From Rayland Baxter
Songwriter Rayland Baxter is a dreamer, a very fine one, as a matter of fact. He is one of a misty-eyed gentlefolk seeking prosperity in a soul, in the soul. He’s a wanderer of the highest regard, with hazy matter, loosely based on his waking hours, conditions, remarks and interactions, all that he finds suitable to chronicle in his ledger and diary. He made a record entitled “Feathers & Fishhooks,” three years ago and the men, or man, that he introduced us to were of the fluttery variety. They found that they were utterly consumed by their wanderings, by the ifs, the white noise and the unseen phantoms whispering it all breathy and hot into their ears. Baxter, who calls Nashville home, is a keen observer not just of a non-thing thing like the human condition, but more so an observer of how he reacts to that non-thing thing called the human condition and just how people relate to one another. He appreciates the nuances of those who fail one another, or those who mean to let each other down. He appreciates even more those who intend to be sweet, those who will remain, holding a hand warm or cold and falling into surreal rhythm together. “Imaginary Man,” his second long-player, is an exquisite new exploration of the disorienting qualities of real life and what they drive us to conjure in our sleep, when we’re lucky enough to get it, when we allow our days to be through. It’s a mellow current of open water, touching muddy banks, carving out a sensation of desire and great hunger. People must be more. He must be more, better and kinder. Love must touch more and be more visible. People need people and they need beauty and mercy in abundance. It all needs to be there and Baxter finds this tumbling course a fascinating one.
“I see people abuse the world. There’s lots of evil out there, but we’re given the gift of life to live on this beautiful world. We’re all fucked, but we’re all winning in the end,” he says.
“Imaginary Man” gives us a portrait of a man, via characters, whose hallucinations are wishful and nearly productive, almost productive. They hope for guidance. They might even pray. They are looking for shared breaths, for a togetherness that they’re missing, or that they once had and lost. They fear that they’ve been better people in the past, but that they can redeem themselves. Baxter places common uncertainties into bodies who itch with them. They levitate with them and turn them over in their hands, working them out with a radiant warmth, tripping happily into new wrinkles of life and into other lives not their own, all the while still recognizing that they’ve been taking advice and medicine from roosters, poets and the nighttime spirit of Rodriguez, the tour guide of a dilapidated Detroit. These are love songs to the foggy myths and the open ends of every one of us. They’re meant to speak to us like the sirens do and they’re bound to light us on fire, or break our damned hearts.
SONG BY SONG by Rayland Baxter
mr Rodriguez: I just started writing random verses down. All I could think about was Detroit and how amazing that city is. I had just gotten back from a four-day trip there. I was enamored by the city and saddened at the same time. I talk about the coal mine in the song because the phrase sang better than car factory. It's the feeling between two lovers spending all night in the dark together then having to get back to work. That’s what I was trying to convey - an emotion.
oh my captain: Many of us are taking notice, and have been for some time, that we are given the magnificent gift of life and love. It was only just...uh...nothing at all before we remember seeing the light peek around our parent’s faces, floating above our eyes like a humanoid cloud. It seems as though we have grown quite fond of taking such a privilege for granted. I wanted to write an "open your eyes" song and a musical apology to whoever is responsible for creating this awesome mess of a world.
mother mother: Mother Mother is a simple melodic number for all those train hoppers and track ticklers out there who wonder what's next, after...you know...the end. A nomadic nature keeps man on the move, always wondering what he missed out on back home, or where the next harmonious light bath will take place. Is it heaven or is it hell or could it be something else? Maybe baby.
rugged lovers: Maybe the most self-explanatory song in the entire album, Rugged Lovers is a ballad that represents the emotion of being hung and strung on good intention but never befriending the mystique of compatibility.
yellow eyes: Imaginary man breaks up with imaginary girl. Girl leaves a paperclip on kitchen counter. Write a verse about said paperclip. Resort to back catalogue of lovers for verse two and three. Catchy chorus pertaining to most ex-wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends. There you have track 5 of "Imaginary Man."
young man: Young Man is inspired by the little purple wizard that lives deep within all of our hearts, the one that screams for you to "get outta dodge and never look back." The one that demands you close the book before you finish reading and go jump off the cliff because you know you can fly. Why? Because you CAN fly, man. You can fly. We have all been the gullible young man once before.
all in my head: I enjoy drifting off into space as much as possible. Most do. That space is where we dream. It's where we live out the fantastical stories we've been writing over the decades. A confident glance to the mirror as you look yourself up and down saying, "This is how things would be if I were King," and losing yourself in the stare your own face gives back to you. This was a moment. Something memorable happens. You turn back to facing the hallway and continue to walk. It's as simple as that, an emotion. The narrator of All In My Head has a dream girl and loves her very much, but heartbreak is imminent for he has set the bar too high. All In My Head is a song about imaginary love that occurs in another dimension that only shows itself when it rains.
freakin me out: Some gardens grow in day. Some gardens grow at night. For those grown at night, their keepers know what darkness is. Beauty shifts, the glorious breeze sneaks back behind the horizon, and what was important under the sun has vanished along with the light. Red capes are thrown over the sky and one can only hold on as fake friends and a Mexican man named Jesús finger through your pockets asking for more more more. You fight but soon realize it's easier to give in. So you do, and hours pass, and years pass. When you peek your head out from the haze, you see you are alone and you begin to lose your mind.
memories of old hickory: Remember that songs can often come from the smallest bit of inspiration...hidden deep within...plucked from the bowels of memory, on a whim. I grew up in the small community of Old Hickory, Tennessee. I have many fond memories of this place. Walking to school with my sister, skateboarding in the library parking lot, crawling through the neon green drainage pipes below the church parking lot and peeking up to see the Baptist boys and girls walking to Sunday school, my old dog Norton and our loud neighbors with 47 cats, the older kids that used to chase us around but could never catch us. My first girlfriend was named Miranda. We dated for five days in fifth grade. She had her best friend call me on the phone and break up with me for her. I love these memories. I can't quite put it into words why I love them so much but I'm sure you understand. Yes, you.
your love: Before I ever set foot in the desert, I knew the desert. I understood her silence and power and I got along with her in every form. When I had the chance to live in the desert, I did so and was handed many wisdoms in return for my time. Your love is a melodic number to show my gratitude for everyone I met and everyone and everything I learned from while living in the desert.
lady of the desert: Goodbye. It is one of the most beautiful words known to man. The act of leaving for good is an immeasurable action and one nearly impossible to imagine. But we all have to say goodbye eventually. It's a must. But know that the end isn't truly the end. There is much more when the verse and chorus end. You have Randy Grambo, who waits patiently for his family to return, Magdalena, who never leaves the pier in hopes the easy breeze will carry her far away, and the sailors, who left themselves and their ship out to sea as barter to be the lucky ones in the forever dream.
temporary queen of a bad time: I went on a lysergic journey with a darling Dead Head at Bonnaroo a few years ago. She left me around sunrise. I walked for hours through the morning mist and created a new colorful scheme for my life...which has never been the same since.