Singled Out: Folk Family Revival's If It Don't Kill You
Every year in the month of June, my fiancée Taylor and I take off a couple of weeks from whatever projects we're working on to get recharged and inspired by volunteering and living at the Kerrville Folk Festival. The year leading up to our last retreat in 2014 was one that needed a lot of chewing before it could be properly digested. The project I had been working on with the band was "Water Walker" and at that point we'd already been working on the record for around two years. During those two years, Taylor was attending school at Texas State in San Marcos, and I was juggling living on the road and cooking at a country club. I was feeling very disconnected from my creativity and started joking saying, "I don't write songs anymore," and I was starting to believe it and didn't know what to do about it.
That's about when Taylor and I found out we were gonna have a baby. Like most unplanned pregnancies, it freaked us the f*** out, but rather than freaking out we decided to accept the challenge. We saw it as a opportunity for a much needed change in pace. Like Bob Ross always said, "There are no mistakes, just happy accidents." So we started working harder. I picked up a third job mowing lawns and Taylor started working at the infamously sh*tty Gil's burger broiler, which we called Gil's Bug Broiler. Anyway, despite the hard work, we were very happy and very excited about our child and our new lifestyle. Then we got a huge slap in the face when we lost our son Hadley to a miscarriage at 17 weeks. We realized it's very common and had a lot of support from our friends and family, but it was none the less heartbreaking and sat me right back down deep into a disconnected depression.
Strangely enough, I found comfort again in the same quote from Bob Ross. (Thanks, Bob.) We quit our jobs and we packed up with our baby savings and headed to Kerrville. All I can say about the festival is it's absolutely magical. Two weeks wasn't enough, so we decided to extend our time off and drove to Breckenridge, Colorado. We stayed there for a week with Taylor's family who happened to be on vacation at the same time. That's where I was sitting on a three-story condo porch looking over snowcapped mountains, picking on my guitar and I came up with a quick line for the first lyrics I'd written in months, "Don't fight, let it move you, it's the bloodline running through you, it's deeper than the river running through the hills, deeper than the shiver giving you chills." It felt like the mountains were singing it to me. Maybe it was the altitude or those funny smelling cigarettes they sell there, but, whatever it was, it was healing my heart... so I pulled out my notebook and wrote it down and put it away and forgot about it like it never happened.
We realized we didn't have enough money to make it home so I called a friend of mine, Kevin Shaw, in Denver to see if he could hook me up with a gig somewhere for some cash. His kids have a band called Our Generation, so he's pretty connected in the music scene. He called back with something like five gigs, and that extended our stay in Colorado about another week. We crashed in Kevin's man cave in Denver then decided we had enough money to make it to Utah for the Rainbow Family Gathering so we were out another week. Then we headed back to Texas via Missouri where we camped out on the Elk River in Pineville with my grandparents, parents, and brothers -- that was another couple weeks. We knew our adventures were nearing an end and we were ready to get back into to the grind and finish the album.
My family left a day ahead of Taylor and me, and the next afternoon I found myself having one of the most enlightening conversations with my Uncle Jack (my dads brother) who I hadn't really spoken to in years. He is a paster of a church in Fayetteville, Arkansas called Regeneration. He's one of only two preachers I enjoy talking with, the other being my friend, Aaron Edwards. Anyway, the conversation was very open-minded and inspiring from both sides and never turned into an argument like most conversations with religious folks do. When I got home two days later, my brothers and I set up to practice for our first show in a month, which was at Courville's in Beaumont. While we were checking our amp tones and tuning up one of the guys asked if I'd written any songs while I was traveling. I thought about it for a minute and said, "No, but I wrote down some lyrics or something when I was in Colorado. I don't know if they're any good or not but I'll try to work them out." After we got set up the guys went inside to eat some lunch, so I picked up my guitar and the song just flowed out like water. The second verse and all three choruses are inspired directly from the conversation I'd had with my Uncle Jack. The guys came back out to the shed and I told them I'd just written a song. We were all a little surprised but we worked it out and played it the next day for our good friend Rich Courville. We showed the song to Jeffery (our manager and producer) and he liked it so we tracked it at Blue Rock Studio in Wimberley and it became the single for "Water Walker." And there you have it. The story behind, "If It Don't Kill You."
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!