I'm back in the saddle this week and bringing you another great artist. Let's open the chute!
Welcome to KellysCountry, Randy!
1 – To me, this album seems to encapsulate you as a person. Do you think that’s true and that this album is almost autobiographical of sorts?
Very perceptive! I have always tried to be autobiographical in my recordings, this one for me gets to the core more directly truthful than others. I am almost 67 years old and have within the last 10 years dealt with the death of my father, the decline via dementia and death this spring of my mother as well as the joyful birth of 2 wonderful grandchildren. My wife Barbara and I just celebrated our 46th anniversary and both of us are now fully retired from financially gainful work (music, I find is not particularly financially gainful though certainly spiritually gainful and totally enriching). Put that together with my strict religious upbringing in the south during a time of upheaval, unrest and fear of social change, very similar to today’s. There you have it, Red Crow in a nutshell.
2 – While written over the course of several years, they carry a common thread. What helped you narrow those initial 45 down to this thirteen? I would imagine the process was something akin to picking favorite children one over another.
These are the songs that get me excited when I play them. The songs that folks have asked me “Is that on a record?”. I pretty much like every song I have written (at least a thousand) but I find that some songs are merely stepping stones to get to one deeper and truer. The songs on Red Crow are each at the end of that path, the deepest and truest. For me, truth, real human truth, is the ultimate goal.
3 – W. C. Jameson once told me that a good song is poetry… that it tells a story. I hear this in Red Crow. If this were a book, what would be the core of the story?
The core story of Red Crow is belief despite doubts and learning to accept reality even when it is uncomfortable and something unbelievable.
4 – I think a lot of us can relate to One Horse Town. While the phrase seems to have a negative connotation for some and can’t wait to escape, what is it about a one horse town that you feel draws a person back home?
I have lived in the same small town for 45 years. It is positively a love/hate relationship. Familiarity certainly breeds contempt as the old saying goes but there is also a well-worn comfort in that familiarity. We all want to know and understand our surroundings and when we are familiar with the history of a place from direct experience it becomes a kind of comforting glue that binds our hearts to a location. What mostly draws us back home I believe is the fact that memory is malleable and untrustworthy. We forget much of the bad and enhance the joyful. Time changes everything as a great songwriter once said. But somehow we still refuse to believe it. Believing against all hope that the home of our memory still exists.
5 – Thank you and Jim Gilmore for Above Timberline. Colorado girl here and you know how to make someone homesick. LOL. You said that every time you sing this song you are transported to the mountaintop. What do you see from your vantage point?
In the deep blue distance from the top of a peak I can see the past and even glimpse the future. It is like looking up at the Milky Way at night. I makes me feel tiny and insignificant but simultaneously part of everything. There is a rush in knowing that even though I am only a fleeting speck of dust in the big picture that I am here right now and a part of this magnificent immensity.
6 – What do you think someone needs to keep in mind when writing a song?
Tell the truth, your truth, no matter what. Don’t worry about hurting feelings or being misunderstood. Simply tell your story and put it out there. I believe that we all have an instinct and recognize truth innately. Now, don’t confuse truth with facts. They are two totally separate things. You can write a song that is factual but not true and no one will care. But disregard the facts and write a song that is true, that captures the human condition and folks will love it.
7 – You’ve been writing songs from a very young age. Who were some of your biggest influences that helped shape your style? Also, are there any musical artists today that you feel really have a grasp on songwriting?
Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlisle and Hayes Carl are my favorite young writers. But Rodney Crowell, Darrell Scott, Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, James Taylor and of course John Prine have got it down to a science. Every word they write is true and moves me.
8 – Past or present, who would you like to co-write with?
Leaving out many I am sure, the first ones popping into my head are Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Chris Kristofferson and Roger Miller. Roger Miller was my first songwriting crush so I guess he would be number one. But I love to co-write. It is certainly not an impersonal undertaking and anyone that I can feel a true rapport with spiritually and personally is a possibility. To be honest, I have never written with a female writer and would love that opportunity. I think the results would be enlightening.
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Randy's album, RED CROW, releases September 27th. Stop by tomorrow for my review of this beautiful piece of Americana music.
In the mean time, here's a video:
You can find Randy on the following Social Media locations: