Song Stories

Below are stories about my original songs from my albums "Never too Late" and "Pretty Good Therapy"

A few of the stories make reference the loss of my wife - if you want to know a little more about this story, I wrote about it in this blog post.

Here are the track listings for the two albums and links so that you can go straight to a specific song story if you wish.  If you would like to get these on CD, come to a SHOW and I will give it to you for free!  If you can't make it to a show, you can also get the CD from the store.

PRETTY GOOD THERAPY 

  1. Pretty Good Therapy 
  2. When I was a Kid 
  3. When this scar is gone 
  4. Old Rednecks and Hippies 
  5. We Tried 
  6. The Simple Life is Still the Best 
  7. Would you let me Come Back Home 
  8. Life is Full of Metaphors 
  9. Better Than the Last 

NEVER TOO LATE 

  1. It's never too late 
  2. Livin' in Idaho
  3. I ran off to Bakersfield 
  4. My angel 
  5. Back Then 
  6. You gotta walk the line 
  7. You're in my space 
  8. Spokane River
  9. Give Back 
  10. Big black dog 
  11. I found my call

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Pretty Good Therapy - "Pretty Good Therapy"  

I'm old school - I think there should be a "Title cut" on every album and that the title of that song should also be the theme of the album.  Right after I finished the "Never too Late" album, I realized that writing, recording and performing those songs was my therapy.  When you experience loss, you need to talk about it and many of my songs allow me to say things that I would probably never say if it was not in the context of a song. So in December of 2017 I wrote and recorded this song.  I didn't know at the time that it would be the "title cut" but as work progressed on the album I realized that I was still in therapy :-). 

When I was a kid "Pretty Good Therapy"  

I wrote this song in 2014. I recorded it in December of 2017 and I put it on this album because all of the influences that are listed in this song are the inspirations that helped me develop my own songwriting and performing style. I heard a news story on TV where they talked about treating older patients and playing music for them that was popular when the patients were teenagers.  They said that they experienced real heath benefits when hearing that music.  So I decided to remember some of the music from my youth and this was the result - I chronologically list some of my musical memories and I try to play and sing several little "homages" in this song.

When This Scar is Gone  

This is a really personal song. When my wife was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in March of 2016, we were devastated.  The next day she asked me "if I die, do you think you will re-marry?"  I said that I didn't want to think about it - I wanted to focus my thoughts on her NOT dying!  She said "okay, but if it happens, I think you should".  When she went to heaven on March 10th, 2017, that was the greatest loss I've experienced in my life but I just continually remind myself that we were lucky to have the time that we did together.  When she passed, I left my wedding ring on and then at some point I decided I would  take it off on the one year anniversary of her passing.  When I took it off, I saw that big indention that you get on your finger when you wear a ring for a long time.  I started to think of that as my "scar".   I started to think about dating but really I have no idea how to do that.  Even though I've been married twice, I never went on dates with either one before we were married (it's a long story).  So I didn't feel ready to try anything like that and I thought to myself that if I tried flirting with someone they would probably see my "scar" and think that I was cheater! Hahaha.  One day I was looking down at my scar and I wrote this little poem in about 10 minutes. The basic idea was that I saw the healing of that indentation as something that would take time and time was what I needed.  A few weeks later I wrote the music and I recorded it   It's so personal that I haven't performed it in public yet but I recorded it because I figured that other people might relate to it.   

We Tried - "Pretty Good Therapy"  

I wrote this song right after I had just finished reading Waylon Jennings Biography.  So I think this song sounds a bit like a Waylon song.  I had an experience with an audience where I felt like they didn't give me a fair chance - they just heard that I was a "country" singer so they didn't want to listen.  So I started to write this song about it. After I got started, I realized that it sounded like a break-up song, so I just went with that and then in the last verse I added in a little description of the male stoicism that prevails in our culture.

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  1. We Tried

Would you let me Come Back Home - "Pretty Good Therapy"  

I wrote this song in 2014 - right after I started playing country music again.  This song was sort of a test - I wanted to see if I could still write a country song ( I hadn't done it for many years ).  This song is not really a literal description of my own experience but I drew on my tendency to think that I was "better on my own" and this song was about me realizing that wasn't true.  And that was something that I had realized many years before.   

Life is Full of Metaphors - "Pretty Good Therapy"  

It occurred to me one day that authors often build metaphors into a story and that it seems like maybe God puts metaphors in our lives too.  The more that I thought about it, the more I realized that it was true! The first half of the songs is based on real things I observed - yes, that big dumb dog really did try to hump me!  But the second half is just something I made up.  The main thing that I wanted to get into the song were the references to the Tennessee Williams plays ("The Glass Menagerie" and the "A Streetcar Named Desire").

