Energy, Inspiration, and a Strange Descent Into the Tennessee Night

When last I left you, I was discussing intuition and my ongoing experiment in living by non-interference, a radically altered life approach in which solid plans and strategies are set aside and events are allowed to arrive without judgement, like waves crashing on a shoreline. This has been easier said than done at times, but for the most part, I’ve held firmly to the mantra, “just keep saying yes.” 

It was in following this approach that my soon to be released record, Tennessee Night, came to be written. In retrospect, I see that much of the energy I felt pulling at me in the summer of 2015 was tied to this as-yet-unstarted project, as if there was something inside me that wanted out. Although the journey has been about more than just a record and has impacted all aspects of my life, the album has been the ladder I’ve climbed, the distant mountain I’ve trudged towards, the carrot dangling from life’s stick that has kept me moving and prevented me from simply lying down in the snow to sleep. Even as I begin the process of working on the record’s artwork, a current unknown, I’ll keep placing one foot in front of the other with the knowledge that stressing about the details isn’t going to help that final product arrive any sooner; in fact, it will only push it farther away.

The journey of Tennessee Night began in early September of 2015, when I accepted a last minute invitation to go to Nashville. Although the event I’d be attending wasn’t for a few days, I decided to go early in an attempt to satisfy a growing need to take some time away from my “normal life.” The preceding weeks had been inundated with strange energies and deep inspiration which I hadn't found time to process. Feeling at the moment that I desperately needed to get “off the grid,” I saw this trip as the perfect opportunity. 

Accommodations were tricky on such short notice, and with little in the way of options, I settled on a small writer's cabin about an hour outside of Nashville that offered electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of nothing in all directions. I packed a bag and a guitar and prepared to leave for Tennessee the next morning, but as is so often the case with life, things just weren’t going to be that easy. As day turned to night, I found myself taking part in a difficult conversation, the kind that’s both long overdue and unwanted. 

When I left the next morning, my heart was heavy and I could no longer resonate with the inspiration that had been propelling me to get away; it seemed that the sun had been eclipsed by an old, familiar pain. I drove the nine or so hours from Ann Arbor to Tennessee, arriving at the property after dark, and after wandering around a bit, was met by the proprietor, a Vanderbilt professor with an English accent who emerged from the darkness on a 4-wheeler. He led me to the solitary cabin via a winding climb overgrown with tall grass and branches. He wasn’t overly cordial, but before departing he let me know that the cabin was guarded by a “temple cat,” who’d be in and out, and that this place was on sacred ground -- the birthplace of numerous creations. With that he drove off into the night leaving me standing outside a small cabin overgrown with trees ... if you knew me well you might say this could be considered par for the course.

Entering the tiny cabin I was soon joined by a cat who found a comfortable spot on my lap as I sat in an old chair in the corner wondering what, if anything, I’d do there in the next four days … writing seemed a distant dream at the moment. The next morning I ate breakfast at a restaurant in town and while reading the back of the menu, learned a little about the town’s history and how the train from Danville used to make a stop there. After finishing my meal, I returned to the cabin, unpacked my guitar, and seated myself at a small table out front. I began to play a little and very quickly a line arrived: “The Danville train used to run this way …”

In the next days, I found four songs that would form the nucleus of a new record: “Two Wrongs,” “Heading Home Again,” “Anthem,” and what would later become “Everything Is In Bloom.” By my last night there, I’d found the cabin overflowing with a level of creative energy I’ve not experienced before or since. 

In making this record, I’ve tried to hold that space inside me, to follow that energetic thread and transcribe it as honestly as possible. It’s been the journey of a lifetime for me, one made possible by amazing and talented people who’ve shown up at just the right moments and in just the right ways, again and again. I committed to following this record, to letting it be what it wanted to be, and I’ve been lucky to find so many others who’ve been willing to do the same and help me on the journey.

Moving forward I’ll be sharing some stories of how things have taken shape and songs have arrived, whether found on the back of a menu, in an off-hand remark, or in a haunted recording studio. I’ve found that when I stop looking so hard for songs, they have a habit of showing up. Often, it turns out they’d been trying to find me all along -- I just had to be willing to say yes.

Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.

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