Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Road Trips and Pawn Shop Guitars

Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac (1997)
Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac is an album I leaned on heavily during some less than ideal times. I have a tape of it I wore out playing in the car, along with Alejandro Escovedo's More Miles Than Money, Uncle Tupelo's Still Feel Gone, and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True. It was traveling music from Buffalo to Boston dozens of times before I moved here. It helped pass the miles, first literally, then metaphorically. 

I finally picked up the Deluxe Edition today. In the liner notes, I found that Ryan Adams showed up to the original recording sessions with no guitars. They had been left outside of the van in Raleigh, North Carolina when it was loaded before the drive to the studio in Nashville. The band couldn't afford anything but pawn shop guitars, so the acoustic on the recording of "Inn Town" and probably several others, the one that sounds so fantastic, that I listened to a thousand times or more, was a $100 Alvarez pawn shop guitar. Also noted, they didn't even change the strings. That makes me happy for some reason.

I have to think of who used to own that Alvarez, what it lived through before that session. I think of some kid who bought it as a student guitar, struggling to learn "Stairway To Heaven," "Free Falling," or even "Wonderwall" (which, coincidentally, Adams would cover beautifully on 2003's Love Is Hell, pt 1 EP). Some kid who had just graduated and needed some cash, and was hoping to come back for it. Or, probably more likely, it had been a birthday present for someone who played it for two weeks and never picked it up again. Whatever function it filled originally, it had a hell of a second act.

I wonder if Adams kept it. I hope not. I hope he let it loose back into the stream from whence he first caught it, and it got picked up soon after that. Maybe by that college kid, who had no idea what happened to it while he was away. Maybe some new songs fell out of it that weren't in it before.  

I recently bought a Fender resonator on Craigslist. I know the history of most of my other instruments, but not that one. I bought it from a guy in Salem who seemed fairly disinterested in it (and the Dean acoustic/electric bass I also bought from him, and a couple of other guitars he had for sale). Who knows what's in there. But it feels right when I play it. It changes songs I've been playing for years. And it's just about time I introduce it to "Inn Town." 

This was the only video I could find with the original studio version of "Inn Town," but it fits. Lyrics below. 


Inn Town
(David Ryan Adams)

Parking lot, movie screen, I can't feel anything.
Cigarette, beat up TV, I can't feel anything.

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now

Hang around with the people I used to be.
Hang around on a corner waiting to go, have a seat

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now

Fifty cents, or a dollar three, I don't owe you anything.
Spent a life on a heart that would rather not feel anything.
I can try, I can see, Ican want it to be
I can laugh, I can feel, I can't see anything without dreaming

Now that I, I'm in town.

Hang around with the people that we used to be
We hang around on a corner waiting to go have a seat
And I can try, I can see, I can want it to be
I can laugh, I can feel, I can't see anything that seems real
It's just like a dream.
I can feel, I can laugh, I can want it to still be real
It's a dream I've had.
It's the last, now it seems.

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now