The Code of the West

Today I have the pleasure of announcing my new album, The Code of the West.  I’ll be releasing it slowly in all the usual places soon but these are your best bets for now.

There’s a SoundCloud widget where you can listen to the songs:

OR you can…Listen to The Code of the West via Dropbox


 

The Code of the West is a ten song concept album that takes place in the US Civil War era. It’s about a boy from St. Joseph, Missouri who lives on a farm with his parents until one day, during the Civil War, a general rides into town looking for new recruits. The boy’s father, sensing some big trouble ahead on the home front, figures his son’s chance of staying alive a soldier might even be better than his chance at home, so he allows his son to ride off to war. While away, due to some political machinations in town, his parents are killed – burned alive with their farm. The boy, now a man, comes home to find his farm burned down, parents dead, and no answers.

Seeking justice, he makes some decisions, for better or worse, and starts a journey West with plans to hit California, mine some gold, and then grow old rich in Mexico. On the way from St. Joseph to California, he changes and the lines between trying to survive and becoming a full-fledged outlaw begin to blur. After unintentionally bedding a Sheriff’s daughter, a relentless posse is dispatched. Our outlaw friend is forced to make some hasty and fatal decisions in order to realize his dream of Mexican freedom…

 

Once again, this is a concept album. The lyrics tell the story so try to listen to the songs in order. There are a wide range of influences here from old Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, etc.), Eagles (Desperado, etc.), The Band (Music from Big Pink, etc.), and there’s plenty of that Johnny Cash/Lou Reed style of spoken-word singing, if you catch my drift. My goal was to tell a story, plain and simple. It’s not a grandiose rock opera in the vein of The Who’s Tommy, but it tells a story nonetheless and I feel I’ve been successful. It’s certainly not a deep story. It’s very simple and easy to follow, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll hopefully pick up more things with repeat listens.

I took a few small liberties here and there but for the most part, I feel I’ve remained historically accurate. Whenever I needed names of towns or events or guns or even horse’s names from the Civil War era, I took to the internet and researched. I did so much research as I was writing the lyrics and the story that that’s where the title came from. There really was a “Code of the West.” I liked the phrase so much, it became its own song and ultimately the title track.

From Wikipedia (although I can’t seem to locate the link now):

A new code of behavior was becoming acceptable in the West.  People no longer had a duty to retreat when threatened. This was a departure from British common law that required citizens to have their back to the wall before they could protect themselves with deadly force.  In 1876 a Ohio court held if attacked a citizen was not “obligated to fly”.  The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the legality of “no duty to retreat”.  The Code of the West dictated that a man did not have to back away from a fight, needing to retreat no further than “the air at his back”, and could pursue an adversary even if it resulted in death.

 

I want to spotlight some people who helped me out on a few tracks.

Brian Csencsits played piano on the opening track, “My Father Was a Good Man.” I laid down a pretty basic piano track but it wasn’t fluid enough and didn’t really groove. The opening is really the only happy track on there, representing youth and innocence, so I wanted it to be bright and moving. Brian provided a much better track than I did and it sounds great.

Paul J. Baccash provided all the electric guitar leads on the country song “Lawless.”I had the song recorded and it was very basic. It sounded like an old Johnny Cash traditional number; tell-tale country. I needed a good lead but didn’t know what to do. I was going to put an accordion lead or something in the song later. I took to Facebook and asked if anyone felt like playing a lead on a track. I’ve played gigs with Paul before so I was really excited when he made the offer. He went above and beyond what I needed, providing me with multiple, harmonized tracks and instructions on how to pan them to sound nice. Once added, the song took on a new life. Listen to his playing and you’ll agree.

Rob Ferraro provided all the lead guitars on the track called “On the Run.” A hard rocking bluesy number, I knew it would need special attention as far as lead guitar went. I’m not fast enough to pull off what he did here. I gave him a few tracks one night in my garage and he just unloaded with some fun leads and great fills. Once again, the song totally woke up.

 

I know the album isn’t for everyone. It has more going against it than for it in today’s musical climate, but it was something inside me that I had to get out before I could move on. As usual, before you critique my production value, remember that nothing you hear on these tracks was recorded in a professional studio. It was all done at home, mostly in my garage in less than optimal conditions and with less than optimal tools. Everything I do has a “demo” quality about it. Until the day someone pays me a bunch of money to record in a real studio, this is it folks. If you want to see the songs shine, come see the live show.

So that’s all for now. In the coming months, I’m sure I’ll be posting more about the album and the songs/story.  Making this album was a long process (well, longer than I’m accustomed to) but it was well worth it and I really like how the songs turned out. If you have questions, just let me know. If you have favorite tracks, please let me know as well.

Thanks for reading and listening and I really hope you enjoy the music and story!

The track listing is as follows:

  1. My Father Was a Good Man
  2. I Rode to War at 17
  3. Lawless
  4. This Gun is Now My Life
  5. Keep on Moving West
  6. The Code of the West
  7. On The Run
  8. They Won’t Give Up (Until I’m Caught)
  9. Take Me Dead
  10. It’s Finally Time to Sleep

 

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2 Responses

  1. February 5, 2013

    […] think my biggest achievement in 2012 was The Code of the West. Writing and recording a concept album is a very ambitious feat and it is not easy to pull off. […]

  2. March 21, 2013

    […] song is the fourth song of a concept album I wrote called The Code of the West. It’s basically an outlaw tale and this song is about the symbiotic relationship the main […]

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