David Mead - photo by Heidi Ross

The Writers Room: Episode 08 Brad Jones

Today we talk with Nashville-based songwriter, producer, arranger and studio musician, Brad Jones.

I asked Brad to share some insight into his own music, along with that “something extra” that he brings to the stage and the studio.

  Album Title Artist Songwriter Producer Songs Featured
Gilt-
Flake
(1995)
Brad
Jones
Sam
Baylor,
Brad
Jones
Brad
Jones
The Blunderbuss  (see lyrics below)

Blun'-der-buss:
1. a short-barreled large-bored gun with a flared muzzle, used at short range.
2. an action or way of doing something regarded as lacking in subtlety and precision.
3. a song by Brad Jones about Manifest Destiny.

Man'-i-fest Des'-tin-y:
the 19th-century doctrine or belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable.
Gilt-
Flake
(1995)
Brad
Jones
Brad
Jones
Brad
Jones
I Tried

This song features wide melodic intervals, soaring, polyphonic vocal harmonies, and jubilant, contrapuntal bass lines. During the second half of the verses and also during the chroruses, notice how the backing vocals feel loose and unstructured, when actually they’re neatly arranged.  What I originally heard as feedback in the breakdown was actually overtones from a sustained organ note.

Gilt-
Flake
(1995)
Brad
Jones
Brad
Jones,
Mike
Griffith
Brad
Jones
Mary's Moving Day

An intriguing title and lyrical premise. Notice what Brad refers to as the "escalating list coda." Near the end of the song, after he sings the title line “...it’s Mary’s Moving Day,” he sings that melody line again and again, each time with new lyrics, while escalating the lyrical payoff with each iteration.

Mountain
Jack
(2010)
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
No
Producer
Froggy Mountain Shakedown
Whimsical lyrics and southern-styled pop, all rolled into one.  The title is a more than just a clever play on the 1949 Earl Scruggs bluegrass song title, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”  All of these title words are important parts of the story.  Lots of nice wordplay, like when Froggy buys a house with a moat (a house on a lake), and the fun line, “They broke thirteen laws in twenty-seven states.” The guitar and drum work is a blast.  Hans and Brad played all of the instruments on "Mountain Jack" except the drums, which were played by Keith Rodman.  The album title (which first appears as "up the mountain, Jack") is established in this lyric.

See Hans Rotenberry singing this song live at Alex The Great Studio

Mountain
Jack
(2010)
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
No
Producer
A Likely Lad

An extremely singable verse and chorus melody, and a sweet, 6th-below vocal harmony. But hang on tight at the bridge, because you’re in for a real joy ride with one chord change in particular. You’ll know the one I mean.

Mountain
Jack
(2010)
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
Hans
Rotenberry,
Brad
Jones
No
Producer
Count On Me

More southern-flavored guitar work, against a snare-clap back beat. Some nice couplets, including: “I took a chance on you / After I blew the intro, knew just what I had to do,” and “Couldn’t you wait a little longer? / I’d wait it out for you.”

 

The Blunderbuss
(Lyrics by Brad Jones)

Thanksgiving passes slow on the Reservation
Such a shame they don't live in town
Five helicopters drop down the special ration
And the sky fills with pamphlets

Hiawatha sells her charms
The men have gone to trade for arms
Custer rides in drunk demands a vaudeville teepee show

God's children / The exiles / Tacoma takes up slack for all of us
Ten pilgrims / Four-wheelin' / No buffalo escapes the blunderbuss

Miles Standish calls his men to receive their mission
As the pep rally rages on
Makes speeches 'bout supreme Anglo intuition
And he throws down his compass

But beyond the 13th parallel
They start to fight amongst themselves
Young and scared and lost and hungry
Deep within the woods

God's children / The exiles / Tacoma takes up slack for all of us
Ten pilgrims / Four-wheelin' / No animal escapes the blunderbuss

It's destiny was manifest
(The hand of God was pointed west)
Caterpillar tracks across the hot Nevada sand

God's children / The exiles / Tacoma takes up slack for all of us
Ten pilgrims / Four-wheelin' / No living thing escapes the blunderbuss
Take aim... FIRE!


 

Brad Jones
Lyric snippet by Amy Rigby

 

As of this moment he's forty years old

Everything he touches turns to gold

Lamé or gilt-flake, make no bones

Who built the pyramids?

Brad Jones

 

(Special thanks to Amy for sending this lyric along!)

 


All song clips heard in this episode:

OPENING MEDLEY

Miss July (Brad Jones / Ross Rice)

Count On Me (Hans Rotenberry / Brad Jones)

The Blunderbuss (Sam Baylor / Brad Jones)

The Blunderbuss (Sam Baylor / Brad Jones)

I Tried (Brad Jones)

Mary's Moving Day (Mike Griffith / Brad Jones)

Froggy Mountain Shakedown (Hans Rotenberry / Brad Jones)

A Likely Lad (Hans Rotenberry / Brad Jones)

SIDEBAR

Everlasting Love (Buzz Cason / Mac Gayden, as covered by Robert Knight)

Everlasting Love (Buzz Cason / Mac Gayden, as covered by Carl Carlton)

Picture Book (Ray Davies, as covered by Bill Lloyd / Tommy Womack,
with Brad Jones on bass guitar)

Let's Pretend (Eric Carmen, as covered by Brad Jones)

Starless Summer Sky (Rick Cioffi / Marshall Crenshaw / Fred Todd, with Brad Jones album credits for bass, engineering, mixing, cello, Fender Rhodes, vocal harmony)

Average Joe (Ron Sexsmith, with Brad Jones on bass)

Chatterbox (David Mead, with Brad Jones producing)

 

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