Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday, how are you doing? It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month... ladies, man's the only boob you should have to worry about. Get checked.
Traveling by plane is the worst. Sure, it's the fastest mode of transportation available, and can get you across the country in a matter of hours, but it's prone to schedule changes and is generally uncomfortable. So imagine how much more uncomfortable it'd be if you were forced to sit on a plane for hours in urine-soaked clothing? Daniel Card of New Jersey was flying United Airlines (surprise! The same airline that dragged a man off a plane, sent a woman 3,000 miles in the wrong direction, destroyed someone's super-expensive custom wheelchair, and allegedly killed a prize rabbit) on June 12th, when during takeoff, another passenger whipped out his junk and PEED ON Card. Card claims that the man was visibly drunk, but still allowed to board the plane, according to the "Daily News." Speaking to the "Daily News," Card said, “There’s no way they didn’t know he was intoxicated. They were told.” Great job once again, United! So on October 11th, Card, who was forced to fly all the way from Los Angeles to Newark covered in another man's urine, filed suit against the airline, seeking unspecified damages. Not only did Card get peed on, the flight attendants allegedly wouldn't let him change seats at first, despite the fact that his seat was also pee-soaked. Right before landing in Newark, Card called his father, who called the police. According to the official complaint, the unidentified urinator told the police he didn't remember anything, but admitted that he drank at least four rum and cokes at LAX before boarding the plane. United tried to make it up to Card by giving him a voucher for another flight and covering the cost of cleaning his clothes, according to his mother, Theresa Card. But that (understandably) didn't seem like enough to Ms. Card, who told the "News," “It wasn’t a lot. The whole thing was just horrible.” United has apparently declined to comment, pending litigation, but we can only imagine their statement would be something along the lines of, "Wow, dude, we are really, really sorry that we let a wildly intoxicated man onto the plane who proceeded to purposely pee on you at the very start of an hours-long flight. Whoops. Our bad! We'll work harder on making sure our staff doesn't let anyone stumbling drunk onto planes in the future, especially since we're so very good at getting people off our planes."
Wonder Woman has resonated with women everywhere, from kindergartners to beauty bloggers. But the most inspired use of Wonder Woman's mojo has to go to Stephanie Kelly, a 42-year-old woman recovering from a double mastectomy. As "People" reports, Kelly discovered that she carried the BRCA1 gene, which meant she had a strong likelihood of eventual breast cancer. She elected to take control of the situation with a preventative double mastectomy. To get her through, she turned to a strong female hero: Wonder Woman. “I have always loved Wonder Woman, and during this time I began to joke that I was going to be like Wonder Woman and be strong and unfazed by the things I needed to do that scared me,” Kelly shared with "People." “Friends and family sent me little gifts of Wonder Woman figurines, cards, clothes, even a full robe. It all helped me feel stronger and it was a way to feel all the love and support I had and bring that along with me.” Kelly claims it was an "easy decision" to go ahead with the surgery, and to skip any breast reconstruction. She instead decided to move forward with her new scars and decided to channel her hero right on her chest. Her tattoo is inspired by the double-W Wonder Woman symbol. “Along with Wonder Woman, I was also drawn to images of the phoenix and how the bird reconstructs itself from the ashes of it’s former body,” Kelly explains. “I brought both of these ideas to my tattoo artist, Miss Jamie at Lovely Monkey in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, and she designed my amazing chest piece. I absolutely love it!” Check her out...
Harvey Weinstein is already fucking up his stint in sex rehab. According to Page Six, the movie mogul and alleged rapist has been receiving treatment at an intensive outpatient facility that offers one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions, among other treatments. The program also allows Weinstein to spend nights in a hotel rather than at the clinic. A source told Page Six that things aren't going well for the former Hollywood honcho (good!), and it sounds like he isn't taking rehab seriously at all (bad). “In one group therapy session, Harvey arrived 15 minutes late," the source told Page Six. "Then, when it was his turn to speak, he launched into a speech about how this is all a conspiracy against him. He insists he never raped or assaulted anyone, and that all the encounters were consensual. He realizes he has acted like an a–hole, but he still insists he’s not a rapist." continued the source. Oh, Harvey, don't you know? Admitting you're a disgraceful abuser is the first step in accepting that you are a disgraceful abuser. The source also said that when the group therapy portion of the treatment started, Weinstein fell asleep as others were sharing their stories. He only awoke when his cell phone started buzzing (for the record, cell phones are banned and he smuggled his in), and that prompted him to leave in the middle of the session to take a call. All of this was said to have taken place on Tuesday. Since then, Weinstein has opted out of all group therapy sessions but continues to receive one-on-one treatment.
