Change Is Gonna Come, doing a vocal verse opposite the impossible and super powerful vocalist Shaina Sheperd. That event inspired me to write IT CAN’T COME TOO SOON with the thought of having Shaina back in the studio to guest sing. She assented, AND, she killed it, of course.
And of course, we wouldn’t be able to honestly talk about this COVID period without reminding ourselves just how fucking weird some of us got. Conspiracy theories ran so high that it got hard sometimes to believe that this whole country wasn’t stoned on damn meth or some shit!
An old friend of mine had just bought a motorcycle and was teaching himself to ride after many years off of a bike. He wanted to just sort of start riding through the mountains up here in the Pacific Northwest and forget about all of the noise on cable news and just about everywhere else… so one day the two of us went for a motorcycle ride out to the country just to let our hair down, as it were.
I have this killer ride that takes you north and east out of Seattle. The city fades away into epic rolling hills, dipping into winding river valleys, all the way up to the snow-capped Cascade mountains. About halfway through this ride, I have a spot to pull off the road and have a chat with my fellow rider or riders about where to go next and generally just sort of bullshit.
Oh, also… if you know me, or even if you don’t, I have a simple credo that has guided me through this life up to now. Just a tidbit of knowledge that really goes a long way. This credo is simply: DON’T BE A DICK. You know? If you can’t be cool about a situation or whatever, just maybe walk away, or perhaps even take a look at yourself to see why something might bother you. Either way, chill, breathe, smile, and do your best at all you do.
My friend and I pulled up to the halfway point of our ride. The sun was out, and we had just been riding all along this astounding river road. We were having a really good day. Suddenly, we see a lady on a horse clopping up to us on the hustle. We smile and wave, and the look on her face gets more and more stern as she rides a tight circle around us in some sort of crowd-control-looking move. She has a gun in her hand. We are wearing black (my preferred color of clothing, by the way). She thinks we are ANTIFA or some such thing and is trying to wave down her friends in a pickup truck… for backup? She asks us “What are YOU doing HERE?”. Uh, we are riding our Harleys. Anyhow, it was really just kind of embarrassing, and in the end, I could totally sense her fear of the “other,” which I guess we were to her at that moment. City boys, I suppose… coming out to stir shit up. But alas, this was just a sad indication of where things have gotten to in some places, and I got the song PASS YOU BY from this experience… at least.
Man, just be cool… We are all on this lovely planet together… No need to freak the fuck out.