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When Austin Was Weird: A Blog From Bruce

I am not crazy about the term "cover.” Not sure what that means. I guess I figure you sing or record a song because you can bring something new to it or make people dance or drink or have a good time and forget their troubles for a minute. I think songs are magic. They can change so much in a different voice or gender or generation. Since the first moment I started calling myself a songwriter, I like attempting to be in the tradition of the tin pan alley guys, or brill building, or Nashville country guys. “You need a song? I got one. It goes a little like this…” And what a feeling to get anyone to sing or record a song you wrote. It’s an incredible feeling. The Nashville I knew was all about songs. People would listen and everybody seemed to know that anybody could have one great song. Pair that with the right singer at the right time…Magic! The Austin I knew was all about scenes. They come and go. I never really had one, but I sure had friends who did. (It required) Three elements: band, night of the week and club. Then that’s the place to be and eventually you get to tell that boring story, “I used to see them when there was nobody in the room.” I could name you a lot of the scenes since I have been in Austin. I bet there are a couple I don’t know about happening tonight. One that I heard about a lot, but that was before my time was Uncle Walts Band at the Waterloo Ice house (long gone) on Congress in the late 70s/early 80s. Robert Keen told me the guys in the band were like “good-looking hippy Gods.” Three guys who had moved together from Spartanburg, South Carolina. To hear the band now, I would think Austin was probably the obvious choice. Champ Hood I knew the best. He played in Kelly’s band for years. He was truly beloved in Austin as the “players’ player.” A real sweetheart of a guy, always in loafers and never played it the same way twice. With his groovy fiddle and blue Collings guitar, he was one of the guys who made Austin “AUSTIN.” Our little part of town was heartbroken when Champ died of cancer in 2001. David Ball played the Bass. A Great singer, maybe with the heaviest South Carolina drawl of all of them. You can sure hear it on his country radio hits he had later including "Thinkin’ Problem" and "Riding with Private Malone." Walter Hyatt made a record called King Tears that Kelly listened to a hundred times the year we first started going out. The three of them together? I heard it many times…”You shoulda seen them back when.” I'm not sure I ever met Walter Hyatt. I didn't know his song “Motor City Man” from back in the day or from Champ’s son, Warren Hood, who played it in his band. Kelly found it when we were looking for songs. The chord changes are really creative, it’s got a really great melody and EUREKA, a story that is not a love song. I loved hearing Kelly sing it and really thought we should try to record it after the harmonies worked and my crappy cross harp part sounded really cool. I believe Walter was coming home from a gig when his plane went down in the Florida Everglades in 1996. I don’t know if Walter had a motor city man in his life, or just was able to write an amazing song that makes you wonder how a boy from South Carolina did that. It is the song that people quote back the lines to us. The lyric I get suck on is “I can only understand that my dad’s a good man and he's glad its payday.” Its different partly because its from the kids point of view. It's great singing Walter’s song. When we do I can picture all three of ‘em “young hippy gods” singin’ to a packed house. During recording we had the idea to find some old footage of classic cars rolling off the assembly line to accompany the song. My old buddy Glenn is our video editor and found this great old footage of Detroit. But Glenn saw that it was all about the people. The Motor City men, women and children smiling back from the past, just like Walter’s song - full of good ol’ American hopes and dreams.

When Austin Was Weird: A Blog from Bruce

I am not crazy about the term “cover.” Not sure what that means. I guess I figure you sing or record a song because...

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