Okay, so, leading up to Halloween I thought it'll be fun to talk about some terrifying children from horror movies who are now normal adults, as far as I can tell. At a Hillary Clinton fundraiser last month, Cher compared Donald Trump to the little girl played by Patty McCormack in 1956's The Bad Seed.
"He’s so Patty McCormack," said the singer. "Consummate liar, doesn’t care who she hurts, insane, and you know, sociopathic narcissist." So that should give you an idea of how scary Patty McCormack's character was... She's like a tiny Trump who uses her tap shoes as murder weapons. But there's nothing terrifying or Trump-like about 71-year-old McCormack, who has been working as a movie, TV and stage actress for the past five decades.
Except maybe this line from her IMDB page, which reads just a smudge passive-aggressive, "While the lovely and talented blond suffered her share of hard knocks in adjusting to an adult career, she did not fade away into oblivion or self destruct as those child stars before her did." Creepiness rating: Pending further investigation.
So, I don't cook but might wanna learn after seeing this...
Cooking is all about seasoning, fam. But it's boring to just have a bunch of bottles of dried up sprinkle-dust that you don't really understand. It's way better to just smash a rock against another rock... grinding up your own seasonings like a MAN. Or a woMAN. Man, there's a lot of creepy stuff happening...
WTF? So, if I had a TARDIS I would like to go back to see if I can find Bonnie & Clyde. But knowing my luck this is what I would find instead...
Their bullet ridden car. Ugh. So, there's another new Star Wars movie coming out that a lot of people don't know about. Check the poster out...
Hahahaha. So, I saw this pic of Cam newton and it reminded me of something...
Then it hit me...
See? Okay, so, one of my favorite things is pics of side boobs with tattoos so all this month I have been showing you pics of just that.
You are welcome. Halloween is just one week and one day away and you might be trying to figure out what to wear. I will help you...
Combine two of the most terrifying developments of 2017... nuclear war with North Korea and the male romper... with this masterpiece! There's some costumes I am tired of seeing already I have to say... I mentioned two characters from "Game of Thrones" yesterday and another couples costume that you might see around this year is Kendall Jenner plus a can of Pepsi. It will make people just as uncomfortable as the Jon/Daeny incest costume. Okay, so, I think Megyn Kelly is hot... but she's stupid. So, once again here is the pheature called...
Megyn Kelly took a more serious route on her talk show "Megyn Kelly Today" this morning than she has over the past few weeks. The host opened up about her experiences with Fox News journalist Bill O'Reilly, who was in the news this weekend for paying $32 million to settle a sexual harassment suit. Right after the case closed, Fox News rehired him. Kelly responded to O'Reilly's settlement with a segment about her experiences working at the same network as him. "O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know, because I complained," Kelly revealed to the "Megyn Kelly Today" audience. In her memoir, which she released in November 2016, there was a chapter detailing Roger Ailes and the Fox News sexual harassment scandal, Kelly explained. A clip then played of O'Reilly's response to the chapter, which he was asked about on CBS News, last November. He was quick to shove the question aside. "I'm not interested in making my network look bad. At all," he told the interviewer (who was a woman) aggressively. That day, Kelly wrote an email to Fox News' co-presidents. She decided to make parts of the email public today, she explained, because she thinks it "speaks volumes about powerful men and the roadblocks one can face in taking them on."Perhaps he didn't realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment. Perhaps he didn't realize that his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on grounds that it will disgrace the company is in part how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with,” Kelly wrote. Perhaps it's his own history of harassment of women which has, as you both know, resulted in payouts to more than one woman, including recently, that blinded him to the folly of saying anything other than 'I am so sorry for the women of this country who never should have had to go through that.'" Bill Shein, one of Fox's co-presidents, was quick to promise her he'd deal with the issue. However, that same evening, O'Reilly appeared on Fox News (with Shein's approval, Kelly claims) attacking Fox's harassment victims with an extremely regressive and toxic viewpoint regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance. If you don't like what's happening in the workplace, go to Human Resources, or leave... and then take the action you need to take afterward... but don't run down the concern that supports you by trying to undermine it. Kelly pegged some blame for Fox News' maltreatment of women on Irena Briganti, Fox News's media relations chief, who Kelly said is "known for her vindictiveness." "To this day, she pushes negative articles on certain Ailes accusers, like the one you are looking at right now," Kelly said, referring to herself. Kelly then described how when men like O'Reilly shame women and victims of sexual harassment, they encourage women to stay silent. She concluded the segment by saying, "The abuse of women, the shaming of them, the threatening, the retaliation, the silencing of them after the fact, it has to stop."
