In the late 90’s I got myself a harmonica and took it down into my basement apartment and wrote this song in no time flat. From that point on I brought a harmonica to gigs, still do, even when I have no plan to play this song, even though it’s pretty much the only song I’ve ever played the harmonica on. Eventually, in Nashville, the talented Mr. Joe Bidewell took over the harp duties as can be heard on “Glorious Glorious” and “Olives and Oil.” But, much like in this song, I digress…
I wrote this song in Nashville in the unfinished upstairs apartment of a friends house. There was no kitchen but we had a bathroom and a blow-up bed. The bus stopped one street over and I would take it to Broadway where I had a gig at Dixieland Delights – an ice cream shop across the street from Gruhns Guitars. There was a plastic Elvis out front on the corner and I would play 4-5 hour slots of covers and originals for tips. Sounds like fun, but it was work. One time a family came in and their daughters took one look at me and then each other and feigned to shoot themselves in the head with their finger guns. It was worth every hungover minute of those Sunday 8am-12pm gigs just to say I had a regular gig on Broadway.
“Oh my God I’m lonely; and I packed EVERYTHING for this trip. Camping supplies, board games to play with the people I met, even an extra pillow. Like Noah’s arc I brought two of everything. A magic number. Two is really One. Up/Down, In/Out, you get the picture. And why shouldn’t I bring two of everything? Aren’t there legions of kids – high school graduates on soul finding missions – traveling the country in a beat-up station wagon with just enough money for gas and crackers? Once I found them I’d be saved. God, they would love me, that much I knew. And my demo tape. That demo tape would let them know I was talented enough to eat. Of course, I was coming from the DIY town of Athens, GA, it was 1997, and, contrary to what I would have thought at the time, DIY was not as cool to the rabble as it was to my creative friends in Athens. Where I would hear pioneering honesty in improv lyric-writing, the waitresses from Pumpkin Center, Alabama heard a guy who was banging on his guitar and screeching into the mic about an Aluminum Girlfriend. It was never difficult to get them to listen (I carried headphones with me wherever I went.) “That’s nice honey. You gonna have anymore coffee or you ready for the check?” The hard part was turning that into a game of checkers and a place to sleep.
I’d made it as far as Colorado and the Continental Divide. Now my rain ran into another ocean. I was making progress.
Here is the second performance in “The Canon” series. I wrote this one around 1998 in the basement of a house I lived in on Pine Needle in Athens, GA. It appears here on the album “Knee Deep” in all of its full band-ness but I’m partial to the acoustic version. Thanks for listening!
It may seem a tad much for me to refer to a part of my own body of work as “The Canon”and it just may be, but the alternative, like “The Classics,” would sound just as silly, no? So, “The Canon” it is. And what is “The Canon” exactly? Well, in this sense, it refers to the songs I have written over the past 25+ years that have remained in my set from their birth. Songs come and songs go but some stick around for awhile. I’ve decided to record myself playing the songs I’ve written that have stuck around in my live set longer than the others; for posterity. I hope you enjoy discovering them as much as I did writing them.
I’m starting off the series with the first song I wrote specifically to start my first band, Cafeteria (the first one where I was the song-writer, I had played instruments in other bands). I wrote this in an apartment my roommate and I called “The Sweet Pad” cause we thought it was super sweet. “The Cafeteria Tape” (see “music.thejoinerhouse.com“) has the original recording. The backing vocals were done in the shower for the reverb (in the original) as I recorded it on a Tascam 4 track cassette recorder with very few reverb options back in 1997. Anyway, I digress….without further ado…Polaroids.
Rachel and I had a band in Nashville with some wonderful musician friends. Calling ourselves The Joiners, we made two albums and a single that are now streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and all of your other favorite places to discover music. Go check it out and listen to our Nashville selves.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for Saturday night’s live stream! It was a roaring success and we really enjoyed everyone’s participation in the discussion section during the show. We will definitely be doing something again soon, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, here is a streamlined copy of the set with the silence edited out of the beginning. Don’t forget to subscribe to the John Thursday YouTube channel while you are there, and thank you for watching!
If you’d like to tip the band, click the PayPal button above or use Venmo @TMJoiner. While it is appreciated, it is definitely not required as we know most everyone is facing uncertain times and we are here just to provide a little distraction from things.