The fifth song on the Blanco County Lights record is the title track, "Blanco County Lights."
I began taking piano lessons at age 5, studying the Suzuki method of piano instruction. The Suzuki method encourages students to learn classical compositions by ear, mimicking the teacher's playing and eventually playing the entire song by memory*. To excel at such a method required a great deal of practice... and I hated practicing. (To be honest, I still hate practicing.)
*Side note: I think learning to play this way has had everything to do with how I write and how I hear music today.
Anyways, I fought with my mother for several years before she finally raised the white flag of defeat and allowed me to quit taking piano lessons. I was about 12 years-old and I had a lot of other things I intended to do -- all of which were much cooler than learning the music of a bunch of dead guys on the piano*. It's also worth noting that at age 12, I was mostly an idiot (a distinction I would maintain well into mid-twenties).
*Side note (again): I'm currently listening to the music of said dead guys on Pandora as I type this post. So everything comes back around. I also listen to classical music when I run. That, or metal. 'Cause YOLO.
These days, I cannot spend enough time with the piano. Funny how that works, isn't it? It's an integral part of so many of my favorite musician's music. And if I were a betting man (and I'm not, as I have an unfortunate tendancy to bet from the heart), I'd lay money on seeing a lot more piano in my music, sooner than later.
The song itself is about transition, change, and learning to forgive one's self -- recurring themes found throughout the record and the reason I decided to make it the album's title track.
Case Mundy recorded my piano part on a fantastic Steinway grand piano (sustain for days) at Wire Road Studios in Houston. The rest of the track was recorded in Jack's studio, White Cat, and included Jack himself playing bass and a Gretsch baritone guitar. My good buddy Matt Harlan was kind enough to lend his distinctive vocals to the track and Eleanor Whitmore (The Mastersons) composed and recorded the string section. Rick Richards again kept things moving on the drums.
About the album cover:
Once I decided the album was going to be called Blanco County Lights, I started thinking about how to best represent that on the cover of the album. Many kinds of "lights" come to mind, when thinking about the Texas Hill Country, from the brilliant sunrises and sunsets to the dotted tapestry of stars that shine on a clear night. Impressionism is my favorite style of painting (with particular affinity for the works of Cezanne and Van Gogh), so I dropped an idea on my sister, Lauren, who is an extremely talented artist, putting paint to canvas when she's not busy managing project accounting in the oil business (basically the very definition of Houston). She came up with a pair of panels that I think perfectly capture the mood and tone of the song -- which is especially impressive, since she hadn't yet heard the track when she painted it.
Monday's song story: Track 6 - "Theodora"
Previous song stories: