Nasty Man was a fun CD to record, and it’s about good time blues music with an emphasis on story songs where the main character often finds himself in embarrassing situations that he must try to resolve. The CD is also about using those songs to showcase my guitar playing, but on every song I think the meaning of the lyrics is more important than how flashy I might play. The parts musically were arranged so that the parts the various instruments play don’t get in the way of each other, and I paid special attention to making sure that none of the lead guitar fills cover up any of the vocal lines in each song. I play all the guitar and keyboard stuff on the CD. The keyboard parts are interesting in that I didn’t midi two keyboards together. Instead, I would play a keyboard part using a regular grand piano sound, and then I’d go back and play again the exact part using a Fender Rhodes piano sound, so, the keyboard sound is a blend between the grand piano sound and the Fender Rhodes piano sound.
1. I Want Me a Nasty Woman: I wrote this 12 years ago with Richard Fleming, and it was a fun song to write, we wanted to keep it light and a little humorous. I suppose we all like to get naughty every now and then, so we wanted to put out this image of “I’m a nasty guy looking for someone who is as nasty or naughty as I am.” The picture of the nasty woman portrayed in the lyrics is a little comical, reminding us we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously.
2. Allergic to Mink: This song was written by Gary Erwin, also known as Shrimp City Slim who lives in Charleston, and who is active in the Low Country Blues Society. The blues singer, Wanda Johnson first recorded it, and I took the song and made some minor changes to it to shape the lyrics more towards a man’s point of view. The song re-affirms that old fashioned values still reign supreme, that tenderness and sincerity are much more important to the overwhelming majority of women, than finding a man with a fat wallet. After all, money can’t buy you love, so the saying goes. The lead guitar track was particularly hard to play, as it was really easy for the lead guitar to be too busy and flashy, the way the music parts were arranged, but I finally managed to come up with lead guitar fills and a solo that plays in the holes left by the different musical parts.
3. Don’t Argue In the Kitchen: I heard this idea first from Al Pearson, the drummer who played in the band, Garfeel Ruff, with me in the 70s. Seems he had some personal experience, so the advice was real. Again, a good-time fun song about a potentially serious situation. Suppose you have a jealous lover and you’re hungry, one might want to consider eating at a lot of drive-through fast food restaurants, (grin) I enjoyed the opportunity on lead guitar to play that fusion blues jazz style that I use often where I combine influences of Django Rhinehart with B. B. King. Incidentally, this was the last solo I recorded on the CD, and it took me only about ten minutes to record it. The lead piano solo I enjoyed playing also, my thoughts being what would my brother, Ronnie have done if he were doing it. I consider Ronnie to be a very innovative soloist.
4. Heart On Fire: This song was also written about 12 years ago. Alligator Records put it on hold for Lonnie Brooks to record for a while, so I suspected this was a song that folks might pay attention to. Us guys always want to move too fast in a new relationship, with our raging hormones leading us on, but, as the song says if you take things slow, you often can get the love you want. I like the opposites of cold feet, and heart on fire. Also, spent a lot of time placing the ad libs between Shaun Murphy, Angel Rissoff and myself so that they don’t step on each other, and the guitar solo never gets in the way of the ad libs. The lead guitar plays solos that are memorable, not just a bunch of licks so I’m happy with the over-all effect that was achieved.
5. When You’re Cool (the Sun Shines All the Time): This is another lighthearted song about how having a positive attitude can get you through bad times. It was written by Gary Nicholson, Kevin Welch, and Hank DeVito in the mid 80s, and first recorded by Chris Daniels. I raised the key of the song to give the vocals more power and emphasis. It’s a song that’ll make you tap your feet and smile. As a blind person sunglasses are significant to me. I wear them when I play onstage, since I can’t make eye contact with the audiences. Don Wise plays some really hip saxophone stuff, a throwback to horn playing in the 50s. Again, I wanted the musical parts to blend in a way so that the parts didn’t get in the way of each other, and the vocals really need to be showcased in this song. During the mix, I erased several of the guitar fills cause they were just too busy, covering up some of the vocal lines. I especially like the rhythm guitar part in the verses staying out of the way of the bass guitar, and then in the choruses, having it go down low playing along with the bass, it makes the song build in the choruses, thus, accentuating the title idea of the song.
6. Don’t Get Your Honey Where You Get Your Money: Too often I see guys chase after women for the wrong reason, perhaps it’s an ego boost for them, but quite often the result is disasterous. Actually, in this song which I wrote a few months ago, the man in the song is not chasing after his boss, he’s just trying to do a good job at work, but when overtures from his boss causes him to give in to his passions, he loses everything. This song was partially inspired by the actions of a couple of friends of mine who ended up getting in bad relationships, without thinking the consequences beforehand. The lyrics, I think are well crafted, with a lot of literary devices used, puns, opposites, internal rhymes, alliteration, associated words to the title, Etc. The music is sparse, which gives the vocals room to breathe. In the solo section, the song really shifts gears, it reminds me of the kind of energy Jimi Hendrix put out in some of his solo sections of songs.
