Today, as I was on my way to Sheffield, AL to the recording studio, I was listening to a mixed cd that I had made in 2010. My nephew was in the car with me, and as a Jimi Hendrix cover of House of the Rising Sun came on, I noticed him dancing in his car seat. All of a sudden, a rush of emotions and memories came flooding back to me.
House of the Rising Sun has special meaning to me. My Pawpaw Shultz and I would sit in the den together playing that song and I would play organ while he played guitar and sang. It was also the first song he taught me on guitar. When he got sick with leukemia, I made him a video of me playing the song on guitar to send to him in Birmingham because I couldn’t visit him because of his body’s inability to fight off anything we might bring in. I remember him calling me after watching the video and him telling me with labored breaths that I needed to keep working on my F’s.
The next song that came on was Jimi Hendrix’s cover of The Star Spangled Banner. My dad loved it and wanted me to learn it. If you haven’t heard his cover, you should go listen to it. I’m not really sure how old I was, but learning to play that like Hendrix took a lot of imagination and beating around on my electric guitar. But I figured it out, and as I was driving down the road listening to this, I started laughing about the 4th of July gathering at my grandparent’s house where dad made me grab my electric guitar and my small amp and made me play the Jimi Hendrix cover of The Star Spangled Banner while he shot off fireworks.
Yes, I have a southern gospel background, like all the interviews say, but I hated every single minute of it. I didn’t get it back then. Most of my musical influence came from my dad’s classic rock influence and his brother’s heavy rock interests. My dad and I would always sing together in his red Chevy 4X4, that would later be my first vehicle. Our two favorites to sing together were Tracy Chapman’s Give Me One Reason, and Train, Train by Blackfoot. Later on, I would make a habit of sneaking into my Uncle’s closet and ultimately became a huge fan of Metallica and Alice in Chains.
That’s the cool thing about music. One song brought back all those memories of being a child and those around me who showed me how to play instruments or how to sing at the top of my lungs in a Chevy truck and seeing who could down their bottle of Sundrop the fastest, and those around me who, even though I hated it, showed me how cool Johnny Cash really was and how to be a story-teller with my music.
Today, we start the first day of recording at The Nutthouse and all of those influences have made me the musician I am today. So, today, I’m thankful for all the people in my life that have influenced me.