Ha! If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together and how the show has changed. I'm glad it wasn't the way it is now like it was then...
When people say they aren't going to be able to stand having Donald Trump as president for four years.
After a week that saw Donald Trump vehemently deny that his telephone conversation with Sgt. La David Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, was anything but respectful and presidential, Johnson herself finally spoke out. Meanwhile, Trump quickly took to Twitter to deny her account because a public feud with a Gold Star widow on the Internet three weeks after her husband was killed in action is in fact 2017s version of presidential. Speaking with "Good Morning America" host George Stephanopoulos today, Johnson confirmed the accounts of the call given by her husband's custodial mother and by Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson. "I didn't say anything, I just listened," Johnson remembered about the call with Trump, before George Stephanapolous clarified, "But you were upset when you got off the phone?" "Very very upset and hurt. Very," she responded. "It made me cry even worse." Later this morning, after testing the Twitter waters with a tweet on the NFL's disrespect for the flag... Trump took to Twitter to refute Myeshia Johnson. Her husband gave his life for the flag, but attacking his widow and shining the hostile spotlight of his millions of followers on her does not qualify as "total disrespect" like kneeling during a football game does, according to Trump. That's just leadership. "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson," wrote Trump of their phone conversation, "and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!" According to ABC News, Johnson confirmed the account that Trump struggled to "remember my husband's name" on the call. She also reportedly confirmed that Trump said her husband "knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways." Johnson said those words "made me cry. I was very angry at the tone of his voice, and how he said it." Trump has said he has proof that the call went the way he says it did. Instead of releasing that proof, POTUS has instead decided to attack Johnson on Twitter. If the last year is any indication, that's about as presidential as it gets.
The 68th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Robbie Robertson will the guest on the Phile this coming Thursday.
This is cool. Today's guest is a singer-songwriter whose new album "The Nashville Sound" with his band The 400 Unit is available now on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile the fantastic... Jason Isbell!
Me: Jason, welcome to the Phile, man. It's so cool to have you here. How are you doing?
Jason: I'm good. Thanks for having me.
Me: So, congrats on not just the new album but you are a dad now, right?
Jason: Yeah, I have a 23-month-old little girl. She awesome. Do you have any kids, Jason?
Me: I have a 17-year-old son. So, I love the new album "Nashville Sound." I guess it was recorded in Nashville, right?
Jason: Yeah, I live in Nashville so it was recorded there.
Me: Was it an easy album to record, Jason?
Jason: Yeah. I spent a lot of time on the lyrics trying to make sure I kept digging making sure I didn't run out of dirt, you know.
Me: I love the song "Cumberland Gap." My ex-wife and son live near Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania, but I doubt that is about that area, or a Gap store in Cumberland.
Jason: No. That was a hard chorus to sing. We didn't use any trickery, I had to sing that and it was right before I quit smoking so I had to scream. That hurt.
Me: What came first then, lyrics or the music?
Jason: Lyrics. That first line I sat on it for months and thought that's so good the way it fits together. The way it rhymed and the way it's something you would overhear in bar or something sitting there staring at their hands being not responding to anybody. After that I didn't know what to write. You can't follow that up with a bunch of bullshit. If you are gonna write a great first line it's like you got a start of a good novel, now you have to write the book so it took me a few months to get that song written but I was very happy it turned out to be a rock song 'cause it could of been anything, you know. I can't steer a song in any direction, I just have to write the best song that I can. Whatever it sounds that it wants to be is where it winds up.
