What the heck are these two albums? Well, I’ll tell you…
During the era when I was spending most of my time being a dad, publishing hundreds of books and videos on audio production and music business topics, writing for magazines, or owning a magazine, I was still writing songs, but not nearly as many as I have written the past five or six years. My daughter Kelly, being on the autism spectrum, was in school until she was 21. Life was hectic at home, a divorce was in the works, I had an oldest son I was trying to get into college and a youngest son I was just trying to get out of high school. Most of the music I was getting to make each year of any significance between Ticket to Fly’s 1998 release the “Some Songs in the Key of Poe” collection was live performances, as part of Merl Saunders’ Funky Friends, or opening for Merl solo, or with a band, or even a duo once with Jorma’s brother, Peter. I got in a handful of Eugene Chadbourne shows in San Francisco, and several Haight Street Fairs, some Sweetwater, Fillmore, Maritime Hall, and Great American Music Hall shows.
I stole time away to record demos, song ideas, for better or worse, of the things that might have become the subsequent volumes to the first Lawson and Friends Vol. 1 – Ticket to Fly album. I got in a session at RCA Studio B in Nashville to record “Mystery Train,” to my delight, with an appearance on it by Vassar Clements. I got Vince Welnick over to my studio to record an extended “Why Don’t We Do it in The Road” cover.
I experimented with loops, samples, and the latest digital recording technology since I was publishing books and videos on how to use it, and the manufacturers were all too happy to give me free software licenses, software instruments, plugins of every sort, and sound libraries.
I was experimenting with strings, string sections, all kinds of things. It was fun, but it was never meant for release. Still, people said, “Hey, what happened to volumes 2 and beyond?” I was all, ok, well, I guess I will take this collection of writing demos and put them into two groups and let them escape into the wild.
I got a couple of songs used in an indie film, I was beginning to work with musicians off site via digital delivery of tracks over 20 years ago, but life was not letting me finish records and crank them out like it is now.
So, what are these two albums? They are writing demos of what might have been, taken as far as I was going to take them, too busy writing new material or getting excited about recording favorite cover songs to go back to the well with them.
“Poe” was so named because a couple of the demos were of musical ideas I had for poems he wrote, and a lot of the melancholy of the songs and era I finally put the demo collection together for release.
Outtakes and Oddities are more writing demos, and honestly, I think both of the collections are kind of fun in an oddball look at the things I was thinking over the twenty-plus years between working with a great producer as a 23-year-old kid, and hitting middle age, dusting off the cobwebs, starting life over again, and firing up the studio.
So please, listen to them with the understanding of what they are, what they represent, and enjoy. It was a nice tabula rasa purging of the hard drives to make for a clean slate for the next era, and I am glad they are out there.