3 on Thursday – 1/26/23

Read time: 4 min

This issue is brought to you by Up North on vinyl. A lovely DHL driver dropped off 225 records that now live in our dining room. If you preordered, Heidi is packaging and putting those in the mail for you today. Thanks for waiting! Haven’t ordered yet? Order now!

And by my patrons! Every night Heidi and I write new patron names down on the whiteboard in our dining room. It reminds us of who is helping keep this ship afloat and whether I’ve mailed them their perks.

I hope you’ve been having a good week. Here’s this week’s 3 on Thursday where I

  1. share The Making of “Tilt-A-Whirl” (Part I) 
  2. tell you a very short story about Janice, and 
  3. reveal a new segment called What Songwriters Talk About at a Bar on Thursday

All right, here we go…

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The Making of “Tilt-A-Whirl” (Part I)

Allow me to try and explain how I made this song about a ride at the county fair. That way you can have a look into my process, or at least how I often approach autobiographical material.

First off, why Tilt-A-Whirl?

As I was writing songs for the album, I knew something about the county fair would be in there. The county fair in a small town is the biggest event of the year. The rides, the food, the high school reunions. But what should I write about?

Without over thinking it, what most comes to mind for me are the rides. And when I began to think of rides I rode the most, I thought of the Tilt-A-Whirl.

The Tilt-A-Whirl is a Godsend in a young person’s life. Bravery wise, it’s smack dab between the Tea Cups and the Zipper. I was too afraid to go on the Zipper. That’s where all the cool high school students stood in line. And I was too ashamed to ride the teacups. Thank heavens for the Tilt-A-Whirl.

(The Zipper)
(The Teacups)

I suppose that’s where the song originated. A spirit of gratefulness. Like, “Hey thanks, Tilt-A-Whirl, for helping me avoid social suicide all those years.”

But I didn’t really know where the song was going.

As you can hear in this voice memo––the first time I actually recorded any of the idea––it’s a few lyrics and some gibberish with a bit of “Tilt-A-Whirl” mixed in. Plus it’s in 4/4. Now that the song is finished, it’s seems highly dumb to have started a song about a spinning ride in 4/4 when God gave us 6/8 and 3/4 to evoke that very sensation. But, I suppose, at least I started the song, and you got start a song to finish a song.

Ok, so that’s Part I of The Making of “Tilt-A-Whirl.” I’ve gotta come up with Part II for next week, and I can’t really remember how I made it, but I know this much: somewhere along the way Rosie Thomas gets involved! Stay tuned. 

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Janice: A Very Short Story

Janice (not her real name) was walking about ten feet ahead of me. We were both on our way to pick up our kids from school.

I don’t like passing people from behind, but Janice was walking as slow as a turtle on crutches. She was on her phone texting, then off her phone. Speeding up, slowing down. I thought I could just maybe sneak around her without her noticing.

I didn’t want her to see me because I don’t like seeing acquaintances in public. I don’t know. I’ve got issues, ok? I just don’t want to say hello and how’s it going, and then I can’t remember what else to say.

But Janice was just walking way too slowly and I was becoming pretty self conscious of how intermittent my walking speed was, trying to adjust to hers.

Finally I got fed up and just decided to quickly pass her. And of course, as I’m passing her, she finishes texting and resumes a normal pace. So now I have to go extra fast to get around her. But I’ve already committed. I am now walking “late for an important meeting” speed as naturally as possible. I pass on her right side and do a quick sort of howdy-doodey wave and say “Hi, Janice.” But she turns to me puzzled.

And that’s when I realize it is not Janice at all. 

3 of 3

What Songwriters Talk About at a Bar on a Thursday

Each week I try to meet with some of my favorite people on the east side of town where I live. Most of them are songwriters or involved in the music industry in some capacity. I thought maybe it’d be interesting if I shared with you the topics we discussed last week. That way you can be a fly on the wall without having to purchase a beverage.

Here we go.

I suppose let’s start with what songwriters drink at a bar. Last week, I noted:

  • Whiskey-soda
  • Whiskey neat
  • Tecate w lime
  • Hazy IPA (me)
  • Ice water

Ok, from what I can recall, here’s what we discussed.

  • Road trips, getting older, and being more intentional about friendships.
  • How do you make a living from your art? 
  • Defining your creative aesthetic. 
  • Sync licensing and the constant hustle. 
  • Favorite bars in East Nashville: Sid’sDino’sMickey’sMas Tacos (bar section), and not loving (or hating) the Village Pub.
  • Attending shows and recording great moments on your phone only to be highly disappointed the next day when playing it back.
  • ChatGPT (an AI bot) writing a song in the style of Nick Cave, and Cave’s response (“This song sucks.”)
  • Ableton, the rise of laptop band members, and being nicknamed “Spacebar.”
  • Finding the middle ground between loving and hating new technology. 
  • On David Byrne showing up at small gigs. 
  • Hating karaoke, but that time our friend sang “One” by Metallica (with a long guitar solo kept in 😂)
  • Is Jakob Dylan better than Bob? No, but it’s sure fun to try and convince people. 

So, that’s what we talked about. 

Let me know if stuff like this interests you and I’ll keep it as a segment every now and again. 

Ok, that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to reach out to me for any reason.


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