My songs tend to start with a single line. Sometimes it’s a line of my own invention, for example, the title, “Sweet Jesus Don’t Kiss Me Goodbye,” which is repeated in the song’s chorus. More often my line is a riff on something I’ve seen or heard. The title, “One More Link (In the Chain of Fools)”, for example, owes its life to Aretha Franklin’s take on the Don Covay song, “Chain of Fools”.
If I’m lucky, the line suggests characters and a story. All my songs are just short-short stories set to a beat. I formulate the story, hear a chorus, and work up rhymes over the beat of my walking footsteps or the hum of tires on the highway, usually in the late afternoon after I’ve turned out my daily dose of crime writing. Once in a while I hear an indistinct melody which I don’t have the means to capture but which, before it vanishes, helps shape the song.
Collectively, I’d classify these songs–most attributed to my alter-ego, Lonesome Al–as a mash-up of old time murder ballads and alt-country. If anyone reading these lyrics hears music in them, I’m eager to listen.