Roots and Branches

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Roots and Branches

Track List

    1. Driving from Calgary 4:12
    2. Famous Blue Raincoat 5:36
    3. Life in the Fifties 3:13
    4. Till There Was You 2:24
    5. Mack the Knife 3:05
    6. Anybody’s Girl 4:36
    7. The Illustrated Man 3:32
    8. Lucky’s Cafe 5:23
    9. Medley: Travelin’ Man / Travelin’ / Know You Rider 16:38

About Roots and Branches

Bobby Darin’s cover of “Mack the Knife” took the country by storm in 1959 and I was there as my dad shaved listening to WBBM in Chicago.  I was six and I loved music.  I used to make up patriotic hymns and stirring military anthems on the spot while playing with my army men up in my bedroom, which is what boys did in the 50’s. That, and Tonka trucks (“made for boys, boys just like you!”), shovels, digging in the dirt in the back yard, reading “Steve the Steam Shovel”.  That was my life in the fifties.

My dad’s record collection included Louis Armstrong, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Mitch Miller (who knew he was such an asshole!), and “The Music Man,” which I liked the best, except maybe for Hirt’s “Java.” “Till There Was You “was firmly in my head when I (amazed) heard the Beatles cover it on BBC. So, yes, “Till There Was You,” the only duet on the album, with Lenne, my daughter; it’s the roots and the branches.

As a teenager, at 15, Leonard Cohen appeared, influencing me in so many ways. Cohen lasted my whole life, excepting a short hiatus or two on my part, but coming back big with the most amazing tour ever in the aughts and beyond.  So that explains “Famous Blue Raincoat,” which I had always wanted to sing, if even just to figure it out.

So there it is, the first thread, songs I always wanted to sing, but didn’t.

Then, the arrangements, jazzy standards for “Life in the Fifties” and “Mack” (piano, and horns and clarinet) and the chamber folk of “Famous” and “Driving from Calgary” (strings). I love arranging. I hope you enjoy the results.

The vocal thread of the record rests on the shoulders of my sublime backup singers, Lenne Klingaman and Eliza Blue, joined by Mark Christine on the Medley,.  I had the idea for a backup vibe like Neil Young used on American Stars ‘n Bars to enhance my aging voice.

I reached all the way back to my Harlequin days in my 20s, to what I learned from former band mates Joel Zifkin, Linda Morrison and Howard Engel, about vocal harmony and arranging—that’s what you’ll find here. A little roots inspiration for a branches moment. And it was a thrill to write the vocal arrangements for this record and then watch them come to life.  That always is the hook for me—and the reason why I had to find a way to release this record.

I should disclose that this project was a project for a long, long time. So it exists as a simultaneous This Is Now and That Was Then moment. But I have found in life after 65 that This Is Now and That Was Then moments may bleed, into each other. Strange but true.

I wrote the lyrics to “The Illustrated Man” 40 years ago, and the music, 10 years ago.  Practically yesterday.

I had conceived this project a little differently when I started, but certain strategies didn’t pan out.  So it got shelved.  And shelved again. It was shelved, unfinished, the whole time Lenne, Mark and I made her The Heart Is the Hunter album in 2014-15.

And so now it occurs to me, having blown past age 65 and a pandemic, that I am still, as Leonard Cohen said about being 65, just a kid with a crazy dream.

In the end, it’s about the sound.

It’s always been about the sound.

And the process of discovery that recording is, and was, and always will be for me.  It’s the lure, the eternal carrot, or as Barri, my eternal muse and benefactor would say, The Big Cat Moment, the thing that moves me, and the project, ahead.

And just at the moment when the sound reveals itself, that moment is for me as breathtaking, as revelatory and wondrous, as the moment I first heard two guitars, two voices, two notes, together.

Not that I am sentimental about it. Far from it.  I could have named this record Please Indulge Me This One Last Time, Fire Sale, Curtain Please, or Final Confections of an English Major.

But I didn’t.  I named it Roots and Branches after a wonderful book of poetry by my mentor in grad school, the poet Robert Duncan, just a little nod, a little homage, of the best I could muster.

Check out my blog where I’ll go through the tracks in the weeks to come, with a little more detail about the songs and my amazing guest players. And please, check out the credits to see who made these wonderful contributions. I so miss seeing the credits as we all did in the original days of vinyl.

