The Sound of a Middle Ground
5 years ago I left Nashville after a decade of quality years living down south. Originally I had relocated just to finish a music business degree, but in the end I became immersed in a vibrant music scene making life long friends with some incredible talents. I learned a great deal about performing, writing, and recording in those years, but by the time I left Tennessee I no longer had the desire left in me to write, sing, or even play and I didn’t know if that would ever change.
Moving into DC mid 2009 I felt freer living in a city where music wasn’t the industry and I began to sort out where some of the stifling forces had come from. Near the end of that first year back on the east coast I found myself in a conversation with one of my siblings and as they casually insisted that music is what they always felt I should have been doing, suddenly the cold furnace was re-lit.
Having sealed off my interest in writing songs for 9 years after a 10 years of prior practice, it was quickly apparent that the only thing stopping me from starting was my own towering fear. I read through an old seventies artist self help book and saw my habits in print. Making lists of thought and behavior patterns to avoid helped, but I still needed to overcome this crippling terror to try. What if opening up that stoppered bottle revealed nothing?
At the start of my 2nd year in Washington I finally managed to pick up the guitar again with the intent to write and in months out came the song Tree of Evolution. A dusty tune of grand truth to myself. Now that I was reopen I kept at it, little by little, and in two more years I had 10 original songs assembled and ready to be home demoed. But at this point in the story my talent took a back seat in the advancement of this project and my Nashville connections came squarely into play.
As I said before, my time living in Tennessee had led me into friendships with players who possessed skills that I lacked. The next step on my agenda was to save money to hire a few of the best. I knew clearly that paying a man to sing will always yield better results than the opposite. Another longtime friend agreed to produce and engineer the project at his home studio in Nashville for what ended up being the next year and 1/2 off and on.
We started with two weeks recording in August 2012 which led to a week in November, then another the following April. My 2000 Ford Taurus couldn’t give me heat in the winter months during long drives from DC to TN, but would manage to keep me cool through the warmer ones. In the studio I had my hand held by a very gifted artist/producer who molded and guided me. He was paid far below his value, but out of friendship and love he stuck with me with a patience that never ceased. His loyalty during the final days in early 2014 when I was sending pleading emails asking for just one more remixing of a song, silently hoping it would be the last time I had to ask, was invaluable.
And then suddenly...it was over. I held in my hands a finished copy of this project. I finally had the tool I had been slaving for 4 years to create. An album of original music, recorded in one studio, with one engineer, and all the same musicians. Not an easy feat to be sure and still a little hard for me to believe that I'd pulled it off. With cover art photography by me, layout design by good friend Chuck Bruner at Grand Palace, and some amazingly talented pickers you’ve probably hardly heard of, My Country is a record I may have written, but at the end of the day I was simply a conduit for.
If I had ever imagined making this LP would be possible I never would have arrived here. Staying focused on the next few months and not years ahead helped keep me grounded and oriented to where I was and to where I was going. Tonight I am heading onstage with my band of skilled DC musicians, who are loyal to this project until the end. I am back in the game...and it surely is one. But the main piece that carries me along this time around is the dearth of solid friends who stand behind me and a few quality connections. Sometime that’s all you need to get yourself restarted. - Grey Jacks 9/3/14