Essays: On The Road And A Little Off

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Nashville, TN, August 1, 2004 - - I'm getting ready to go to France once again this August. Somebody has to maintain some kind of tenable
relationship with Les Frogeres while the usual gang of idiots and
religious zealots is in over here, and so I guess it's up to me.

On top of the France deal, things have been pretty hectic around the bus,
what with getting ready to move the extended Panama family into a larger compound near the university in Murfreesboro.

Also I've been for the last few months seriously hitting the recording
studios in St Petersburg and Muscle Shoals trying to piece together
another CD, as the fans can't be expected to buy "HomeGrown" more than twice each, and have begun to complain. So far, Dick Cooper, my
uber-producer, and I have gotten about seven items in the can, and are
steadily steaming toward a finish, which may or may not include some
sessions with my French friends, the band Mary-Lou, to be collected in
France this time over. Seeing Cooper, known on these shores as "Dick
O'Steele", in France will be one of the highlights of the trip, especially when I introduce him by his French pseudonym, Dick DuJour.

This process has been somewhat more complicated than "HomeGrown" was, seeing as how there are other players than only me involved on this
effort, and I'm not living in my bus just outside the studio. And I'm
reminded of something Kinky Friedman once said when we were working on his second album, which is that you have all your life to write your first and about six months to write your second. In my case I've had
three years, but the principle's the same.

Anyway, the sessions for "ChoiceBuds" have been mostly productive. Some of the tunes were written and recorded in St Petersburg/Tampa with my old loco siempre compadre and producer Ronny Elliott, and my friends from his records, Walt Bucklin and Harry Hayward. Joining us on a couple of sessions was my fellow Bethlehem Asylum alum (and long-standing Hall and Oates sideman) Charlie DeChant.

I had my reasons for wanting to do some of the work in St Pete; I wanted to write and work with Ronny, for one. Jim Neiman, another Bethlehem Asylum mate, now gone to wherever we go when we stop being here, inhabits the song, perhaps more comfortably than he inhabited the planet.

I wanted to record some in St Pete also because whenever I'm in St Pete I can literally feel the ghost of Jack Kerouac, who died there in the 70's; and because St Pete was the real hometown, if he had one, of my choice bud Fred Neil. St Pete was what Freddie and I would talk about in nearly every conversation we had; we knew the same street characters from the old Million Dollar Pier. That was back when a million dollars was impressive. I mean you could build a pier with only that much.

And mostly I wanted to include a Fred Neil tune on these sessions, and I
felt that, for me at least, the ambience of St Petersburg would lend to
the spirit of doing it. So we did "Dolphins", and Charlie, who is also
on Freddie's last, soon-to-be-released sessions, brought exactly the
right notes with him. Freddie would be very happy with the tune, I

The sessions in the Shoals have included Jason and Shonna from the Drive By Truckers, Topper, Spooner, and the ever-helpful and able Scott Boyer, another fellow alum from our old Capricorn daze. They have helped me to realize some Southern soul that would be unattainable in other locales.

To those of you who have been kind enough to express an interest in why it is that I haven't been my usually pithy essay self, I thank you. I've
just been otherwise occupied.

I'll write from France.