DIARY - 26 FEBRUARY 2008 - GARY ALLAN
ALLAN - STILL LIVING HARD
welcome to my world for the next 90 minutes/ I'll be baring my soul for
the price of your ticket/ and I'll do it over again tomorrow night."
Living Hard - Gary Allan-Odie Blackmon-Bob DiPiero.
American country star Gary Allan toured here in 2005 he exorcised
the grief of the suicide of his third wife Angela by performing songs
inspired by their tragedy.
The single gunshot wound, at 1.25 a.m. on October 25, 2004 at the
couple's Nashville home, triggered a flood of emotions.
It also ignited Allan's sixth album Tough All Over and shot
it to the top of U.S. pop and country charts with ancillary success
But the suicide, attributed to migraines rooted in depression, left
many other victims with emotional scars.
The couple had six children - each had three from previous marriages.
from Cleburne, Texas, and Allan, real name Herzberg, from La Mirada in
So, now on
Allan's fourth Australian tour, he is sharing solace and healing with
his children Maggie, Dallas and Tana.
He plans to fly them to the Great Barrier Reef for a belated holiday.
"This time I'm going to stay an extra week after the tour,"
Allan, 40, told Nu Country TV.
"I'll fly my kids over and we're all going to go out to the Great
Barrier Reef and stay on one of those islands. We're kicking around Hayman
Island at the moment. Steve Forde (Allan's support act) is going to show
us around for eight days. He speaks the language."
Allan also plans to indulge his love of surfing that he shared with Cheyne
Horan on previous tours.
"I hope there's still waves there this time," Allan said before
learning of storms that have wreaked havoc with the Queensland and NSW
For Allan surfing, diving and snorkelling are a respite from the recent
rigors of a life that began 40 years ago in southern California.
Allan believes that the post tour holiday will also aid his family healing.
"It will be respite for all three of them," Allan confided.
"I love diving and snorkelling but we never go down real deep - nothing
below eight feet."
hard is hardly living/ for a hard rocking, rowdy musician/ rollin' liker
the Stones/ starting to look like Dylan." - Living Hard - Gary
Allan-Odie Blackmon-Bob DiPiero.
Allan delves deep in his songwriting that he describes as group therapy.
Song titles from his previous album are salient signposts to his suffering
- I Just Got Back From Hell, Putting My Misery On Display, Putting
Memories Away and No Damn Good.
"I don't know if I can sing those songs live because they are
so emotional, and there were a lot of tears when I was writing them,"
"I became the ambassador to suicide."
Allan's exorcism didn't end there - he included a suicide prevention
hotline phone No 1-800-SUICIDE - on the cover of his album.
The singer harvested hell from the heartbreak and has now pushed his
career album sales way beyond six million.
on his seventh album Living Hard he is looking forward - especially
on the hedonistic title track.
"That was a fast write. It was my idea and I had it all mapped out.
It's a good song," Allan revealed.
"It only took about an hour and a half. We had the idea and it just
seemed like it was so literal to what we're doing. Bob and Odie are prolific
writers. I'm really looking forward to raging with you guys."
But the title track wasn't the sales catalyst for the album produced by
Allan and Mark Wright.
It was the radio friendly hit single Watching Airplanes, penned by Jim
Beavers and Johnathan Singleton that sits at #2 on the U.S. Billboard
The song was accompanied by a video that scored wide exposure on CMT in
the U.S. and on CMC and Nu Country TV here.
Allan also added covers of Keith Gattis-Audley Freed's raunchy Wrecking
Ball, Dean Dillon-Scotty Emerick-Aaron Barker tune As Long As You're
Looking Back and Aaron Barker-Radney Foster-Bobby Houck song Half
Of My Mistakes.
times I think about the touch of your skin/ the taste of your lips and
it call comes rushing back again/ and I start to spin/ I think about you
when the skies turn grey/ always reminds me of the love we made back when
you were here/ well here come the tears." - Yesterday's Rain -
Gary Allan-Matt Warren-James LeBlanc.
Allan is looking forward, time has not dulled the pain three years
Allan wrote more songs, inspired by the tragedy, for Living Hard
but finds it too painful to perform one of them - Yesterday's Rain
- on stage.
"I can't do it live," Allan confessed on the eve of a headlining
role on the CMC Rocks the Snowy Mountains Country & Roots Music
Festival at Thredbo on March 14 and 15.
"It's too emotional. It was a lot of reaching back - a reflective
song. It reflects on my wife who passed away."
Allan wrote it during therapy with fellow writers Matt Warren and
more thought went into that on, a lot more soul I think," Allan confided.
I wrote most of the lyrics - I had the raw material."
Allan doesn't resile from the group therapy relief of writing.
"Well I've been through a lot the last couple of years," Allan
"I lost my wife a couple of years ago. So I think I draw from that.
I think the more you've been through, the more you have to say as a writer
and the deeper you can reach emotionally. So it would probably be easier
not to be a good writer. I don't think it's therapeutic to share it with
everybody. I think it's therapeutic to write it. I've got four or five
people that I write with. It's very much like group therapy. We all get
together and talk about what's going on in our lives. If you can talk
about really emotional stuff, then you get really emotional songs."
I look back I'm glad we found each other/ with no regrets along the way/
and what was like an endless summer/ now it's dust yesterday." We
Touched The Sun - Gary Allan-Odie Blackmon-Jim Lauderdale.
resurrected We Touched The Sun from his emotional ashes.
