Arizona: The Songs

February 1, 2015 · Rick Busby

Arizona is the record I have always hoped to make. Everything I’ve ever done in the past led me to these songs in one way or another. Although I wouldn’t say Arizona is a concept record, collectively, the songs on Arizona definitely form a kind of song cycle. The characters in these songs are definitely on a journey and searching for a place they can call home, only to find themselves returning back to where they began. Personally, I haven’t yet reached the end of my own story, but I certainly identify with the restless journey and endless searching of the characters in the songs that populate the record,” says Doster.

Arizona  The opening title track is about a young woman, who lives a life of mostly empty routines and unfulfilling relationships, while dreaming of escaping to another world, another life, a place “where the living is free.” I probably picked Arizona as her destination because of a surreal trip I made there with my family to some waterfalls. Definitely stuff dreams are made of…

River From A Dream  This one has a man and a woman on the same journey. They start off in an urban area and end up out of the city by this idyllic river, “a place in the sun, where the mockingbird sings.” For a while, we thought this might be the title track to the record, since it is perhaps the most currently autobiographical song on the record. A couple of years ago, we sold our home in the city and moved to the country with a river in my backyard. Tried to make the music paint a dream-like landscape to go along with the ride.

Your Simple Mind  I was inspired by the song “You Don’t Miss Your Water.” Although it was first released as an R&B song, I first heard it by Gram Parsons with The Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Although the track sounds nothing like The Byrds version, it is a tale of regret about a young playboy, who doesn’t quite realize in time the folly of his ways. The young woman in Arizona, could be the one that got away, the one our young playboy will regret for a life time. Almost unanimously, folks who have heard the album say this is the single.

I Found You  The people in this song are probably some of the most content you’ll meet on this record. It is also one of my favorite studio performances, as well. Dony Wynn and George Reiff were really locked in the pocket. Kevin Lovejoy’s graceful piano is simply beautiful to me, and perfectly captures the dreamy contented feel of the track. My pals Philip Gibbs and Randy Weeks are singing on the choruses. This one is for my wife, Melinda.

Second Story Balcony  When we were putting the record together, we were very conscious of the LP format and we saw this song as the close of side one. The  woman in this song is likely the same, younger woman in Arizona. She has been through a lot, had her share of hard knocks and disillusionment, yet, she has  landed in a sweet place, where “her eyes are open and it looks alright as far as she can see.” We liked ending side one with that image in mind.

Enough For Everyone  I guess the spirit of this song is an obvious one. Anything we can do to hold each other up has got to be a good thing. I know I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs to know what it feels like on both sides of the street. This track also kind of kicks off side two of the record as it were, and strikes a new musical tone to the album. In a parallel universe, this song could have ended up on a JJ Cale or Boz Scaggs record.

Baby There’s No One Like You   This song came from my collaboration with Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, aka Double Trouble. We wrote a lot of songs as they were preparing for their Been A Long Time record. It was one of three songs we wrote together that made the album, and that version was sung by Dr. John and Willie Nelson. I had always hoped to record my own version one day. This version was recorded live with cello, with the piano added later.

Pistol Pete   I’m from Texas, but my mother is from New Orleans. My oldest sister was born there and went to LSU in Baton Rouge. I heard about the legendary Pete Maravich all the time growing up. I like the idea of writing songs about historical figures and I am a big basketball fan, so I chose Pistol Pete. Even today, he is still a true legend to basketball fans everywhere, and I hope this song resonates with those who remember him.

Throwing The Ball   I started thinking about what has made me the happiest at any given time in my life and this title came into my head. I can’t begin to count the hours I’ve spent simply “throwing the ball.” From such a simple idea came perhaps one of the most nuanced, layered songs on the record. There is a sense of nostalgia, a longing for family connection in the lyrics. Marty Muse added a wonderful, understated pedal steel guitar part that seals this track for me. Floyd Domino plays piano on this track. This one is for my Dad and my son, Django, whose painting graces the cover of the record.

Into The Night   This one closes this record and closes the curtain on some of the people who appear throughout this record. If this record succeeds as a song cycle, this is the perfect closer. Death is perhaps the ultimate journey, yet we all harbor a hope that the transition is also a new beginning. This particular performance is dedicated to my childhood pal, Tiny Wisdom, who left this world while I was making this record. I hope the vibe of the song is a mystical one. That’s what we were going for anyway.

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