1. Old Chrome
I always wanted to write a song about a car, because that’s what many of my rock ‘n roll heroes did! My car song is about my own 1968 Buick LeSabre convertible. She’s blue with a white convertible top, and she is big enough to party in! The Jennings brothers are just cookin’ on drums and bass, and Mike Branton really captures the feel on guitar. A really fun tune!
2. Highway Love Song
I love riding motorcycles for the feeling of freedom it brings. It’s also a great way to retreat into your own little world, with just the soundtrack you make up in your head to accompany you on your ride. No Bluetooth devices for me! I imagined a situation where a guy goes for a trip on his bike and misses his sweetheart while he’s gone (not much of a stretch, since I always miss my honey when she’s not with me). Jeff Heisholt took this to another level with his Hammond B-3 sounds. This tune captures the feeling I get whenever I ride.
3. Memphis By Morning
My late first wife was by nature a very quiet, thoughtful person. She didn’t much care for parties or loud places. However, she could appreciate the beauty of a tranquil, quiet place better than anyone I’ve ever known. After her untimely passing, I took a trip to Memphis for a much-needed change of scenery. One morning, following a great night of music up and down Beale Street, I was sitting on a bench in W.C. Handy Park, just watching the Mississippi flow past. It was very peaceful. It then occurred to me that Liz would have hated Beale Street the night before, but would have loved this moment down by the river. And that was the essence of the song. Jeff on the Rhodes piano and Mike channelling Wes Montgomery on guitar added magic to this tune.
4. Downtown Preacher Man
The character in this song is loosely based on a highly mythicized version of my friend Mike, who loves Harleys, blues music and Jesus. He has a Master’s degree in theology and volunteers with Hamilton’s most disadvantaged souls at Wesley Urban Ministries. It’s a rockin’ little number that we all had fun playing on!
5. Independence Day
I wrote this song to celebrate my sister Ann and the occasion of her retirement. She has always lived life on her own terms, with an uncommon strength and determination. She’s worked hard all her life and has never failed to meet her responsibilities. This song celebrates that, but also expresses hope that she will spend more time chasing her dreams and enjoying all of the good things she deserves! Mike’s Chet-style fingerpicking provides the right atmosphere for telling this story.
6. She’s Got A Problem
The main character in this song is a high school girl who has no friends and is a victim of bullying and systemic isolation, courtesy of social media. This is a modern spin on a very old problem that deserves more attention and concern than it is currently getting. Carl Jennings lays down the perfect groove on bass that really drives this song!
7. Jenny And Sue
This is a song that was inspired by two amazing women I know who have been friends since they met on the school playground when they were nine years old. They’ve been there for each other through thick and thin, and this tune is a celebration of their lifelong friendship! Kevin and Carl team up to do a great background vocal, and Jeff”s piano fits just perfectly!
8. Give It To Me
This one is my shot at writing a classic “desperate man in love” song. I wanted a vintage mid-60’s feel, much like they would have done at Stax Records in Memphis. I think the guys really nailed it!
9. Little Light
This is an epic song, inspired by an epic person who is a female O.P.P. officer and a good friend of mine. She is larger-than-life and a legend among those who are lucky enough to know her. I came up with the idea one day after talking with her about life “on the job”. She loves her work and truly cares about the people who rely on her day-in-day-out. However, she admits that it’s getting more dangerous out there than it used to be. She balances these stresses and maintains an unshakeable optimism through a rewarding family life, strong religious faith and humanitarian work locally and in the developing world. She is an amazing person who deserves her own song! I pictured her being similar to the Frances McDormand character who is a cop in the movie Fargo (“In a uniform and Fargo hat out on the brave frontier”). We gave this one a gospel vibe, and Carl understood immediately what I wanted the song to convey.
10. Looking For Holes
This is a fun tune that was inspired by my old pal Lorne’s dad, Jack. Jack was an amazing character who was a Science professor at McMaster University in Hamilton. One hot summer afternoon we went back to Lorne’s place for a cold one and his dad was sitting out in a lawn chair with a pad of paper and a bottle of red wine. When we asked him what he was up to, he said he was looking for holes, which sounded odd to us. With some further prodding, he explained that he was actually looking for black holes by doing indecipherable calculations on the note pad. This involved theoretical physics and a fair bit of red wine. The character in the song has more problems than Jack ever did, but his general demeanour is spot on. This one has a slightly unusual groove that seems to suit the story. Annette Haas captures the feel on a baby grand piano, and everyone else is rockin out!
11. Company Man
This song was inspired by my dad’s family, and in particular by my grandfather, Richard Templeton. “Pop”, as we called him, seemed to us kids a very mysterious man. What I did know about him, I learned from stories my dad told me, because Pop wasn’t much for talking. He came to Canada from Scotland by himself at the age of sixteen. Even his own kids never knew much about his life in Glasgow. But there was that one Christmas when a strange man showed up at the Templeton house claiming to be Pop’s brother. Pop is reported to have said only, “I don’t know you” before sending the man on his way. He was by all accounts a very old school parent and preferred to spend time alone after the evening meal. This need to unwind could have been due to the considerable stresses caused by his position as Head Roller on a rod mill at Stelco in Hamilton. It got particularly bad during the strike of 1946, which sharply divided the community. My dad’s two older brothers crossed picket lines by taking a boat to a company dock on the waterfront. They really had no choice but to step up and help. I’m sure the higher ups pulled Pop in for a little meeting. They likely said something like, “It’s us or those commies, Rich. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this thing. Your boys are old enough to help us aren’t they?” Circumstances might have forced their hand, but my uncles would have gone through a brick wall for their dad. They always put family first, and I’ve always been proud of that. Mike Branton catches some voodoo in a bottle with his spooky slide guitar solo on this one.
12. Jealous Moon
I really wanted to write a sweet yet simple love song for my wife. I wanted it to express my feelings for her and for the amazing journey we have taken together. Mike’s guitar and Annette’s great Rhodes piano help to set the mood. The secret ingredient here was Carl on the Suzuki Omnichord!