Behind the Music in Tennessee River Shakedown: Higher

Higher is the lead track of the record and also happened to be the first song that was written for it.

I wrote the song's skeleton driving back from my then girlfriend's house (the good news: She's now my wife!).  

I have always had a bit of a falsetto to go to singing wise (you should also hear it in my speaking voice), so the song was my first crack at bringing that part of my voice back into the fold.

When I returned to my apartment, I started to figure out the chords to the main hook and quickly realized I was in barre chord central which is a bit of a nightmare for an acoustic player or an acoustic song.  I started off playing the song really fast--as if it was an alternative rock song.  I played it that way because for whatever reason, when I first wrote the song, I thought it sounded a lot like Springsteen's Darlington County. So, I sped it up to mask that I thought it was a bit of an unintentional rip off (Spoiler Alert: The song sounds NOTHING like Darlington County. So, I have no idea what I was thinking/worrying about at the time).

Anyhow, when I started prepping the song for the studio, I had an idea of taking the song in a different direction. I was thinking about shedding the guitar banging in pursuit of something like a Stevie Wonder feel on “supersitition.” So, when we got in the booth at FAME to record it, I played this HORRIBLE riff (or I played a riff horribly) over the chords and kind of sang the riff so that folks would get the gist of what I was hearing in my head.

Clearly they did, because as soon as we got into the room, producer Jimbo Hart, asked us to drop the tempo by about 20 bpms and as soon as the band kicked in it was THERE.  Jimbo and drummer Justin Holder were so locked in, and the keyboard player, Brad Kuhn, started playing this Wurly part that was just crazy cool and funky.  It gives me chills just thinking about the vibe while we were tracking.  And will McFarlane's guitar accents? Pa-leez!

All the music, including overdubs and punches, was recorded in about an hour.  

A few weeks later we came back to record the vocals. I had come up with the back-up vocals and the falsetto “Roll Baby's” during that six week break and that really brought out the R&B sway of the song. But the big lift, from my perspective, was what Jimbo did as a producer.  When we tracked the song, the drums were played straight through. It was fine and groovy. But Jimbo had a vision for breaking the song down at the releases allowing the song to gain more of a hip-hop edge.  For me, that was a game changer for the song's overall potential and feel.

And then for the mix, Wes Sheffield added all this reverse reverb which was dope--and always a childhood dream of mine--i always wanted a song with reverse reverb on it!

Lyrically, the song is about the redemption and rebirth that true love can bring  us. I hope you all feel that gift in your lives.

Turn it up and bump.


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