Today Americana singer-songwriter Stewart Eastham tells us about the song "Born in California" from his debut solo album, "The Man I Once Was," which was recently released. Here is the story:
This is a song pretty close to my heart. It basically tells my life story in three little verses! I'd had the chorus for this song sitting around for a couple years. My producer Burke remembered that tune from me playing a snippet of it once at a Day Of The Outlaw rehearsal in the LA days. He encouraged me to finish it as we were picking songs to record for this album. I used to joke with my old bandmates that I had yet to write a song where the chord progression was exactly the same for the verses and choruses. Then when I sat down to map out the verses, I realized this song was my chance to finally do that!
The style of this song is a basic three chord "outlaw" country type of thing. Since I knew the song would have an archetypal rhythm and song structure, I wanted to subvert the "norm" via the lyrics. Just having a rip roaring honky tonk number titled "Born In California" I thought was pretty unique in its own right. And also stating in the chorus: "I was raised in the county, but the city is where I make my home." Admitting you live in the city in a modern mainstream county song would be heresy! But, I think there's a whole lot of people just like me. People with deep ties to both the city and the county. I was hoping by straying from some stereotypes (but also using some county song stereotypes... rivers, whisky, etc.) I could play with that "city vs. country" idea in the telling of my own personal story. And hopefully I did it in a way that's relatable to both city and country folk (and those of us who walk in between).
Another thing I wanted to subvert in the song was the stereotype of the "tough guy" in a county song. I think a lot of songwriters like me are pretty sensitive people, not particularly prone to violence. So that's how I landed on the bit about, "You won't catch me fighting. My only weapon's a paper and a pen." (I also liked how it referenced back to that old Ice-T song where he states, "My lethal weapon's my mind.")
Ultimately, beyond all pretensions regarding the lyrics, my hope is that it's just a fun song to listen to. Climb in your vehicle and crank it up loud. It's kinda familiar, but just a little bit "off." (As some folks might describe me...)
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!