On Songwriting: Deal with the Devil

To me, the inspiration photo for Deal with the Devil perfectly suits the song. But it didn’t initiate the songwriting process. Rather, it was a bang-on prefect fit for the song I’d written (almost completely) at the time I went searching through photos from the Farm Security Information and Department of War Information archives. There […]

On songwriting: The Lesson of Gethsemane (with video)

When I started writing songs in earnest, I had a singular ambition. I aspired to write an album that would be as moving on first listen and as multifaceted on the hundredth as Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska had been for me. I never actually seriously expect that I might–until The Lesson of Gethsemane. There’s no one […]

Origin of a song: By fours and fives and sixes (with video)

Yes, the inspiration photo of folks arriving at Ellis Island in 1907 is perfectly evocative of my own family history. Lyrics: With what little he had my great granddad bet big on a new country When he stepped on a ship from a stone staircase in Southern Italy To first set foot on what he […]