Title - I Thought I Was Fine
Artist - Tommy Womack
“I wanted to rock this time,” says the multi-talented musical and literary artist, and local Nashville hero, Tommy Womack, sitting making love to an early morning cup of coffee at Bongo Java in East Nashville.
“They’ve called me an Americana artist for over 20 years now, and it’s a great important genre; I’ve got nothing against it. I’ve had a great time being part of the movement.”
“But one day a while back, I had an epiphany. I thought, hey, I hate dobros anymore! And if I hear another song about a train in the key of G, somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
“I Thought I Was Fine has more in common with the Replacements than Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” Womack continues as the caffeine begins to kick in.
“It’s up-tempo, and sometimes totally in your face. Look, I’m 58 years old, I nearly died in a car accident on the way to a gig in 2015, I’ve beaten back cancer three times since 2017.”
“I’ve seen musician friends of mind die before they hit my age, so I want to go back to my first love, rock ’n’ roll, while I still have time.”
Set for release October 15th, 2021 on Schoolkids Records, I Thought I Was Fine was co-produced by Womack and Jonathan Bright (Raelyn Nelson Band), who took their time in Bright’s home studio, with sessions going back to 2019.
“A consequence of all the chemo I’ve been through is that I get tired easily,” Womack explains, “so we recorded the record in bits and bobs three hours at a time.”
“That’s one thing about the record: nobody sounds like they’re tired when they’re playing. And we did like the Beatles and would do a whole song in three hours from top to bottom.”
“Jonathan played the drums, and I played all the guitars and bass. I didn’t want all my fancy-playing slick session-musician friends this time. I wanted ME. I wanted slashing guitars and rough edges.”
“When we recorded a guitar part, we didn’t say, ‘Hey, maybe we should adjust the microphone, maybe we should change this and that to get a better sound.’ No, we would listen to the playback and say, ‘Does it sound like a guitar? It does? Good! Let’s move on!’”
1. Pay It Forward
2. I Thought I Was Fine
3. A Little Bit of Sex Part 2
4. I Got No Place To Go
5. Call Me Gary
6. That Lucky Old Sun
7. You Don’t Get Over Love
8. It’s All About Me
9. I Do
10. Miss Otis Regrets
11. Job-Hunting While Depressed
12. The Story of Waymond and Lou
13. I Wish I’d Known You better
Opening on the melodically twanging rocker Pay It Forward and the lowbrow acoustic storytelling of the title track itself I Thought I Was Fine, those are expertly backed by the thrashing guitars of A Little Bit of Sex Part 2, the drum-led I Got No Place To Go, the rock hipsway of Call Me Gary and then both the mid-tempo rocker That Lucky Old Sun and the countrified You Don’t Get Over Love.
Next up is the upbeat and melodious It’s All About Me and the rhythmic, old school-imbibed alt-rocker I Do and they are in turn followed by the low slung Miss Otis Regrets, one of my own personal favorites, the foot-tapping Job-Hunting While Depressed, the album rounding out on the spoken-word, troubadour-imbued The Story of Waymond and Lou (inclusive of a couple of personal Elvis Presley stories), closing all-too-soon on the lovelorn balladry of I Wish I’d Known You better.
Womack enjoys a tremendous affection in Nashville, as well as in some of the rest of the world, for his (often intensely personal) songs that are sometimes funny and sometimes sad; he’s also been known to raise laughter and tears within the same song.
From 1985-1992, he played in the legendary post-punk college radio darlings Government Cheese. Then came the Bis-Quits, from 1992-94, with Will Kimbrough and Mike “Grimey” Grimes, who did a critically acclaimed record for John Prine’s Oh Boy! label in 1993.
Then Womack’s first book came out, the story of his first band, Cheese Chronicles, which is a cult classic among both musicians and fans.
Then came a slew of solo albums (eight so far) starting in ’98. Womack now also plays in Daddy, a part-time band that includes Kimbrough. And alongside all the record-making, two more books were published.
With the new album set for fall, Womack says, “It feels like Christmas when I was eight . . . that delicious impatient anticipation. I mean, there’s more to look forward to this time.”
“I mean, I even have a record deal for this one, and a publicist! — I’ve paid my dues, I’ve paid OTHER people’s dues, I think! Hell, this record might have a chance! Whether I do or not, though, what’s it matter?”
“I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. That’s a thing about the music business. They can’t kill you, you have to voluntarily die. And I ain’t dead yet.”
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