By Singer-Songwriter, Katie Curley
1. Pick Me Up
“Pick Me Up” was the first song deliberately written for Cry About It Later, so it was a happy surprise when we listened back to the rough cuts and our ears perked up on that song. It has a loose honky-tonk feel about it, which is just how we wanted to introduce the record.
“Pick Me Up” is written from the point of view of a newly wedded woman who’s so depressed about being broke in the wake of her honeymoon that she wishes there was some kind of buzz she could get that would last until payday. “It better be something slow and strong / It’s gotta last nearly all month long.” It is 100% autobiographical!
2. Devil’s Angel
Once we had “Devil’s Angel” in our back pocket, we knew it would be central to the project and that we needed a producer who could harness its potential. Eric Ambel sprung to mind immediately. Working with him and drummer, Phil Cimino, gave the song the grit and backbone it needed.
We are currently working on a music video for “Devil’s Angel,” which is taking the storyline to a whole other planet. The content of the lyrics is pure fantasy, a daydream about stealing someone’s date. The fact that it is one of the few songs we play that does not draw upon a fixed personal experience has made the process of adapting it to a visual medium both challenging and liberating. Everyone can get into it, because it’s no one’s story!
3. Turn The Page
The arrangement for “Turn The Page” is so spare and sweet, I love listening to it on the heels of two high-energy tracks. Everyone in the studio did a good job of pulling back and letting the melody cut through.
“Turn The Page” is a weepy waltz that offers unsolicited advice to someone in denial about a crumbling marriage. “You can’t stop what everyone around you can see, but you can turn the page and face up to reality.”
4. Take Me Out
We cut “Take Me Out” for our previous self-recorded CD, but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted so we scratched it. This time, with help from Roscoe and some top-notch players, I think we got it right.
A slow-burning ballad that features Melody Berger on fiddle and Jonny Lam on pedal steel, “Take Me Out” is a plea from one broken heart to another to try to ease their mutual pain. “Take me out, take my mind off of him/ Take me in your arms, let me remember him/ Take me home, make me forget all about him/ Take me in, don’t let me go ‘til I am over him.”
5. Telecaster Man
“Telecaster Man” started writing itself during an introductory meeting at Cowboy Technical, so of course it had to go on the album. It was tricky to record, because it was the newest song in the bunch and it has a lot of working parts that all have to fit together. It’s a kind of anthem for Telecaster guitarists (about a Telecaster man in particular, but hopefully female Telecaster players can get into it too) and a fan-girl’s open letter that combines bluegrass harmonies and Cajun fiddle with a rock beat and twangy electric guitar.
After that meeting, which took place in a room filled with guitars and involved a lot of talking about guitarists, I rushed to get “Telecaster Man” down on paper on the subway ride home and finished it the same afternoon in my apartment. At the time, I had Laryngitis and couldn’t sing for three weeks. So I had to wait to actually hear the song. I used the time to envision a guitar part and wrote it out on manuscript paper for Curley (Brendan). He was like, Huh? You’re gonna tell me how to play my guitar now? And I was like, yeah!
6. Dream Girl
I’ve played classical harp since I was a kid, and I wanted to sneak it in somewhere. “Dream Girl” presented the opportunity. I like the combination of the ephemeral sounding arpeggios and Sarah’s rich, grounding harmony vocals.
While the lyrical lines are full of internal rhyme, they do not rhyme in the traditional sense. I can’t remember if this was intentional or not, but it makes me feel like the narrator really means what she is saying. “When the one I love gets to wondering where’s this little girl, he’ll find me in his dreams.”
7. Ten Gallon Hat
“Ten Gallon Hat” is the song I am the most proud of for writing and including on this record. It touches on a political topic and a personal choice that I feared might be judged out of place in a country song. We’ve had discussions at certain venues over whether or not we were going to play the song. In the end it seemed like a story worth telling, so we recorded it. I should mention that it was fun to watch Roscoe and Curley work on the 12-string arrangement because they were like super geeking out about the drop-D at the end.
8. Dilly Dally
I got hooked on the show Nashville when it first came out, and one night after watching an episode where Scarlett and Gunnar write their first song together, I was inspired to try to write something with a similar jazzy feel. I took the phrase, “dilly dally” which had struck me years earlier when I heard my best friend’s mother say it in her thick Texan drawl, and some jazzy chord progressions and put them together along with a kind of Jimmy Rogers motif.
This song started out sounding completely different. In one session, it transformed into the song it was always meant to be– swinging brush strokes, subdued rhythm guitar, Floyd Cramer style piano, and playful close-knit harmonies. In the booth, it felt like I was singing in a smoky nightclub.
9. Blame It on The Hangover
“Blame It on The Hangover” is the most up-tempo song of the bunch. Brendan’s guitar playing gives it a Don Rich/Buck Owens feel. I wasn’t sure about it’s quick pace at first. It seemed like I had just opened my mouth and the song was over. I complained a little and was outvoted!
Lyrically, it is the silliest song ever. A jilted lover is looking for someone or something to blame for the way he feels the morning after a one-night stand. The only culprit the disinterested party-girl can offer is her hangover. What I like about it is that it takes a trope more often associated with men and spins it from a love-‘em-and-leave-‘em woman’s point of view.
10. Cry About It Later
“Cry About It Later” is about what to do or maybe what not to do when your biological clock is ticking and your partner’s isn’t. After I wrote it, I was sure no one would get it. I played it for my band, and they liked it, but I guessed that they hadn’t listened to the lyrics. Then we started playing it out, and women sometimes came up to me after shows saying how much they liked that song in particular.
We had played this song for a handful of years before we recorded it, so the way we played it was pretty ingrained. Roscoe pointed out to me that it contained a double chorus, which I’d never realized. He suggested we save the full chorus for the second half of the song, and I did not react well to the suggestion. But then he made a joke and I started to relax and listen to what he was saying. The next day I agreed to the rewrite.
11. Five to Nine
Obviously inspired by Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five,” “Five to Nine” was written as a kiss-off song to celebrate quitting an unhealthy job. It refers to sexual harassment at work and the stress that being on a virtual clock can cause.
We saved it for close to last because it’s another honky-tonk number and it features fiddle and piano to kind of bring things full circle and give everyone a chance to play something on the way out.
12. Cold Quiet Drink
“Cold, Quiet Drink” is the only fully acoustic song on the album, dubbed “the campfire song” by Roscoe because of its relaxed feel and because most of the instruments were recorded live in the same room while the players sat around in a circle with no headphones the way they might at a campfire.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been hassled at bars by men who couldn’t accept or allow that I wanted to have a drink by myself. A few years ago, I had barely taken my first sip at an airport bar while waiting for a flight home for Christmas. This guy seemed to come out of nowhere to harass me as if by sitting there without a companion I had asked for it. I promptly paid my tab and walked to the gate where I sat without a drink in my hand for the remainder of the layover. I was so pissed off by the time I got on the plane that I wrote “Cold Quiet Drink” on a stack of cocktail napkins while flying over the Rockies. I used an ordinary bar that I had frequented once-upon-a-time called The Hideout as the setting, because I thought the brightly lit airport bar was too unbelievable!
I got to record this song in a room full of men who were respectful and professional. I felt completely comfortable standing in my bare feet and letting myself be vulnerable musically. It was the kind of experience that makes serial harassers seem even more pathetic because you realize that nothing productive can ever come of that behavior, meanwhile women and men are living together, working together, making stuff together all the time, and it’s wonderful!