Singled Out: Mick Rhodes' Sapulpa
"Sapulpa" is a small town just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is where my family comes from. My maternal grandfather, Carl, was 21 years old in 1935, and he'd just sent his 19-year-old bride, my grandmother, and their baby daughter, my aunt Peggy, on ahead to California in a car. They had just enough money to pay for grandma and Peg to share a ride in a car with a businessman who was heading West. This was common in those days, when nobody had anything, a train ticket was a real luxury and cheap commercial airline travel was off in the future. Grandma and Peg made it safely to Los Angeles in three days.
Grandpa had 85 cents to his name when he kissed his baby girl goodbye. He got a ride from his brother from Tulsa to Sapulpa, then he stuck out his thumb and hoped for the best.
After spending a little more than a month on the road - doing odd jobs for money to eat, picking cotton, working on a cattle ranch and sleeping outdoors - he made it to L.A. and to his bride and baby girl.
"Sapulpa" is the true story of that journey. It originally had seven verses (!), but I condensed it down to three in the interest of not having a 9-minute song! I've always loved story songs, and have written a few over the years, but this is the first one I've really liked all the way through. Brian Hall's guitar playing just kills me on this one. He's so damn good and soulful. I'm quite a lucky man to have this great band with me. All of 'em are world class.
Grandpa died in May of this year, at 95. He never heard the song. But I think he would have appreciated the details. He told me that story of his journey from Oklahoma a hundred times over the years. Until I was grown I didn't appreciate the wildness of the whole thing; A 21-year-old traveling across the country by himself, starting off with essentially a day's worth of cash, his smarts and the clothes on his back ... that's a real cinematic story. And it means so much to me because it's true, and because it's about this man that I loved so much ...
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and preview more tracks from the album at - iTunes.