It’s here! The new CD is out and ready to be heard.
A Hand Full Of Songs
Recorded at Studio Litho, Seattle WA, and engineered by Floyd Reitsma (Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Noah Gundersen), with a team of longtime friends and collaborators – Orville Johnson (acoustic guitar, dobro), Mark Ettinger (acoustic bass), Jon Parry (fiddle), Grant Dermody (harmonica), and Barry Sless (acoustic guitar).
“If there’s something to say about Jim Page’s music it’s the vital relevance of the man’s lyrics. This is raw and visceral Americana folk with bite. Taking a sometimes acerbic view of politics, looking perceptively at relationships, observing what’s going on, speaking out against mediocrity or simply telling stories that make you sit up and listen. This is music with social awareness. Unafraid to employ sarcasm, mockery and sharpness of wit to make the point. The scope is wide, the subjects varied but each is treated to the Page world-view and they are the better for it.”
– Tom Franks, Folkwords.com
— Notes On the Songs in this Collection —
How they came about, what difference do they make.
Questions and Answers
My father, to avoid disagreement, would say “Nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong, everybody just has an opinion.” But as anyone who’s ever been to an auto mechanic knows sometimes there actually is only one right answer. But we can all relax because finding the answer leads to another question, so nobody gets to be right or wrong for very long. And that’s what this song is about. Also realizing that you’ve been with the same person for a long time and you like it.
Put It Down
For Richard and Helga who own a house in San Francisco that I get to stay in sometimes. I have a favorite window there where I can see out to the ocean and watch the neighborhood go by below. Sometimes I’ll take the guitar out and get a groove going, and a chord pattern, and start singing. In this case what I sang emerged from the fence around the neighbor’s yard, a police siren, and a playground at the top of the hill. When I realized what I trying to say I called it a song.
This is a new twist on an old song from 1971. I had a nasty landlord back then who was putting all the rent money up his nose. The mortgage company was going to repossess the house for lack of payment. I wrote the song on the city bus and sang it at his music venue that same night. He was tending bar and I made sure he heard it. We left before he had a chance to respond. I wanted to rewrite it, to expand it’s scope, improve the music, and bring it up to date. The landlord is not only a person but also an historical idea. We are all molded by our paradigm.
338 Dollars Behind
For Karen Lee Batts. They had a real hard winter in Portland, Oregon, in 2017, and some people didn’t make it. The song speaks for itself, and anything else I could add would be too much.
Jim Hinde sang at the Pike Place Market for 20 years. He was my friend, and I got to watch him evolve from a novice with a guitar to a force to be reckoned with. He was a busker, a street performer, and he treated it like a job with all the responsibility and honor that that word entails. He died in 2008 and it seemed like the whole city came out to pay their respects. This song could have been a lot longer but I decided to focus on the part where he used the immediate dynamics of busking to deal with his PTSD demons and to create a life for himself and his family. The song is a nod to Jim and to the craft of street performing.
As the Wheel Spins
It was a stormy night at Alki, in West Seattle, and I was out in an RV with my guitar. The rain was blowing against the metal body and I started playing to it, giving it something to sing into. It’s a song about life and the arc that it takes across the skies of our history. About getting older and settling into yourself. And about how the right person at the right time can make all the difference, even if they don’t even know it.
Nothing Rhymes With Orange
When tRump got elected a lot of people wouldn’t even say his name. They called him “Cheeto Face” or “The Orange One.” The actual positioning of the baby tycoon into US presidential power was a severe disconnect, a stunning assault on sanity. An “alt reality” was born. Some people say that there are no rhymes for the word “orange.” In that sense the disconnected word becomes a symbol of the disconnected reality.
This is my reinterpretation of “Deportees,” the great Woody Guthrie song about how America treats its migrant workers. In this case it’s about how America treats the civilian victims of it’s wars. As an adjective “collateral” is defined as “additional but subordinate; secondary.” As a noun “damage” is “physical harm caused to something in such a way as to impair its value, usefulness, or normal function.” These people are not collateral and they are not damaged. They are dead human beings. It is our right and duty to re-sensitize ourselves, so as not to be the tools of orchestrated political murder.
Masters Of Lies
I wanted to write new lyrics to Masters Of War, the great Dylan classic. But I don’t sing like that and I don’t feel like that, so the melody morphed into something related but different. The tune that Dylan used was a traditional English ballad as sung by Jean Richie. I turned it into what I would call Attitude Folk, sung directly to the people who think they run things.
Shadow In the Room
A song about those blind spots. Some are massive and work on a nationally mythic scale, some are small and personal but no less lethal. There are institutions whose purpose is to hone those blind spots into marshal formations so that we may behave as the cogs of a great machinery without knowing it. The story is set to a gentle lilting melody, all the better to give contrast and definition to the shadow in the room.
My Old Home Town
This started as two guitar pieces, one that introduced the other. It wanted words and I wanted a memory of orchards and summer in the little lanes where I grew up. It doesn’t say much, it just remembers and gives acceptance to people who move on. Like I did.
Same Train, Different Track
I only saw Merle Haggard once, at a little country picnic outside of Eugene, OR. Red white and blue coolers, hot dogs, families and kids, the whole nine yards. He had the best band on the planet and the best voice in all the world of country music. He was from Oildale, near Bakersfield, grew up in a converted box car, and I tried to put some of that into the song. It’s real simple, just a glance at a passing singer.
For Michael O Connolly who I met one night outside a coffee house in San Jose in 1967. He was playing a borrowed guitar, and singing Shady Grove, an old mountain song which is about both a person and a place. The way he played it was like something I had never heard before – an endless magical pattern that conjured landscapes. I learned that lick as best I could and played it for years, slowly mutating it into other forms until it became this. Reflecting but not mirroring, related but not a twin. In the original song it says “I wish I had a big white horse with hay to feed him on; Shady Grove to stay at home and feed him when I’m gone.” I don’t think we should talk like that anymore, so I say, “I wish I had a big white horse with shoulders deep and wide; Shady Grove along with me, around the world we’d ride.” It’s the folk process.
There may be a hidden track on the edge of the disc, but until the technology exists to access it we will never know for sure.