The Dirt Is Red!

oh… and what's a grit?



Introducing “Running Changes”… sharing the songwriting process on an even deeper level than I did during Battle Studies. I’m trying to forge a new sound along with a new album. Instead of rearranging the vocabulary I’ve already developed I want to establish an entirely new one to draw from. It takes a while. Lots of guess and check. I want to think like a new artist. DNA splicing on the fly. Running changes.

This tune sort of jumped out at sound check the other day and cast a little pinhole of light over the challenge. It’s not really a song so much as a template for something. I originally shot this video to have as reference to sing along and write to but thought it might be cool to share with you. I’ll sit over the next week and listen to it dozens of times, trying to sing the words and melodies that are hiding in it.

I’m going to make an effort to write on the road, something I’ve never done. I’d like to make the Summer tour a vehicle for playing new songs. Let you guys tape them, trade them, and maybe even sing along to tunes that weren’t even recorded in a studio yet.

Playing arenas and ampitheatres doesn’t have to mean showing up and doing an end zone dance. What if it were alive and organic and I played new tunes that were constantly changing and growing up each night? It would sure light a fire under my ass to write the best song I could, knowing I’d be bumping a surefire album track for it.

Playing to 20,000 people should feel like playing for 200, just with 19,800 more people looking in.

Thanks for giving me so much to sing about and the comfort of knowing I’ll have someone to sing them to when the time comes. I feel like I’m about to make my second first record.


I like your thought process here. In my mind you will always be an artist who kind of made it big while following the more “organic music” route (which is disturbingly rare these days). Of course, there’s a threshold you seemingly cross with musical success nowadays that eventually requires that your single, and a consistent, exact replication of that single, be used to fill stadium seats in order to define “success”. I’ve never been there, probably never will, but I imagine that begins to toy with your writing style a good bit. I hope you’re able to “find the real” again if you feel you’ve strayed from it. The JM3 format was a good expression of some of that and some great music came through that tunnel and is still my favorite work of yours.

If you really want to remember what it feels like to play for 200 people… come play with us one night here in Birmingham, Alabama. Talk about a tough scene for original artists… 😉

One thing I love about your posts is the insight it provides those of us who love to play and have no option BUT to play for 200 (or less) people. Too many of us get lost in the hype and begin to subscribe to the idea that somehow things are easier once you gather a larger audience. When, if I’m drawing anything from you and the other big artists I follow, the challenges grow, evolve and change all along the way. You may not have the problem of a venue booking the Nickelback cover band over your original stuff, but the problems you express are far more significant to your actual daily life. It’s just a damn tough industry from top to bottom; but the adventure is an enriching one if it doesn’t kill you!

April 29, 2010

Previous Post

Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *