This is a drawing I did of a picnic table at Bull Creek Park in Austin, Texas.
The table is surrounded by a crowd of 200 to 300 year-old live oak trees. Many, many, times, Walt Wilkins and I have met here – on that luckiest of days – Tuesdays. Five of the songs on this new album (Days, The Song of Us, Always Becoming, Wild Seeds, More Like September) were written at this table. It is definitely the most beautiful office I have ever worked in.
My new record, Rings on A Tree, is a concept album – an examination of family history and the way every interaction we have reverberates for generations.
To me, it’s clear that our lives are a distillation and expansion of the lives that have come before us. Every life, every interaction of matter and energy that happens, reverberates through the universe in an ever-expanding field. Waves of behavior that cause other waves of behavior, not just in one life, but in all our lives.
During the Covid lockdown, I wasn’t writing much on my own, but when a friend – most frequently Walt Wilkins – would call and say, ‘Let’s go to a park and write a song,’ I’d always go.
These meetups resulted in a reexamination of what’s important in life. We wrote songs that looked at the intergenerational interactions that created a certain wisdom, insights that transcend our narrow view of the present.
As the songs accumulated, I saw them taking a spiritual, philosophical tone. I was haunted by the ideas of our great-grandparents. Shadowy photos and mysterious documents from their eight lives give us clues about how these people have major consequence on our lives, even if we don’t understand exactly how. If you trace the branches of any family tree back far enough, you can see we’re all connected. That inspired the song ‘Rings on a Tree’ and the entire album.