What the hell is "Way Out West"?!?

That's a fair question.  

The short answer is; It's a lyric in the song "Las Vegas".  Because when you're in Massachusetts - Las Vegas is technically Way Out West.

The much longer answer is it's a collection of songs that we've been playing and enjoying, most of which were written by friends of ours.  With the exception of "Jolene" and "Folsom Prison" as we in fact are not friends with Dolly Parton or Johnny Cash.  But the songs all seem to revolve around this theme of being here as opposed to there.  Here being Southern California and there being Massachusetts.  It's not a negative towards the east coast at all, it's more what we discovered here.

So we were doing stuff in the studio and before long we realized that we had about 15 songs mostly done.  So we finished them and then I went on Harry Fox and got the clearance rights to put the covers on cd and sell.  So I pulled a couple of all nighters and we finished up the mixing and it's off getting made into cds.  11 songs.  It's a fun record.  

This is what I mean:

1)  Massachusetts.  Probably my favorite song I've ever written.  And it's like a love letter back to where we used to be, those younger folks who were dj's in college and sold your old records to finance...what?  A car payment?  Whatever it is.  I just love it.  And having my favorite keyboardist, Rami Jaffee, playing on it.  Just makes it even more awesomer. 

2)  Lovers.  One of the first SoCal band that I adored was The Jukebox Junkies and somehow that led me to Five Easy Pieces (I think they had some common band members) and the song "Lovers" is talking about taking your wife up to Hollywood for the night.  "We're doing ninety miles an hour on a 100 hundred mile night"  That's Tracy and I whenever we go to LA!  "Some things can't be taken lightly, we rock and we roll...like Lovers on parole."  What an awesome lyric.  I tried really hard to find the guys that wrote this song but haven't been able to yet.   Our buddy (and East Coast Fallen Star) Al Carey laid down some beautiful pedal steel guitar on this one!

3) Sight of Me.  When Tracy and I first moved to Southern California we were playing in a band with our friends Kalai King and Jeff Bell.  We came up with the band name "Hawkeye" because it seemed like a better name than "The Alan Alda's" (true story) and "Sight of Me" was a song Kalai wrote and I remember when we rehearsed it just thinking how amazing a song it was and loving being part of that sound.  Plus it has the lyric "Perhaps it's never winter if you never see it snow."  C'mon!  Right?  Fits right in.

4) 4th of July.  So there's an Orange County band known as X.  Most everyone here loves them.  We were not entirely familiar with X but Tracy and I would often get folks telling us that we reminded them of X.  So we checked it out and Holy Crap what a huge compliment that was!!  We've also been very fortunate to have opened for Dave Alvin.  There was a time when Dave Alvin was the guitar player in X and he wrote this song.  Dave is also an Orange County institution.  This one felt very natural to us.  We just played it and loved it.  Bonus on this song is that we got our friend Roman (who lives in Vienna, Austria) to play the pedal steel part on here!

5)  Folsom Prison.  I always think of the night we played this song at Ronnie Mack's Barn Dance.  Which, if you don't know, was another California Institution that ran for over 25 years.  Anyway - we were playing the Barndance and we started playing Folsom and immediately thought to myself "oh, man do we have brass balls to play this in here.  This is sacrilege!  But when we finished these three guys came up to us and said "We've heard that song hundreds of times but that's the best version we've ever heard."  Whew!

6) Feather Bed.   Sometime in 1997 or so my buddy Morgan Keating played me a cd of Phil Cody and at the end of the cd there was a cover of the Clash's "Straight to Hell".  It blew me away.  Fast forward to 2009-ish and Rami is inviting me to DiPiazza's in Long Beach because he's playing with Phil Cody.  We meet, play some shows together, then I start playing shows with Phil and become even more immersed in his catalog.  This is a song Phil wrote that really captures my Californian existence.  Tracy's harmonies surround mine.  She's my feather bed.  She keeps me safe.  Oh and amazing Danny Ott played dobro all over this thing!!  LOVE!

7)  The Lights.  Before we left Massachusetts, I was in a band called The Gypsy Mechanics and my buddy Morgan Keating was the singer and main songwriter in that band.  I am a huge fan of Westerberg, Springsteen, Strummer but I can honestly say that I stole/learned just as much if not more from a songwriter named Morgan Keating.   You can't go home but you can bring home wherever you go.  This song about "Browns and grays and snowy days".  

8)  Jolene.  This one is a recent addition to us playing.  We heard the slowed down Dolly Parton song on Youtube and we just dove in.  Let's make it dark and heavy!  Geo Hennessey adds violin and harmony vocal and just the right amount of Celtic touch to go with my big distorted guitar!

9)  Sally Starr.  What started as a goof jam that we were writing with Ben one night (after too much wine) it originally had lyrics like "You can call me Keith, you can call me Mick, you can call me Richard but I'm really not a Dick."  We ditched the lyrics but kept the tune.  I shared it with some friends because I really liked the guitar tone I was getting and Speedy Gray from the band Like A Rocket heard it and penned a bunch of lyrics.  I took the lyrics, cut 'em up, sliced and diced, made a chorus out of it and viola' ~ Sally Starr was born.  I had to look up to find out who she was.  Pioneering radio DJ and TV personality from the 1950's.  I read that her catch phrase was "I hope you feel as good as you look, because you sure look good to your Aunt Sal."  I knew I had to get that in there somewhere, so it's paraphrased in the bridge.

10)  Las Vegas.  This is an older Gypsy Mechanics song that was written by a guy named Chris Tarmey.  I can't find him.  I've tried.  I don't even know if I'm spelling his name correctly.  This is what the original sounded like:  Another song that I always identified with.  "I dropped out of college, fell off that track."  So true.  I go a little guitar crazy on this one.  

11)  Another Girl, Another Planet.  We have this habit of taking nice pretty songs and rocking them up.  This is the complete opposite.  Tracy and I were trying to figure out what Cosmic American music meant to us and it led us to a punk rock song being played as if it's in outer space.  The fact that it actually says it's on another planet - bonus.  The 1979 original by The Only Ones has been covered by the Replacements, Blink 182 among others.  We didn't stand a chance at out rocking them.  So we put it in space, lots of space and added a melancholy to it.  

And there you go.

Way Out West.

2 comments

  • P. Tarmey

    P. Tarmey RI

    Hi: Chris Tarmey is my son. He is now a married man. He and his wife live in Lancaster, MA. They are both high school English teachers. He teaches AP English and Humanities. His wife teaches AP English. He wrote lots of songs when he was younger. He picked up the guitar on his own (coming from a musical family with no guitars in sight), and now teaches guitar in an after-school setting. So nice to hear one of his songs. His other group was called Train of Thought.

    Hi: Chris Tarmey is my son. He is now a married man. He and his wife live in Lancaster, MA. They are both high school English teachers. He teaches AP English and Humanities. His wife teaches AP English. He wrote lots of songs when he was younger. He picked up the guitar on his own (coming from a musical family with no guitars in sight), and now teaches guitar in an after-school setting. So nice to hear one of his songs. His other group was called Train of Thought.

  • thefallenstars.com

    thefallenstars.com

    Wow!! Great to know! Can you put him in touch with me? I want to make sure he is credited properly and gets songwriting royalties for me playing his song. Can email me at Bobbo@TheFallenStars.com

    Wow!! Great to know! Can you put him in touch with me? I want to make sure he is credited properly and gets songwriting royalties for me playing his song. Can email me at Bobbo@TheFallenStars.com

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