I have a new single! "Keep on Your Side of the Road" is a spare, rhythm guitar-driven, indie rock track–a whole other ball of wax from my 2017 jazz trio album. Available wherever you stream or download music.
As with my earlier solo single, "Poor Little Jesus," I play all the instruments on the track. For this one: guitars, fretless bass, snare and bass drum, hand percussion–but no keys. A first? I tried adding a Hammond organ track, but it just got in the way, so I nixed it.
The tone is, I guess you could say, dark. The singer warns someone, in a series of driving-related images, to keep their distance.
Here are some excerpts:
...and don’t follow me too close behind / ‘cause what if I should change my mind
and slam the brakes on one last time / I'd get us both killed...
...push that pedal to the metal / ‘til you hear those tires squeal
and you spin out in the dirt / yeah it’s all fun and games ‘til somebody gets hurt
and we’re a pile of broken glass and twisted steel /so keep both hands on the wheel
And the chorus, familiar to any road-weary musician–those long drives home late at night; is delivered with a sudden burst of energy, fueled by caffeine and hard-hitting brushes on the snare:
and you can flash your brights if you pass me in the night
when I’ve been driving for so long it all begins to seem unreal
but who will wake me up if I fall asleep at the wheel
The instrumental tracks date way back to 2014, squeezed in between other projects, but I never found time to return and record the vocals or mix and master until this August, just days before I left New Hampshire for Florence, Italy (where I am living now). I'm glad it took this long, though. I think the intervening years have allowed me to be able to deliver a much stronger vocal performance.
The lyrics, written when I had no idea I'd one day live–and drive–in Italy, were, until now, strictly metaphorical. The humor in this timing for the song's release is not lost on me in a country where drivers, death-wish motorcyclists and motor scooters ("Vespa" is Italian for wasp), are notorious for not following rules of the road. Stop signs? Optional. Double yellow lines? (well, in Italy, they're white, but whatever). They indicate a special, bi-directional third lane for motorcycles to pass through and between the crawling car traffic. [and I live in Florence. In Naples? God help us all!].
So Italians would shrug off my advice, but as no one in Italy knows me or my music (yet?), who cares.