I read Laura Hillenbrand's book Seabiscuit, one of my all time favorites, around 2003. Amidst the tales of unlikely triumph there are descriptions of the hard life of jockeys in that era, and in particular, the life of Tommy Luther and his wife (of 72 years!) Helen. The tragedy and adventure in their lives rivaled those of the true-life characters in "Lydia" and "Breakfast in Hell," from the Broke Down album. So I wrote a songRead More
Slaid Cleaves - Ghost on the Car Radio
produced by Scrappy Jud Newcomb
recorded by David Boyle at Churchhouse, East Austin, Texas
mixed and mastered by Fred Remmert, Austin, Texas
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI
Young love breaks like a wave on the shoreline
A rolling crash and it's gone
Swirling around and around in the chaos
Gathering strength just to move on
June 23, 2017. Well, the day has finally arrived. Ghost on the Car Radio is loosed upon the world.
We get asked from time to time, "Which buying option is best for the artist?"
We did a little research on that and came up with these figures:
Buying a CD directly from slaid.com puts about $14 into our pockets, which will go towards paying off the expense of making and promoting the album:
This story was first posted on slaid.com in 1998.
We were tired. Charles “King” Arthur and I had just done a quick sound check for an afternoon show at the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The rooms we had requested didn’t come through, so we just sat in the car on Main Street, staring through the windshield. It was our default location.
This would be our tenth show in the past eleven days. We had left Austin, Texas, in my ’74 Dodge Dart Sport, driving straight over to Florida, then up the coast to Vermont before heading south that morning for RI. We had seen our share of bland, sterile chain motels in the last two weeks, and the thought of driving around to find one more was not agreeing with me. We were so used to hurrying along on this tour that we didn’t know what to with this moment of inaction, so we just sat in the car and stared ahead.Read More
This story was originally published in Lone Star Music.
I was 9 years old the day I sat down next to Rod Picott on the school bus. We hit it off right away, two sensitive artist types in a little dairy farm and shoe factory town an hour north of Boston. I recall our first conversation being pretty exotic, considering our location: something about wanting to be actors when we grew up. We were buddies for a few years, riding our Schwinns to each other’s houses, less than a mile away, playing Beatles records and spinning our Evil Knievel action figures down the driveway. Although we bonded over our shared interests and our low social status in school, we were quite different as well. I was the teacher’s pet and Rod was the rebel. I was precociously bright and eager to learn but not yet able to think critically. Rod was intimidatingly intelligent, small-town stifled, and way ahead of his time. I recall a few years later, as I started sixth grade, I was watching Happy Days and enjoying “Love Will Keep Us Together” on the radio while Rod was into Monty Python and Born to Run. This was in 1975 and he was in the grade behind me. He was not only way ahead of the other kids in our school, he was ahead of most of the adults in South Berwick, Maine.Read More
I’ve built up a motley collection of stray recordings over the years – demos, early versions, out-takes, live tracks, obscure covers, etc. – and I thought it’s high time I start releasing the more interesting items.
OK, maybe I’m stalling for time here while trying to come up with enough new songs for a new album. But I do hope some of my fans might find these interesting. This will be the first of an expected handful of volumes.Read More
Cold and lonely. That’s how I started my nine-month adventure in Ireland. I’ve told the gist of this story many times – it comes up when I’m explaining how I got my start in the music business – so I might as well write it all down. I got my start as a street singer – a “busker” is what they call it over there – in Cork City on November 18, 1985. How did I end up in Ireland? Well, I’ll tell you.
I was following a girlfriend. She dumped me on the plane.Read More
You’re not going to believe this story. But it’s true. I was there. I kind of wish it hadn’t happened when it did. I’d appreciate it even more if it had happened more recently.