Me: I thought you sounded like Bruce Springsteen when you hit that chorus. Did you think that? Jason.
Jason: LOL. Yes. Bruce Springsteen or Bono... because he'll do the big yelling chorus. Originally that chorus had different words like "The Cumberland Gap has swallowed you whole" was followed by something else completely. I thought that was too much, let's just say this four times and so then it was like now I have a song. I'm more of a sculpture than a painter. There's artist that start with nothing then there's artists that start with a whole bunch of shit and work away til they get to the heart of it. I'm the latter really.
Me: So, you started with the lyrics on the whole album?
Jason: Usually, yeah. With most songs I'll start with a phrase or a little part of the lyric. The initial spark will be something like a phrase that rolls over and over my head until I start to hear the musicality. Then a melody sort of appears in direct relation to the phasing or the rhythm of the words. The phrasing is very important because that's where you get suggestions for a melody, the timing of the words. There's entire music genres based on only that. It's kind like your romance dinners, French or Italian is based on how everything tastes first then you got appearance and texture down underneath but Japan, China, Thailand, the Philipines, they start of with texture and presentation as what's important, you know. We'll lyrically, country music starts with the subject matter and then they go into the rhyming and the phrasing. Hip-hop starts off with 90% phrasing and then after that there's the subject, but because it's just a rhythmic type of music that's the most important thing about hip-hop music. As folk song writers they usually use a phrasing to make a melody, use the melody to make lyrics and lyrics end up being the things that are most important.
Me: When I did songwriting for my music project Strawberry Blondes Forever I wrote a bunch of lyrics, emailed them to Dan in Colorado who I was working with and he had to put music around that fit the lyrics and try to sing the lyrics... so I get what you're saying. So, do you write on guitar, Jason?
Jason: Yeah. Because I am a better guitar player than I am a piano player. Sometimes I write on a piano just to throw myself a curve ball, but it's pretty much always guitar because I know where the weird chords are if I and could find them pretty quickly. I don't have to waste time by figuring out what button do I push.
Me: I love the song "Chaos and Clothes" which pretty much describes my closet. Haha. That song is just you and the guitar pretty much, without the band. Was that song written that way?
Jason: Yeah. That song has a weird chorus, doesn't it? I had a whole other chorus for it before that I felt was a little maudlin, or a little bit bitter. I just didn't like the nature of it and it didn't sit well with me. Lyrically it played great, it rhymed but I thought this isn't who I wanted be in this song so I wrote a completely different chorus that you hear now. And that I found by going to a very strange, for me, chord pattern. I just thought let's try going where I've never gone before. It was more musical in creation than most in what I do. I was a musician first so I love to exercise that and just use the guitar. If I did that all the time I would just be another wanting guitar player that nobody wanted to listen to. I have to remind myself I'm waiting because of my lyrics. Nobody cares about me playing the guitar. It's all been done, you know.
Me: I like it because you have a great singing voice and it's not hidden, Jason. Have you done anything like that often?
Jason: Thanks. It has a double track on my vocals. It's a terrible idea. I only do it when I know I'm doing it for another reason apart from self consciousness and fear. I think guys say, "my voice is awful, I'm a terrible singer, so I need to put another track on it so you can't tell how out of tune I am." That's what happened with Lennon and Elliott Smith and I'm like if you put down the damn heroin you'll realize you have a beautiful voice. You just can't hear because you're so high. I delivery avoid doing it for purposes of self consciousness and do it more of a nod to Lennon or Elliott Smith or somebody. I love the way it sounds and adds the melancholy wait to a melody.
Me: So, I joked about the title of the new album just now but there's a better reason where the album is called "Nashville Sound," right?
