Boris McCutcheon & the Salt Licks | Wheel of Life

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Wheel of Life

by Boris McCutcheon & the Salt Licks

Solid American roots music. A little rock, a little country, with a dirty soul and a poet's tongue.
Genre: Country: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. What Ails You?
3:31 $1.29
2. Clan of the Sunflower
4:42 $1.29
3. Boxspring Plow
4:28 $1.29
4. No Place to Fall
3:46 $1.29
5. Mullein People
3:59 $1.29
6. Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine
3:50 $1.29
7. California
4:07 $1.29
8. Mark Twain
5:45 $1.29
9. Peeler
4:40 $1.29
10. Gila
4:31 $1.29
11. Bad Road, Good People
3:20 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In general I think of this album as a country album and sequel to the “Bad Road. Good People” album. I am blessed to have any recordings at all due to being in constant survival mode raising a family in rural NM. These songs come from a place of experience more than the last album. Like “When We Were Big,” it was recorded in 7 days pretty much. I had a small window of opportunity to make an album. I had had knee surgery and while stuck in bed had managed to write a few new songs, enough to start a new project. There were a few more bluesy songs that I had originally slated for the album but I wanted to stay pure to the country vibe.

1. What ails you? - A difficult and serious question. This song is the playful answer to it. A lot of drive with a Bakersfield country feel. A pick-me-up for the album.

2. Clan of the Sunflower - The lyrics in this song stand alone as an exceptional poem. I wrote it when I was going through a healing period of my life, while stuck in a garden. In the garden there was a little boy who built a hide-out deep inside a large sunflower patch. He would occasionally pop out of his yellow and green fortress only to scare you like a pirate “holding a tomato stake like sword”. I wanted the recording to be weird, vast and timeless like a Harry Smith discovery. Did I succeed?

3. Boxspring Plow - A slice of my life in high elevation, traditional Chicano New Mexico. Out here we get excited about plowing our roads with old boxsprings. The song starts off describing a 38 year old tradition of the annual “hippies vs. the locals” baseball game. The game was started to release tension between local Picuris Indians, their Chicano hybrids, and the hippies who started moving here in the 70’s. If T. Rex and Greg Brown got together and wrote a song with a country swing this song would be it. The wah wah lead is the hitching up of the plow?

4. No Place to Fall - One of my favorite Townes Van Zandt songs. I wanted to do an entire album of his covers but Steve Earle beat me to it.

5. Mullein People - A song about coming home. While I worked in the Union for a few years I would drive back late at night on a Friday after a hard week in Albuquerque, being drained of spirit. As I came down my driveway the tall mullein spires would greet me upon arrival and immediately sing to me like a tuning fork and bring joy back into my heart. Susan’s bass is fierce and beautiful on this one.

6. Lee Harvey - This song was taught to me by the late David Bindler (of Da Nu Man). He was a musical mentor and a great drummer. “Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine,” is one of the greatest songs of our time, written by Homer Henderson. This song was recorded live in The Netherlands.

7. California - A song that takes me back to my early days as a young organic farmer on the loose in Northern California, lusting over fertile Biodynamic maidens, getting dirty and reading lots of poetry.

8. Mark Twain - The passion of this Mark Ray Lewis cover is vivid and panoramic. I had to trim it down or it would have been a 10 minute track. The song is based on a Mark Lewis novel called “Long Sad River”.

9. Peeler - A song I originally wanted to record solo but as the drums evolved, I had a hard time leaving them behind. The story is of a young man who falls madly and foolishly in love with a new age stripper. He never accepts her fully or trusts her wholeheartedly and it is insinuated that he drowns her in “God’s golden river”.

10. Gila - The Gila is a vast wilderness. The first and one of the last of its kind. Wolves still run wild there. It is believed that Geronimo was born in a hot spring there. I had a few shows in Piños Altos NM near the Gila one night. It had been raining for three days straight which is very unusual for NM. My third night in a row playing at the Buckhorn Tavern I met a young cowboy named Duncan. He was pretty drunk and the girls were toying with him. He made a bad decision to drive back to his ranch late that evening and drowned in the Gila River. I was the last person to talk with him or see him alive.

11. Bad Road, Good People - I didn’t realize it at the time but “Bad Road, Good People,” was really a double album. “The Wheel of Life” could almost be thought of as part 2 to the previous album. This song is the title track to both albums. It’s a song of experience, with a lighthearted and painfully honest commentary about trying to raise a family in old Spanish Land Grant New Mexico. “Orcs” refer to the young natives who burn abandoned cars in my remote valley for fun. “Orcs” are a bad creature from the Tolkien Hobbit trilogy. Hell, Zeppelin did it. Why can’t I?

Boris McCutcheon



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Melissa Totten

McCutcheon's Wheel of Life
A compelling American songwriter celebrated in Holland for years, Boris McCutcheon is, in the States, an undiscovered talent in the footsteps of John Prine, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Guy Clark, and Elvis Costello. He is a songwriter with an offbeat and often dark sense of life, death, and love. But because he’s a Romantic writer, many of McCutcheon’ songs believe that goodness will win out in the end. The land will shelter us and we will shelter the land, we will be lost and found in the wild woods, we will dream of demons and angels, and we will finally fall in love.

Boris’ songs are not always narrative in structure. Sometimes stories are just broached, teased out, allowed to develop slowly. Sometimes there are only images and moods, cryptically available. Boris’ dense pictures and hard-to-decipher metaphors ask a lot of the thinking listener. But it is clear that this is exactly what his fans like about him. Boris is a puzzle to be solved. In fact, it’s a deal between artist and audience. He really does want the listeners to enter his world; he wants to welcome in the good folks who take the trouble to travel down a really rough road – as he sings in “Bad Road, Good People”.

As a giant reward for figuring out his writing, Boris gives up some joyous, fast, dancing country rock tunes along with his mid-tempo ballads and folk songs. These quirky songs depict hippie softball games, spring plowing with boxsprings, volcanic winds in the high desert, a dropped set of keys down a city sewer, 7-foot mullein plants, pirates coming ashore for gold, the art of chopping wood on a Cape Cod island, the long road home to a welcoming family. The music is superlative, and nothing is held back.

Boris has an unusual gift. His art is “outsider” art. But his art derives from a tradition of deeply rooted American-grown music. This paradox delivers beautiful, strong music.

He fills you with a feeling for simpler days -- when people could live off the land by the phases of the moon, find spiritual solace in the mountain’s Ponderosa Pines or the sands of deserted beaches, and make connections away from the frenetic main stream of contemporary life.

Try these songs on for size. They make you dance and sing. They help you live right. They bring you home.