Worried Man Blues

When I started thinking about writing the follow-up to “Roses For Sharon” I thought I might write an album that explored, bold voice, American Themes. I’d been listening to a lot of Dylan, the Band, Richmond Fontaine, and Calexico, and wanted to go for that Americana thing that seems to be so popular right now. Not that I want to hop on any bandwagons. But sometimes it’s easy to be swept up in their wakes, to mix a metaphor or two. Last October I wrote in my songbook that I want to do, “An ‘American’ album; an album for adult listeners” that would “cross between Wilco, R.E.M., and Neil Young.” It was going to be a doomy, gloomy album drenched in reverb. I even had a title. It would be called “The Gentleman’s Rainy Day Companion.” Problem is, I haven’t written any songs. Okay, I’ve written two songs, neither of which fits my vision for my “American” album. One song is “Not A Local Girl”, which is about a high school girlfriend I let slip away, much to my later regret. The other is “Seeing Double” about making it through hard times. Those are both American enough themes, but they just didn’t seem right for what I thought I wanted to do. Earlier today I was working on an essay for the upcoming Book of Kills box set. In it I wrote that an artist should release an album, or whatever the medium is, every year or so in order to honestly document his or her life. So I got to thinking, “What has been on MY mind? What am I doing? What am I thinking about?” And I realized that I am very worried right now. I’m worried about leaving California in June – I really don’t have any choice about it, though it’s not an involuntary move. My current student-teaching assignment is very difficult and stressful, as are my college courses. I’ve got a feeling of burnout and I’m questioning whether I really want to be an elementary teacher (for my “real” job). And I’ve got some money troubles. I do have a safety net, but it comes with some strings. So the strains of “Worried Man Blues” ring in my head. So I think “Worried Man Blues” is my key. I think that’s the door the next batch of songs is behind. We’ll see what happens. *** In other news, Jim Shelley has covered my own “These Days”, from the “Smile Slightly” album, for the aforementioned Book of Kills box set. He did a great job on it. It’s always interesting to hear your songs in the hands of others. Different musicians will play up different nuances or may substitute words or change the melody slightly. This is the third time I’ve been lucky enough to hear one of my songs covered, and the first time someone’s done a studio take. Check it out for yourself at http://www.geocities.com/jnipe/jimshelleymusic.html . See you next time!