The second song on the new album (Blanco County Lights) is also the oldest song on the album. I wrote Doing Well (and I hope you are!) almost 10 years ago and it was included on my first record.
When I finally decided to pursue music and songwriting as more than a secret passion, I jumped in headfirst (or whatever is the equivalent of jumping in headfirst, except backwards) and recorded a record, Old Denton Roads. I figured I had all these songs I'd written, might as well get them down and then become famous -- as was my destiny.
If someone asked me today for advice (ha) or thoughts on starting out, I'd probably suggest doing things differently, spending more time playing out, working through the songs before cutting a record. But I didn't. And convention is not my nature. And most of my regrets in life are not from jumping the gun, but rather, spending too much time sitting on the sidelines. So the record was cut and included this song, Doing Well.
As I started playing with a band more frequently, some of the songs from the first record began to change, related to instrumentation, and in a few cases, song structure. There's a different feeling, an unseen energy when you've got a band playing together. I dig the way we perform this song live and I felt it deserved to be captured and presented that way. So it made the final cut and now it's here for your ears (and applause).
Generally speaking, the song itself is about running into someone you used to know -- a ghost from the past -- and doing that thing we do when we talk about how great things are since going separate ways. In other words: we lie.
As with all tracks, I sang and played the acoustic rhythm on my trusty Martin DCPA4 guitar, Jack Saunders played bass, and Rick Richards knocked out the drums. Sam Austin played the lead lines and electric rhythm parts on a '68 Telecaster through a vintage 60's Fender Princeton amp. Eleanor Whitmore played fiddle and I was fortunate to have two-thirds of the Grievous Angels -- Lainey Balagia and Libby Koch -- sing background vocals on this track, giving it an angelic feel in the bridge.
While fact-checking this post, Sam reminded me of a particular time we played this song live and I think it's one that's worth sharing.
A couple years ago, we were fortunate enough to get booked (thanks, Mike) opening a festival that supported the Coastal Conservation Association of Texas (CCA). The show was to take place at Sam Houston Race Park in North Houston (just miles from where I grew up) and would feature Sammy Kershaw, Gene Watson and Jerry Jeff Walker, to name a few, headlined by Pat Green. This was a really big deal for us, as I'd never been on a stage of that size and most of these guys were musical heroes of mine.
As fate/Texas weather would have it, the morning began with torrential downpour that showed no signs of slowing. When we arrived, there were conversations about cancelling the show altogether. I recall informing at least one person that I didn't care, we wanted to play regardless -- whether there were people there or not.
We went ahead and loaded in and worked our way through soundcheck. Everyone was soaked. Amp cabinets had standing water in them. Every few minutes one of the overhead tarps would give way and dump all the rain it had collected, which was usually followed by spell of expletives from an unlucky sound guy.
Eventually the rain ceased and the clouds began to give way to a brighter -- and stickier -- June afternoon. The show was to go on.
We opened the show with Doing Well and I probably made a joke about hoping people were in fact doing well, as is my nature. I don't recall. What I do recall is that everything was still wet. This is an important fact to remember as you continue reading.
As the song began, I heard a strange noise -- what I thought to be a (rare) couple of missed notes -- on the aforementioned opening lead guitar line. I didn't know what happened, I just looked over at Sam quizzically, laughing it off, and we went on to play what was probably our best live show to date.
Here's what actually happened in that moment:
As I said, everything was still wet. Water, as you know, does a nice job of conducting electricty. So when Sam hit his foot pedal to boost the lead guitar line, he unknowingly completed an electrical circuit, sending electricity from the ground to the guitar (or the guitar to the ground; I'm not an electrician) by way of his body. This caused his hand to clamp down on the neck of the guitar, all of which worked together to create what I heard as a "miss" through my monitor.
So if anyone ever tells you that Sam has some of the hottest licks in town, on one particular afternoon, it's an indisputable fact.