Dick LeMasters | One Bird, Two Stones

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Rock: Americana Rock: Roots Rock Moods: Solo Male Artist
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One Bird, Two Stones

by Dick LeMasters

A blend of Americana, Roots rock, blues and Texas music! Mix some Steve Earle, ZZ Top, and Drive-By Truckers up together and you'll be right there!
Genre: Rock: Americana
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Big Ol' Buick
4:31 $0.99
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2. River Blues
5:14 $0.99
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3. Pestilence & Locusts
3:37 $0.99
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4. Lightning from a Clear Blue Sky
3:21 $0.99
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5. Three Fifty Seven
4:12 $0.99
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6. Last Time I Saw You
3:23 $0.99
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7. Power in the Snake
4:44 $0.99
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8. The Wages of Sin
3:51 $0.99
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9. Need Your Lovin', Baby
4:52 $0.99
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10. Held On Too Long
3:06 $0.99
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11. One Bird, Two Stones
4:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Dick LeMasters performs original Americana and Texas music as a solo artist, with duo partner Douglas Greer, and with the band Longneck Road. LeMasters was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, and grew up listening to artists such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Joe Ely. His original songs reflect that background as well as the influence of current favorites James McMurtry, Mike Cooley, Steve Earle, Paul Thorn and Fred Eaglesmith. LeMasters performs in Southeast Texas and Austin, and is a regular performer at the Songwriters’ Café event in Beaumont, Texas.

The following is a description of the songs that appear on the brand new Dick LeMasters album One Bird, Two Stones.

I have always felt that I could say things in my song lyrics that I could never say in real life. Kind of like Jim Croce’s line: “I’ll have to say I love you in a song”. I like the fact that nobody knows for sure whether a song is simply the product of creative writing or whether it’s the only socially acceptable way to communicate something that you really feel or believe, or need to say to someone but never could in any other way. Putting the inspiration and stories down in black and white is a little scary to me; however, my public relations man deems it to be a positive step. So, here goes.

I write songs with the intent that they will be songs that I will perform at my shows. If I ever write a song that is good enough and it gets heard by the right person, some big-time singer might record it and I might actually make some money off of my musical adventure. Fingers remain crossed. For now, I have recorded an album of eleven songs that I wrote. The album is titled “One Bird, Two Stones,” which is also the name of one of my songs. Throughout the process my friend, music duo partner, oftentimes background vocalist, and aforementioned public relations man Douglas Greer has offered valuable advice and guidance. He suggested that I write a brief description of the inspiration and story behind each song on the album. This is that.

One Bird, Two Stones

The song title is, of course, a twist on the old saying “kill two birds with one stone”. Many years ago I heard a retired refinery worker talking about how inefficient and disorganized his bosses had been down at the plant. He said it was so bad that they were “killing one bird with two stones”. Great lines like that don’t just pop up every day.

I knew immediately that I would use this line in a song. But for the longest time I couldn’t come up with a song that lived up to the strength of the hook. Several years later while messing around with trying to play slide guitar, I came up with the little signature lick that is in the song, and the words finally came. I decided to call the album “One Bird, Two Stones” both because I think there is a little humor inherent in the phrase and because it is descriptive of this sort of project. Financing, producing, recording, designing, manufacturing, promoting and trying to actually sell an independent CD – especially in these days of mostly free streaming audio – really does fall into the category of killing one bird with two stones.

Need Your Lovin’, Baby

In a time far away, I played in a great band called “Cold Shot” with guitarist James Downey and drummer Russell Stallings. We had an uncanny musical chemistry and each of us could anticipate what the others were going to play. When we started the band, James and Russell had the music for this song, and I wrote the words.

It is a kind of “lost love” song. I had a specific person and specific memory in mind when I wrote the lyrics. But, in the hope that the song would be one that many people could relate to, it is intentionally not very fact-specific or detailed. I want the listener to be able to put themselves in the place of the narrator, whenever possible. The music is kind of jazz-oriented, which gives me the opportunity to hopefully fool the listener into thinking that I am a better guitar player than I really am.

