Song Challenge Week 11 — A Song From Your Favorite Band

OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.

Song Challenge Week 11 — A Song From Your Favorite Band

“Jenny Says,” Cowboy Mouth

I don’t have a lot of favorite bands.

Most of my favorite acts are solo artists. Don’t know why, that’s just the way it is.

Every once in a while, a band sneaks through the filter. U2 is probably the elder statesmen of bands I like, not the first, but probably the band with the most staying power on my favorites list.

In the last couple of years, some country acts have made the list — Sugarland and Lady Antebellum come to mind.

But my favorite band? I’d have to say that, at the moment, that honor belongs to Cowboy Mouth. I love their music, and I greatly love seeing them live. It’s more than a concert, it’s an experience.

So, I’m going with Cowboy Mouth for favorite band, which pretty much makes “Jenny Says” the song.

Review — Cowboy Mouth’s “This Train…”

Four years after their last album, “Fearless,” Cowboy Mouth is back, and very possibly better than ever.

With its tenth album, 20 years after its first, the band, with “This Train…” has captured in a single album a perfect Cowboy Mouth primer, capturing what the band is all about with songs that measure up with any they’ve recorded.

The album begins with the high-energy, rocking title track. While Cowboy Mouth is a excellent studio band, they are unparalleled as a live act, a fact that’s hinted at in this, the only live recording on the otherwise studio album. To be sure, it’s a restrained and focused live performance for the band, absent of lead singer and drummer Fred LeBlanc’s interplay with the audience, but its a recording that makes it easy to imagine that the song will become a cornerstone of Cowboy Mouth concerts for quite a while. Energetic and catchy, “This Train” is an instant Cowboy Mouth classic.

“Blues At Bay” is Cowboy Mouth at play, a creative and fun song that, as the title implies, brings in a blues-y feel while still remaining quintessentially Cowboy Mouth. While the two songs are very different, “When It Rains” does something similar, mixing in an exotic melody while keeping the Cowboy Mouth feel.

“All The Way To Austin” is the newest album’s proof that Cowboy Mouth are not only reigning masters of Southern rock, they’re darned proud of it.

“Be Alive Tonight” is as distilled a version of the Cowboy Mouth gospel as the band has ever recorded. The band’s concerts are not only a virtuoso musical performance, they are a call for the audience — the congregation — to celebrate life. “Be Alive Tonight” is the perfect altar call for that message.

“I Believe” is not a new song, having been included in the band’s last album, but it measures among their best, and the inclusion of the “This Train Version” of the song on this album just helps to secure its place as the perfect introductory Cowboy Mouth album for new listeners, and a modern masterpiece for long-time fans.

The album is currently available exclusively from the band’s web site for $5.99, and the band is currently on tour supporting it.

Cowboy Mouth — “This Train” Lyrics

“This Train” is song from Cowboy Mouth’s new CD by the same name.

This Train
Cowboy Mouth

This train hugs the track
It’s made it all the way to hell and back
Yeah, this train…

This train’s gone so far
You’re never really quite sure where you are
On this train…

This train forged in hope and fashioned by desire
With an engine running true should anyone inquire
When all else falls away, the one thing that remains
Is this train

(Take it, ladies) This train!

This train keeps rolling on
through so many riders come and gone
This train!
Just when you think it might be done
A brand-new adventure’s just begun
On this train!

If you need a break from all the pressure that you’re under
On a ride fueled with fame and powered by a hunger
I can’t take the kind of life where every day’s the same
This train

Sometimes late at night
I wonder if I made the right
Then I always tell myself
No way I’d follow someone else’s
Towards a collision
With this train

When I was a young boy way down south
I used to hop the train by my momma’s house

It was there and then I began to know
That there wasn’t anywhere I could not go
On this train

So when you feel your mind is always mired in confusion
When those in charge would keep us chasing their illusions
When all else falls away the one thing that remains
Is this train

This train

Are You With Me!?

OK, I’m finally getting around to catching up on some stuff that I hadn’t had the chance to blog yet.

A couple of weeks ago or so, I went to my fifth Cowboy Mouth show, at Workplay in Birmingham.

I’ve blogged before about seeing Cowboy Mouth, and don’t really have too much new from this experience to write.

I went with Heather, and the experience of going with her to her first Cowboy Mouth show was pretty cool, but she’s already written a post on her blog about it that was better than anything I would say and so good it got feedback from the band’s management.

So instead of trying to add anything new word-wise, I’ll just acknowledge that it’s already been said, and instead share some pics that I took during the concert with my iPhone, and which, all things considered, I’m moderately pleased with.

Only A Masters Of Awesome

When I first saw Cowboy Mouth, it was purely lagniappe.

This weekend, when I saw them for the fourth time, it’s more of an educational experience. Professional development, if you will.

The first time I saw them was at Huntsville’s Big Spring Jam music festival back in 2006. They were part of a block of acts on Sunday evening with Sister Hazel and the Gin Blossoms. Basically, at that point, I knew them solely for “Jenny Says,” which I recalled as a sort of off-beat hit from college radio at Ole Miss. In fact, all three acts were staples of Rebel Radio, and I thought it might be a nice nostalgic evening. I was mainly interested in hearing the Gin Blossoms do “Hey Jealousy,” but didn’t know if I was willing to pay to see just that. But since one ticket gets you in for the day, might as well go catch all three, right?

While Cowboy Mouth was sort of just an added bonus going into it, they were, for me, without question, the stars of the show. “Jenny Says” was awesome live. And it turns out that I liked more of their songs when I heard them. But …

The show was amazing. Just incredible. I wrote recently about what I like in a concert, and number one on the list is an experience that’s different from the CD. Well, watching Cowboy Mouth live is an experience that’s different from the CD. Even the live video at the top of this post doesn’t begin to describe it.

As I said, I’ve seen them now four times — that first time in a chair at Big Spring Park, a ways from the stage; the second time standing near the stage at a club downtown; the third time sitting on the ground, even farther from the stage at Big Spring Park; and the fourth time this weekend again standing near the stage at the Elvis Festival in Tupelo. And, really, if you’re not within 10 feet of the stage at a Cowboy Mouth show, you’re not at the same concert.

I went back, and keep going back, because the thing that surprised me most at that first show was how much I learned at the first show. Cowboy Mouth drummer and lead singer Fred LeBlanc is an amazing showman, and he has an incredible ability to engage the audience.

I had been in the Face2Face improv troupe for just a few months the first time I saw them; I don’t think I’d even been on stage yet. But I was awed at his energy and stage presence.

By the second time I saw them, I’d been in the troupe a good bit longer, and think I’d even started hosting shows. And that was where I really started learning. My hosting stagecraft owes a huge amount to LeBlanc. He made me realize that I’m not hosting a theatre event, like a play. I’m hosting a rock and roll show. I need to get the audience fired up. I need to get them energized. I need to get them engaged. Are you with me!?

Every time I see them, it’s like a one-night masters degree in stage presence and performance. Every time, I learn a little more, come out of it with a little more. Frankly, it’s a good thing I’m not hosting the show this Tuesday night at Sam & Greg’s; I would probably steal too directly from Saturday night’s concert.

Maybe next week …