REDUX: Ultimate Special Director’s Cut Liner Notes

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Even as I was pulling away from live performing in 2016, I was already planning a third album. Originally intended as compilation of remixed/remastered versions of my entire catalog, the project ultimately felt like a self-serving, ill-use of time and, by the end of the year, was shelved. A year later, I started gearing up for an album of new material; unfortunately, after being sidelined by an injury, I was only able to complete one new track. After recovery, I once again felt continuing the project was not the right use of my God-given time, so I moved on to other things. Then, toward the end of 2018, the timing finally felt right for a new release. I revisited both the remix project and the sole new track and thought I would put together something to commemorate the fifth anniversary of my second record, Unfiltered
 
Over time, the album became, to me, at least, something a little different. The songs felt so fresh and new, that I started thinking of this as a completely new album—as though none of these songs had ever been released before—though I don’t know if that feeling will be contagious to listeners. Regardless, though I made this record partially for me and for the people that have supported me these eight years, I did it mainly because I felt like I should. Why? I don’t know for sure. I think I know. I hope I know. But whatever the reason, it’s the first time in music I’ve ever put my own desires aside and waited for what felt like “the time appointed,” and I’m all the better for it. 
 
The record was originally released as two, 4-track digital EPs, Redux I & Redux II, and the Ultimate Special Director’s Cut CD is subdivided accordingly. 
 
Part I:
 
The first four tracks are the sellout…ahem…more commercial, pop-oriented tracks.
 
1. “Company (feat. Brittany D & Sam Mooney)”
 
Born from a ukulele cover of Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker,” “Company” is a flirty, easy-feeling duet, co-written and performed by Brittany D, and featuring keys from Sam Mooney. Written predominantly in 2010, the track is very much in the vein of other uke-driven tracks of the period such as Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”
 
The Redux version features a re-recorded ukulele, played more smoothly and less “slappy” than the original.
 
Lyrics
 
2. “Words Like That”
 
A late ’90s alternative-inspired track sitting somewhere between Matchbox 20’s “Push” and Train’s “Meet Virginia.” The lyrics are crafted to mean many things to many people, but for me, the song is about a young woman in a mental institution.
 
This mix is virtually identical to the 2016 single version, with the biggest difference being an end fade-out for a more impactful, “leaves you hanging” vibe that the song deserves.
 
Lyrics
 
3. “Christmas Alone”
 
A heartbreak-Christmas blues tune in the tradition of “Blue Christmas” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.” 
 
While the original single mix featured electric guitar fills throughout, the remix holds axe antics until the instrumental break (featuring a new solo overdubbed by Kyle Graves) in order to emulate the sensibilities of early rock ’n’ rollthe foundations of my own musical sensibilities.
 
Lyrics
 
4. “Wrong for You (feat. Brittany D)”
 
The only new track on the release, “Wrong for You” follows a Roy Orbison (a musical hero of mine) song structure of building, epic, chorus-less balladeering, replete with a stringed (synth) orchestra and a two octave+ melody range, placing the song in my catalog subgroup with “Lost,” “Now That You’re Gone,” and “Just for Fun.” Unlike “Company” and “Lost,” this “featuring Brittany D” track is not a duet but a showcase for the gal to shine all by her lonesome—and that she does.
 
My only regret is not having a live orchestra, and I can seriously see myself returning to the studio one day to rectify that situation.
 
Lyrics
 
Part II:
 
Part II ended up predominantly folk, but the actual theme is “tracks that are less commercial and more me.” (Also, for whatever it’s worth these days, Redux II cracked the top 50 of the iTunes U.S. Singer/Songwriter chart, and while that doesn’t mean what it once did, I’ll take it.)
 
5. “Ballad of a Mad Man”
 
Dark folk rock. As with “Words Like That,” the lyrics aren’t specific enough to be indicative of any one thing, but to me, the song is about a couple of old west outlaws in a standoff. 
 
