Roger Alan Wade: Motels About Songs

Somewhere buried deep inside of me is a pretty fantastic songwriter. I’m absolutely sure of that. I’m 36 and have yet to actually spelunk that particular cavern, instead I most often find myself with wet feet and scratched knees. Speaking of actual songwriters, I once heard a story from a bonafide about how Townes Van Zandt was once invited to judge a songwriting contest. Now, both of these things seem to be terrible ideas; Van Zandt judging songwriters and also songwriting competitions in general. Good lord. Anyway, the story goes that Van Zandt, after hearing a song, would write down some crazy number: 46, 93, 127, etc. Finally, when asked how he was scoring the contestants, he replied the number was how many more songs the songwriter would need to write to get a good one. Possibly the best judging system ever devised. My problem is I always figure my number is about 1, maybe 2. I’m sure that’s the mentality that Mr. 127 needs though to get there.

As it is I listen to a lot of music. More or less it all falls into three categories; good, bad, and why bother. The why bothers are the ones I dislike the most. The goods and the bads at least run the risk of being interesting. The why bothers though are like fish with both eyes on the same side of its head. I think the problem is people want to write a song more than having something to say in a song.
This week, while catching up on a backlog of CDs, I was listening to one that really had nothing at all to say. I’m sure it took work. The production is okay. The playing is okay. The melodies are functional, if a bit underwhelming. The words are placeholders. On a bad day, a lazy day, I can listen to a record like this for a long time before realizing there’s not really anything there. Nothing grabs me and my mind wanders away, and half an album later I come back. I’ve had about 7 girlfriends like that (if an ex is reading this I promise i’m not referring to you. You were the best, baby.) So, I finally realize there’s nothing being said and I pop it out and toss it to my kid to play with it. He loves it by the way.
Next in is a record from 2010 called “The Deguello Motel”, from journeyman songwriter, Roger Alan Wade. I’m sure I should have known him before this, but I didn’t, maybe it’s just because it sort of sounds like David Alan Coe to me. Over the years though, he’s written for the best, Waylon, Willie, Johnny, George. The album title comes from the opening song and here’s the thing: after 30 seconds I knew that this man had something to say. What followed was 13 songs of weary stumbling and country redemption, sung from a guy who sounds like he knows what he sings of. It’s as simple as it gets. One guy and a strummed guitar. There’s nothing to hide behind, no fancy picking, no swinging band, just guts and bone. I love this album.
Postscritpus ~ I was driving through the city the other day and wanted to hear the album again so bad I almost stopped at a music store to buy a second copy. But that would have been foolish, wouldn’t it?

About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Country, Folk, Honky Tonk, Music, Radio and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Roger Alan Wade: Motels About Songs

  1. Tamara Lewis says:

    Hey Iaan. A friend of mine calls those songs “So What” songs…

    And I want to encourage you to start spelunking!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s