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Song Dissection With Artist: Bryan John Appleby & The Song “Honey Jars”.

December 9, 2011


As most of you know … Seattle is a hot bed of music.  And with the current surge of Americana/Folk scene at an all time high, the Seattle Folk Festival has just the “ticket” to get it all in at once (for the most part). Saturdays line-up of talent is incredible, and is showcasing some of Seattle and even some of Portland’s brightest and most talented musical acts. One of those most promising up and coming musicians bar none is Bryan John Appleby. His new album “Fire On The Vine” is undoubtedly one of the best albums I have heard in 2012, and to hear it play out live is something that could very well leave you breathless. We asked Bryan to partake in our new featured called “Song Dissection” We pick the song, and he tells us the inspiration behind writing it. We selected one of our favorites “Honey Jars”. For ticket information please click on the Seattle Folk Festival above (in bold letters), and come out to Columbia City Theater tomorrow for some incredible music in the best sounding venue in town. Read below:

Honey Jars came together, both lyrically and musically, as a sort of collection from a variety of sources. I’d been playing around with that finger-picking pattern after a friend showed me Jackson C Frank’s Blues Run the Game. There is a bridge portion in my song that borrows Frank’s (and many other folk songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s) hammer on technique. Change some chords and add some chords and presto! That’s it.
 
Sometimes when I write a song, I’ll come up with the beginning lines first without having a plan or narrative in mind to follow. I may just like the sound of the words or the line. Once I have that, I begin the arduous task of filling in the story behind it. As with Honey Jars, this was also the case with songs like Boys, The Road, Backseat, and a lot of them actually. So, many months before I wrote the song, I had written in my notebook the words “Broken Comb.” I just liked where that image might lead. I listened later to Paul Simon’s Obvious Child and was really moved by the character of Sonny. He is so sad and alone in the third verse. But there’s also something about him that is rich in experience. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but the feeling that I picked up from this character is the same feeling that I wanted my character to have. Additionally, I was confronted constantly by a painting of an old man who I had hanging in my living room. So the character was there, and the “broken comb” was there. The final element was personal. I was living in an apartment by myself that had previously been occupied by my girlfriend for a few weeks before she moved to L.A. After she left, the place seemed very vacuous. So all the images of a former life turning into rust and cobwebs found their way in. 
 
I hadn’t thought to make the character literally blind until a friend, Brad Duncan, suggested it. I had already written, “though I’m, blind my dear, I see” but I had intended the line to be figurative. Once Brad, after listening to the song, asked me if the old man is actually blind or not, I really liked the idea. I only had to change the line “Let the snow fall on my knees” from “Watch the snow fall on my knees.” But it makes lines like “well I should have seen this coming” seems more layered. So thanks to Brad for that thought.

 Bryan John Appleby-Honey Jars

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