First Listen: Track 1, Fifteen Winters

Track 1: Fifteen Winters

I wrote this song in June of 2013, while in Minneapolis working on a record with my friend Mary Cutrufello.  One of the first nights I was there, we had finished up in the studio for the day, and decided to hit a local open mic night.  I'd had the first line in my head for about a week at that point, but that was all.  No music, no melody, just that first line:  "There's a scissor-tailed bird on a telephone wire".  I'm really not sure where it came from, except that there were scissor-tail birds all over the place where I grew up.  I always liked them.  Anyhow, we hit the open mic and had a great time.  At one point in the evening, one of the hosts was sitting off to the side playing this really simple chord progression over and over again.  It wasn't the exact rhythm and progression I used for this song, but it was very close. It's definitely where the idea came from. I was sitting there at the table, and I kind of zoned out on what he was playing. It was super simple, but it just kind of drew me in.  In all of about ten minutes, I had the whole song written in my head.  I performed it a few minutes later.  It was rough around the edges, but I knew right away it was a keeper.  Mary and I drove back to her house at the end of the night, and I immediately sat down at the table and wrote the whole thing out.  I knew if tried to wait til morning I was gonna forget it.  So that's the story of how a song was born on a Monday night, in a bar in Minnesota.

The subject matter is stuff straight out of my life.  I grew up in west Texas.  It's hot, it's dry, it's dusty.  The droughts are constant, never ending.  They ration public water supplies, and hand out tickets to people watering grass or washing cars during restricted times.  I've seen it literally look and feel like the sky was on fire. To outsiders, stepping outside, out of the air conditioning, feels like going to hell. I miss it a lot.  There's a kind of dark beauty to it that really can't be explained.  Merely surviving there, adapting to the environment and staying alive, is something to be proud of.  It's where I was born, and where I grew up, but it's not my home anymore.  I have no family there, and haven't been back to my home town in over twenty years.  The high school I went to doesn't exist anymore.  It burned to the ground years ago.  There's really nothing left of "me" in west Texas.

At the time I wrote the song, I'd just passed the fifteen year mark in Cleveland.  I love it here.  It's a beautiful city full of amazing people and places. It's where my wife was born, and where our children have all been born.  But it's not mine.  I wasn't born here.  I'm not part of the history.  I can't look around and point things out and say "that's where I went to school", or "that's the house where the girl I took to homecoming used to live".  I truly love Cleveland, but I have no roots here.

This song is my way of dealing with the fact that I'm kind of a "man without a country", so to speak.

The middle verse is just that, the middle.  Dealing with the subject of wasted time and wasted efforts, trying to get somewhere, all the while knowing the biggest thing keeping you from getting there, is you.  I've been my own worst enemy at several points in my life.  I can handle that though, because it was a very necessary part of the journey to where I am today.  Without that part of my life, I wouldn't be here.  And here, whether it'll ever actually be mine or not, is a pretty good place to be.

Track 1: Fifteen Winters