In addition to Lenne, Eliza, and Mark, the other members of my longstanding team was amazing, John O’Reilly Jr. (boomcrashdrums.com) on drums, mixing by Neilson Hubbard, and mastering by Jim DeMain (Yes Master Studio) out of Nashville. I love these people and these long-distance relationships, really I do.

Speaking of vinyl, since the last release on Humuncules, Lenne’s The Heart is the Hunter, the CD marketplace has collapsed so thoroughly they are hardly viable except for sales at gigs. Personally, while I love vinyl, I like CDs well enough and am sad to see them go, given how they sound better than streaming.

Lenne and Mark introduced me to streaming around 2019 (remember, I am old), and I have found it to be an effective way to find new music, even as it decimates our industry’s already viciously predatory business model.  It’s just death by a different implement. When I stream a new release I like I hunt for it on vinyl. Over the course of the pandemic I have purchased more than 30 vinyls…so do that! Sadly, too many artists can’t afford vinyl—I am one of them on this project. In fact, in the CD age, I could hardly see the point of all those boxes of unsold CDs under my bed. So, in a way, the carnage of the streaming age—and the pandemic— liberated me to release Roots and Branches.

The other thing that kicked the project back into gear was a severe hand injury I received due to a freak fall slipping on leaves in May 2019, four months after I finished the lead guitar work on the Medley.  I began to play guitar as if from scratch in January 2020, after two hand surgeries and a brutal rehab regime.  A year and half later, my overall playing is back to about 90%, excluding lead guitar, which I haven’t played at all. So, I’d like this release to mark the output of the player I was, playing music that will always remain close to my heart.  As to future lead guitar, we’ll see.

Finally, to my most amazing wife, Barri, more than 40 years down the road, who shared with me most of the roots and all of the branches, thank you!

~Steve Klingaman

From Somewhere in the Wilderness, May 2021

Credits

Driving from Calgary
Steve Klingaman Humuncules Music

Famous Blue Raincoat
Leonard Cohen
Sony Music Publishing (formerly Sony/ATV LLC)

Life in the Fifties
Steve Klingaman and John Kargacos
administered by Humuncules Music

Till There Was You
Meredith Willson
Mpl Music Publishing Inc. o/b/o Frank Music Corp. and Meredith Willson Music LLC

Mack the Knife
Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
translation: Marc Blitzstein
BMG/Warner Chappell

Anybody’s Girl
Steve Klingaman Humuncules Music

The Illustrated Man
Steve Klingaman Humuncules Music

Lucky’s Cafe
Steve Klingaman Humuncules Music

Medley:
Travelin’ Man
Steve Klingaman Humuncules Music

Travelin’
Steve Klingaman and Joel Zifkin administered by Humuncules Music

Know You Rider
Trad. Arrangement by Steve Klingaman, Joel Zifkin, Linda Morrison, Jim Dobbins and Howard Engel
administered by Humuncules Music

Produced by Steve Klingaman at NoName Studio, Minneapolis

Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass, organ
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals, duet lead vocals on “Till There Was You”
Eliza Blue – backup vocals, violin, viola
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums
Henry Fagenson – drums on “Driving from Calgary” and “Till There Was You”

Featured Guest Musicians

Driving from Calgary
Eliza Blue – violin, viola
Sarah Norine – violin
Deborah Copperud – cello

Famous Blue Raincoat

Eliza Blue – violin
Sarah Norine – violin

Life in the Fifties
Jon Pemberton – piano

Mack the Knife
Patrick O’Keefe – clarinet, bass clarinet
Jon Pemberton – trumpet
Tom Wells – trombone

The Illustrated Man
Joe Savage – pedal steel

Lucky’s Cafe
Mark Christine – piano

Medley: Travelin’ Man & Know You Rider
Mark Christine – backup vocals

John O’Reilly Jr. appears courtesy of Boomcrashdrumtracks.com
Lead vocal on Famous Blue Raincoat arranged by David Leishman and Steve Klingaman
Recording engineer – Steve Klingaman
Mixing – Neilson Hubbard, Mr. Lemon Studios Nashville
Mastering – Jim DeMain, Yes Master Studios, Nashville
Song Edits – Lenne Klingaman
Cover art – Dane Klingaman
Cover design – Keir Monelle
Website photos – Barri Klingaman, Norbert Marklin Photography

Humuncules Music
www.humuncules.com email: Humuncules [at] aol [dot] [you know the rest]
℗ & © 2021 Humuncules Music. Minneapolis, MN USA. All Rights Reserved
Humuncules Music
Humuncules SK105