Better Than the Last - "Pretty Good Therapy"  

I started writing this song just a few weeks after my wife passed - I wrote the first half, then I set it aside because I didn't I would be able to sing it.  I picked it up about 18 months later and I wrote the second half. I almost made this the title song of this album, but I didn't want to make loss the focus of the album.  This song and "Never too Late" are similar in that they are challenges - I challenge myself and the listener to try and make every day good.  That might sound simple, but I think that just making an effort to do that can make all the difference.

Never too Late - "Never too Late"  

The long version of this story is at https://rustyjackson.com/tour  Here is the short version - When I lost my wife to pancreatic cancer, I knew that I needed to do something to stop myself from sinking.  I decided to pick up a dream that I had set aside for decades.  There was a part of me that felt like I was just too old to do it and that it was too late for me.  So I sat down and wrote this song to convince myself that "it's never too late!" I've sung it now in many places and I've had people tell me that it inspired them too!

I ran off to Bakersfield - "Never too Late"  

Most of the story is right there in the lyrics, but I should add that when this happened, my parents thought I had been in an accident or something.  They had called the police and the hospitals because it just didn't make sense for me to missing like this.  So that's why when they probed me for the "why?" I just said that I didn't know.

When I wrote this song, I told my siblings that i was finally going to explain Bakersfield - Haha!

After I wrote this song, I found out that the Dwight Yoakam song "Streets of Bakersfield" was written just about the same time that I was there!  Wow! I guess that something was in the air.

My Angel - "Never too Late"  

When I got ready to record the "Never too Late" album, it was just 6 months after I lost my wife to cancer.  I started to think about our life together and really how much she meant to me.  I thought about how she came along and really saved me at time when I was a bit lost and confused about love.  When I perform this song I like to say that it is not just my lament over my loss but also my tribute to her!

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  1. My Angel

Back Then - "Never too Late"  

When I was growing up I was really shy.  I had a friend named Chuck that was very similar to me in many ways, but he wasn't so shy :D  We became best friends and when we were in high school we thought that we were so funny that we might be the next Cheech and Chong.  The first band that I was in was with Chuck and another friend.  We never gigged but we made some noise!

In November of 2016, my friend Chuck lost his 5 year battle with cancer.  He fought with tenacity, grit and humor.  I wrote this song in October of 2017 and I had the privilege of playing it for his mom, his wife and his kids in January 2018.

This song is FULL of inside jokes - when I play the song live I always say that I just don't have enough time to explain it all, so here is the perfect chance to do it!

"I called him Mike and he called me Hoe"
In high school, we sort of developed a "language" of our own and the summer before our senior year we really started to take it to the extreme - even to the point of creating names/characters.  We imagined that we were speaking in a Russian accent so we sort of picked "Russian" names. Mike for him (spelled Mik) and Hoe for me (which was short for Ivanhoe).

"We had another friend, we called Abindigo"
Our friend Sam was our friend as well.  Our youth choir did a musical written by Ralph Charmicael called "It's cool in the Furnace" (I'm not making this up).  I was a contemporary retelling of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo from the bible.  For some reason, we decided to assign the name "Abindigo" to Sam. 

"It got me in Some Trouble"
Chuck might tell this story differently but when we we're approaching our graduation, we sort of decided together that our all night "lock in" party would be infinitely better if we had some booze.  And we reasoned that if we could be the ones to sneak some vodka into the party and pour it into the punch bowl, then we would be the heroes! So, the question was HOW would we get some vodka,  At that time, the Albertson's grocery store kept hard liquor right on the regular shelves in the store.  So we came up this idea that we'd just grab some and walk out with it.  I think that I can honestly say that I would have never tried that if it hadn't been for Chuck's encouragement.  So you might be asking, how was committing a crime a good thing?  Well, actually we got caught!  Chuck ran and he got away!  I was carted off to jail and I had to plead down to trespassing.  It may sound strange but, doing that was sort of "courageous".  Obviously, I don't recommend it :D but this is the "trouble" that I'm referring to in the song.  There were many other "bold" things (that were legal) that Chuck got me into!

THE CHORUS
The chorus of this song is just my expression of how having a friend like Chuck meant to me when I was growing up.  We were like brothers and I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like without him in it.

