“We're springing a leak, we're coming apart/ we're on the titanic, but we think it's an arc/ sharks in the water got me thinking about a movie quote/ yeah we're gonna need a bigger boat.” - Bigger Boat - Brandy Clark-Adam Wright.
Revered singer-songwriter Brandy Clark is indebted to acclaimed Grammy and Academy award winning movie-TV soundtrack and hit writer Randy Newman for his duet on new song Bigger Boat on her third album Your Life Is A Record , released on March 6.
“I got really lucky because my manager was saying Bigger Boat would be a great duet,” Brandy, now 44, told Nu Country TV .
“She suggested a different artist who was a great artist - what I said if could get Randy Newman - he would be great for this. She said I don't know how we're gonna get him but he was a friend of another person at Warner Music. Randy was so generous - it's not even in the right key for him but he made it work. I felt so lucky.”
The six-time Grammy nominee and writing partner Adam Wright also credit the movie Jaws as their song source.
“There's a scene in Jaws where they see a shark for the first time and Roy Schneider turns around and says we're gonna need a bigger boat,” Brandy said.
“It took me a long time to find somebody who loves Jaws like I do. We wrote the song but I thought no-one under 40 is going to know what Jaws is. In a recent episode of the Handmaiden's Tale a character said we're gonna need a bigger boat so it moved right into the modern times. Adam Wright can imitate all the characters on Jaws. He is a fan.”
BRANDY DINES OUT ON PRIME PRINE
“I used to wanna be Elvis/ drive a pink Cadillac car/ that's why I learned to play the guitar/ I used to wanna be Elvis/ I used to wanna join the circus/ hang around with the freak show/ wish I'd learned to walk a tight rope/ and I wanna be honest/ now I wanna be better/ I wanna be the me I should have been/ when we were together.” - Who You Thought I Was - Brandy Clark-Jessie Jo Dillon-Jonathan Singleton.
“He walked onstage at the Ryman to introduce Iris De Ment. No-one said John Prine and everyone stood up and clapped for what felt like five minutes. When everyone sat down, he said with a little laugh, ‘Well, I'm John Prine, but I'd like to go back to being who you thought I was.' Man, that hit me hard because I had felt that way wanting to me somebody who you thought I was. I instantly wrote it down. The songwriter in me knew it was a song and the heart in me knew it was how I had felt in my own life many times. I mean who of us hasn't let somebody down or wanted to be the version of ourselves that someone who loved us thought we were?”
Prine cancelled his April Australian tour with former Civil Wars singer John Paul White because of a recurring hip injury.
THE SAD SONG
“If your life is a record/ people and places are the songs/ there'll be slow and there'll be fast ones/ looking forward, looking backwards/ on that tiny two lane town that you call home/ They'll all make sense/ when they're together/ if your life is a record/ I'll be the sad song, your good love gone bad song/ the part of your heart that's bittersweet/ couldn't be your happy song but at least we had a song/ so I'll be the sad song you sing.” - I'll Be The Sad Song - Brandy Clark-Jessie Jo Dillon-Chase McGill.
Clark revealed her album was inspired by the end of a 15-year relationship before her 2019 Australian tour.
“I made the album before the tour,” Brandy recalled.
“I had to come back and do a few more things with Jedd and Jay. I wasn't intending on making a break-up record. Jay pointed that out to me. I was sending him songs and he said this is a break-up record. I thought God it is. I didn't even know I was doing that. I'll Be The Sad Song - that's one of my favourites. I wanted to start there and end with The Past Is The Past . It's sad but it has some hope in it - more the bitter-sweet. The relationship was 15 years - it was a long time. This album has a lot to do with I want to go forward now.
“When I wrote songs like Who Broke Whose Heart that was hopeful. I hoped that it would get there. I mean, I lived it and was living it while I was faking it, lived it while I was writing it, and now I get to look at it and think, "Wow, what I dreamed would be the circle of that relationship happened." Now, had it not, I don't know what I'd be saying. But it does feel really vulnerable, and a little scary because of that vulnerability.”