Personnel

Driving from Calgary
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals, violin
Sarah Norine – violin
Deborah Copperud – cello
Henry Fagenson – drums

Famous Blue Raincoat
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals, violin
Sarah Norine – violin
Deborah Copperud – cello
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Lead vocal arranged by Steve Klingaman and David Leishman

Life in the Fifties
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, backup vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
Jon Pemberton – piano
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Till There Was You
Steve Klingaman – duet lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – duet lead vocals, back up vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
Henry Fagenson – drums

Mack the Knife
Steve Klingaman – lead vocal, guitar, bass
Patrick O’Keefe – clarinet, bass clarinet
Jon Pemberton – trumpets
Tom Wells – trombone
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Anybody’s Girl
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass, organ
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

The Illustrated Man
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
Joe Savage – pedal steel
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Lucky’s Cafe
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
Mark Christine – piano
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Medley: Travelin’ Man / Travelin’ / Know You Rider
Steve Klingaman – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Lenne Klingaman – lead vocal verse 2 on Know You Rider, backup vocals
Eliza Blue – backup vocals
Mark Christine – backup vocals
John O’Reilly, Jr. – drums

Original Song Lyrics

DRIVING FROM CALGARY

Words and Music by Steve Klingaman

Driving from Calgary to Thunder Bay
I picked up a hiker I met on the way
He said he had come from some charity home
A boy on the lam, a boy all alone
Out from his knapsack he pulled a sketchpad
In a matter of moments he was drawing like mad

Into the green of her dress
Into the blue of her smile
He drew her like one of those saints that you’ve seen
Who stand in the fire and look so serene

He said that whenever he’s off of his meds
That faces and voices inhabit his head
But when he is on them his hand turns to stone
And his head’s in a fog and his dreams are unknown
What a strange, strange boy to
See so clearly

Into the green of her dress
Into the blue of her smile
He drew her with so much conviction I thought
A vision like that must come at a price

I left him in Winnipeg off 101
He said he would call and his cousin would come
It rained as I drove back Ontario way
With the clouds closing in at the end of the day
And there on the seat lay
A page for me

Into the green of my eyes
Into the blue of my soul
He drew me like blackbirds in the October sky
As the horizon was fading into the night
And the wind blew right through me and I knew he was right

LIFE IN THE FIFTIES

Words and Music Steve Klingaman/John Kargacos

Life in the fifties lilacs in bloom
Dreaming of an evening in a motel room
In back of the gym where the heavens were blue
Tell me tell me dreamface, what’s come of you?

Life in the fifties nothing was heavy
Dad wore a crew cut and he drove an old Chevy
The children were happy & they sat in the back
And when they were bad they were beat with a strap

Life in the fifties the moon was in June
You could sum it up yeah in a three-minute tune
Nobody wanted what they couldn’t buy
We’ll all live forever no never to die (no to die, no!)

Life in the fifties all sing Aruba
That band would smoke with ‘bone and a tuba
Everyone listened while Ellington played
It lasted for years but it’s all gone away

 

ANYBODY’S GIRL

Words and Music by Steve Klingaman

She was the angry one who tore into my life
She was the brilliant one whose words cut like a knife
She was the lovely one whose eyes were blue as ice
She swore her love to me and now I pay the price.

She wasn’t damaged by the liquor
She wasn’t damaged by the pills
She wasn’t living in a perfect world
She wasn’t anybody’s girl

My friends warned me but I didn’t even try
I was small time, she was aiming high
The house and car and everything were in my name
Investigators came and took it all the same

Is anybody out there?
And if they were why would they care?
Everybody’s got a story
Of an unfortunate affair

She wasn’t damaged by the liquor
She wasn’t damaged by the pills
She wasn’t living in a perfect world
She wasn’t anybody’s girl

She was my outlaw yeah she was my refugee
Once in a while I think she thought that she loved me
She had a jones that she never tried to hide
And the times she really loved me were the times that she was high

I am the guilty one, as charged I do confess
I am not heartless, but it looks like heartlessness
I spent the money and you know I drank the wine
Funny how your life can run a real crooked line

Is anybody out there?
And if they were why would they care?
Everybody’s got a story
Of an unfortunate
Of an unfortunate
Of an unfortunate affair

 

THE ILLUSTRATED MAN

Words & Music by Steve Klingaman

He’s got a lot of tattoos, he’s got an evil-looking snake
Lucille didn’t like ‘em, they were a colorful mistake.
She was a baptized virgin and she liked him in his shirt
But when he tried to take it off this is what he heard

