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Alias James – Free Country, Quotes

“The song ‘Free Country’ came about because someone asked me what do you call this music.  And I grew up hearing that expression all the time -  it could mean different things, but mainly you can do or think what you want, for better or worse.  And one thing led to another -  the lonely rodeo guy, the girl who needs some freedom to decide what she wants to do, the person who gets pulled over because of the way they look.  It’s an open-ended state of mind.  And it begs a few questions.”


“I go back four generations to Bakersfield, where my Great Grandfather was a pioneer cotton and grape farmer who was known as a guitar-playing, song-loving, horseman who worked hard, and was a generous soul.  I heard about it from my Grandmother who drove a plow in 120 degrees.   We have stories in our family that are straight out of Grapes Of Wrath.  Like most families, there’s some tragedy in our history.  My Dad took me out to where the old ranch was and it was an emotional experience for both of us.  No matter what happens or where you go, your bloodlines go with you.” 


“I’ve been writing songs and recording them on old tape recorders since I was a kid.  I tried to get into the music business once and had “major label interest”; and when that ship sailed I just kept doing it because it had become my way of life. In fact, when I finally made the change from tape recorders to a computer, I brought along some of that old analog stuff, so now I go through the mic preamps from old Ampex tape machines, on the way into the computer.  It gives it a bit of that old slightly distorted, tube sound, which I guess I just had gotten used to.”


“My dream came true when I fixed up an old barn into a place I could record. I once tried going to a professional studio, and let’s just say ‘live and learn.’  Much better at home, where time is your friend.  A famous musician I met said ‘recording studios reek of despair.’  He’s pretty intense, but overstatement has its place.”

“They say songs are flying by like birds and maybe one will land on your shoulder and sing into your ear.  Sometimes you come in and listen to something and wonder where that came from; it’s like a visitor. Maybe like a stray dog that showed up at your door.  Other times you know exactly;  ‘oh that’s some Tom Petty in there.’ Some of them are like descendants of other songs, like we all are.  Songs are also like snapshots of your life; regardless of whatever else is going on,  you remember things about how they came to be, what the weather was like, what someone said, what was happening in your world or the bigger world out there. They end up being pieces of you; like traces you leave on the trail through this life.  I know some people are superstitious about it.   But I feel songs have a life of their own.”


“I live out in the country.  I’ve been around some and I think people who live out in the country have a lot in common, no matter what state they live in.  You’re dealing with the natural elements, you’re on your own - the sheriff might not even know how to get there - and your neighbors are important no matter what you and they think about each other.  That old saying ‘if the creek don’t rise’, it’s really true:  you might not be able to get to town sometimes.  Good to keep a chainsaw in your truck.  And to quote an old rancher friend of mine: ‘I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t look out and see a horse.’  Another great quote from him:  ‘they say this place is worth a million dollars, and I ask them what the hell good is that gonna do me?’”  


I know that some people might be interested to know about the person who’s playing the song, and there’s different ways that could go, from  mundane details to edge-of-the-seat storytelling.   What’s important to one person might mean nothing to someone else.  And what if there’s some people who, for whatever reasons, you don’t want to know about it, or even where you are?  But there’s plenty of other things to talk about - like the songs themselves, what this world is coming to, old guitars and amps (Silvertone), tape preamps (Ampex), what artist a song may remind one of (Merle Haggard…), what this world is coming to...."

“I think the name Alias is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.  And what’s in a name?  Something  your parents called you, or maybe a nickname by someone who knows you in a certain way, or sometimes a name you give yourself.  Actually, the way this world is playing out, I think having an alias or two could be just plain good sense. I have a song called ‘please steal this identity;’ maybe we’ll put that out one of these days.”

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