The title for “Sake of the Song” inevitably brings to mind the classic Townes Van Zandt composition “For the Sake of the Song.” Another of Carll’s new songs, “Good While It Lasted,” contains a line that echoes both the wording and melody of the title line from Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” Neither of these were deliberate tributes, Carll insists; they both bubbled up from his unconscious. For a teenaged kid into Bob Dylanand Jack Kerouac, it didn’t have the things my heroes were writing about.” He was nominated for writing “Chances Are,” which first appeared on KMAG YOYO, but was later covered by the great East Texas country singer Lee Ann Womack.But once they did, he kept them in the songs, because he does feel a part of the long chain of Texas singer/songwriters. You need to sit down and be a folk singer.’ And yet I persevered against the odds and here I am with a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song of the Year.” “That story about my mom is totally true,” Carll confirms at Threadgill’s. Carll was writing songs for the 2010 Gwyneth Paltrowmovie, Country Strong, when the music supervisor suggested that he write a song with the title “Chances Are.” “It was a fun exercise for me,” he says.In the final verse, the exhausted singer decides to “lay down by the railroad tracks.” “It’s not just musicians who experience this,” Carll says at Threadgill’s.
I longed for a garden and a dog, but I couldn’t because I was never home enough to take care of them.
I was gone 250 nights a year for 10 years.” But here’s the conundrum: In 2016, the only way to make a living in music as a full-time front person is to travel.
Instead he presents the listener—as he does on all the album’s songs—the unsatisfying reality that life is a package deal, a series of tradeoffs, and leaves it to us to draw our own conclusions.
It’s that approach that has made these songs the most substantial of his career.
The days when Steely Dancould stay home and just make records, confident they would sell enough to provide a good income, belong to another century.