Jason: Yeah, I like that. I do believe that taking a working concept of creation of art that I think that Nashville has been able to do for a long, long time. I remember thinking how strange it was when my best friend from high school moved to Nashville to write because he went in and clocked in with normal business hours like somebody at an office. He just happened to be trying to write songs with people in an office all day. I thought he's not an artist. It turns out that is just the Nashville approach. But there is something very beautiful about studying what works and the craft of art. That relates to the title. They say at the studio where we recorded, the RCA studio, they call it the home of the Nashville sound when Chet Atkins was in charge there so I thought that would be a good potential title and started to open up to more meanings like that, like let's claim this for ourselves. That studio is on Music Row and I think the music that I make is very different to popular county music that is being made on that street. So, to sort of feel that you plug your flag in one little part of Music Row and maybe more in the future but for the first time ever the little independent weird music nerds that aren't drunk on a plane have put their flag on top of one of the buildings.
Me: Do you feel like now you are in Nashville you belong there in that culture?
Jason: Yeah, very much. They've been so welcoming to me. I don't think that culture could exist without talent and the revenue generated by country music. So, we owe them a great debt because the studios and the talent just wouldn't be there if there wasn't allllll that money to be made from pop-country radio and what people have thought of Nashville or what Nashville sound made in the last 20 years or so. I say 20 years, but I'm always off by a decade. What was Garth? That was almost 30 years. About 1990 I bet. I saw him at the Lawrenceburg Fair for 1 dollar in about 1990. I'm gonna have to look this up, hold on. Let me see wham Garth Brooks' first record came out. I'm guessing "Friends in Low Places" hit in about 1990 because I saw him right before "Friends in Low Places" came out. My mom took me to the fair, we saw him for a dollar to see the pot belly big races which was won by a pot belly pig named Robert E. Lee...
Me: So, you remember that? Hahaha.
Jason: I remember all of it, I just don't remember the year. Like iTunes, he probably doesn't let Wikipedia have a Garth Brooks entry. Okay, here it is... Garth Brooks' first name is Troyal... how about that? Why did he drop Troyal? Troyal sounds pretty good. Years active 1984 to 2001... I want to find this out because I don't want to screw this up.
Me: I'm very rigorous about fact checking on this blog, Jason, let me tell you.
Jason: Nineteen eighty-nine to nineteen-ninety... his first album was released in 1989 and peaked at number two... "No Fences" was his second album and it was released in 1990 and it had "Friends in Low Places" on it so I guess I was right. When I said 20 years what I should of said was 30 years...
Me: I thought it was as he's been around since I moved to Florida in '88. Fun fact, I saw Green Day in 1990 at Club Nowhere here in Orlando and they played for about 30 people and I thought they were a British punk band. It was right around the time their first album came out. Fuck, I'm old.
Jason: I came to the realization last night that I've finally hit the age where people handing out flyers for dance clubs don't hand them to me anymore. They look at me, see the gray and are like that's not who we are looking for. I can't even make your shitty dance club list anymore. It's like finally I have a decent watch on and you won't invite me into your club. Because I'm now to old to enjoy it. I never enjoyed any of those clubs anyway so I don't know why I'm so upset about it. I look my age, damn it.
Me: Your song "If We Were Vampires" would make a great novel, TV show or book. I might write it. Can you tell the readers the premise of that song?