Need Your Lovin’, Baby has given rise to a couple of pretty decent stories. The first is from the Cold Shot days. The second verse of the song starts with the line “I still hear you calling”. When I would get to that point, our drummer, Russell, would often interrupt this tender and poignant love song by hollering out “HEY!” in response to that line. Which cracked me up every time, making it most difficult to continue singing.

I currently play in the band Longneck Road, with bassist Ron Arceneaux and drummer Adam King, and we also do this song. I often fail to enunciate my words clearly when singing. Adam’s wife, who is a professional speech therapist and attuned to such things, once commented to Adam that she wished we would play “that Ninja song”. When I sing, the song apparently sounds a lot like “Ninja Lovin’ Baby”. As Jimi Hendrix reportedly sang, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy”.

Lightning From a Clear Blue Sky

I often think people believe that I am making up the story behind this song. I have no idea whether the underlying newspaper article was legit, but my story regarding the inspiration for the concept and the hook line is true as I experienced it.

I saw an article in the newspaper about a man who was hit and killed by lightning while out on a boat. I am pretty sure the article said that this occurred in Louisiana. The article stated that the man and some friends were out on a boat on a clear, cloudless day. The man climbed up onto the bow railing, raised his hands to the sky and challenged God to strike him dead. God apparently took him up on that.

Although the newspaper story sounds kind of improbable, the imagery of Lightning from a Clear Blue Sky stuck with me. I wrote and re-wrote the song several times before hitting on the final version. I used the phrase as a metaphor for an unexpected love. I really like the concept, and again I tried to keep the song general enough that hopefully lots of people can relate to and fit the song into their own experiences.

Big Ol’ Buick

This song tells a story about the history of an old automobile “from the bad side of town”. Maybe like the Stephen King novel “Christine,” but without the haunted part. I have owned my share of really old cars (current one is pushing 400,000 miles), but for the most part the lyrics of this song were an exercise in creative writing.

The main music pattern suggests the intro pattern from ZZ Top’s song “LaGrange”. ZZ Top played their very first show as a band just a couple of miles from my house, at the Elks Lodge in Beaumont, Texas. We grew up on that music.
Pretentious as it may sound, if my life had a soundtrack, it would heavily feature ZZ Top. Plus, Billy Gibbons is just so cool and is an absolute master of the double-entendre lyric, which I respect greatly.

At any rate, I lucked out on Big Ol’ Buick with some imagery about a neat car and some ZZ Top-sounding music. It still blows me away when someone hollers out “Play Big Ol’ Buick!” at one of my gigs. And, yes, that has really happened. I put Big Ol’ Buick as the opening song on the album because it does seem to get a strong audience response and because musically it gets the listener’s attention.

Last Time I Saw You

A friend recently – and incredulously -- asked me, “Has your wife heard Last Time I Saw You?” No scandal here, though; the narrative fits our pre-marital dating history. Or at least, to quote Jon Lovitz, “That’s the ticket!”

Honestly, I think that the sentiment expressed in Last Time I Saw You is fairly universal – we have all at times missed someone we used to know. More than once I have had people come up to me after a show and tell me that this song reminded them of a deceased loved one. That was not my specific inspiration for the song, but the words fit that scenario equally well. I am thrilled to have inadvertently stumbled on a song that people can relate to their own life experiences.

Three Fifty Seven

I got the idea for this song one morning when I woke up in the middle of the night and looked over at the digital alarm clock, which read: 3:57. The thought to combine that with the .357 pistol concept immediately hit me. I know better than to think that I will remember an idea without writing it down, so I got up and wrote most of the song on the spot.

