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Spiriting a Sheryl Crow flip side through both Heather Bond and The Accidentals

From Nashville, Heather Bond’s new album “The Mess We Created” and The Accidentals’ new EP “Time Out Session #2” are discussed with both artists, as we look back on Sheryl Crow’s music.
Heather main

GOLDMINE: The Mess We Created is a beautiful album with a beautiful photo by Meg Sagi to match, including a song which reminded me of Sheryl Crow. The first time I heard her was with “Leaving Las Vegas” on the radio, her first single which I enjoyed. I received a special release of that cassette single with “No One Said It Would Be Easy” also included. Hearing that second song made me think that she had potential.

HEATHER BOND: Thank you for sharing that song with me, which I had never heard. I played it twice and then I laid down and I played it many times in a row. Then I thought that maybe this is my new favorite Sheryl Crow song. It was different from her radio hits. She is such a great storyteller. The mood of this song, the guitar and the simplicity of the chorus had me just sinking into it. Thank you for helping me discover this song.

Heather cassette

Fabulous Flip Side: No One Said It Would Be Easy

(special release A&M 31458 8196 4)

Standard Flip Side: The Na-Na Song

A side: Leaving Las Vegas

Billboard Top 100 debut: April 23, 1994

Peak position: No. 60

A&M 0582

GM: You are very welcome. Our public library continues to liquidate their CDs with donations from the community. Among a recent stack I bought was The Very Best of Sheryl Crow. I had that same experience where the few songs I didn’t know from the radio really jumped out at me as songs that could also have been hits which the people at A&M did a great job of choosing. There is more to Sheryl Crow than many people know. 

In terms of sounding like Sheryl Crow, my favorite song on your new album is “PoliSci.” Your lyrics stand out. I think back on growing up in Northeast Ohio, when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released the song “Ohio.” Your line “How many have to die?” reminded me of what David Crosby added to Neil Young’s composition. You have a Supertramp-like melody and a false ending too. There is so much to this song including your lyrics, “We do possess the power to be unified and the fear of being silent we override.” Plus “We are stronger than we realize.” I love this song of encouragement.

HB: Wow! That is wonderful to hear. This the first political tune I have written, and it is difficult to say all these things that are happening. The point is that these are issues we have had for such a long time, and they are always coming back. There is no end to it.

GM: Yes. I thought we had fixed some of these issues decades ago. Going back to Sheryl Crow again, I was in Hong Kong in the mid-1990s and I heard a female singer, who I thought was Asian, like the other singers at the CD store I was visiting who they were playing, doing a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Mak’er.” I learned that it was Sheryl Crow, which was quite a surprise, just like hearing, in the middle of your compositions, your version of Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love,” one that is tough to cover as it is such a beautiful song to begin with. You kept it pretty, but in a different way with the ethereal sounds with cello and harp. You created a very nice treatment, perhaps even prettier than the original.

HB: Thank you. My producer Viktor Krauss mentioned it when we first started recording that it might be an interesting idea. We worked on the album for a couple of years. When we were finishing, he brought it up again. It is so hard to cover iconic songs, but Viktor mentioned his friend Maeve Gilchrist, who is a harpist. When I heard her harp solo, suddenly I was able to imagine the song in a whole new light. It is a very emotional song and one I felt I could connect to the lyrics that Robert Plant was trying to say, and it was really special to take on.

GM: “The World is Ending” is another of my favorites. It is atmospheric with a nice musical build. I love your line, “We’ll always find a way out of the mess that we created,” making it, sort of, the title tune for the album The Mess We Created. There are layered vocals, and the recording reminds me a bit of Dido.

HB: Ooh, thank you. That song came pouring out of us very quickly. When we tried to determine what the album’s title would be, we just kept coming back to that lyrical line, because a lot of things that are happening to us. Around us are messes that we create, and we wonder how we can fix them and get through them.

GM: Next to me is a pair of CD singles from Shania Twain, someone who I know you were influenced by. The singles are “From This Moment On” and “You’re Still the One” back-to-back late 1990s hits. You have “Resist” and “Fate” back-to-back on your CD which both remind me of Shania Twain’s softer songs, especially “Fate.”

