"A Life That's Good"
"At the end of the day, Lord, I pray, I have a life that's good."
I've heard it said that people in Nashville don't watch "Nashville". I don't know if that's true or not but I watched the whole series and determined that if it's true, people in Nashville are really missing out! I love the story, I got so attached to the characters the way you do with a show that you submerge yourself in a series, and I loved most of the songs they featured. (*SPOILER ALERT* I also love how the very last scene of the series showed the entire cast and crew on stage at The Ryman, with series creator Callie Khouri thanking viewers and the City of Nashville for a great 6 years making the series. It was very cool to see something like that type of appreciation. *SPOILER ALERT OVER*) I love most songs I hear, but when they're used in a story, I feel that extra connection. This song has been sitting with me a lot lately. Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind did a fantastic job writing one of the most humble songs I've ever heard. This week, I'm needing some uplifting songs. I'm sure a lot of people are. This is a great song about home, rather than dreaming about reaching for the stars.
"Gonna take what scares me the most, and turn it into something real."
It's been a while since I've posted anything here. Truth is, I've just figured out how I want to execute this blog and get the most out of it. As I write this, we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I spend most nights not even realizing I haven't gone to bed until the Sun comes up, and I'm riding a pendulum between alright and fucking miserable. Since I posted the news on Facebook and Instagram as it happened, it probably won't be terrible to write about it here, on my actual website. Natalie and I had an amazing baby girl named Annabella on March 14th. Although we were prepared for what was going to eventually happen on March 17th, it was absolutely soul crushing when she passed away. Butch Walker's album, "Afraid of Ghosts" is one of my all-time favourite albums, it also happens to be mostly inspired by his Dad passing away. I can't stop listening and humming the title track, so a few nights ago....well, at about 7am a few mornings ago...I made a cover video.
This is "Afraid of Ghosts" from Butch Walker's album of the same name.
"Days Like This Come Often"
I woke up one morning, full of doubt about my work and my self-worth. I find being creative and constructive always helps me clear the fog from around me. So I started writing what turned out to be this song and posted a video on Facebook. It had a great reception from people who related to the song. My producer Iain McNally, who was working with me on my album "The Moonshine" at the time, thought it would be a great addition to the album, so we decided to add it as the last track. I always thought it would be great to try this concept for a music video, so I took some time to reach out and collect some clips from folks I'm connected with and I'm most happy with the diversity of these signs.
© 2018 ChevyCat Music
Written by Chris Strei
Music by Chris Strei & Iain McNally
"A smattering of Tragically Hip in there as if they were doing a new country song."
- Big Rude Jake.
I've already done a feature on this song, so this blog post will likely be pretty short. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this is a can't walk away kind of love song. Some people go crazy not being able to get out every weekend or need they're coffee every day or else they can't function. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't play or make music. That's what this song is about. There have been many times when I thought I wanted to give up on music, turns out I just needed a break from music as a business. You can visit my acoustic video if you'd like more of the story.
© 2018 ChevyCat Music
Written by Chris Strei
Music by Chris Strei & Iain McNally
Chris Strei: Lead Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, High String
Iain McNally: Electric Guitars, Bass, Shaker, Banjo, Tambourine
Rick Roach: Drums, Background Vocals
Jay Riehl: Background Vocals
Janna Leduc: Background Vocals
Prison Bound Man
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
- T. S. Eliot
I usually make come silly comment like, "Although I haven't been to prison yet..." and then hold for a moment to allow some laughter or something. It's true though, although I haven't quite made it to prison yet, I wrote a song called "Prison Bound Man". I used to worry at first if people would think I was playing some part, which is one of the reasons I made the attempt to grow a beard. I feel like both have worked out pretty well. This is kind of my "Folsom Prison Blues", because although I haven't been to prison yet, neither had Johnny Cash when he wrote "Folsom Prison Blues". I have met with the police more times and a couple of those times I thought I was going for at least a night. Harmless things like speeding, parking tickets, and getting caught with a beer in a place where I probably should've kept the cap on it...more than once. I've somehow managed to avoid wearing handcuffs, but not without thinking that was going to change because of my ambition to seemingly push my luck. Although most stories from my early 20's would likely keep me out of any public office, those stories aren't bad enough to not laugh at now. With a little bit of extra inspiration from Chris Stapleton's "Midnight Train to Memphis"; a song about going to jail for not paying a fine. I had some inspiration to run with and "Prison Bound Man" was born. I have no clue how the I came up with the guitar piece though. It just kinda happened.
