Austin Lance Howell
This was a song I recorded during the sessions for "Hard Lessons". It didn't make the record, simply because I didn't think it fit in that collection, but it's a simple folk tune that I'm still pretty proud of. The summer I graduated high school one of my best friends joined the Marines. I came damn close to joining with him and the truth is if it weren't for music, I would have. I already had my next 2-3 months booked playing shows with my old pal Frank, and felt I needed to honor what I had booked with him. Plus my Mom would've LOST IT. My friend joined and went through basic training. When he came home he was doing drills in my living room and I didn't regret not joining up too much anymore. It wasn't too long after that he was sent to Afghanistan and I've hardly heard from him since, for various reasons. He made it back okay and has a family now, but I always wondered how the conversation went with his parents before he got shipped over. When I wrote this songs few years ago, I tried putting myself in his and their shoes and it all fell together. For the artwork, I asked my friend Ricky Kendall, an amazing musician and songwriter in his own right, about drawing or painting something for the cover because I've also been a fan or his artwork for a while. He worked up a number of different options but when I saw this one I felt it represented the character in the song well on a number of different levels. The longer I stare at it, the deeper it gets.