BRANDY MOTHER INSPIRED LONG WALK
“If I was Jesus, I'd turn the other cheek/ if I was Eastwood, my cool is what I'd keep/ if I was raised Southern Baptist, I'd say "bless your heart"/ if I was privileged and practiced, grace would be my art/ so take a long walk off a real short pier/ take a cinder block with you as a souvenir/ I hope you sink like the shade of stones that you've been throwing/ I hear it's cold as you at the bottom of the ocean.” - Long Walk - Brandy Clark-Jesse Frasure-Jessie Jo Dillon
Clark is indebted to her mother for another new song - Long Walk.
“My mother would say that when someone said something that was hurtful she would say tell them to take a short walk off a long pier,” Brandy revealed.
“It stuck with me and I was on Twitter one night and there was this person who was saying some mean things about another female artist – it infuriated me so I re-tweeted it and said you can take a long walk off a short pier. I thought I've gotta write that. It was the last song finished for the album. I thought it had a place so we finished the song with my co-writer and it ended up on there. Jesse Frasure and Jessi Jo Dillon.”
“Jay Joyce called me and said we're gonna cut everything all acoustic. It would be great if we cut with four people, you, Jedd Hughes, Giles Reaves and me. I said that's great - Jedd can play anything with strings. He's great but there's not enough time to say all these great things about him. It's not just what he plays but what he doesn't play. He's just fantastic. A couple of weeks ago I had him come play with me. He doesn't over-expose himself – he's not that guy that's playing on every record. That makes a difference.”
Clark remembers taking a photo, one day during recording, of one of the studio assistants holding up a paper towel roll for Hughes to blow through against the strings of an acoustic guitar.
They were cutting the song Bigger Boat and chasing a very specific sound that was more difficult to pin down acoustically.
STEPHEN KING PAWN SHOP RINGS TRUE
“She pushed her wedding ring across the counter/ and said, "Tell me that it's worth more than I think/ there's a bus to Baton Rouge, leaves in an hour/ and ninety dollars cash buys me a seat/ that quarter-carat picture-perfect dream/ wasn't all it was cracked up to be.” - Pawn Shop - Brandy Clark-Troy Verges.
Clark credits author Stephen King and her uncle for new song Pawn Shop.
“I was reading a Stephen King book and there was a scene in it when he was talking to somebody in a pawn shop,” Brandy explained.
“He was talking about working in a pawn shop and having the job of telling people what they think it's worth and what it's not. That struck me - pawn shops are so interesting to me as no-one goes in there on the best days of their life. But what they are letting go of becomes a new start for someone else. The ring that someone is pawning because they have got a divorce could be the next person's engagement ring.
“Pawn shops have always really intrigued me. I have an uncle that owned one. They always feel sad and hopeful at the same time to me, because somebody's trash is somebody else's treasure. I was reading a book one time, and there was a guy, the guy at the pawn shop in the book who said, "I have the job of telling people that something's not worth what they think it is." That really hit me as a song idea.”
LOVE IS A FIRE WITH AVA AND BETTE
“Love is a fire, out of control/ the desperate desire, the higher it goes/ and once it sparks that devil's dance in your heart and soul/ you know it can't be contained, no, it won't be tamed/ love is a fire, so baby tonight, let's go down in flames.” Love Is a Fire - Shane McAnally-Jessie Jo Dillon-Brandy Clark
Clark 's long-term relationship ended but she has two loyal friends at home - Ava Gardner and Bette Davis - her pet dogs who inspired new song Love Is A Fire.
“Yes, it's true, I love them,” Brandy explained.
“I've been away from them for a while, I've been in Europe touring. I got home late last night so all I've done today is sit on the couch with them. There's a TV show here Feud Bette and Joan about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I was going to name Ava Joan Crawford but I thought I don't know if I can do that to a dog so I chose another Hollywood actress of that time. I thought Ava Gardner was so beautiful and dark-haired so Ava stayed Ava. I wanted to a black and white dog and name her Bette and Joan.
The video features on Nu Country TV on April 11.
