*This is part 1 of a series about the making of the new album "Colors and Chords"
He stood in the back corner of the restaurant with a cup of coffee in his hand. Wiry, white hair flowed from the sides of a face that looked worn from years of hard work. His face had stories. It had had songs. Oh it had songs. He talked with a slight grin on his lips, as if he might know something about life that you didn’t. His eyes looked like they had answers he would never tell because, well, there’s some things you have to learn on your own. When his name was called to play, he shuffled gingerly up to the stage, tipping his hat to the crowd as he settled into his seat. Then he sang. He sang old blues and country songs of his that wove stories about love, loss, and growing old. When he had finished he made a brief comment about a CD he had and then returned to his spot in the corner.
I don’t really know why, but I was hooked on his every word. Everything he sang about felt so real, so powerful. This old man had no record deal, upcoming tour, or facebook page. Just 15 minutes at a Thursday night “Open Mic” night and that was it.
There was a part of me that wanted to be like him and write songs with that much power. I wanted to make people feel like he made me feel when he sang.
I decided to buy one of his CD’s so I walked over to the corner where he stood and politely introduced myself. "Hi I'm Dan" I told him. “My name is Bobby” he said as we shook hands, “you can have the CD for free.” I tried to pay him but he insisted I take it.
I said my thanks and turned to leave when he tapped me on the shoulder. “Are you playing tonight”? he asked. “Yes I am” I said. Then do me a favor,” he paused and moved a little closer, “Rock the shit out of this place.”
“No problem” I said.
I went home that night and started to work on the then unnamed new record. I set out to make an album that told a story from start to finish. I was proud of “Oxford Street” and all the opportunities that had arisen because of it, but I wanted to go farther with the new CD. I wanted to craft better lyrics, be more vulnerable if I had to, and push myself musically. I wanted to get better.
So with the words inspired from Bobby a few hours before, I wrote the new album’s first lyrics:
“Son do you have enough soul to rock this coffee shop”?