Jason: It's about what would happen if we got what we wished for. If the time ever came that we would live forever would we all just sit around and drink Diet Coke, watch TV and flip the channels for the first 150 years? It's terrifying. What's more terrifying than dying for me is living forever because what's the point for any of it? That song I got lucky with because we went into the studio on Monday and I wrote the song on Friday before going into the studio. I thought I was done writing for the record but I decided to sit down and do one more day of work and I wrote that song. So, yeah, very fortunate. I'll tell you what happened... I was in the bedroom, I usually write in the bedroom at our house. We've only lived there since October last year and I have a parlour and my wife has one and neither of those have a door on them so you walk into the front door and mine is to the right, hers is to the left. We each got a fireplace and there's a small library on the other side of the door. But they don't have doors, they just have arch entries. The baby, at the age she is now, is anywhere in the house, which all has word floors. So, anywhere you are in the house you're hearing baby noises. Loud baby noises, violent baby noises. So, I can go in the bedroom, close the door and write. I was in the bedroom and I was supposed to be writing and I knew I was going into the studio Monday and knew I had a pretty good album but I thought I always needed one more if I could get it. That show "Hoarders" was on and I'm addicted to the show which I guess is ironic considering the subject matter of the show. I love watching the show, it makes me feel so good about myself that I'm not one of those people. I think that's TVs main primary function now is to make the loser watching TV feel like you're not as big as a loser as the one that's on TV. That's like number one, what TV does for us. My wife comes in and she's like, "I thought you were writing a song." I was like, "Yep. But 'Hoarders' is on." She was like, "Well, everybody could be out there watching 'Hoarders" but if you want to make a great album write a song and let everybody else watch 'Hoarders.'" Goddammit. I turned the TV off and then wrote that song. Matter of fact, I sat there for another hour or two thinking nothing's going to happen and after two hits after a weed vape and then waited about thirty minutes then wrote that song. I don't smoke pot recreationally because it makes me want a drink and I have had a drink in five years so I don't smoke pit at all now... I quit smoking cigarettes so I don't smoke anything. But the marijuana vaporizer device is an incredible invention. I felt like somebody's grandmother who tried marijuana for the first time. It's great for when I'm writing a sing, because if I completely hit a brick wall and my mind is not working at all... this happens once every six months, I'll take to little puffs on the weed vape and I'll put it back in my drawer and forget about to for six months. That's my secret. Anything to get its brain out of its normal element, or to get you focusing, or not focusing, just to change up the scenery for a little bit. So that's what happened for that song. Sure enough after I had a couple of puffs on the weed vape I started playing the guitar.
Me: When did you learn to lay guitar, Jason, and how?
Jason: I learnt playing by smoking joints one after another. As a little kid, obviously, I didn't smoke joints but when I was a teenager there was this period where... this happens in Alabama, you'll find a buddy that will come sit in your basement and you each will smoke half or a joint and then play Allman Brothers songs for six hours. That's how I learned to really solo. I don't do that anymore.
Me: How old were you when you started playing?
Jason: Six or seven-years-old.
Me: And you had a musical background like I did? Even though I don't play an instrument, unless you count the kazoo.
Jason: My grandparents and my aunts and uncles all played. My parents didn't bug they really appreciated it. I guess they had me too early to learn how to do much but change diapers and stuff. They were teenagers so didn't have much time for playing the guitar. They had to feed me and keep me clean.
Me: Okay, so, I have to talk about Drive-By Truckers, Jason. You were pretty young when you joined that band, right?
Jason: I was 21, it was fall of 2001.
Me: At that time you were working at FAME, right? Florence Alabama Music Enterprises Studios for people that don't know. I had to look it up. What was it like being there?
Jason: They were supportive of me but I've never been the one to co-write a lot which was kinda how their system was designed. It was Nashville style where you write with other writers. You get better at it and hopefully write a hit song for somebody to sing, but that's never what I did. I starting writing for their staff but really kept doing what I've been doing and what I'm doing now which is just writing my own songs and putting them on my own albums. At the time it was Drive-By Truckers and luckily we were selling just enough copies to pay FAME back the advances they've be giving me over the years. They never knew what to do with me and that was fine because I didn't have any income at all and I didn't want to go back into the workforce. I just got out of college and wanted to make music for a living and they said we'll give you a couple of hundred bucks a week and we'll out you on the writing staff. That's a fortune, you know. So I took it and the Truckers picked me up a few weeks later and I went on the road.
Me: Who are your influences, Jason? I'm guessing country artists?
Jason: I loved Crowded House. Pop music in the mid-80s was one thing that we got. Culturally we didn't get much from the big cities as we were out in the middle of nowhere but radio still made it to north Alabama in 1985. The fashion might've taken ten years to get to us but the radio got there quick, you know. Crowded House, and Squeeze, Til Tuesday, Prince... all these beautiful, elaborate, deep pop music was happening in those days and it was right when I started playing music instruments so it got in there and stuck. I still think a lot of the melodies and the hooks and catchiness of a lot of songs I write are directly linked to that. Subject matter not so much, I certainly have a different accent that most of your mid-80s pop stars would have. I think there's a lot in common with the music I make and the music they make. Once you take the production and strip it down... if you had somebody playing "Pulling Muscles From the Shell," with just small rock band and had an accent like they were from Alabama it wouldn't sound very different from what we're doing I don't think. Those great pop songs all had a story to tell. Like Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry," you start digging into the layers and you can go as deep as you want. it never occurred to me what that song is really about. I'm thinking, holy shit, that's heavy. That's not just your run of the mill pop song... I'm happy to be alive, let's everybody dance. There's some real abuse going on, this is like some dark stuff. I remember thinking isn't it amazing that could be what a song is. A song could be something easily consumable and non-challenging and if you want, if you like to be a nerd and pay attention you can be rewarded for that too.
