Coming back home from Costco this afternoon I tuned to KPCC and Terry Gross’ Fresh Air program was in progress. I was immediately drawn to the weary-wise voice of whoever her straight-ahead country gentleman guest was and I soon found out she was talking with a fella the name of James Hand, who seems to have led quite a life and at 53 years old has just released his debut album titled The Truth Will Set You Free.
She asked him how small the town was that he grew up in and in answer he said, “Everybody that lives in it can tear the phonebook in half.” He went on to describe the place as “Itâ€™s like anyplace. Thereâ€™s always going to be roses and thereâ€™s going to be rose fertilizer and when you walk through the fertilizer you hope you donâ€™t track any in on the carpet.” And he called Terry “ma’am” ever chance he got.
I fell in love with him, right away. He had me at fertilizer.
He said things that made me love him even more:
“Well ma’am… if I were a scriptwriter, which I’m not, I think the life I’ve lived would lend itself to the back of any country album although I’m not proud of the life I’ve lived. I don’t think one should talk about the bad over the good but you’re right I have done a lot of things. At this point of my life I explain to people that this is what I’ve got to do. It’s not what I’ve got to do because I can’t do anything else. It’s just what I feel like that I can do better than anything else I can do â€” not the best that someone else can do… the best thing that I can do. Because it keeps me from going crazy. Literally.”
And he said a couple things that choked me up a little bit:
“You know they say a rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out of it and you stay in it long enough and it’ll get kicked in on you.”
“Well, you know a fella gets down sometimes and you just really grow ashamed of yourself. The best way to overcome it is don’t let nobody see you. And hopefully when you come back out of the woods you’ll look better than when you went in.”
Anyway, you can hear the entire interview over here on the NPR website. Me? I’m hoping his CD arrives ffrom Amazon before Susan and I split for Montana at the end of next week, because I’d love to bring him along for the ride and can’t think of anything I’d rather listen to than his real-deal country music on our road-tripping way through Wherever, USA.
In the meantime I’m contenting myself with this here sample of his Shadows Where The Magic Was.