Marshall on Blaze of Glory

I recorded Blaze of Glory with the same crew (co-producer/musician Michael Utley and musicians Will Kimbrough, Jim Mayer and Casey Wood) that played on my last album—2010′s Big Lonesome (named “Best Country/Roots Album of 2010″ by Philadelphia Inquirer). Everyone just seemed to pick up and soar from where we left off. In the process, we may have even created a new genre—torch-rock Americana! As for the songs, what started out as “rug-burn music for sexagenarians” deepened into the whole mortality thing. I feel like this is by far my best work and I hope you enjoy it.

“Love in the Wind”—There’s being in love with someone, and there’s being in love with the way you feel around someone. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. (written in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in the summer of 2011)

“I Don’t Want Nobody”—I was riding along the Natchez Trace in Mississippi with my husband. I had just finished talking with Donnie Fritts (“We Had It All,” “Breakfast in Bed”) on my mobile about a pending gig. Just for the record, I can’t stand for anyone to call me Honey or Darlin’, as it often sounds dismissive or condescending. But with Donnie, things were different. He was honeyin’ me left and right, and, not only was I not pissed off … I was charmed! This song started coming right after we hung up. As I recall, I finished it before we crossed the Alabama line.

“Nearness of You”—This classic by Hoagy Carmichael was the second track on the first album I ever bought. The year was 1963. The album was Stay with Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. I have been in love with this song ever since. In the summer of 2010, I decided to learn how to play it. It took me three weeks. And would’ve taken longer, had I not received a chord assist from Will Kimbrough.

I wrote “Beyond Words” while sitting on the floor in the hallway outside my hotel room at Taninul near Valles, Mexico. I was traveling through remote areas of this beautiful country with three friends. As it turned out, one of them had left a pawnshop guitar in my room. When I couldn’t sleep, I picked the guitar up and headed for the hallway (so as not to disturb my roommate). I finished writing it as the sun was coming up, with these Mexican men stepping over my legs on their way to work. I could tell more, but it would take more than words.

Shannon Wright and I wrote “Let’s Make Waves” shortly after I returned from Mexico. She brought the goods and I jumped right in!

“Dreams & Memories”—I wrote this in the same room where I wrote “Love in the Wind.” I was staying with a couple who live on an old cobblestone street in the El Centro section of San Miguel. My room was right on the street. At night, I could hear all the street sounds … bells ringing near and far, people talking in Spanish, sometimes English, their footsteps as they walked by, and so on. One night I couldn’t sleep, and “Dreams & Memories” just squirted out. I had been thinking about The Everly’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream” at the time. “Dreams & Memories” captures that same sentiment, only with a darker, more fatalistic attitude. (True Blood, are you listening? This one’s for you!)

I first heard the Delmore’s “Blues Stay Away From Me” on a Doug Sahm album and felt an immediate kinship. Recording it felt right as rain.

“Waiting for the Music”—I started writing this while flying back from Akumal (Mexico) in January 2011. A year later, I finished it while sitting at my kitchen table in Nashville. Some songs, I call my “lifesavers.” It’s like, if I hadn’t written them at the time I wrote them, I would have died some sort of spiritual death. “Waiting for the Music” saved my life. And my marriage.

I first recorded “Call the Lamas” on my 2006 album, Mellowicious! which was sort of an experiment using synthesizers. Since “Lamas” was the jewel of that crown, I always hoped to re-record it in an organic setting. Also, it was the perfect song for this spot in this album. The album needed a lift at this point. Something to set the table for what follows. “Lamas” more than fit the bill. Just so you’ll know: no synthesizers or click tracks were used in the making of this album!

“Not Afraid to Die”—I was listening to the Louvin Brothers singing “Are You Afraid to Die?” on YouTube. Which had me thinking, Hell no! Then I started writing. This one came real fast. Every now and then, I channel Harlan Howard. (Like on Big Lonesome with “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.”) Also, every album needs a real country song, right? So thank you, Harlan … and thank you, Ira and Charlie!

“Blaze of Glory” was the last song I wrote for this album. When finished, I instinctively knew (1) I had enough songs to begin recording, (2) it would be the closer and (3) the title of the album.