*****The Audible Sigh Years*****
An historic record;
A blistering band.
A brief reminiscence.
“You pick up an instrument. You wrestle it. Then, you learn to tap the inside and turn it outward. You find your voice, your “nomenclature” for telling your part of the story…and then you start to dream a bit….”
How do you know when you’re making history?
17 years ago I made an album. It was called “Audible Sigh.” Sure: A grim title in some ways. Such had been our experience as rock & roll “band in a van” for the 2 years leading up to walking into Buddy Miller’s studio in Nashville. We were on the verge; all the variables in place, we thought. I had the songs. We were an undeniable band with years of experience on the road.. And yet, and yet…
We made a great record. In 3 weeks we recorded 21 songs.
Folks still talk about it.
Critics went nuts over it.
The whole experience changed my life.
It’s still changing it in ways I never imagined.
In some place, deep within, i will always be “walking wounded” because of those 4 years (1997-2000) with 3 of the coolest musicians in the world.
Produced by Buddy Miller & myself, it featured many a guest appearance. (Emmylou Harris, Julie & Buddy Miller, Brady Blade, & Kevin Heuer). But at the core? It was always about 4 guys. Guitarist Ken Hutson, bassist Jake Bradley, drummer Kevin Heuer and myself.
“Audible Sigh” was celebrated by many a critic as one of the best Americana records of the 90’s. It still continues to make “best of” lists.
The band was on the potential verge of it’s biggest break through.
We’d laid the foundation via diligent, heavy touring and 2-3 albums a year. We worked hard against overwhelming odds.
The 150 or so songs I’d written during this period were visceral, raw, tough, tender, full of soul, spirt and post punk energy;
And they were well-played, night after night, by Kenny, Jake, Kevin and myself.
Through 4 albums and an EP, from 1998-2001.
We made many friends. Many of them here on this newsletter.
We are still very grateful for each of you.
It was a surreal & strange 4 years. Through the albums Roof of the Sky, Audible Sigh, Electromeo, ‘Cross the Big Pond and Resplendent/Audibly “Live” what I continually hear is a band that is hungry & alive. Immediate and relevant. and giving it’s all. Our repertoire was nearly 100 songs. That’s an amazing set for any band. Each of those those gentlemen (Ken, Jake & Kevin) were, and still are, my heroes. But, looking back? I honestly think I saw the “writing on the wall,” at least far as the outcome goes. Life “owes” no one anything.
You pick up an instrument. You wrestle it. You learn to tap the inside and turn it outward. You find your voice, your nomenclature for telling your part of the story… …and then you learn and then you start to dream a bit. Then you work hard, often against insurmountable odds…and slowly you start to see, feel, believe that it could “go to the next level.” But, no one can do it all alone.
So MANY of you here on this list were there. You pulled, encouraged and prayed for us. You bought lots of records. We’re grateful.
Thank You all.
So many promises made to us from “the industry.” From labels, to managers, to booking agents. In the end? All lies. Lies characterized by incompetence & neglect; flippancy and short-views on their part. When you realize that people with small views and tin-ears are dictating your future? Well, it was bordering of nightmarish. We soldiered on a bit, post 2000, but, as I said above: the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Bands live in vans. We were on the road 200 shows a year. We laughed. We joked. We fought. Ate, drank, slept. Fought through weariness and depression. Rejoiced. Immersed in the backdrop & glory of the four seasons of this great country, we bonded. We looked after each other. We were family. And then it was gone…
Musically? I think we knew what we had was big magic. Night after night, under the most adverse, discouraging circumstances, this was a band that delivered; Delivered raw, heart-on-sleeve America-roots music with passion & spirit. Me? I rarely saw what VoL delivered equaled by any of the more “resourced,” “successful” acts.
They say life is risk. So there’s a life risked for a 4 year span. The highest elation. Filigreed with transcendent moments… and, in the end, the deepest despairs. By the end of 2001 it was in shambles and all over. Irreplaceable. To be honest? I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten over it. I’ve never put so much trusting energy into people or anything in my life. VoL ”rest in peace”
17 years down the stretch, since Audible Sigh, and I’m never sure anymore if what we do here counts for anything anymore. Is it only in our youths that there were days when all seems like a dream; but dreams real enough to be charged with a sense of purposefulness and hallowed-ness?
Never have I seen since or been part of something driven by so much hope, expectation and sheer “pluck.”
I wept inside for years after it was over.
“Perspective, old chum! For God’s sake man, pull yourself together!”
I got to write songs people still sing. I made an album that, I think, still sounds better to be in the Americana word than 99% of what passes for country-alt today.
I was allowed to “open a vein,” to invest heart & soul in each performance on every stage all across this country and in the UK.
As a band, we got to make magic, transcend a bit of time, and maybe even move to the fringes of something bordering the Eternal…
We’ve all heard of near death experiences.
Perhaps these were “near life experiences…”
Or maybe “perspective,”is dropping back to sheer material reality.
Life Good. Life bad…
Life in it’s wondrous incongruity.
Who knows? Who cares?
It’s my little part of the story
I’m proud of it all;
proud of VoL;
proud of my friends;
proud of our fans.
As the old standard goes:
Thanks for the memories…