HB: The first live concert that I saw growing up that I remember was Shania Twain. I was blown away by her ability to write songs that really mean something but are so accessible and easy to sing along to. As a woman she was such a powerful force in that industry. When I thought about being a singer and a songwriter, another one of our mutual favorites, Deana Carter, was an inspiration. Her song “Strawberry Wine,” from her Did I Shave My Legs for This? album inspired me to be a songwriter. She was not screaming nor was Shania on her songs. They were singing in a way that was easy to listen to. Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” is my parents’ dedication song to each other. They have been married for over 40 years like you and your wife. With “Resist” and “Fate” we wanted these to be easy listening songs, a bit melancholy.

GM: Your parents and my wife and I grew up in an era where disco music was popular. With “Feel It,” there is a slight disco sound, especially the drums, even recalling Sheila E.’s “Glamorous Life,” and it makes for a great finale.

HB: We finished the album, then Viktor and I were together just to write, and we wrote “Feel It.” Then we thought this song had to go on the album. I wasn’t quite sure if it fit because it is not a disco album, so we decided to put it at the end as sort of a celebration. Viktor is a big 1970s and 1980s guy and there are many nods to older times on the record, so we thought, why not?

GM: In the 1980s, my wife Donna and I spent a lot of time watching Sesame Street with our daughter Brianna. When Brianna went off to college and was a trumpeter in Vanderbilt’s Spirit of Gold Marching Band in Nashville, they performed at The Titan’s stadium for a college game with a new country quartet in 2002 singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Little Big Town. Please tell us about your Sesame Street Little Big Town connection.

HB: I went to New York for some co-writing and met a fellow songwriter named Bill Sherman, who was the music director for Sesame Street. At that time, we didn’t write a song for Sesame Street, but later that year he reached out to me, knew I was in Nashville and Little Big Town was going to perform on Sesame Street. He asked if I would write the song for their guest spot. I also wrote one for Kane Brown, so I have written two songs for Sesame Street performed by Nashville country artists. Little Big Town’s song is called “I Is for Instruments” about musical instruments and Kane Brown’s song is about playing sports. I have triplet nephews who are turning five this summer, so I listen to children’s music all the time. This was such a fun outlet for me.

Little Big Town performing “I Is for Instrument” on Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street

Little Big Town performing “I Is for Instrument” on Children’s Television Workshop’s Sesame Street

GM: Little Big Town is my favorite country group. What I have enjoyed hearing them perform in concert, in addition to their hits, are the covers they choose, including my favorite Fleetwood Mac song, “The Chain.” I enjoy your version of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” that you perform with your group The Daybreaks.

HB: I didn’t know that I would enjoy covers because reinventing these songs in a whole new way is a challenge, but we have found that to be very fun. Thank you for sharing so much of my music with the Goldmine readers. It has been a pleasure talking with you. I will be announcing my upcoming shows very soon.

  

Heather Accidentals

GM: Time Out Session #2 opens with "Eastern Standard Time," which reminds me of Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough."

SAV BUIST: We wrote the prior EP Time Out Session #1 in a dark period. It was a lot of talk therapy with other writers as we were all in the same boat, writing most of it over Zoom in quarantine trying to figure out how we were going to finish the album Vessel we were slated to finish with producer Tucker Martine in Portland when we couldn’t get there. We were sent home halfway between AR and SXSW on our way to play a couple of career changer shows. We usually play at over 200 shows a year and we had all just lost our livelihood. We were looking at all the CDs and vinyl and t-shirts we had purchased realizing that it was going to take some work to dig out. We were trying to make sense of this new reality and find our place in it. Then I lost a childhood friend to suicide, so it was a dark time. With this EP, Time Out Session #2 after having successfully navigated the dark space, it felt empowering and was more collaborative and light. 

Hearing that a song on the record reminded you of Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough” makes sense in that context. We had engineered, produced, and recorded two albums in a make-shift studio in my attic and we had learned that we could. That translates into confidence we didn’t have going into Time Out Session #1. We wrote “Eastern Standard Time” with Peter Mulvey. He’s a great friend of Ani DeFranco, tours with Sista Strings, and speaks out about equality for all. The comparison to Sheryl’s music feels really good here. We have to give Mills Logan a shout out here too as he mixed these tunes. Mills has such a great ear for what instrument should shine and when. He hears what we hear, and he makes it happen in the final mix. “Eastern Standard Time” was such a lush landscape with Eric Darken’s percussion and Mike’s drum parts, mandolin, strings, banjo, the whole kitchen sink. Mills really had his work cut out and he nailed it on the first mix.

