Archive for 2012

Too Far To Care Track 06 – “Melt Show”

“The genesis of the Old 97’s can be traced back to the Marquita Courts apartment complex in Dallas’ Lower Greenville neighborhood. Murry and I had been collaborating for years, but it wasn’t until Ken Bethea moved into the apartment across from Murry’s that the pieces of this particular band began to fall into place. We heard him playing the accordion through the door, caught a peek of a beat up old Harmony Rocket hollow body guitar, and knew that….”


Hook ‘Em Horns!

September 7, 2012

On August 25th, the word went out to Austinites to don their orange Longhorn garb and head to The Speakeasy bar for an early morning promo shoot featuring Old 97’s. The capacity crowd was treated to a mini-concert and multiple takes of a Longhorn-friendly tweaked version of State of Texas.

For those of you lucky enough to live within the Longhorn viewing area, you’ve probably seen the finished product already. For the rest of us, here ya go!


You can read all about the experience via Sarah Thurmond of Austin Monthly here.

Track 07 – “Streets of Where I’m From”

I wrote “Streets Of Where I’m From” when I was 26 years old. Everything was changing. I felt adrift. The line, “I’m well past 25” was meant as the most inside of jokes — just for me. I was barely past 25, after all. Nowadays, when I sing it, I can’t help but think of just how far I now am past 25. This essay will post on my 42nd birthday, which means I am now 17 years past that golden, tumultuous age. A sort of geographical prescience is at work in this song as well. It turns out I was headed west, although… CONTINUE READING on RHETT’s SITE

Special edition TFTC vinyl can be pre-ordered NOW.


Track 09 – “Just Like California”

“Just Like California” is a simple fantasy about being in love with a girl named Clementine who lived in California until the San Andreas Fault gave way, dropping the whole state into the Pacific Ocean. There must be a million songs based on that premise, right?

California carries such a weight of mythology. I don’t know whether I’ve written more songs about it or Chicago, but… CONTINUE READING on RHETT’s SITE


Track 10 – “Curtain Calls”

I wrote “Curtain Calls” while visiting my brother in Colorado. He lived in Breckenridge at the time, and my sister and I made the trek out to see him in the summer of 1996. One night, we went to a local nightclub and made the scene. As so often happens with nights like that, I came home feeling lonely. So many people, so much mirth, and yet, in the end, we are all alone. After everyone else had gone to bed, I sat out on the back porch beneath one of the biggest skies I’d ever seen and wrote “Curtain Calls.” Like so many songs I was writing at the time, it dealt with the allure of the itinerant life of a musician, the life onto which I was embarking, and the strong ambivalence I felt about it.

An unrelated memory:
“Curtain Calls” was almost the last song I ever wrote. The next day, my brother and a few of his friends were planning to kayak down a river with rapids classified as “Class C,” whatever that was. He asked if my sister and I would like to use his neighbor’s aluminum canoe and join them. It sounded like fun and he assured us that it was no big deal. I won’t drag the story out, but suffice it to say it was, in fact, a big deal. The aluminum canoe hit a rock on the first batch of rapids, and sprang a god-awful leak. There was no bank on either side of the river and I repeatedly had to drag a sinking canoe to whatever purchase I could find while my little sister clung desperately to its bow, the river pulling at her in a terrible game of tug of war. The bright spot? This was back in my days of smoking, and every time we perched atop a rocky outcropping to regroup, I’d unzip the glacine baggie in which I’d been clever enough to secure my Camel Lights and furtively suck down nicotine. My sister and I now laugh about our close call that day, but I think my brother still feels lousy. Maybe he should.

Bonus Question:
Mason jars make an appearance in this song. I’m a big fan. What other of my songs feature Mason jars? And to what similar use as in “Curtain Calls”?


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Track 12 – “House That Used To Be”

“I am going to tell the truth, even though I might be excoriated for doing so. I wrote this song with the assistance of a Rhyming Dictionary. It was a goof. I gave myself a challenge: make a list of rhyming, two-syallable words, compound words or phrases that sounded juicy and turn that list into a song. “Graveyard/Co-starred,” “Corn silk/Spilt milk,” “Quaaludes/Corkscrewed,” etc…

At the time, I had recently moved into the only house in which I have ever lived truly by myself. With the Elektra advance, I bought a fantastic stereo system that I still use to this day, and rented a big two bedroom house a block off of White Rock Lake. Suddenly, I felt very alone. And this list of weird-sounding phrases (“Freight Trains/Great Danes”) built itself into a perfectly reasonable lament one night around 3 a.m.

Moral of the story: There are no rules.

Use a Rhyming Dictionary; Rewrite all the lyrics to a Dylan song; Put the word “Old” in your band’s name.

Just make sure it feels right in your heart.



Track 11 – “Niteclub”

“During the year or two leading up to the recording of Too Far To Care, I was living with a young woman who was poised and destined to move to New York City to pursue her dream. And then she did move. And the fuel that her departure provided my young songwriting machine burned hot indeed.

I remember writing this song, or its lyrics anyway, in a phone booth in a nightclub in Cleveland. It was her 22nd birthday, and I was not with her. But I was where I was meant to be. The crocodile tears I’ve cried could end the drought in Texas.

When I sing “Niteclub” these days, I marvel at its prescience. The nightclub did steal my youth. And the nightclub does follow me around, unchanging and eternal. And while I’m busy loving my job, I’m also lamenting the life it precludes. You know, the normal life? The 9 to 5?

One lyric in particular has evolved in a sad, marvelous way. When I wrote “telephones make strangers out of lovers,” I was looking at a pay phone (remember those?), and thinking how the false connection it provided served only to increase the emotional distance between lovers. Now, when I sing the song, I look out over the audience and it only takes a moment of searching the crowd to find a couple standing side by side, both looking at their phones. These days, the telephone makes strangers out lovers who are in the same room.

Bonus question: Name the nightclubs in which the Old 97’s have performed over the years that have since, in fact, burned down.

Hint: I think two were located in Madison.



Get over to Omnivore Recordings now!

Omnivore Recordings will honor the 15th Anniversary of Too Far To Care with a series of special editions. Produced by Wally Gagel (Folk Implosion, Sebadoh, etc.) and featuring guest artists, Jon Rauhouse and Exene Cervenka, Too Far To Care has become a classic of the alt-country genre. The 2-CD set includes the remastered original album plus four session outtakes on disc one and a second disc of original pre-album demos featuring some never-before-heard Old 97’s songs! Additionally, a 2-LP set of the original album, makes its vinyl debut, with the four session outtakes, which are also on disc one of the CD. The first pressing of 1,500 will be released as a limited edition on translucent aqua-colored vinyl with an open-ended black vinyl pressing to follow.

A second single-LP and digital album, called They Made A Monster: The Too Far To Care Demos, carries all the demos from disc two of the CD. This album will have a first-run, limited-edition pressing of 1,500 on translucent yellow vinyl, with an open-ended black vinyl pressing to follow. The demos album includes a download card and is available separately as a digital album.



Pre-order yours today>