The eighth track on the Blanco County Lights album is a dirty, rockin' number called "84 Boxes".
I've worn several different hats over the past few years since making a go at this life in music. From the service industry, to real estate, to handyman, to day-laborer, landscaper, and several other stops along the way. I don't mind the hard or physically-demanding work (which is admittedly much easier to say when it's a chosen means-to-an-end versus the only way to make ends meet) and I've done all kinds of jobs to make a couple bucks in effort to maintain the freedom I desire to travel and play music. Whether or not this was the best way to go about doing it is absolutely up for debate. But regardless, it's the way I did go about it, and so here we are.
One of those jobs was a gig assembling cafeteria tables at area schools. You know the type: rows of stools on either side of a table that folds in the center so that it can be rolled away for easy storage. These are the chairs each and every one of us sat on while enjoying (in the loosest sense of the word) our public schools lunches. Of course, we never gave much thought to where the tables came from, only that they were there and they were to be used.
Well let me tell you: I KNOW HOW THEY GOT THERE.
They came off the back of a box truck and they had to be assembled. They aren't complicated to assemble, but they are tedious -- which is miserable, if you're the kind of person who bores easily from repetitive tasks (ME). But at least you get to work inside in the air-conditioning -- after you get them off the truck.
And so the first task is to unload the table frames and boxes of stools off said truck -- a large 18-wheeler (a distinction that was not really worth mentioning, as there are no small 18-wheelers, but mentioned for dramatic effect all the same) with a long metal ramp and a driver that is either really cool, offering to assist, or completely indifferent and annoyed by his lot in life -- as if any of us had a single thing to do with it.
On one particular day, we had 84 of these tables to unload (no thanks to this particular shipment's driver, who spent his day wandering around while talking into a wired earpiece connected to his phone, occasionally taking time away from his riveting conversation to bark orders at the rest of us about things we already knew or were already doing but, hey, people have to feel like they're doing something and so we let him be King for a day). I took a picture of the back of the truck while we were unloading it and included a caption that would become the song's chorus.
On the mechanics of the recording:
This is the most groove-driven song I've ever recorded. I play the E-chord without the third, just the ones and fives -- a trick I learned from one of my favorite songwriters. It gives the chord a more rock 'n' roll vibe. I used a Telecaster to perform said trick, which we ran through a Princeton tube amp. Jack Saunders again played bass and Rick Richards kept the truck moving on drums, riding along the backside of the beat. Then things got really exciting. Sam Austin doubled up the ryhthm parts and played all of the lead guitar parts, which included the absolutely smoking solo in the middle. We brought Willy T. Golden in to play the slide parts on his Fender Stringmaster lap steel.
As the day progressed, we were really digging the dirty overdriven tone we were getting out of the lap steel -- but we thought there might be room to go dirtier -- and fuzzier. Jack disappeared into the gear closet for a few moments, reemerging with a large green metal box, which had only a single shiny silver button in the middle and a couple of black knobs on top: the Russian-made Sovtek Big Muff pedal he'd picked up somewhere north of Dallas while on the road. We ran Willy's lap steel through the big green pedal, which provided the raw, fuzzy slide tone that you can feel underneath the entire track and prominently featured in the instrumental section, like a gem, hoisted between Sam's two solos for your listening pleasure.
This song was a blast to make. I hope you enjoy it -- even if it's totally out of left field for what you may expect out of my music. It can't all be sad songs love lost.
Speaking of, Thursday's tune is Track 9 - "Free Will".
To buy the album, go HERE... you know, at your leisure.
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