"Acoustic Americana, folk expressions and personal revelations sprung from the backfields of Illinois" is the latest self-described musical offering from Taos troubadour David Garver. From the goose bumps-raising chords and lyrics in the love song "My Little Hurricane" to the raw scratch of "The Butcher Cried," it has a melancholy folk feel, dark like Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," sparse and raw.
"Acoustic Americana, folk expressions and personal revelations sprung from the backfields of Illinois" is the latest self-described musical offering from Taos troubadour David Garver. From the goose bumps-raising chords and lyrics in the love song "My Little Hurricane" to the raw scratch of "The Butcher Cried," it has a melancholy folk feel, dark like Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska," sparse and raw. Garver is on fire with this new album "Illinois." His band Bones of Romeo will be playing the new tunes at a 10 p.m. show Nov. 23 at The Alley Cantina, 121 Teresina Lane, just off the northwest corner of Taos Plaza. There's a $10 cover charge.
We asked Garver about his recent exodus from social media, his thoughts on songwriting and his process as a writer. Here is what he said.
You're no longer on social media. What precipitated your exit?
I'm 62 years old and I want to spend as much time as I can present in the real world. Present in a creative process, present in my relationships [with] family and friends. Having coffee or lunch with someone. Looking people in the eye and having real conversations. Hearing the tone of someone's voice. Creating my way of communicating and existing in the world without all that. Stop being distracted.
Instead of Facebook, I call someone or email. I read. I write, or sing or exercise or practice deep breathing or go in nature. I feel like we are being programed into thinking this "stuff" is all necessary if we want to take part in this Brave New World! If we want to be successful. If we want to exist. I don't believe it. I'm not judging, but that's what I think. I know many people use it for good. It was a choice. I examined how I was using social media and the effect it was having on me, and I left. I feel I can communicate and promote and control my privacy with my website.
Maybe I'll try Instagram.
What makes a song that stands the test of time?
For me, I say a song stands the test of time when it comes on and I listen to it from beginning to end, even if it makes me late. That's my criteria. All of Mozart stands the test of time and his genius is incomprehensible. I don't know. A great lyric, an arc to the story being told, always open to interpretation - mystery, I guess?
A great chorus. Tom Petty said, "Don't bore us, get to the chorus." He was good. A simple melody. A song that always fits into your own life, and Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" is just that for me. Shelter, "Hunted like a crocodile ravished in the corn."
That was my song in 1976, 18 years old, stuck in the middle of a dead cold Illinois winter. That song is a lifeline. A reminder. It came on two days ago and I sat and listened to the whole thing. It made me five minutes late. Yesterday, Barry Manilow's "Mandy" came on and there was no way I could not listen and sing.
What is your process for writing a song, from the inspiration to the final?
My process is always different. I'm only an adequate guitar player, but I can get things started. My song "Maria" was inspired when I saw a young girl driving a bullet-ridden dirty white Mustang on the freeway. I started the lyrics with just what I was seeing.
"Maria drove a mustang, dirty white with bullet holes." I created a story of a single mother with two boys, works at Walmart, lives with her grandparents. The Mustang was given to her by her tío from Juarez."Blackfields" was written in Illinois. Sometimes a lyric will inspire the tone of the song, the key. Lyrics also can inspire tempo. Sometimes it will be the other way around. I'll just play something on guitar and vocalize without words, making sounds, and the words will appear.
You try to make it your own but all songwriters are thieves. I've had these songs for a while. The idea for "Illinois" was returning to my roots, acoustic songs stripped down and bare. A simple heartfelt record coming from someone's kitchen. Rooted in longing and pain and hope there may be something better tomorrow. Somewhere else to go.
I just recorded my voice and guitar and then handed the songs to Greg Thum (also one-half of local band Vanilla Pop). He recorded, mixed and mastered everything and he added acoustic guitars, bass and percussion. I just left him alone and let him make his own choices. I love everything he did. He understood the emotional landscape, and he just made it better.
He brought so much to the record without betraying its intent. What a gift to have someone of that talent bring it to your music. Greg Thum is as talented as anyone I've ever worked with. He's a great teacher. I'm still learning. I'm a huge fan of his music. Gigantic Hawk is one of my favorite bands. [of whom Thum is also a member] a brilliant man, and he makes me laugh hard.
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