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Davy Jones’s Locker

 

Davy Jones’s Locker is the place of the dead at the bottom of the sea in pirate mythology. The opening guitar riff is one of my favorites in the Sanoma set. It has a surf quality, but is also really dark and foreboding. I get the image of pirates ready to board another ship, cannons, blasting, sailors yelling in aggression and terror. I wrote this riff during a snowstorm. I’m a fan of rock & roll – surf, British invasion, early punk and the early fist-pumping proto-metal of Zeppelin, AC/DC, Motorhead, and Sabbath. I think the opening riff gives away my love for the last genre.

I am fascinated with the way humans explain life after death. Like the sea, death can be dark, mysterious and fearful. I used the mythology of Davy Jones’s Locker as a metaphor for heaven and hell. Davy Jones was known as “sailor’s devil”, and the Locker cast fear into the hearts of sailors. The life of a pirate was cut-throat – full of debauchery, murder, theft, and cheating. I imagine these sailors feared retribution for their sordid lives.

I think most people grapple with a similar fear, and with the mystery of death. We’ve heard stories about bright lights, encounters with God, and we’ve read in Dante and the New Testament about the terrors of hell and the paradise of heaven. In my mind, this is fantastic subject matter for this kind of rock & roll.

El Capitan

 

El Capitan is a surf spot not too far from Santa Barbara, CA. This region and NW Washington are my favorite places. My family lives near this stretch of coast and I have many good memories of surfing, barbecues, wine tasting in the countryside and time spent at the beach and zoo with my wife, kids, parents, brother and sister-in-law. I remember when my daughters first ventured in the ocean and built sand castles, my wife caught her first wave, and all of us enjoying the presence of pelicans, seals, sand pipers, and each other.

The name El Capitan evokes seafaring imagery that I think is perfect for this song – captain of a Spanish pirate ship. One of Sanoma’s themes is the era of seafaring pirates and this period in history carries with it Spanish sub themes that also surface in the harmonic minor scales of much surf music. I have images of abandoned church buildings, Spanish missions and graveyards, the open sea with ships looming on the horizon, and a ragged crew that has sailed from the Spanish Main in search of treasure. This imagery is mixed with great surfing memories to inspire an all-out rock & roll song that really kicks ass live. I love the recording, too. The guitar tone is like a bad wipe out on a skateboard or a surfer getting sucked over the falls and smacking water.

My personality is a mixture of, among other things, my experiences and these images and memories, and I express my life through the rock & roll music that I love, and now through writing with words about the songs that I write on the Telecaster cranked through a Fender Vibro-King. The theme of a captain reminds me that I don’t control these things, but they are gifts from God. I’m not the captain of my own destiny, but a good God gives me great people, abilities, locations, inspiration, and many other things that I love. There are opportunities that are meant to take. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. All this is a gift from the King of the heavens, sea and earth. This song reminds me of that.

Westport

 

Westport is a song inspired by a Washington surf spot west of Olympia.  I used to drive from Bellingham and sleep in the bed of my pickup truck that I parked on the beach.  Once, the truck got stuck and we needed to head back that night.  We tried everything to get the truck out of the sand but ended up needing to call a tow truck.  About an hour later, we saw headlights bobbing through the misty, windy darkness.  We waived down the rickety tow truck and out stumbled the wiry, mustached driver in a tank top with cigarette hanging out of mouth.  It didn’t take us long to see that this guy had been drinking – a lot -before we called him.  My friend said the T.V. was blaring on the other end of the line when he called.  I imagined one of the many single-wide trailers, ash tray, cheap food and beer.  We didn’t have far to drive with him before we made it to the road and got out of dodge for the night, but not forever.

Westport is dark, often shrouded in cold coastal fog, with some of the heaviest rainfall in the state.  The wind often whips off of the coast at high speeds.  Once a fishing industry town, much of the commerce has gone belly up, leaving the flickering fluorescent lights in bar windows and drunken tales of a life at sea.  Surfers drive in from all around, drink a lot, camp, and leave.  A few stay and work at the grocery store.  There was a time when I wanted to do just that in order to dedicate more time to surfing.  The town is run down in a haunted kind of way and the signs of vice are evident in gas stations and defunct businesses now abandoned.

I remember catching my first lengthy ride at the Westport jetty as the sun was sinking and it was rapidly becoming dark.  My friend Edwin was paddling out and got to see it.  I was riding a 70’s Owl board that had belonged to my dad.  I remember the camp fire, shivering as I got out of my wetsuit, and smoking a pipe on the beach after surfing.  There was also an incredible sunset right before I caught the wave.

Westport holds a place in my heart.  It is a surf ghost town.  I think I will continue to be drawn to it for the rest of my life.  These are a few of the stories and images behind the song.