Me: When you wrote songs for Drive-By Truckers, was it the same as when you write songs for your solo stuff?
Jason: Pretty much, yeah. I was writing more for the purpose of that band. The process is the same. I didn't spend as much time editing in general in those days. I didn't have to write as many songs back then. I just had to write two or three songs for a Truckers record and I was good. Nowadays I have to write a whole record because it's my band and deal. The last three records, and the newest one, I was bound and determined to make sure there wasn't any filler. So I spent a looootttt of time editing these songs to get everything down to what is necessary what really tells the story. I do harder work and more work now but I like to challenge myself. The process has always been the same.
Me: I have so many questions about so many songs from Drive-By Truckers, as they are one of my favorite bands but there's a song I have to mention and that is "Danko/Manuel." On Thursday I am interviewing Robbie Roberston here on the Phile so I have to ask are you a The Band fan, I take it you are, and what made you write a song about them?
Jason: I was reading Levon's book "This Wheel's On Fire" and at the start of the book he talk about the pack that they had that if anybody does on the road they would pack them on ice, put them under the bus and bring them home. I started thinking about the nature of being on the road and what had happened in hindsight to Rick and Richard, which is really a lot of what Levon talked about. For the last twenty years of his life that's what happened to Rick and Richard, you know. And then what a great immeasurable loss and what a terrible tragedy and you kinda think they sort of went out the same way even through they didn't. Richard killed himself in a hotel room that probably cost twenty bucks surrounded by empty bottles of Grand Mernier but Rick didn't fair a whole lot better. I was thinking about that and how it related to my own life. You know if you are living a way that's harmful for you you know what you're doing. Your brain might tell you it's okay, but I knew we were headed for a malfunction of some type so that song is really about their story and how it related to mine and sort of about determination to learn from the tragic deaths of Rick and Richard and not let myself go out the same way. I felt that's really probably the most legacy somebody can leave if they wind up making those kind of mistakes or falling victim to those kind of illnesses at least.
Me: Are you ever challenged by coming up with new material?
Jason: Yeah, I'm all challenged by it but I never feel stuck, you know. My only real concern is quality. I can go and write a concept record and not leave til it's done and not starve to death but it wouldn't be the best thing I've ever done. If there was a gun to my head I could do that but I wouldn't really want to. I would rather just let the songs be, the type of songs they want to be. That doesn't mean I'll let them run loose. I'm gonna corral them that's my own work, that's my own job. I'm definitely going to show up and bring them out of the ether if they want that to happen or not. If they come out in the ether in a dress I'm not gonna make them change clothes. That's how I work, I don't believe in waiting for expiration to strike. I like the Chuck Close quote which I said in a bunch of interviews before but it always rings true. He said, "Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us show up and get to work." That's true, you know, no one has plumbers block. You just do your job, and if you do it well, it'll be good. You can get blocked from doing the work that you're doing. I do go through spells that could go on for weeks or months where everything I write sounds like shit, but I'm gonna write a lot of shit in that amount of time and eventually it'll stop being shit and it'll be like, "oh, here's what I was doing wrong." It's like a batter or a golfer... if there's something wrong with the mechanics of the swing it could take a long time but they don't stop and wait and think maybe my swing will be better if I go back in a month. I'll just hang out and not play any golf or baseball for awhile. No, you have to figure out what you're doing wrong and fix it. Nobody is gonna do that for you.
Me: You are one of the cleverest songwriters out there, Jason. I love the lyrics to the song "Songs That She Sang in the Shower" with the line “there are two kinds of men in this world and you're neither of them." Do you write down these lines in a notebook somewhere when you come up with them?
