One of the privileges of being an under-the-radar artist is that I can get as weird as I like and no one at the record company gets upset. Further off to the left I’ll go, careening back to the right, whatever- it’s all okay, there’s plenty of blank tape and hard drive space to get crazy between formulaic pop song crafting sessions.
After the peak of the tech boom of the late 1990s and having not participated in those jobs, I was left without an affordable place to live. After ten years, my small 19th-century house full of dirty hippies in the Castro was evacuated thanks to something clever called an Ellis Act eviction. I dutifully packed up my studio, my belongings, and did a thorough cleaning. It was how I spent my Christmas 1999. Then the bulldozers came and erased the place.
Never much of a reader, I have an odd collection of books. My collection is probably as laughable as when I visit a friend with a casual affection for collecting music and finger flick through their LPs and CDs. My bookshelves have plenty of non-fiction, some classics I’d meant to read, and then some books I’ve read more than once. Hemingway’s 1927 Nick Adams Stories hold a special place with its simple writing style (I know it’s far from simple), from a setting long ago, and characters drawn in straight bold lines.
I saw the words, “How lonesome have you ever been?”
“Bad black lonesome. Awful.”
In the fall of 1999, I got an email through my website. A seventeen year old girl surfing the net stumbled upon me and decided to write a letter.
She wrote, “My point being, i would like to know if we could keep in touch, kind of an e-mail pen pal. I know, I know it sounds gay, but i would just like to hear more about you.”
Christy Lyn Eversoll lived in a small town called Petersburg in southern Indiana, the landscape I imagined not unlike my hometown in the sticks, Phoenix, NY. Trailer homes, yards littered with debris, biker speed, big trucks blasting by on the solitary highway, and a twisted old river running through a town that died in the early 20th century.
SONG OF THE WEEK: "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" (2002, from He's A Rebel: The Gene Pitney Story Retold):
Tribute records, those are some of my favorite recordings to make. It’s more likely a new fan will come from hearing one of your cover songs than stumbling upon an album track. It’s important to make a tribute track especially good!
“Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” was recorded by Gene Pitney twice, first time in 1967, and again in 1989, in a duet with Marc Almond (a version I have not heard) which was a UK #1. I also avoided listening to Nick Cave’s version until recording mine. Terry Reid cut a version too. Pitney is named-checked in that Rolling Stones unreleased song “Andrew’s Blues,” along with Phil Spector, Andrew Oldham, and Sir Edward! Pitney’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s a heavy. He died in 2006. He was from America.