In the late 1990’s, I was headed up to Nashville for a gig at the Bluebird and some time with my old buddy, Rod Picott. Karen dropped me off at the Austin airport that afternoon and I stood in line to check in. After Karen drove off, it occurred to me that I’d left my guitar at home. Oh, well. I’ll use Rod’s. It’s always stressful trying to get a guitar on board anyway. At the ticket counter I was informed that my flight would be seriously delayed. The plane had hit a large bird on its approach to Austin, and the nose cone was damaged. They were flying a new plane in. It would be a few hours. I could rebook on a flight through Dallas, but it would get to Nashville at about the same time as the delayed direct flight. American would buy me dinner if I wanted to wait for the original flight. Free dinner! Woo-hoo! I was a seriously struggling musician at the time and I’d gladly wait a few hours to get a free meal. So I called Karen, had her bring my guitar to the airport, bought a Time magazine and went to get my free dinner. The gig wasn’t till the next day, so I was perfectly happy.Read More
“Is that your real name?” I‘ve heard that question, oh, several hundred times I guess. The first time, the phrase was not in question form: “That’s not your real name; that’s your nickname. Richard is your real name.” This came from Mrs. McLean on the first day of first grade, and it pissed me off. It was my first encounter with fill-in-the-form bureaucracy. (How many times have you been asked for your middle name on a government or company form?) I had been writing S-l-a-i-d on all my drawings and finger paintings for about a year now, and I’d never been called Richard a day in my life. I didn’t know how to spell Richard, and I didn’t want to know. I knew what a nickname was, and I knew that Slaid was my real name.Read More
1. Don’t believe the people who say you are good. Listen to the people who tell you where you are failing. You have to learn to be extremely hard on yourself in order to continually improve, or else you’ll just end up playing in your room. Everyone wants to be a musician, but only the ones who are self-critical, work the hardest, and stay with it the longest will succeed.Read More
A conversation last week where my wife Karen works:
Jim, Karen’s co-worker: “How’s Slaid?”
Karen: “He’s in jail.”
Jim: “For what?”
Jim: (Shocked) “What drug?”
Karen: “Anti-fungal.” Karen has a good poker face, and Jim is now rather confused.
“Time For A Haircut.” That phrase struck fear in my heart for many years. I’ve only had two professional haircuts in my life, and both were disappointments. My mom took me to get my first haircut when I was 3 or 4, I guess. And she hated it, for some reason. So she cut my hair for the next 14 years. And I hated it each time. I’d put it off as long as I could. I preferred having long hair, even though I was almost always mistaken for a girl. I identified with the hippies, for some reason, and wanted to look like one of the Beatles, not Homer Price, which is what you looked like when you got home from Reo’s Barbershop. I was so vain, still am I guess, that I would avoid the haircut till I was forced into the chair, the sheet tied around my neck, my little brothers gathered around watching. My mom would coo about how handsome I was. When the orderal was over, I’d look in the mirror and be horrified, every time. I don’t know why. I think it was just the trauma of my image changing, however subtly, that threatened my fledging sense of self. I would cry and complain that my mom took off too much. I’d wear a knit hat for a few days. Then I’d feel bad for my mom—she did her best, with love, and all I did was complain, ungrateful. I felt guilty and vain.Read More
It’s hard for me to even image the devotion I felt for rock & roll as a youngster. It was a cause to live and die for. I remember driving my rustbucket, slant 6 Duster 15 miles of winding back roads through 8 inches of snow to make band practice in the basement of Mark Deeley’s parents’ house in Rochester, New Hampshire. I was 17. The drummer didn’t show up that night (intelligently, in hindsight), and I took that to mean he was not committed to this band. It was a cover band, practicing in a basement, gearing up to getting work in the local hotel lounges and Asian restaurants and bowling alleys. I would do anything for that band. One of our first gigs was a wedding, some relative of Mark’s. In the hall I was approached by an important looking man. He had an air of confidence about him. I had my leather pants on. He introduced himself as the owner of one of the big clubs in town, Club Victoire. They had bands every weekend. He would hire us if I would do him a favor, help him out of a jam. No, it’s nothing illegal. He told me about his problem. His daughter was in charge of the senior prom, which was two weeks away. Her boyfriend had just dumped her (“and if I ever get my hands on him . . .”) And if I would escort this young lady to her prom (tux and dinner—taken care of) he would give my band a gig at his club. I didn’t hesitate.Read More
First, have your uncles sneak into the town dump and haul out a used 250 gallon heating oil tank. Then have your neighbor cut it in half with his arc welder. Buy them all a case of Genesee Cream Ale.
Order a crate of lobsters from a local lobsterman. If you invite him to the clam bake he will probably give you “boat price.” Call up some cousins and friends to help with the clam digging and wood carrying. Borrow Dad’s pickup to haul a couple of loads of scrap wood from the neighbor who has the saw mill.Read More