"It was another hard one to write," Allan revealed.
"I wrote that with Odie Blackmon and Jim Lauderdale. We had taken
a writing vacation and gone to Costa Rica and rented a house in the jungle.
That was one of the songs that came out of that - we wrote four songs
but only one made the record. A couple of them I played on tour last year.
It was the first time I had written with Jim. We spent a week there. I
had been around him a bit and Odie has written with him a lot. Man, he's
a great writer - a lot of soul."
Ironically, Allan learned in this interview he performs with Lauderdale
at the Snowy Mountains festival.
"I didn't know that, I may have to call him, we could do some more
writing," he said.
HOW TO BEND
"I'm still learning how to bend/ I wanna take you in/ in a world
full of tears/ we'll conquer all our fears." - Learning How To
Bend - Gary Allan-Matt Warren-James LeBlanc.
How To Bend also had its embryo in Allan's tragedy.
"It's one of those songs about how every guy tries to figure
out to fit into relationships and how to bend," Allan recalled.
"I think it's my favourite song on the album. I woke up one day
with that title. And it's me, you know - I'm still learning, learning
how to bend."
Allan admits he's still exploring some rough terrain as he makes his
way back into everyday life and the possibility of a new relationship.
He also collaborated
with Blackmon and Casey Beathard on the fatalistic Trying To Matter -
perhaps a sibling for the title track.
"We walk, we fly/ we stay sober, we get high/ we sleep all day, stay
up all night/ right or wrong we live our lives/ we work, we play/ we leave
and we stay/ worry about tomorrow today/ we laugh, cry, cuss and pray."
a black Mercedes on Hollywood and Vine/ she's a low cut dress/ she's a
Hollywood sign/ she's a deadhead on a Friday night." - She's So
California - Gary Allan-Jon Randall-Jaime Hanna.
She's So California with Texan born Jon Randall and Jamie Hanna
- son of Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, now celebrating 40
years plus longevity.
"It wasn't written about no-one in particular," Allan said.
"It was just me writing with these California boys. Jon Randall brought
that idea to the table. It's the only song I have written with him. He's
a great writer and really good friends with Jaime Hanna - the guitar player
in my band. He has been playing with me for just over a year. He made
an album as Hanna McEuen with Jonathan - the son of John McEuen from the
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They broke up and lost their deal and he now plays
in my band."
Hanna and McEuen wrote and co-produced all 12 songs on their self-titled
debut disc for Dreamworks-Universal.
The drummer was Jesse Siebenberg - son of Supertramp stickman Bob Siebenberg
- and bassist is Teddy Jack Russell - legendary Leon Russell's son.
Hanna previously had songs cut by artists such as the revered Mavericks
and had five tunes on Malo's solo album, Today.
Jaime and Jonathan are first cousins whose identical twin mothers - Kae
and Rae - each married members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Rae was wed to Dirt Band singer Jeff Hanna when Jaime was born and Kae
is wed to John McEuen.
Hanna has since split with Rae and wed acclaimed singer-songwriter Matraca
Berg - daughter of singer Icee Berg.
developed strong Australian links - here and overseas.
He recently completed an American tour with expatriate Australasian superstar
"It was a great tour, what a class act to tour with," Allan
"He was a lot of fun - no worries. He's a great supporter of mine."
Allan plans to write more songs for other artists in the future.
"I'm just now getting into it," Allan said.
"I'll start demoing things I didn't record myself, the odd thing.
I'll probably write under a different name. If it's under your own name
they say 'why didn't he cut it? - he keeps all the good stuff for himself.'"
Although the singer may be writing for other artists he won't veer away
from the sources that have served him well.
"I like to have inside knowledge," Allan says.
"I like to sing about what I know - I never go too far out of my
box. You never hear me singing about farmers and tractors."
off the coast of Australia I dove way down deep/ for all I saw of that
Great Barrier Reef/ it was nothing, compared to you it was nothing."
- A Feelin' Like That - David Lee Murphy, Kim Tribble, Ira Dean.
has long been a fertile song source for touring artists diverse
as Steve Earle, Tom T Hall and Billy Joe Shaver.
Tennessee singer-songwriter David Lee Murphy tapped the Great Barrier
Reef for a song for Allan who also kicked back there after his third
Murphy used his reef metaphor to source A Feelin Like That
- one of two bonus new tracks on Allan's 15-song Greatest Hits
(MCA), released here in 2007.
Stone country Texan born singer-guitarist Keith Gattis penned the
other new track - the freedom ode As The Crow Flies.
some time guitarist on Dwight Yoakam albums, also wrote Wrecking
Ball for Allan's new disc.
his Honky Tonk Wranglers perform the CMC Rocks the Snowy Mountains Country
& Roots Music festival - March 14 and 15.
They join fellow U.S. superstar duo Sugarland, Lauderdale, Patty Griffin,
expatriate Australian Catherine Britt, John Butler Trio, Mia Dyson, Adam
Harvey, Steve Forde, Shannon Noll, Brian Cadd, The McClymonts and others.
Bookings - Ticketek Phone 132849 - www.ticketek.com.au
Allan and Canadian Corb Lund & The Hurtin Albertans also perform at
the Empire Theatre, Toowoomba - Wednesday March 19, Seagulls - Tweed Heads
- Thursday March 20 and Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton - Saturday March
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