DiSection: Caitlin Rose's track-by-track of Own Side Now
Young American and talented is how you'd best describe Caitlin Rose, whose debut record Own Side Now is released at the end of the month. Looking deeper into the record you'd have to ask the woman herself for the finer points, which is exactly what we've done. Read below for Caitlin's in-depth and fascinating breakdown of the record, complete with a few embedded tracks for you to hear what all the talk is about!
'Learning To Ride':
One of my favourite songs by Townes Van Zandt is 'Greensboro Woman'. Last year I co-wrote a song with Jordan Lehning called 'Baby's Gone' for the sole purpose of copying the production on it. We sort of abandoned that recording and I figured some of the ideas might work really well on 'Learning to Ride', especially as an opener. It just rolls. My first idea for Own Side Now was to give it some bookends.
I dig it when there's a start and a finish. They give an album a story book feel. If the journey's not all that interesting, at least it has purposeful sequencing; that may seem old fashioned, but it's important to me. That's why it takes me a month to make a mixtape.
'Own Side' is one of the simplest and, unfortunately, most honest things I've ever written. I think it's what comes after all of the screaming and crying and binge drinking (but you can't even get drunk) and the constant rejection of your plea for another chance that provokes slander and ultimately leads to your own public humilitation. Your heart turns into a jell-o mold and your mouth is always dry and everything feels like a thud. Luckily, those strings and sweetly sung bgv's keep 'Own Side' from going back to the place it originated from. That was a very dead place.
'For The Rabbits':
'For the Rabbits' is too old a tune to even talk about. It's a failed actress and it's tried everything. It was written for two friends in high school. They're still together. Sometimes. Surprise.
I had writer's block for a year, coincidentally, I was seeing someone at the time. When he stopped seeing me I wrote 'Shanghai Cigarettes'. God bless him. The asshole that he is. For the record, I decided to amp it up. It's easy to get tired of playing a song all sappy all the time when you know there's more to it than that. The full band recording has that Tom Petty feel that I always intended for it, but was too much of a sadsack to attempt before. Rayland's vocal adds something really special. I'm a big fan of duets so it just made sense to bring him in on it.
For such a silly little song, 'New York' packs a punch. It's the little ramblin' song that could. Took me two years to write and even ruined a friendship once. We had it worked up real country for the album and shows and it just kept making me sick. I took some notes from the new Phosphorescent record and Marky just kind of ran with it. He's a major badass and hates hokey shit since he kind of cut his teeth on it doing engineer work on the row for so long. He was super supportive of my decision to weird it up. Those doubled vocals certainly did the trick and when Skylar mentioned he had some castanets we kind of figured out the feel. It turned out sounding really dirty, but the lyrics themselves are rather chaste. It's just a little conflicted.
'Spare Me' was a porch-swing song. It developed over a series of smoke breaks. Every time I went outside I came up with another line or two 'til it was done. It has a few more verses to it too. It's my favourite cut off the record. The idea was, like 'Learning', to just let it roll which explains the three part solo. It's not a singy songy song. It's all about Jeremy's fancy little licks. They make it magic. That's why I took the liberty of putting his name in the title which explains the add-on of "Fetzer's Blues", because it sounded so badass to me. We also had Chris Scruggs come in and double a bunch of what he played on steel which made it even more magical. It's the most fun to play live as well.
Jordan Lehning wrote 'Things Change' and asked me to sing the demo. We re-wrote/re-structured the song for the girl vocal and it turned out so neat that I started doing it with a band I was playing with out in Murfreesboro. It's changed exponentially since then. For the better, of course. He would agree, I'm sure.
'That's Alright' is my favorite Fleetwood Mac song and has been since the first listen. Lyrically, it's close to being one of the best songs I've ever heard because it's so honest and finds victory in defeat. "I can't define love like it should be / that's alright" is one of the most powerful things I've ever heard. Maybe I'm giving away too much, but it resonated so strongly with me and renewed my faith in one of the more awkward aspects of my writing style.
That's the one where I admit to things that may not reflect well upon me just because it feels good to do so. Music has always been my answer to confession and formal apologies. I'll admit to something in song long before I sit down for a heavy conversation. I really believe though that, to write from the heart you must be self-aware. Not admitting to your own shortcomings makes that virtually impossible. I also believe Stevie Nicks is a genius.
'Sinful Wishing Well':
'Sinful Wishing Well' is also an older song. I wrote the chorus the same night I wrote Gorilla Man, but was too stoned to start in on the verses, instead opting to play out that is with the ever-ridiculous Gorilla saga instead. I'm really glad I waited. It had to be thought out before getting written down. It's a very confessional song in an almost Catholic sense. In my opinion, there aren't enough songs about guilt. People should stop feeling sorry for themselves and start feeling guilty. I think I'm contradicting myself. Maybe I'm joking.
'Coming Up' is a funny one. It was the most Nashville day I've had in a while. I used to play and write songs in this straight-up country outfit called Dixie Whiskey with my friends Jon, Bob and Dillon. I was wearing rhinestones and cowboy hats and shit singing backup and having a great fucking time, but I got a little too busy with other stuff and opted out. Like I said though, Jon and I had been writing a little bit for the band and a little for fun. He came over and had the idea for "crazy cloud of mine" and I went crazy for it. His line inspired a kind of Sweet Mental Revenge type tune. A burned girl gone nuts, but without all that superficial keying of cars bullshit. This is more like a yellow wallpaper crazy as opposed to the drunken tirades more commonly found in contemporary break ups.
It starts off as this sappy sad little heartbreak tune, but line by line edges its way into this mentally unbalanced Fatal Attraction territory. My favourite thing about the recording is that the outro plays out forever then abruptly ends on this drunk and confused note. Like everyone realised how ridiculous the whole thing was and just gave each other the eye at exactly the same time. which is basically what happened...and then I laughed like a donkey. Hee Haw.
The instability of 'Coming Up' is probably the result of 'Learning to Ride''s blatant naivety. Hopefully the lesson has been learned, but like I said, I'm a big fan of bookends.
Own Side is out 9th August through Names Records. She tours the UK across August and September:
8.19 - London, UK - Camp with Sam Amidon
8.20 - Wales - Green Man Festival
8.22 - Kilkenny, Ireland - Cleere's Theatre
8.23 - Dublin, Ireland - Crawdaddy
8.24 - Cork, Ireland - Cyprus Ave with Megafaun
8.25 - Manchester, UK - Night & Day Cafe
8.27 - Birmingham, UK - Glee Club
8.29 - North York Moors, UK - The Band Room
1 - London, UK - Slaughtered Lamb
2 - Bristol, UK - St. Bonaventure
4 - Vlieland, Netherlands - Great Wide Open Festival
6 - Brixton - Windmill
8 - London, UK - Scala with Phosphorescent
9 - Kilburn - The Luminaire
11 - Devon, UK - End of the Road Festival
14 - Brighton, UK - Latest Bar
17 - **Middleburg, NL - De Spot with Deer Tick
25 - Bedford, UK - Civic Theatre with Deer Tick
26 - Coventry, UK - Taylor Johns with Deer Tick
28 - London, UK - Cargo with Deer Tick
29 - Leeds, UK - Brudenell with Deer Tick
30 - Manchester, UK - Deaf Institute with Deer Tick
1 - Glasgow, UK - Captains Rest with Deer Tick
2 - Belfast, UK - Spring and Airbrake with Deer Tick
3 - Dublin, Ireland - Whelans with Deer Tick