GM: The harmonies on "Just a Town" with Maia Sharp are outstanding, along with Jesse Isley's electric guitar.

KATIE LARSON: Jesse just slayed the guitar on “Just a Town.” We had recorded that song many different ways and had eight different people lay guitar on that song. We were about to give up and take it off the record. We knew we were asking a lot when we were referencing James Taylor and John Mayer. There was this tone we hadn’t found yet, it needed to be mellow with heart. We described it to Jesse, and he just got it. He’s such an incredible player. This song was totally his wheelhouse. Maia wrote that tune with us and it is one of our favorite songs. It has got such a great hook and was also the hardest to record. Her harmonies and her organ chops really brought the tune to life. We recorded two tracks of organ, one Wurlitzer and one electric piano. Most producers wouldn’t have left both but they fit and when we took one off we didn’t like the song as much. Sometimes, you have to just decide with your ears versus what seems normal.

GM: I remember when Gary Burr's debut album Matters of the Heart was released 1978, we stocked it at Peaches Records & Tapes in Cleveland, Ohio years before he joined Pure Prairie League in the southwest part of our state. Sav, I love your violin, and Katie, I love your cello on "Leave It in the Dust" that you co-wrote with Georgia Middleman and Gary, including the line "I'm in the kitchen doin' dishes, pickin' out a record to play," which reminded me of a story that Eddie Money shared with me about Ronnie Spector. Fats Kaplin's pedal steel guitar also adds a nice touch.

SB: Yeah, Gary and Georgia are super fun to write with. I think Gary dreams hooks and great lines. He just tosses out banger lines like candy at Halloween. Dominic Davis, who works with Jack White, came in to play bass on a couple of songs and mentioned Fats Kaplin for that song. We were looking for something to differentiate “Leave it in the Dust” from our “Wide Open.” There’s a lot of fingerpicking on these songwriter collaborations. We have never really used steel guitar, but we love the way Fats keeps it simple and real for the song. My dad, Rick Buist, was the piano player for Whispering Bill at The Grand Ole Opry for years and he had the idea for the single note piano over the steel guitar that really drove the song home.

GM: Let’s move on to the nice and gentle “Wide Open,” which you co-wrote with Gretchen Peters. The last concert that I saw before the pandemic was Gretchen with her husband Barry Walsh on piano, here in Florida in 2019.

SB: We found a poem by Emily Dickinson, “Hope is the Thing with Featherswhich spoke to us, coming out of so much turmoil in the last several years. We were struggling with putting ourselves back out there after being isolated for a year, and all the things that had seemed natural, no longer did. We’re introverts who became very comfortable creating without an audience. Touring is intense. When you’re in it, you’re so in it. Sometimes when you get home you can’t even remember what you did, when. We had shifted so completely that we needed this song, this reminder, this push to get moving again. It’s always better to live fully rather than within the confines of our comfort zone but sometimes that comes with a sacrifice. We rarely regret doing the hard thing or the uncomfortable thing, it’s moving through the doubt, insecurity and risk that are the hardest moments. Gretchen is one of the kindest and most sensitive people who we have written with. She understands the world and she’s a very calming presence in it. Writing with her was healing. We just really dialed into what it is to heal and realized that we all need hope. We wrote “Wide Open” with the idea that you have to let hope win.

GM: One of my all-time favorite flip sides is "Emily" by Beth Nielsen Chapman. I enjoy the organ and piano songs she brought to the 3/4 time "Circling Around Again" which you co-wrote with her.

KL: Beth is a walking inspiration. You know when you are in the presence of someone who is so full of life, they are almost transcendent. That’s Beth. She is constant creation and flow. This song started out as a pop song, but we slowed it down for the EP and Beth wasn’t super fond of that, so she pushed us to keep going. That’s when we added the harmonies and the crazy melodic walk down between verses and gave it some organ bounce in the chorus. When we all smiled at the final listen, we knew it was done, and speaking of smiling, thank you so much for your support of our music.

SB: Yes. Thank you and Goldmine this your coverage. We have shows coming up in the Midwest, beginning mid-month.

The Accidentals – clockwise from top: Michael Dause, Katie Larson, Sav Buist, photo courtesy of theaccidentalsmusic.com

The Accidentals – clockwise from top: Michael Dause, Katie Larson, Sav Buist, photo courtesy of theaccidentalsmusic.com

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