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New Traces of the Old Road is a different recording than I have done for a number of reasons. One, outside of two drum loops, I played and sang every note on it. That wasn’t my intention at the outset, but I wanted to sketch the arrangements out just to get an idea of where they were going.
I recorded all the primary guitar and vocals first and then listened to them, in an attempt to serve the song and the recording. I then hired a wonderful bass player who came in and played on several of the tunes, but because of time constraints (and the fact that I didn’t write out exactly what I played on the guitar / bass string wise), he sort of stepped on a few of my favorite turn arounds and guitar licks. If he had had enough time and me enough money, he could have eventually nailed even the most subtle of my choices, but that is never the case is it?
After he left, I went to fix these parts myself and discovered that I liked what I was playing better, as it totally acknowledged what I was doing on the guitar, and that was the beginning of me playing everything.
It’s not something that I want to do from now on, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.
The second reason that this recording is different is that I recorded it in 2001 and released it in 2002 in time for a tour. But I always felt rushed and let some things slide that upon further reflection I wanted to fix.
So I decided that when I ran out of my second pressing, I would fix the few things that bothered me and then re release it. But once you open that pandora’s box, it’s hard to stop.
The only thing that I had intended to do was to re sequence the CD, as I felt that the second song should have been the first song and vice versa. Once that was done, I felt that the CD simply unfolded in a more logical fashion. It’s development was almost a libretto. But then I felt that the bass on the new first song, should really be an acoustic bass and not an electric bass with a pick. I changed that and that opened the entire CD up to revision.
I ended up re recording parts of eight of the songs, redoing vocals, guitar parts, percussion, and even adding some music that wasn’t there before to the beginning of the last song.
Then I had to remix eight of the eleven songs; after which I had to remaster the entire album. I know that I didn’t have to do this. The CD was well received and reviewed and continued to sell, but I just couldn’t let it go until I had it where I wanted it.
And I could still work on it some more, but enough is enough. I’m recording a new CD right now and then another All Wood and… project.
So here it is, New Traces of the Old Road:
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues is one of the two songs I sang at Bobfest at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. My old friend, Paul Zollo, invited me to perform and while I do mostly my own songs, or songs of my friends, I had never learned a song that people already knew. Consequently, I was daunted and went into the studio every day to practice. I ended up falling in love not only with this song all over again, but also with what I do as an artist. Thank you, Paulo, this album is a consequence of your invitation.
LAST DAY OF SUMMER – Written in the days following 9/11, it is dedicated to September the 10th. We were a different kind of people than who we became on September 11th, and I wanted to commemorate this change. I tried to use the most mundane images I could to convey the simplicity and trust that was lost on that day, which was the last day of innocence for our generation. When I was growing up, killing unarmed, innocent people when they weren’t looking was called cowardice. This song is for all the victims — those gone and those who still remain.
One Heart Falling ricocheted off of the old zen koan, what is the sound of one hand clapping? I spun this song, just my own little koan, while rolling along the roads of a more innocent America, on a long driving tour. The road becomes hypnotic and the signs begin to form themselves into songs…
Most Likely You Go Your Way, I’ll Go Mine is another of my favorite songs by Dylan and one I forgot about til I started to sing it for the Bobfest. I hope that Dylan, in his supreme indifference, will forgive the enormous liberties I took with this song.
Stolen Season was inspired by the consequences of life’s rich pageant and something that evidently everyone experiences at least once if their lives… if they’re lucky. I was sitting on the balcony of a hotel on the Sea of Cortez when this floated out of the ether and out of my guitar. From the heart, this is one of my favorite songs to sing.
Harris Creek Shuffle is just something that came to me while I was warming up before a show I did for Kelly Murphy at her Harris Creek Acoustic Concert Series in Virginia. I always play for an hour or two before I go on, to get me to that musical place. This instrumental just showed up at Kelly’s while I was playing. Thanks Kelly.
James Lee Stanley
James Lee Stanley Music, BMI 2008
Long Way From Home is a song that showed up as I was reminiscing about old friendships, trust, betrayal and disappointment. It’s a song to my early years in Los Angeles and the gang up on Woodrow Wilson: Bonnie, Scott, Vince, Laurie and Danny, Timothy and Jean, but mostly for Danny. I recorded a very up tempo version of this song on the duet CD Two Man Band Two, that I did with the wonderful Michael Smith of Chicago, but this is the original way the song was formed.
Stop This Rain came about because of a tough time that my wife, Eveline, was having. All things seemed equally dark for her and she could see nothing positive on the horizon. Being the eternal optimist, I couldn’t even conceive of such a view, so I tried to put myself in her shoes… it was a tight fit, darlin’, but worth it.
Too Many People came to me as I was sitting in the interminable jam on the New Jersey Turnpike before the Holland Tunnel, waiting to get into New York City. Got so frustrated, I just gave up and went to Nyack instead. Lovely town. Most of the song showed up as I was driving down the main drag towards the Hudson River. Cynical, but what a fun song to sing.
Just Let It Go was written for my friend, Derek, truly a friend when I needed one. He was struggling with the changes that too often come to the heart; and the acrimony that sometimes shows up in those dark emotional times. I started out with a little optimistic rhythm and just two chords and then got carried away with overdubbing. I was using Fleetwood Mac as my road map here, and I really love this song, this track and this mix. It just feels great to me. And it further helped me thru some rough times as well. Hope it does so for you.
Anywhere Love Goes was originally recorded for my Midnight Radio album that came out in 1980. It was a piano song and I had never played around with it on the guitar, but this version is my favorite now. And it’s a fitting end to the journey that this recording has taken. Here I am, back on the road, following my heart and wishing you the same, plus in the end, it was really time to reintroduce my signature optimism.