To begin, the album took about a year to finish, from writing to final production. Ultimately, I think it describes a period of thawing out from a pretty deep depression. The loss of several family members, a big move from Illinois to Oregon to live closer to my sisters after graduating from college to begin processing a lot of dark stuff that was hanging over me. So this album was a product of that time, of coping, thawing and trying to navigate my way back to somewhere that would hopefully be a lot healthier.
There were a few years there–the late 60’s and early 70’s–when underground FM radio thrived in Chicago. FM was new then, not yet corporate, and it offered, on weak frequencies, some very eclectic and adventurous broadcasting. I’d stay up late at night and record from the radio—musicians I’d never heard, but who fascinated me: Sibelius, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Skip James, Ornette Coleman, Doc Boggs. The tapes had no genre boundaries or even taste parameters, really–half the time I didn’t even know if I exactly liked the stuff I was recording. I didn’t yet have enough musical context to fully appreciate it. But I craved the soundscapes the tapes created. Avant garde and folk musics seemed much the same to me. It was all musical texture—fresh and new, especially the stuff that was old.
Sometimes a song writes itself, coming from the depths of an unexpressed desire or loss, guided by the mysterious forces of nature. “West Coast Blues” is a story of grieving, mixed with a touch of sunshine, exploring the gray area we call being human.
Seemingly unnaturally bound to an almost comically ignorant lover the story of Tin Spurs would start unraveling itself to me like Orpheus’ melodies echoing back from a once true and vibrant love of life and those I had shared it with.