Love You Anyhow
I like to summarize this song as an song about unconditional love. That would be most accurate if I were to describe the song's sentiment in two words.
The journey with this song, in my opinion, is rich. I debuted it in Stouffville at the Guinness World Record Longest Running Concert, went on to play it at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville that August, placed second in an NSAI Chapter Challenge for a publishing deal with Ole, then played it with Dayna Manning in Stratford. This song is attached to so many cool memories for me.
I wrote this song near the beginning of 2017, around the same time as "Moonshine". 2017 was kind of a shitty year, musically. Things weren't meant to work out for me until near the very end. I'm more mature and confident to be open about it now and say how I failed to execute everything I aspired for. If you fast forward though, it's exactly what was supposed to happen. This was also the timeline that caused me to start making my exit from the music scene I grew up with in Brantford. Don't get me wrong, there were (and still are) plenty of good people there who support the hell out of me. Life didn't think I needed them around at that time though and wanted me to strive for something out of my comfort zone. I've had a very oscillating relationship with music and at the end of that year was when I found myself having to rebuild again. I've survived band break ups all because my name was in the band name, band break ups because I wasn't being diligent enough to do all the foot work because we had a band name rather than it being my band, and this time I had the rug pulled out from under me at my only two regular bookings. It hurt like hell, but I always remember The Simpsons saying how the Chinese word is the same for crisis and opportunity. From anything I've found, that's not true, but I like the sentiment so I endorse it. I ended up being asked to open for The Trews that December. It wasn't a big break or anything, but after being chosen from a few submissions, this gig made me start truly believing in myself to put a real effort into building a career. I started learning more about the music industry and getting more connected with artists and writers that are in the music industry. It's been interesting to watch this new path unfold, I've met some incredible people who have become friends, associates, or both. I've also invested the time and energy on taking chances just to see what happens.
"What lies ahead I have no way of knowin'."
- Tom Petty
"Time To Move On" from the album "Wildflowers"
Timbercreek is song about goodbyes. It was at one of the many times that my life with Natalie changed in order for us to be in a better position. In 2016, as our heads were just above water, we found ourselves enough hard luck to sink us completely and have to move on from an apartment that we turned into such a comfortable home. Movie nights, fights, make ups, songwriting, and just growing together and becoming more acquainted. It was a sentimental process with a few trips down memory lane. These lyrics are a bit more specific than I think I meant for them to be, but at the same time, I meant for it to be autobiographical like most of my songs are. So I hope you like our little love story.
This song wasn't actually planned to be in this group of songs. I originally told Iain I wanted to have an EP ready for my BlackBird Tour. We ended up running out of time because of work schedules, so we decided it would be a better idea to take our time and get the best product we possibly could. Then I remembered "Timbercreek" - along with some others that I had put on the backburner - and started thinking it would be fun to add more songs and make it an album.
"I, I, I wanna get out of this one horse town by the moonshine, yeah. By The Moonshine (on BandCamp)"
I think sometimes, when you need a vacation, you really just need to decompress. Go for a late night drive. Maybe even park somewhere secluded, or semi-secluded, and just sit and stare out the windshield with nothing but the glow of the car radio. I love late night drives. I love the night. One night in 2017, life was feeling awful and when life feels bad I like to get out on the road. So I headed for the car with Natalie on a Thursday night. Grabbed 5 cans of beer (drank 2 in total) because it was the night before pay day and we only had money for a 5 pack, and we parked on the side of the road behind the Brantford airport. It was great, it was just us, the country music on the radio, the full moon, and no where to be. I'd love to say that my music transcends to deeper cause than reflecting or painting a picture, but I can't. I write most of my songs when I need to journal about something and then I dissect them on here. I love that this song really paints the picture of that night, and I love the tweaks that Iain McNally made to the chord progression.