(Sample the song and more pictures of the broadside here.)
I think there’s a loneliness to the story that appeals to me, has always appealed. It’s in the Em7 chord motif of course, and in the story and characters too. The guy is interesting in being alone and in his single-minded focus. I recognize him as simply acquisitive; he wants to catch this creature for a reason, then - big surprise - gets carried away. I do like my characters getting confronted with forces larger than themselves.
The visual sequences and contrasts too in the narrative images are appealing to me: desert, jungles, waterfalls, horse, moon. Action, action, action, contemplation. (I’ve criticized the lyric too, in my head anyway, for exoticism: desert, jungles, waterfalls… all we need are some native dancers…)
Did you know this was my childhood? Um-hm, there was a Blue Pony, he was fast and very sweet, and he was very young as were we all. He could just about levitate, for real.
Like my character, my first surprised response would be to hang onto my lariat too; and suddenly swept many yards up into the air, I too would want to release my sensible terror for all the cold delight of the wind on my face and the moonlight and the elemental being plunging up into the moonlight, flying away with me at the end of a long long string. Ahh me, the pirate’s life…
I figured out this Blue Pony song, like so many of the better ones in this last crop, after Africa but just before Ruba Byrd; so 2008 or 2009 is my guess, if anybody’s interested. (I like to take data.) I remember playing it for some evening West Hills Friends gig, and folks liked it. 2010 maybe, as amplified acoustic, running a big Martin through phaser FX on the acoustic amp, and Ruba singing harmonies. That was fun. But the best fun is on electric guitar in ensemble, with Bill and Rich, and April leading the Quakettes, or whoever we were that night, late spring 2022 when we gathered at WHF to record this song. So, Nate Macy to record, Bill Norris-York on percussion, Rich Vanderwal on bass, me on acoustic and lead vocals; April Vanderwal, Melissa Thomas, and Ruba Byrd, on backup harmonies.
April and the crew did what they have always done so brilliantly: they heard it, and they heard themselves in it. All there was to do after that was hang the notes up there… Listen to April’s design of those backup vocals. There’d been a draft of a structure: she led the crew in dressing it up to go flying…
We got our basics at that session, I took them home. Over the course of the spring I worked on electric guitar parts, and practiced recording from home. One sunny afternoon I laid down chunks of three electric guitar lead lines and a couple of rhythm patterns, and I liked what I had. I sent all the tracks to Adam Sweeney in Portland; and still later when he sent it back I took the mix to Slim Novak out in West Eugene, who put more hours into it. This is what you’re playing. It is surely one of my favorite collaborations. Go for a ride…
(Every month into this next year, I am featuring another song from our June 2023 final release of A Month of Sundays. Last month we featured April Redmond Vanderwal’s production of Angel, Big Black Wings, the final cut on the album. This month we’re focusing on Blue Pony,the second song on the album and a bit of a rocker.)
Before you leave be sure to go check out the William Jolliff review of A Month of Sundays, out in the Nov Dec issue of Western Friend magazine.