Another musical sensibility firmly ingrained in me from listening to oldies radio, especially the aforementioned Orbison, is copious amounts of background vocals, and this mix brings the BGVs to prominence. (Also, to clear up confusion that seems to have been generated from the original release, the 6-part, 12-vocal harmony intro is indeed all me…for better or worse!)
 
Lyrics
 
6. “Always Ever Be”
 
A toe-tapping, country/folk ballad with a hefty dose of humorous lyrical spins, “Always Ever Be” is a quirky ditty in the vein of another of my musical heroes, Roger Miller.
 
The break now boasts a chorus of handclaps which I opted not to overdub on the original mix, a mistake that has now been rectified.
 
Lyrics
 
7. “Simple Things”
 
Originally a “throwaway” song quickly written to replace “Company” on an acoustic EP that eventually evolved into Unfiltered, “Simple Things” is essentially a mournful poem set to music.
 
Although the guitar is an edited version of the same track from the Unfiltered “bonus track” release, the vocals are brand new.
 
Lyrics
 
8. “Just for Fun”
 
A haunting, piano-driven first half that morphs into a kick-to-the-gut second and ends with an anthemic guitar outro. The chord progression is on a 1 to 1/2 note drop per chord change rotation, the tempo switches thrice, and the vocabulary, phrasing, and rhyme breaks are not the standard pop/rock fare. I consider this my magnum opus. I’ve written better lyrics; I’ve written better music. But I don’t think I’ve had them both this good at the same time.
 
There were two things intended for the original mix that didn’t make it: a building music bridge between the slow-to-fast tempo changes and a scream going into the outro. Both have been overdubbed here.
 
Lyrics
 
Part III:
 
For giggles, various versions of the full Redux have been released on various platforms with different bonus tracks. The Ultimate Special Director’s Cut is the only edition that features all four of the addendum songs.
 
9. “Wrong for You (feat Brittany D) [Orchestral Mix]”
 
Another quirk I have from growing up on oldies is a great affinity for string orchestras, and during the production of the synth string-heavy “Wrong for You,” several people involved in the project insisted that a stripped, orchestral mix would be more unique and “better” than a full band rendition. I had no intention of abandoning the original intent (been down that road), but after lengthy consideration, I decided to include the stripped mix as a bonus track. 
 
10. “Company (Mississippi Good Night Version)”
 
In 2015, Brittany D, drummer Zack Farnham, and I began performing as Southern music trio Mississippi Good Night and released a new version of “Company” as our first single. The tune was “countrified” by engineer/guitarist Nick Smith to better fit the country/rock/blues sound of the new band. The track hasn’t been legally available for a couple of years now and, until now, has never been available on an album.
 
11. “Words Like That (Live at Music from the Shady Side)”
 
Early in 2015, I appeared on the web series Music from the Shady Side, created and hosted by Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame president Shaw Furlow. The rendition of WLT I performed on the show is kicked up a notch from the studio cut, and unfortunately, having been recorded smack dab in the middle of cold season, my pitch is all over the place. I almost didn’t release this cut, but I’ve heard worse performances from better singers without as good of an excuse, so I went with it!
 
12. “Sha La Love Me (2013 Acoustic Demo)”
 
Another late ’90s alt-esque track that I wrote in 2010 after watching an old Dave Matthews performance on a Saturday Night Live rerun, “Sha La Love Me” received a demo treatment in 2013 for a potential album that never happened. It’s a demo, and I’m going to proceed as though those listening/reading know what a demo is and don’t need a disclaimer on sound quality. Even still, there’s actually a bridge to the song that I deleted for this release because the vocals were so terrible, I couldn’t in good conscience unleash them upon the world. For the curious, here are the bridge lyrics:
 
She says 
“When the world fell down where was I?
Well let me refresh your mind
Picking up your broken pieces
Time after time”
He says
“I’m better
And I don’t need your kind
Of crazy
So why lie?”
She screams
“Because I tried”
 
