You can also listen to “White Port” and the rest of The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 streaming on kxt.org.
MURRY: This is NOT a pirate song, it’s a hobo song. I have a friend named Bill Daniel (check out his site) who for years has ridden freight trains as a filmmaker in order to track down the hobo artists behind hobo graffiti that you might see on train cars. He took a shot of one that stated simply “I ride the longest, hardest, fastest routes there are to ride, and all is done with style and grace and white port at my side.” It was my chorus right there. I just channeled the character of the man that wrote it — the proud cocky hobo who loves his freedom more than anything — and wrote the rest. I wanted everyone to sing at the top like it was our “Yellow Submarine” and we all had a ball doing it. We didn’t mean to sound so British in that moment, but if you listen close, we started out normal, then — yes, in our beer-fueled states of mind at that moment — we all instantly decided to yuck it up by sounded very obviously British, complete with a Johnny Rotten sneer at the end. Also — the guitar power chord that comes after that Rotten moment is played by one Audie Bethea, Ken’s boy. Family band!
MARIE: The first of Murry’s two outstanding contributions to Volume 2, “White Port” is one big ole, rollicking party! It starts with an a capella Pirate chorus, sung in their best Jack Sparrow accents, then launches into a rousing, high-energy romp, complete with some kick-ass yodeling. Yeah, I know Murry insists it’s a Hobo song, but c’mon! He uses the word “scallywag.” How much more pirate can you get, right? As evidenced in the video, clearly they’re all having as much fun playing this song as the crowd is reveling to it. The banter at the end of the track confirms it. I love that the band leaves in these spontaneous gems.
So come on all you wenches, hitch up your skirt, hoist your mug of rum and get swept up in the current. The spirit took Rhett, it’ll surely take you, too. Yodel-A-E-Hoo!
STEPHANIE: Now that I know that it’s a hobo song, I get it… but on my first listen, I heard the swashbuckly intro and lyrics like, “treasure in the silver stars,” and “no roots under my shoes,” and imagined these guys decked out in the duds of Captains Sparrow and Morgan. Whether storming the seas on a pirate ship or hitchhiking the land with a bindle stick, there is a liberating beauty in navigating the world without anchors. (Sorry, Murry, for the continued pirate references.) You know that feeling when you’re driving aimlessly in the car, the windows are down, the weather is brilliant, and you have all of the time in the world? It’s a hobo’s life, I guess, and in those rare moments, it’s nice to have a song to yodel to in celebration. This song will definitely make my next roadtrip playlist!
JEFF: If you can listen to this song within grinning, you’re a zombie. Or a Lannister. I heard about this song months before I got the chance to hear it, in a post-show parking lot discussion with Ken soon after it had been recorded. Ken called it “the pirate song” and was pretty fired up about how it had come out. When the album first arrived, I was tempted to skip straight to it. Okay, maybe I did. It’s a rollicking good time, and I think what really makes it work is that the camaraderie of the band comes through. These guys have been together so long, spent so much time in the trenches, that there’s a genuine bond, and you can you just tell they’re having a good time. That, coupled with a seasoned confidence to ham it up on tape like this, is just refreshing. And then they back it up with what is, at its core, an excellent song… hell yeah. At this point in listening to the album straight through, the entire affair just got ratcheted up a notch. Time to start thinking of new superlatives.