An illustrated man ain’t got no secrets
He’s got a lot of color pictures like a fool
And if you change your mind you’ve got to keep ‘em
And mama says you should avoid them as a rule

When he joined the Navy, July of ’62
They all thought he was crazy and that was mostly true.
But he had to show Lucille that he loved her the best
So he had her color picture tattooed right there on his chest

An illustrated man ain’t got no secrets
He’s got a lot of color pictures like a fool
And if you change your mind you’ve got to keep ‘em
And mama says you should avoid them as a rule

Lucille used to look like a perky Barbie doll
But that tattoo’s been growing some
And she’s Big Bertha now
So if you want to live a normal life don’t put her picture on your chest
Stay out of the Navy and do what mama says is best, that’s right

An illustrated man ain’t got no secrets
He’s got a lot of color pictures like a fool
And if you change your mind you’ve got to keep ‘em
And mama says you should avoid them
Yeah she says you should avoid them
Well she says you should avoid them as a rule

 

LUCKY’S CAFE

Words and Music by Steven Klingaman

Down on the corner
Lucky’s Café
Danny is playing his violin
‘cuz the band went away
I’m so low and I don’t know
What I’m doing here
If there’s no friend like a stranger
How come they’re all sulking in their beer?
So they sit thinking, drinking
All night long
Look at those zombies
Won’t you just stop me
It’s all so wrong.

Turn the page, shut the door
Dim the lights behind ya
Hit the switch, cut the juice
I’m never gonna find ya
In this seedy little dump of a place

I talk to the waitress
Her name is Joan
She’s got two kids and her latest ex
Fifty miles on down the road
She’s had it to here with loving
But she sometimes fools around
If there’s no friend like a stranger
How come she’s talking so damn loud?
Win ‘em & lose ‘em
She don’t choose ‘em
She just removes her clothes
She’s got a big dog
In the back yard
And she lets you know

Turn the page, shut the door
Dim the lights behind ya
Hit the switch, cut the juice
I’m never gonna find ya
She was a nice girl but she was working at Lucky’s

I’m hanging at Lucky’s
That sweet violin
Nobody knows the shape I’m in
And look, here’s two friends of mine coming in
They’re laughing and they tell me
She’s got a new man again
Well there’s no friend like a stranger
And there’s no stranger like a friend
Well there’s no friend like a stranger
And there’s no stranger like a friend
So they sit thinking, drinking
All night long
Look at those zombies
Won’t you just stop me
It’s all so wrong.

Turn the page, shut the door
Dim the lights behind ya
Hit the switch, cut the juice
I’m never gonna find ya
In this seedy little dump of a place

 

TRAVELIN’ MAN

Words and Music by Steve Klingaman

Honey I was a travelling man in vain
Honey I’ll be a travelling man again
So many find their place in time
And lock the ones they love inside
A world in which they draw the blinds in fear
See them in their windows in the dark
In a town so quiet the dog’s afraid to bark.

The gig went bad in Memphis Tennessee
Biloxi never looked so good to me
You charmed me with your ways and means
And I loved you more in New Orleans
Two drifters on a dream of summer nights
They said a love like ours could never last
Two lovers with no future and no past.

Hey hey, kiss away the stranger
Stars like ice alone in the night
Hey hey, kiss away the stranger
Eyes like fire, breathing in the night
Eyes like fire, breathing in the night

Green eyes glowing, candle burning low
You touch my arm and ease me down so slow
Back in the Bourbon Street cafes
Beside the man who tips and sways
Guitar upon my knee I did not know
That the world didn’t have to be forever cold
There’s a world within your arms and I unfold.

Freight train passing wailing in the dark
We move through time and never leave a mark
We’re riders in a desperate wind
Wildflowers in a world of tin
But in your heart you start to slip away
And nothing I say means anything at all
The house is quiet, the night begins to fall.

Hey hey, kiss away the stranger
Stars like ice alone in the night
Hey hey, kiss away the stranger
Eyes like fire, breathing in the night
Eyes like fire, breathing in the night

You left me like a shadow in the sun
Honey I thought that you would be the one
I was blinded by the light of day
And I love you more than words can say
Maybe I’ll drift on up old Memphis way
Honey I was a travelling man in vain
Honey I’ll be a travelling man

Honey I was a travelling man in vain
Honey I’ll be a travelling man again
Honey I was a travelling man in vain
Honey I’ll be a travelling man