The Great American: Behind the Music - Love Song

I think everyone has been through rough patches in their relationships and if not, you probably will eventually. This song talks about being able to survive the wreck that the relationship has had. The lyrics express how hard it is to trust and love again - how hard it is to want to be in a relationship again and offer your heart up to another. This song is for anyone who has been hurt and yes, the lyrics are real. The lyrics express someone coming along to help pull you out of the wreckage and begin putting the pieces together again. Wait for that person. Wait for that support. Don’t settle. The lyrics in this love song are not light and fluffy, but brash, true and equally rewarding.

The Great American: Behind the Music - Ghost in the Mirror

When I thought of the idea for Ghost in the Mirror, I was looking through a magazine that had one of the most impactful photographs I’ve ever seen. There was a picture of an older woman who was probably in her nineties. It was a black and white close-up that showed every beautifully placed wrinkle, and haunting eyes that pierced me immediately. She looked extremely sad, almost tragic, like she had so many regrets.

I sat there and looked at this picture for a long time. I wondered what I would see and learn if I looked in the mirror at my older self. Would I have regrets? Would I want to start over? Would I be happy? Then, I thought about the concept of someone looking in the mirror, believing they’re seeing a ghost, but in all reality, looking at themselves. Sometimes we don't recognize ourselves when we are in a dark place in life. Sometimes we just want to look away and think we are something different than we really are. Darkness can be defined by a multitude of things. As far as what the “dark” actually means -  I believe that’s subjective, so I’ll leave it up to you. The song itself is dark, but can be interpreted so many ways. 

The Great American: Behind the Writing - Elise

I know what you’re thinking… You’re thinking, “Please tell me this song doesn’t have any truth to it….” Truth is, that it does, but in very small parts. As I was driving back from a summer weekend camping trip, I hit a very time-consuming traffic jam. It was in front of a little road named, “Elise.” Now, the story didn’t start from just the name, but more for what occurred beside it. I witnessed a couple, still in their car, in a heated argument. I couldn’t hear what they were arguing about, but as I watched the situation unfold, I noticed a stunning young woman about ten feet from their car walking down the street. The female in the heated argument continued to point at this woman, as the male in the car continued to stare at her. So, the song Elise had its start. Now, I obviously have no idea what happened exactly, but what I do know is I wanted to capture this woman’s disdain in that moment. So, I upped the story to include a headstone, a mistress, and a whole lot of revenge. Just as the saying goes - Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

THE GREAT AMERICAN: BEHIND THE WRITING - Here's to Another

As someone who has seen the effects of substance abuse, this song is centered on the relationships that form between the user and the substance. Substance abuse is a real problem and something that we shouldn’t be scared to speak of - something we shouldn’t turn a head to. In Here’s to Another, the lyrics focus on how the individual is in a relationship with alcohol. This story is true in its facts, but the idea for the song itself came to be in an odd, yet sad way.

Our first band meeting was at a concert being held at the Orange Peel, in Asheville, NC. During the meeting, there was a young girl who had way too much to drink and ended up throwing up in the pavilion. As crude as this may seem to those watching, she had no idea, nor did it stop her from continuing to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. This was sad to due to what I perceived as her relationship with the “bottle” as the song states, was so strong. She had lost control of her body, and possibly her life. Again, as someone who has seen the effects this abuse, there is a deeper relationship, a push and pull, if you will, that occurs internally within individuals battling the bottle. This song is centered on this relationship and how the substance controls the user. It’s dark, but true, and a truth that needs to be discussed.

 

The Great American: Behind the Writing - Weston

If you’ve had a chance to listen to Weston, I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself, “What the hell is this song even talking about?” Well, since you asked - it’s about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. Makes perfect sense right? [Insert winking emoji here].

And before you even go there, the answer is no. I’m not a recovering asylum patient, though I can’t really speak for the guys…  Turns out that our bassist, Lee White, visited the asylum while accompanying his lovely bride, Shelley, on a multi-state vacation. Suffice it to say, if you know Lee, this makes perfect sense. And if know me, you know that I’d be way too chicken to even walk on the property. But alas, Lee finds great pleasure in making nice with the deceased.

At any rate, upon reviewing some of the pictures that were taken during their visit, Lee and Shelley discovered some things that weren’t necessarily, how should I say this, expected. I guess we all have our hobbies right?

So, in honor of Lee, Shelley, and their new dead friends, I wrote Weston. The lyrics state, “Seeing them in their ghostly forms, it makes me feel more alive” and “In this other world they live, it makes ours seem so much better.” So, now you know that this song is based on a true place, visited by real people, who made some very interesting new friends along the way.  Don’t believe me? Ask Lee. He loves showing off his ghostly selfies!

The Great American: Behind the Writing - Liar, Liar

For as long as I can remember, I grew up with storytelling. Whether it was sitting around a campfire or the dinner table, stories were a part of my childhood. Being raised in a musical family whose main genres were bluegrass and blues, the stories fascinated me. Regardless of the song, I remember being so intent on the mood, the tone, and the poetic lyricism that truly made the listener feel something. From those feelings came dreams - dreams of melodies, rhythms, and hooks, all accompanied by vivid imagery whose foundation, often times, lies in life’s smallest moments – those moments when you think no one is watching, and where real truth is so transparent. The Great American music is all part of my story and the stories of those around me. So if you’re interested in the truth behind our music, here it is.

// Liar, Liar //

This song is personal. If there is one thing that I struggle with more than anything, it’s being lied to.  I even find it difficult to condone what many refer to as white lies – those that are meant to be harmless. But to me, a lie is a lie, and any extension from the truth has the ability to cut deep, regardless of its intention. I also have a problem lying myself. In fact, anyone that knows me knows that I tend to be brutally honest, and admittedly so, to a fault.

When this song was written, I knew I had just been lied to. But in my own twisted way of coping and to rise above it, I made the song comical and partially satirical. As the lyrics say, “I need you ‘cause you say you’re always right,” or “I believe you like two and three make four”, we know this isn’t the truth.  From a songwriter’s standpoint, this is what makes the song fun lyrically, but at the same time, I’m calling those out who don’t understand the harm behind their lies.