"Lazy Boys"
The day after that all night party (that we had no vodka at), Chuck and I both reported to a temp employment agency (on ZERO sleep).  They sent us out work at the Montgomery Wards warehouse and we worked there for several days.  On a typical day the manager would give us a task in the morning like unloading a boxcar or loading a truck and then he would tell us to come and find him for another task when we finished.  After a few days, we decided that we might take our time finding him and eventually that evolved to outright hiding in the warehouse :D  SO one day we were hiding in a little "box fort" that we had discovered and we heard some guy on the loading dock yelling "where are those two lazy boys?"  What had happened was that he had two "Lazy Boy recliner chairs" that were for a specific shipment that he had set aside and now the truck was there to get them and he couldn't find them.  When he yelled "where are those two lazy boys?", Chuck looked at me and said "they're on to us!"

"Lookin' for a horde"
For Chuck, the word horde meant "a meal".  The way that got started was that I had a habit of stealing fries off of Chuck's plate.  When I did that he would reach out and wrap his arm around the plate and "this is MY horde".  I asked him what he meant (because Horde is a verb).  And he said, "I'm hording this food!" So eventually it just became the word for food :D  And with the "Russian" the "r" is silent :D

"I heard he was ailing, so I made the drive"
We did different things after high school and eventually we both moved away.  We had glorious reunions from time to time and then we connected on Facebook when that came along and shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer. Watching him fight was an inspiration.  In 2015 right before his birthday, Chuck's daughter Jamie let us know on Facebook that Chuck had been hospitalized and need prayer.  We lived about 12 hours away by car so I looked at my sister Becky and said "Let's go see Chucky". I have to say that when we got there - he didn't look good.  But as we talked and laughed and prayed, he really started to look "well".  I will never forget one thing that he said to us.  He said "you know, this thing that I got might kill me.  But I'm okay - I know where I'm going".  I heard that the medical professionals at that time thought he was near the end of life, but he lived another year plus!

"I was over occupied and many miles away"
Six months after that visit, my wife Wendy was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  She began chemo and I had the privilege of being her caregiver.  When Chuck passed in November of 2016, we were in the midst of her treatments and all that comes with that.  She passed in March of 2017.  When I think about Chuck's mom and his wife and kids, I know they lost their baby, their love and their hero.  Losing my wife shortly after that, just made all that so much more real.

"I know someday I'll see my friend again"
We were blessed to be raised in the Christian faith.  The loss that we experience in this life is temporary.

 

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  1. Back Then

Spokane River - "Never too Late"  

Since 2014 I've been playing with a cover band called "The Spokane River Band".  We've played all over the greater Spokane area and as far as Eureka Montana and Moses Lake Washington.  I wanted to write a song called "Spokane River" so I created this little story about a pioneer coming through the northwest and falling in love with an Indian princess.  The man has to go on to the coast for a job that he's taken, so he tells the princess to ride the river to rendezvous with him.  The main thing was that I wanted to be able to sing the band name - but I'm really happy about how this song turned out!

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  1. Spokane River

Give Back - "Never too Late"  

This song is about the most unselfish man I ever knew - my dad.  In 2016 I volunteered to bring some entertainment to the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  I decided to gather some songwriters that had written songs about their struggle with cancer or survivor songs or songs about loss.  I had volunteered for this in December of 2015 and the event was to be in June of 2016.  Then in March of 2016 my wife was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  When I had the idea to get songwriters to share their songs, I didn't have a song that I wanted to share but I thought that I might write a song about my dad because he passed away from lung cancer back in 1991 (25 years earlier).  So then when my wife was diagnosed it threw me into a tailspin. I didn't have the strength to write a song about that real time experience.  I decided to go ahead and write this song about my dad.  At that same time, my best friend was battling lung cancer and his dad also died from lung cancer (shit - too much cancer in this story!)  The good thing out of all of that - is that when my friend Chuck (who the song "Back Then" is about) heard this song, he told me that it made him tear up - just remembering his dad and my dad. I ended up performing this song at the Relay for Life and it continued to be one of my favorites. 

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  1. Give Back

Big Black Dog - "Never too Late"  

I wrote this song in 2013.  Originally, the song was about depression.  I had heard that Winston Churchill suffered with occasional bouts of depression and that when he was having a bad day he would say "the black dog showed up today".  After I got into the song, I realized that it was more about addiction - or maybe it's about being addicted to being depressed :-)  In general, this is my attempt at a humorous metaphor and ironically it is one of my most happy sounding uptempo tunes :-)

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  1. Big Black Dog

I Found my Call - "Never too Late"  

I was watching the Jim Gaffigan TV show/series that was on TV Land for one season.  This episode was about Jim understanding what his "call" in life was.  I won't go into it all but it was funny.  At the end of the show, Jim dreamed that he went to heaven and St. Peter asked him if he had found his call?  So, right after watching that, I started thinking about that concept of a "call" and I wrote this song.  This song is about my desire to play and then the song describes my very first paid gig when I was 19 years old and then I put a lit comic twist on the end.