Lyrics 
 
Credits:
 
Cole Powell – Vocals/Acoustic Guitars/Ukulele/Harmonica/Synth Orchestra/Keys (4 & 8)
Tyler Bridge – Bass
Zack Farnham – Drums/Percussion
 
Special Guests:
 
Brittany D – Vocals (1, 4, 9, 10)/Keys (4 & 9 [Bridges])
Sam Mooney – Keys (1-3, 5, 8 [Solo])
Kyle Graves – Electric Guitars (3, 4, 9)
Nick Smith – Guitars (8 & 10)/Bass (10)
 
Bass/Drums/Percussion Engineered by Tyler Bridge @ Brookhaven Music & Sound*
All Other Tracking & Mixing by Cole Powell @ Randomine Records*
 
Written & Produced by Cole Powell*
 
Cover photos by Kelly “Babs” Bagwell
 
*Except:
 
Drums on “Wrong for You” Engineered by Cole Powell @ Randomine Records
Electric Guitar & Original Outro Mix on “Just for Fun” & Guitars/Bass on “Company (MGN)” Engineered by Nick Smith @ Dipping Vat Studio
“Words Like That (Live)” Engineered and Edited by MFTSS Program Crew
“Company” written by Cole Powell and Brittany D

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Rush Limbaugh Proves the Music of CCR Transcends Political Barriers

As the politically informed music aficionado probably already knows, legendary conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a giant music fan, having begun his career in radio as a DJ, while former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty leans heavily left on the political spectrum, having taken lyrical digs at the likes of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as having publicly supported Democratic presidential nominees John Kerry and Hillary Clinton

Well, today, when a caller to Limbaugh’s show asked the host his thoughts on Woodstock, celebrating its 50th anniversary this week, Rush name-dropped CCR and Fogerty a couple of different times. 

First:

“I was reading, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival — they have since disbanded over typical problems that rock bands have. But Fogerty said he was willing to go back and was signed up to go back and then the whole thing fell apart.”

Then (and more interestingly):

“And some of the music I liked. Some of it I hated. But I remember listening to it.

Creedence, Stones, I love Creedence. I love Fogerty. He probably hates me. But I love John Fogerty. I just loved them. The talent they had. They were on one of those two- or three-year rolls where their creativity was limitless. It knew no bounds.”

Well, there you have it. Irrefutable evidence that, regardless of political ideology, we can all agree the music of Creedence was truly something special.

(Bonus Track: In 2005, George W. Bush’s iPod included none other than Fogerty’s “Centerfield.”) 

 


 

Cell Phone Use Creating “Horns” on Human Skulls? Hmmmm.

Last week, a 2018 study (no, it isn’t new) started making waves around the world. Sensationalized in headlines as “Phones Growing Horns on Young People,” the study actually deals with the development of bone spurs, abnormal but not uncommon tissue protrusions, between the base of the skull and spine and the subsequent hypothesis that the growths may be caused by prolonged head bowing in connection with phone use.

Now, this story interests me for many reasons. First, I’ve had bone spurs myself, though not in the cranial/spinal region. Second, I’ve always found it simultaneously hilarious and shameful when the media publishes purposefully misleading headlines. Third, I love when “medical science” reports new findings so I can begin waiting for later studies that disprove those findings. (Case in point: Last year, new research was published indicating that the long-recommended aspirin a day for heart attack prevention can actually be detrimental to health!) And finally, I seriously think that excessive cell phone use, particularly among millennials and post-millennials, is an alarming epidemic, for the disconnection from reality it engenders if nothing else. (Pastime suggestion: Engage a teen-to-twenties individual in conversation and time how long that person maintains discourse and eye contact before clocking out to check an e-device.)

