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What Goes Into a CD?

What Goes Into a CD

Pat Wictor joins Ellis Paul, Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem PA, 4/15/05.
Photo by Karen Z.

Friends often ask me "what's behind the music" that I write. It's not always possible to point to the source of inspiration or ideas, but the work of my fellow musicians is always a part of the context.

Let me share with you some of the most important musicians whose work shaped my latest CD.

  • Robert Pete Williams
WhileI was writing a blues song for the CD - "Don't You Know Me Well" - I was having some trouble. The trouble often comes from that nagging internal voice that says, "Didn't someone else write this already?" It took some digging, but I discovered the phrase was a riff on a song I'd listened to years ago by Robert Pete Williams, "I've Grown So Ugly." Re-listening to Robert Pete--down-home blues at its finest-- helped me clarify where the song was going, and I felt comfortable that my "riff" was different enough that I could continue with the song.
Listen to Robert Pete Williams

  • Nick Drake
Nick Drake's moody, atmospheric music has haunted me for years. His guitar playing, fingerstyle and open-tuned, definitely influenced my own approach. And several of his albums feature cello, one of the ultimate mood-creating instruments. I managed to work some cello into a couple songs on this record, and I have Nick Drake's work, in particular "Cello Song," to thank for the inspiration.
Listen to Nick Drake's "Cello Song"

  • Ellis Paul
When assembling a CD, I'm often thinking about melodies--the shape, the arc, how they pick you up and set you down a moment later. I've had the good fortune to play recently with Ellis Paul, and I had to soak up his latest recording, "American Jukebox Fables," which is filled with great melodies. Listening intently to this CD helped me shape the melodies on my own record.
Listen to Ellis Paul here

Every musician stands on the shoulders of those who came before. It's sometimes fun to listen to a piece of music and try to hear all the different strands of creativity that went into it.

Read more about Robert Pete Williams

Nick Drake fan website, with his complete discography

Ellis Paul's website provides a good introduction

And, of course, some links to my own newly-released CD, "Heaven Is So High...And I'm So Far Down."
On this website
At CDBaby
At Subway Records

   Ears and Eyes (what I'm listening to and reading )

•-- Music

  • Harry Manx, "Mantras for Madmen."
Listen and buy the cd

  • Dorian Spencer, "Garden"
Listen and buy the cd

•-- Books

  • "The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War," edited by Robert B. Strassler.
buy the book

  • "The World's Shortest Stories: Murder, Love, Horror, Suspense, All This and Much More in the Most Amazing Short Stories Ever Written, Each One Just 55 Words Long," edited by Steve Moss.
buy the book