My “real” songwriter friends – who write songs that well-known artists might record for the country music radio – tell me that a song like Three Fifty Seven will never get cut because it makes the singer look like a killer and a bad guy. My response is that I don’t believe that Johnny Cash really “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”. Apparently, mainstream radio listeners a generation ago were better able to discern between the singer and the character for whom the singer is narrating. Oddly, it never bothers me at all to sing my songs that are in the first person and written from the point of view of a flawed character.

The recording of this song turned out as good as I could have ever hoped. We recorded the CD at Great Recordings, a studio in Port Arthur, Texas, owned and operated by music veteran Floyd Badeaux. This studio has been around since the 1950’s, and it feels like you are stepping into Sun Records or some such. Floyd told me that when Janis Joplin was a teenager he recorded her once in that very studio. Of course, she was just an unknown kid at the time, and he re-used the tape the next day for another project. Dang.

My friend and harmonica player Dan Moser added a harp part to Three Fifty Seven. Dan is not only an awesome player, but also is an expert tube amp designer and builder who manufactures a line of boutique harmonica amps. Everything came together just right on Three Fifty Seven.


River Blues

Of course, the river in the song is a metaphor for time and its inexorable passage. I once performed this song at an art museum event where the average age of the audience was much older than my age. One person told me after show that they loved the song, but it did remind them of their mortality. Note to self.

Held On Too Long

This song is another take on the same concept as Last Time I Saw You. The recording again features Dan Moser on harmonica. The response to this song has been extremely positive, which I credit to the fact that most everyone can relate it to their own lives.

The Wages of Sin

One of my favorite songwriters and performers is Paul Thorn. His father was a preacher and many of his songs include biblical references. The Wages of Sin is similar in that the title comes from a bible verse; however, the song is by no means a “church” song. I am proud to have worked a subtle reference to Lynyrd Skynyrd into the second verse of this song, as well.

Pestilence & Locusts

This is another song with a kind of biblical reference – the plagues in the Old Testament. To which the narrator in the song compares his hard luck. I wrote this song based on a specific event. Names will be omitted to protect the innocent and guilty alike.

Pestilence & Locusts was inspired by a show I played that involved a musician (who shall remain nameless for all time) of some renown. It turned out that my assumption that this musician would be a nice, friendly person with whom I would get along was woefully incorrect. Without getting into the details, the experience was bad enough that I didn’t want to play music anymore. Tragic, indeed, because playing music is pretty much my favorite thing to do.

Ever the songwriter, I came up with the line, “when the thing you love the most becomes a thing that drags you down”. That line came first, and I wrote the song around it. I had written down the title long ago with the intention of writing a funny song, but Pestilence & Locusts seemed to fit perfectly with this song idea.

I am a huge fan of the band Drive-By Truckers (and a fan of Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and former DBT member Jason Isbell in their individual capacities). I consciously went for a rootsy, not-so-polished production sound on Pestilence & Locusts to emulate the production on some of my favorite Drive-By Truckers songs. It is definitely the most “rock” sounding song on the album, and another of my favorites.


Power in the Snake

Before there was a surplus of rattlesnake-handling-church reality shows, a friend of mine stopped in at one such church in West Virginia to check out their Wednesday night prayer meeting. My song is based on his account of the service.
I had always figured that such a church would have bluegrass or old-time country music. Turns out that this particular church had droning, deafening, almost trance-inducing metal music. Maybe it confuses the snakes. At any rate, he commented that there were lots of folks missing fingers from snakebites.

During the service one man was bitten, so they sat him in a chair and rubbed oil on his head. The man lost consciousness and my friend said that they later dragged him out. No idea whether he lived or died. However, the preacher got up and commented that if the man did die, at least that would show the outside world that they weren’t faking. Can’t argue with that one bit.

I think Steve Earle is a master of writing character songs in the first person, and I tried to emulate that style in Power in the Snake. My goal was to write from the point of view of someone who had grown up and lived in that environment. For recording, my original plan was to record the song with just an acoustic guitar, but it needed a bigger sound. I realized later that given the type of music played in the church, this was fitting.

Nothing against the snake-handlers. No picketing of my shows, please.

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