But despite erroneous headlines, poor reporting, and my mistrust of “scientific studies,” the hypothesis actually makes sense to me because of my personal experience with and knowledge of bone spur development. I also believe that constantly repeating an activity that the human body is not made to constantly repeat will inevitably yield negative repercussions. It also makes sense that, even though regular cellular usage has been around for 20+ years, overuse would just now become a problem because, in the ‘90s, cell phones were actually used as phones for phone calls, not as 24-hr., handheld television screens. It further follows that the 30 and under crowd would be the most affected demographic because it comprises the first generations to grow up with near-unlimited access to mobile devices and use them during times when bodies would be in a state of growth and tissues would be delicate and malleable.

However, regardless how much the study seemed to make sense to me, after a 24-hr. digestion, the media lashed back at itself, declaring the entire report a hoax. One headline boldly proclaimed the affair “debunked,” yet, towards the end of the accompanying article, the piece actually confirms the hypothesis to be valid! It just isn’t supported enough by data at this time due to dubious methodology used in this particular research. Bottom line: Mobile devices may be causing health problems, but this study doesn’t prove it.

So, at the end of this internet firestorm, I still believe the same things I believed at the beginning:

1. Bone spurs are not cool.

2. The media will spin a story any way they want regardless of facts.

3. Science is great but a long way from having all the answers.

And

4. Folks should try putting down the phone/tablet and living in the real world once in a while. Who knows? They just might enjoy it.

Ramblings of a Mad Man: Reflections on a Passable Career

I’ve wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll since I was four years old.  At the time, my musical heroes were The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, and Roy Orbison, and my favorite song was Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. When I was 12, I began learning to play guitar, and a few years later, I started making a go at songwriting and seriously contemplating a music career. Since singing was never my forte, I approached this phenomenal vocal talent I knew and suggested we form a band founded on my writing and her vocals. Though impressed with my tunes, she wasn’t particularly interested in a professional career and also insisted my vocals belonged with the songs. So, I married her instead and tried my own cords at vocalizations, though for quite a while, I kept my musical endeavors relegated to a few home-cut demos I passed out among friends.

By 2011, some personal issues forced me into a “it’s now or never” decision with pursuing my dream of a music career; I chose the former option, independently releasing my debut record worldwide October 11, 2011. In the ensuing four and a half years, I succeeded in many of my musical goals and accomplished things for which millions of artists the world over strive but never achieve during an entire career.  

My sophomore release charted in the Top 100 of a U.S. national iTunes chart. My music received positive reviews from critics in three countries and two continents. My band had the honor of opening for top Nashville acts. I had the privilege of appearing on television and radio discussing my music and captured something of the indie artist Holy Grail by garnering airplay on commercial terrestrial radio. But the most important and unexpected success came in the form of the people I had the pleasure of meeting—people who were not only stellar artists but also exceptional human beings whom I can count to this day as some of the best friends I’ve ever had. But despite this success, the negatives inherent to a DIY music career, coupled with health issues and unexpected positive changes in my personal life, lead to the fairly easy decision to take a lengthy (and probably permanent) break from the “biz.” Thus, I ceased booking gigs, finished out the previously scheduled 2016 dates with my stellar band, Mississippi Good Night, and hung up the guitar, at least in the professional sense.

Since then, I have been afforded the opportunity to focus on my family life and have been blessed with a physical, mental, and spiritual renaissance I never imagined possible. Plus, I have still had the privilege of dabbling in a few musical ventures, including releasing a “something old, something new” album Redux and working on a new song for the upcoming film The Band Forgettable. But, though music will always be a passion for me, I’ve now found actual callings and am as happy and healthy as I can remember being this side of toddlerhood. 

I’m also doing a bit of non-music writing now (obviously) and hope to ramble a few thoughts now and then about this and that right here, so, stay tuned.

In the mean time, to all the fans that supported me throughout my musical endeavors and continue to let me know how much enjoyment the music has brought to your lives (all three of you! I jest; there are at least four…I think!):  

If I never make another tune, your “fanship” was worth the toil. And if I ever make another tune, you’ll be the first to know.