BROTHERS OSBORNE DRIVE BAD CAR
“I know it's a bad car, I know it's a piece of junk/ I know the best tire on it,is in the trunk/ just when you start to pass, it always starts to shake/ cause over 55, it's a bitch to drive on the interstate/ witnessed all those tears nobody ever saw me cry/ when I broke the law through Arkansas to tell my dad goodbye/ it didn't get there pretty, but it got me there that day/ so I'm a little sad to see it roll away.” - Bad Car - Brandy Clark-Jason Saenz.
Clark also revealed how John Osborne of Brothers Osborne was recruited for her Bad Car song.
“Jay was talking about featured guitar spots and I love John,” Brandy recalled.
“I think he's one of the best. Jay works with the Brothers Osborne so he was able to get him to come in.”
Clark says the idea for Bad Car was brought in by her co-writer and inspired by an episode of Parenthood.
"He played me the scene and the woman is crying as they're towing her car away and talking about the things that happened in it," Clark explained.
"I think whether it's a bad car or a bad apartment, it's really about the life you lived inside of those things. I was really drawn to that. I feel that way about cars I've had. I joke that, until recently, I had never had a car that was worth more than my guitar. But you think about the road trips that you've taken and the tears that the car saw that no one else saw. So much of our lives are lived inside a car."
Clark has written another new song with Australian tour mate Devin Dawson.
“I wrote a song with him that I love,” Brandy said.
THE PAST IS THE PAST FINALE
“This is where the past is the past/ where the meant-to-be's ain't meant to last/ where the "maybe we could work it out" turns into "maybe we can't"/ this is where the memories we missed are catching dust in a picture frame/ where the hoping turns to knowing that there ain''t no going back/ this is where the past is the past.” - The Past Is The Past - Brandy Clark-Barry Dean-Luke Laird.
Brandy ends her album with a fitting finale – The Past is The Past and plans to return here after her American tour with Texan Tanya Tucker.
“I hope to come back to Australia later this year,” Clark added.
“I have an international audience and really enjoyed being in Australia . I did Australia , New Zealand and Japan and would love to do it again as I really enjoyed my time there. Touring with Tanya would be really amazing.”
Clark was equally busy with other projects between albums.
She wrote a musical Moonshine with Shane McAnally between her studio albums.
“ Moonshine the musical was dead but we're working on it again,” Clark said.
“The name has changed but not sure what the new name is. We'll be opening that again at the end of the year in Washington DC .”
Brandy also recorded her Live from L A album in 2016.
“It was at a café, just me and a guitar player,” Brandy explained.
“I'm so proud - that album was a little different. I do a lot of acoustic shows so it gives fans a chance to hear songs in a different way.”
Those songs included Girl Next Door, Stripes and Big Day In A Small Town .
She also recorded a single Merry Christmas Darling with Mississippi born singing actor Charlie Worsham.
“I'm on Warner Brothers and Matt Rollings produced it,” Brandy explained.
“Charlie's on the road with Old Crow Medicine Show - on a day off he and came in and recorded it.”
Worsham, 34, toured here with South Carolina born star Lee Brice and Georgian Kip Moore in April, 2018.
Charlie sang Brandy's praises in our interview before his tour.
“We have a lot of folks in Nashville who are sort of like that character where they're super talented world class voices and instrumentalists. Outside Nashville nobody knows them but they're always valued in the Nashville community and lifted up,” Worsham told me.
“Brandy Clark (a Worsham touring partner) is criminally under-rated. It's not just the singer-songwriters, sometimes it's the musicians, people like Paul Franklin who is one of the world's greatest steel guitarists that ever walked the face of the earth. Jedd Hughes - an Australian here - is a fine musician and artist in his own right. There are a lot of Dierks Bentley fans out there who have heard the guitar solos and don't know it is Jedd.”
And Worsham, like Clark , is also a canine lover.
His Golden Retriever-Beagle, Peggy Sue , who has her own Instagram account, lives with Charlie and his fiancée Kristen Anne Korzenowski.