Jason: I do, with little pieces of things. Most of the time they are just images. I have a new one I wrote on my phone yesterday... don't use this, this is copy written... I just emailed it to myself. Okay, "I cried for that moment in that picture because there it sits." That's what I wrote yesterday. Meaning it's not gonna happen again, you know. It's in the picture, it's stuck, and that's where it's always gonna be. That moment is never gonna come back. I was looking at pictures of my kid on my phone and I thought I could almost cry as that is never gonna happen again exactly the same way, you know.
Me: I think that a lot myself, glad I'm not the only one. Haha. Some of your songs are funny, and other times are more serious. Is there a reason for that?
Jason: Yeah, my days are different, you know. Life is that way. Books I like to read are that way. Movies I like are that way. I feel you can't be realistic unless you're covering a broad range of emotions. I am sure you do that on this blog, unless you have one emotion. All the people that have one emotion are fucking crazy people. That's a wrong way to make a movie, make a it a comedy or a drama. What are you talking about? It's like if you're gonna make a movie and you're gonna put anything that honest or realism to it should be both of those things. That's why we quote comedians at serious times, you know. Like George Carlin, or Richard Pryor or Bill Hicks. I wind up having various conventions with things Bill Hicks said while he was alive, you know. There was a real content to this comedians, there's real depth to what they were saying behind just trying to make people laugh.
Me: Do you plan on when you're going to write or do you always write?
Jason: I keep notes year round and sometimes when I feel like sitting down and working I'll write an entire song whether I've got a deadline or not. I certainly like any kind of writer do more work when there's a deadline. So when I've got studio time booked three months before I'm working really hard any chance I get.
Me: On your new album I love the song "Anxiety," Jason. Do you have anxiety? I do, and I think everyone does.
Jason: The type of anxiety I deal with is commonplace. Something everybody deals with because it's hard to sleep because I'm worried about something. What I don't have is a crippling stage fright or any kind of anxiety attacks that render me unable to speak or panic attacks that make me have to leave the room for minutes because I feel like my chest is caving in. I talked to my wife who understands that kind of thing and we wrote the rest of the song together. That's the first time I collaborated on any of my songs on my albums with somebody. I wanted to because that subject is very important to me and I wanted to handle it the right way. I wanted it to come out honestly and capture their experiences as well as mine. The commonplace experience anxiety like mine as well as the experience where you need everything to stop for a minute. I sort of want people to know that's okay because I know how hard it can be to stop if you are in an intense argument conversation or whatever. If you're having a problem with somebody I know It could be hard to go I need to leave the room for a minute. But so many people if you deal with clinical anxiety attacks, panic attacks, that's what you got to learn what to do. So I didn't want to talk to their experience from an uneducated place so I asked for help. I'm so glad the way it turned out, plus there's the intro and outro that Dave Cobb helped us in the studio which just rocks. I think we were going for "Live and Let Die" or something.
Me: I thought it sounded like "I Want You, She's So Heavy."
Jason: Totally. We talked about that as well when we were recording that. That has like nine words in it. "I want you she's so heavy" and then..."I want you so bad." "I want you" we already said. "So bad, it's driving me mad." So, it has twelve words. The entire song has twelve words. That has to be the number one hit with the least amount of words in it. Has to be. I think we just figured out that piece of musical trivia. Yesterday I was talking to somebody how Elvin Bishop had a number one hit with "Fooled Around Fell In Love," it's a pretty good song from the 70s, but Elvin didn't write that song or sing it. He just hired somebody to sing for him, he played guitar and covered a song that somebody else had written and it was number one under his name. He didn't do anything, just strum the guitar. Elvin is a very talented dude, great guitar player, but he didn't write that song and it was a big hit. I wonder of anybody else had pulled that kinda racket.
Me: And it was on the soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy. Jason, thanks so much for doing this, you have been great.
Jason: Alright, thanks, I hope I didn't say too many stupid things. Thanks, Jason.
Me: No you didn't. Mention your website and please come back soon, I have so many other questions about Drive-By Trucker songs.
Jason: Alright. Jasonisbell.com. Take care. Loved chatting with you.
That was a fucking great interview. I think that was the longest one I have done so far. Thanks to Jason for a great job. The Phile will be back on Thursday with author and singer, the great Robbie Robertson. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker