Starry Eyed And Laughing
                   Peter O'Brien's notes on Junked Cars & Beat Up Guitars
Junked Cars & Beat Up Guitars - Click to buyThough I didn't realise it at the time I suppose the unlikely possibility of me recording this CD arose from a phone call from Tony Poole in January 2005 asking if I would consider trying to write lyrics for a song taking the listener on a journey across America travelling from the West Coast to the East.
Having accepted and completed the task, I was sufficiently enthused to attempt some of my own. By the end of that year I had completed a further forty six sets of lyrics of wildly varying quality, on a variety of topics, and all in search of a melody. Seven were to find their way on to the CD we began recording in October 2008.

We had first met back in the 1970s when Tony was fronting his band, Starry Eyed & Laughing, and I was publishing what was generically known as a music fanzine.
Omaha Rainbow
, named after a song on John Stewart's California Bloodlines album, came out with decreasing frequency for 15 years between 1973 and 1988.

If it were possible to learn songwriting by osmosis then I was given every opportunity during that time.
I was to stay with Stewart in Malibu during the time he began to record the Top Ten album, Bombs Away Dream Babies, and was in the studio during the recording of 'Gold', his U.S. number 5 single. Ian Tyson welcomed me to his ranch in Alberta and it was on my third visit I got to strum a few chords (the three or four I knew) on the Martin D28 guitar which is the subject of Beat Up Old Guitar.

I spent a lot of time in Texas with the inspirational writer, Roxy Gordon. Through him I was to find myself riding in a car round Austin with Billy Joe Shaver; in a pickup in Dallas with Townes Van Zandt; talking to Eric Taylor in Krum, Texas, staying on the island of Galveston with Richard Dobson, and again in Austin being cooked breakfast by Lucinda Williams.

Back home in England Guy Clark had sung Joe Ely's 'Indian Cowboy' for me in his hotel room. Joe himself, along with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore all consented to be interviewed for my little magazine. Rodney Crowell submitted to my questioning in London and later in Dallas, as did fellow Texan, Terry Allen.

Memorably, at the conclusion of an interview, Mickey Newbury pulled out his guitar and sang for over an hour songs he was considering for his next album. I'd turned off the tape recorder so it's only there lodged in my diminishing memory cells.

There was Steve Goodman, John Phillips diverted by a phone call from Keith Richards, Emmylou Harris, and Phil Everly. Phil Everly! How much he and his music meant to me is in the song, The Night Bill Haley Came to Town.

Tom Russell sent me articles and interviews which I happily published. More recently I have travelled across Canada on the Roots on the Rails music trains listening to Tom, Ian Tyson, Eliza Gilkyson, Michael Martin, The Flatlanders (Joe, Butch and Jimmie Dale), the brilliant cowboy poet, Paul Zarzyski, the legend that is Ramblin' Jack Elliott. There will be more trains soon with some of those already mentioned along with others such as Gretchen Peters and Dave Alvin.

My head is filled with the music and lyrics of these and so many more talented artists and writers. I don't pretend this CD has anything to match their inspirational expertise but thanks to Tony's encouragement and musical and production expertise I have realised my teenage fantasy of making a record. It just took that phone call from Tony and a few years more. - Peter O'Brien June 2009