Recording, Rewriting, Reworking
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
--Robert Burns, excerpt from “To a Mouse”
Things are sounding great my friends and supporters of the current album project. I had intended to send timely blogs from my website, johnarthurmartinez.net, but my best laid plans went awry during the pandemic, when one would think I would have had the time to devote to such endeavors. And, I intended to update you more regularly on the progress of the album on Indiegogo (the campaign is still active if you'd like to preorder the CD or thumb drive), but I’ve immersed myself in the recording and creative process. My tendency to focus on one thing and completely submit to that thing, e.g., work, discipline, sport, project, etc., has steered me toward rewriting, reworking, overdubbing, editing, and I’ve so I’ve overlooked the blogging I promised. But, it’s been a labor of love.
The new album began to take root in March 2020 when I penned three of the songs that became the nucleus of the project, and then a fourth song the Fall of 2021. Yes, it was last September that my mind seemed to reawaken after my bout with the initial strain of the virus in December of 2021. I can’t recall the song I completed first but my calendar shows that the weekend of a private concert to raise funds for scholarships to the University of Texas my wife and I enjoyed an anniversary Bed & Breakfast getaway. During that time my wife said something in response to one of my questions about the ring I had gifted her on a previous anniversary. Why wasn't she wearing it I asked. She responded that our old pawn shop wedding ring meant more to her than the locally handcrafted ring that cost much more. I knew immediately I’d found the inspiration for my next country song! Matt Rollings, who produced my Lone Starry Night album, just added his piano parts to that rollicking track and several others. Rollings also played on the Nashville Star recording of “When You Say Nothing at All.” James Mitchell & Kurt Baumer provided tremendous country-as-hay-in-the-barn lead parts.
Somewhere during that period of isolation I wrote two sonnets inspired by the Arizona desert lands, the Sedona mountains, and the Native American presence in the region that I became the song “These Sacred Lands.” It’s my wife’s favorite on the new album. Luiz just added beautifully played clave and djembe parts to the track. I’ve been traveling through Arizona since I was 10. I visited a college friend in Phoenix during on of our school breaks and I later settled on the University of Arizona for graduate school. I never received my masters, instead I became a songwriter. Some of you have a copy of my first official release, an album called Spinning Our Wheels, which includes “Rainy, Rainy, Clouds,” set in Tucson.
In April of 2020 I received, by text, a photograph of three white horses appearing to be “charging” at Jeff and Cheryl Key, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. It happened on one of the back roads near Enchanted Rock, Llano and Mason in the Texas Hill Country. The incident came after our last band show before the music stopped. The day after our show in Fredericksburg my wife’s sister and husband took a road less traveled back to their home in San Angelo. These three white Spanish horses, inspired the title track which I co-wrote with Kerrville New Folk winner, Rick Bussey. Man, you’re going to love the background vocals and harmonies by Mike Blakely, John M. Greenberg, and Rex Paul Schnelle.
The phone call I received from one of my long time friends, John Spaar, during the days of no performances, sparked the fourth song, aptly called “The Phone Call,” about the influences our shared escapades had upon my life as a singer-songwriter. I co-wrote the song with my neighbor, Jan Grape, a local writer who creates mysteries set in Austin, TX. It recalls one’s of Willie’s shows outside of town, Rusty Wier, a great Austin singer-songwriter, the early days of Asleep at the Wheel and more. Rolling’s piano, Baumer’s fiddle and Mitchell’s guitar work beautifully together on the recording.
You'll be moved by the accordion work of Josh Baca on the album and the tone rich performance of Will Owen Gage, which I recorded last week. The sibling ensemble, Willow City, has committed to adding vocals to "No One," one of my revived works from my college days in San Marcos. And, Lloyd Maines has agreed to add his talents to the project too. We’re getting close to the mixing stages! I’ll do my best to keep you better posted. –jam