7. Fool’s Way Out: This song is about a fellow who just doesn’t exercise self control in his personal life, and he pays the price for it, losing the woman he says he really loves. Some of the rhyming words in it are unusual, though, the subject of the song is familiar, some unique images are conjured up by some of the lines. If you’re constantly in pursuit of pleasure, one will pay the price if they neglect the loved one in their life. Musically, the guitar solo in it is one of my favorites, very melodic I thought. On the rhythm guitar part, I played one part with a chorus effect on it, and then went back and played the exact same thing with a different more distorted guitar sound. Interesting too, is that the rhythm guitar parts are playing an A minor chord, while the organ part is playing A Major. Normally this really clashes, but in this case it works, I think providing extra tension in the song.
8. Good Night To Drink: In country music writers are told to never write a positive drinking song. So, of course, I decided to be rebellious on this one. After all, drinking can be fun and stress reducing, if handled responsibly. The song is about a fellow who doesn’t have a care in the world, he just wants to forget about his stress at work, and go out and do some drinking on the weekend. The kind of experience he has is the kind of night guys brag about. I especially like the line, “I had a stiff screwdriver, she had a fuzzy navel, foreshadowing the next verse to come. The lead guitar solos I especially enjoyed doing, I felt like a horn player like Benny Goodmann really swinging, that jazz blues fusion style makes me feel good to do.
9. Johnny Jones: This was the last song I wrote for the CD, a tribute to Nashville based blues guitarist, Johnny Jones, and the songs he played on, and the performers he worked with, all who ought to be remembered. Johnny was also an early influence on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar development, as Jimi used to jam with Johnny in the Nashville clubs in the early 1960s. Nashville is known for country music but in the late 1950s and 60s it was an R & B center as well, and I think more attention needs to be paid to that. On the lead guitar track, I intentionally play some of Johnny Jones’ guitar licks as well as several unpredictable blues riffs of my own.
10. Let’s Get Busy: I started writing this song with Doug Jones about seven years ago, and I wanted a Stevie Wonder-like dance song on my CD, mixed with the blues, which I think I achieved, as the solos are written in a 12’bar blues format. I wrote most of the song on a greyhound bus in August, 2010, and while traveling, the lines came so fast to me I could hardly write them down before another line came into my mind. I sent it to Doug, and he came up with three additional lines, which finished off the song nicely. The song is about a guy who sees a girl dance and is hypnotized by her body movements, really being turned on by her. Naturally, he wants to be part of the action, and so he lets her know his feelings, usually a good thing to do in my opinion. Of course, again this guy like the guy in other songs is carried away by his impulses, and he’s honest about it. It’s a dance song, really, and re-enforces the idea that no one should ever underestimate the power of dancing when it comes to bringing people together. Angel Rissoff does a great job of singing with me on it, revving up the song with his enthusiastic vocals. I like the flashy keyboard solo I played which opens before the sax solo of Don Wise, who plays entirely in the diatonic scale, a little unusual for that kind of song. Incidentally, the lead guitar track I did in one take, and then I punched in erasing a couple of weak phrases from that first take, so, it took me only five minutes to record the solo going through my Korg A2 effects box.
11. Help Yourself To Me: I wrote this in 2008, also on a greyhound bus, and it’s just a good old R & B song, but I used guitar for the solo instrument, instead of saxophone. It’s a self help song, the guy is almost pleading with the lady to stop hurting herself, and “help yourself to me” the guy is gonna treat her right, with romance, loyalty, attention to her needs, this woman is so fine she deserves some happiness, in the words of the song, and she needs to give herself permission to enjoy that happiness. My brother, Ronnie and his wife, Kim Morrison Godfrey do a great soulful job on background vocals on this song, and it’s a great finger poppin’ dance song, old classic soul music really!
12. It Can Happen To You: This is simply just good old rock & roll, which will never die. The whole track feels really good, like a Rolling Stones song, simple and effective. I wrote this song with Richard Fleming about 10 years ago, and then we kind of forgot about it. But, I thought with these economic hard times it was a good time to bring it out and for it to be recorded. The song is about a man who had a run of bad luck, but then suddenly he finds true love, with the lesson being, “with all the bad luck I’ve had, if I can find happiness, then so can you.” The bridge especially applies to the frustration many feel today, “deep in debt, refrigerator’s bare, no insurance, yeah, I’ve been there.” There are many Americans who make too much money for them to be given government insurance, but they don’t make enough money to be able to afford their own, a real problem for a lot of my friends. But, as the song says, “things will get better, good and bad luck runs in cycles. I like the lead piano track, which sets up, I think, a tasteful guitar solo that doesn’t step on the vocals. The vocals have a hint of enthusiastic desperation, especially the last couple of lines of the song, but it causes the CD to end on a positive note.