Cody Chesnutt Was Everybody's Brother Last Night at Ricochet Miami, September 27
Ricochet Bar & Lounge, Miami
Thursday, September 28, 2012
Better Than: The ten-year wait to hear these new songs.
Last night, Crossfade's favorite bearded soul crooner/advocate for cranial safety, Cody Chesnutt played an intimate solo show at Ricochet. He previewed stripped-down, delicate versions of songs from his upcoming long-in-the-works album, Landing on a Hundred. He alternated songs with the stories behind them and answers to questions from the audience.
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-Cody Chesnutt Talks The Headphone Masterpiece, His Kids, and His New Album
It was just Chesnutt, his helmet, electric guitar, and a crowded room of devoted fans.
"These songs are very personal," he said as he took a seat on the stage. "Get very close to me. I need to feel people."
It's a rare format for Chesnutt, who normally tours with an incendiary soul band. But it's an act that he's taken around the world, from London to San Francisco. Here are the highlights from the return to his home state of Florida.
1. "'Til I Met Thee"
Thanks to curious concert-goers, we learned that this song came to Cody about four-and-a-half or five years ago. As the lyrics go ("I took a stroll down a country road"), there's a country road near where he lives near Tallahassee. He would take walks along this road and that's where he came up with the melody and most of the lyrics. He recorded the first demo all those years ago and continued to tweak the arrangements.
This is definitely a better song than it would have been if he'd moved to a place near a sewage treatment plant or a long path covered in broken glass and pythons.
We also learned that Cody recorded his new album in Memphis, at the same studio where Al Green recorded most of his big hits. He even used the same microphone that Al Green had used. In Cody's estimation, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" is "one of the greatest vocal performances in the history of recorded music."
2. "That's Still Mama"
This song is about a young man Chesnutt knows.
"He's 20 now. He was 18 at the time and got into a legal situation. His mother came to the rescue." But an hour after the young man and his mama left the courtroom, Cody witnessed the guy being rude to the very same mama who'd been there when he needed her.
"This is unacceptable in my culture and community," Chesnutt said. So he wrote the song as a warning to the kid and in praise of the mama. "When he heard the song, it made him think about what he'd done. Music is one of the most powerful ways to access the spirit and there's no way to defend against it."
This is true. You'd think kung-fu would do it, but you really have to know what you're doing or else you're just going to hurt your hand when you karate chop that accordion.
3. "What Kind of Cool Will They Think of Next?"
For this song, Chesnutt welcomed to the stage a friend of his, a midwife with a lovely singing voice. They told a story about seeing a "beautiful thing on CNN." Amar'e Stoudemire was promoting a book about fatherhood. Cody likes the book and judges fatherhood to be "pretty cool."
And so while fatherhood is a kind of cool that was thought of a while back, it was still nice to get a book review in between songs. Most musicians just want to sell you a t-shirt, but maybe the music industry wouldn't be on its ass if bands also did cooking demonstrations, gave weather reports, and the other things that we must currently seek out on morning news shows.
In between songs, would it be so hard for the Lamb of God guy to do an interview with that model who walked into an airplane propeller? Bands could take advantage of unused stage space to put on fashion shows of the latest resort styles while they play. We're not saying it's a good idea, but neither is asking a room full of white people to clap along in rhythm.