In our years as a band, we covered a lot of territory – rock, funk, reggae, folk, blues, rockabilly, ska…
But, I remember quite clearly the day I suggested to the band that we try our hand at a Country – or, more precisely – a Western song. I wanted us to be able to say, as the Blues Brothers did, that we play both kinds of music – Country *AND* Western.
But, my interest in old westerns, particularly the singing cowboy oaters of Roy Rogers, was a big part of my suggestion.
Having written a script about legendary film director, John Ford, and in the process uncovering significantly arresting material on the equally legendary stuntman, Yakima Canutt, I endeavored to take bits & bobs of Yak’s early rodeo exploits and cram them into a song in a genre I had, until that moment, avoided – Country Rock.
To my enduring surprise, the band not only responded in the affirmative, after an off-the-cuff recital of the lyrics on the way to a gig in Maine, but the alacrity with which my song was thrust into our set lists was, considering the lack of success I’d had with so many preceding composition-offerings, it left my head spinning!
But, I should not have been surprised. It’s a great song, if I do say so myself.
The speed with which it was assimilated into our repertoire meant that it represents a departure from our normal modus operandi when it came to the recording process. Usually, we would play a song for months, if not years, before we set it in stone, so to speak.
My rodeo tune was recorded in that hot August of 1997, just weeks after I wrote it, when we spent a feverish weekend laying down tracks for the Exhale On Spring Street album.
It went on to become a tentpole in all our future set-lists. Now, it’s a part of the soundtrack to my play, Barnstorm, and I’ve written many C&W songs since then.
But, none mean more to me than this ode to a rodeo rider whose impact was such that he is even listed in our album credits as Stunt Co-ordinator!
Here it is, just the way it sounded before adding Catherine Russell and Woody on vocals, and another legend – Buddy Cage on Steel Guitar. It’s a good example of how tight we were, that this was laid down completely live in the studio — heck, we were so good, we could have maybe played in Bob Fletcher’s Famous Mounted Round-up Band!