Cory Branan plays tracks from The No-Hit Wonder and talks about the triple-whammy of song writers that got him started writing roots music.
Also on this episode, Texas rock from Ronnie Fauss, new music from John Mellencamp, honky-tonk from J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices, blues rock from Jason McIntyre and Junior Tutwiler, blues from Luke Winslow-King, stomp blues from Mulebone, blues-rock from Dick LeMasters, and newgrass from Arty Hill.
- Eighteen Wheels / Ronnie Fauss / Built To Break / 3:17
- Troubled Man / John Mellencamp / Plain Spoken / 4:14
- Give A Little Lovin' / JP Harris And The Tough Choices / Home Is Where The Hurt Is / 3:12
- Storms & Gasoline / Jason McIntyre & Junior Tutwiler / Miles / 4:44
- Graveyard Blues / Luke Winslow-King / Everlasting Arms / 4:34
- Toe That Line / Mulebone / Keep On Movin / 3:17
- Big Ol' Buick / Dick LeMasters / One Bird, Two Stones / 4:32
- Blackwater Wildlife / Arty Hill / Heart On My Dirty Sleeve / 3:28
Cory Branan Info
- Preview The No-Hit Wonder by Cory Branan on Amazon.
- Read the review of The No-Hit Wonder
- Visit the Cory Branan web site.
Cory Branan interview recap
The cowpunk thing
Calvin asks Cory Branan if he's still in the cowpunk vein or if the new album is going into a different direction. He says, "For better or worse I kind of go in every direction at once. I've never been loyal to any genre. I just stay true to whatever the song wants to go. This record did end up being a batch of roots music. It just sort of ended up organically finding its way there."
"The No Hit Wonder"
Cory Branan sets up "The No-Hit Wonder." He says, "I just wrote this for a bunch of my buddies I've met. I've been doing this for quite a while. This is a song about all the guys out on the road with pretty much just the songs to show for it."
[Calvin plays the title track from The No-Hit Wonder.]
Cory Branan runs through the band line up. "That's Sadler Vaden on guitar on electric. He's playing with Jason Isbell now but he used to play in Drivin' & Cryin'. He's bad ass. John Radford on drums. He's played with Justin Townes Earl, Luella, and Sun and everybody. Singing at the end, that's my buddy Steve [Selvidge] from the Hold Steady and Craig Finn from the Hold Steady. They were in town doing a record. Steve came by to sing on the record and Craig was with him and I asked him to do it. He was kind enough. I met him and 15 minutes later he was singing on the record. He's the only stranger I've ever had sing on a record. Usually I have my buddies but I'm a huge Hold Steady fan. So I was real happy to have them on the record."
Writing in the round
Calvin notes that "The No Hit Wonder" builds and builds for the last two minutes. Cory Branan says, "I always wanted kind of a big round, you know? It's not exactly a round, it's not "Kumbaya" or anything. But I wanted to have a song that just had a big long tag at the end."
The early days
Calvin asks Cory Branan about his early days growing up and his early influences. He says, "I took the long way around. I was born in Memphis just because there's no hospitals in Mississippi where I was from. So they drove up, had me, and drove back home. I was raised in real north Mississippi. After high school I moved up to Memphis and started bar tending at a place called Peabody. I'd been playing guitar forever. Played in a bunch of bands, local bands. Like metal. I went very far away from roots music. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I started singing covers at a local songwriter night at a place called the Daily Planet, just covering Lemonheads and Neil Young. I was real shy and I finally got of that shell. Then I started writing songs when I was 24 or 25, kind of late to the game. The first record came soon after that. Musically what led me back to the songwriter thing. I think it was John Prine. Single-handedly I think John Prine is the first time I'd ever heard anything like that, deceptively humorous. He disarms you then slips the blade in. [laughs] I love his music. At the same time, I'd never heard Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits somehow. I don't know how I hadn't heard that music. It all hit the at the same time. It kicked me in the head. I was like 'ah, this is what I want to do."
Cory Branan sets up "Sour Mash." He says, "That's just a little number I wrote when I heard that Jack Daniels is made in a dry country. You can't buy a drink in the county where they make Jack Daniels. It struck me as striking so I wrote this little 2 and a half minute song."
[Calvin plays "Sour Mash" from The No Hit Wonder by Cory Branan.]
Calvin notes the bass line on that song and Cory Branan says, "Yeah that's Slick Joe Fick from Memphis. When I found out he was in town I was like, "ok, I gotta call him in for this one.' He's one of the greatest doghouse base players I've ever seen in my life. There's nothing going on in that song but one guitar, a snare, a kick, and that one upright."
On song writing
Calvin says he saw Cory Branan write online that he'd just finished a song where he rhymed habit with bat shit and Calvin asks Cory about the song and what it takes to make a song appealing if the lyrics aren't that important. Cory Branan says, "That's a recent one, a song called 'Blacksburg' It's not on anything yet. I don't know honestly, if there was a formula to it I'd do it more often. I just try not to waste anybody's time. I'm not the greatest singer in the world, you know? My voice does the job. I try to give the song enough calories for a second helping. You know, give it enough to come back to. I try not to waste my time, first and foremost. I try to let people trust that I'm going to take them somewhere in this three and a half minutes that's worth listening. Because people waste my time in songs all the time. I just turn the radio off sometimes. I'm like 'why? Why?' I'll hear a line I like and I can hear where it could have gone. And i'm like 'oh! you dropped it!' I try to be respectful of people's time.
Calvin says so many of Cory's songs he feels like he could sing along. Cory Branan says, "I usually write more linear melodies. I'm not Bacharach with the great melodic skiffs, you know. All my heroes from Townes Van Zandt to Springsteen, the melodies are very linear and the cadence is is what you would speak them in so they don't detract from the lyrics so much. They complement them. I'm a fan of great melodic writers from Nilsson to Leonard. So may great melodic writers but it's not my forte'."
"The Only You"
Cory Branan sets up "The Only You," He says, "There's a song on the record that I had a little scrap for seven or eight years and it finally found a home on the record. "The Only You," The first lines were an intro I was using for another song. When you break up things aren't as clear when you are in the whirlwind. It's not a love song. It's kind of vindictive. It's kind of snarky And then it pivots real fast and it's kind of tender. I like the idea of having it all right there at once because that's kind of how it feels for me."
[Calvin plays "The Only You" from The No-Hit Wonder by Cory Branan.]
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