lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: bird in the hand


2012-03-01: amy ray digs deep into the lung of love, glide magazine:

with someone like brandi, i've worked with her so much that if i've written a song and i want to sing her on it, once we're done with the rhythm tracks and such, i'm already working out in my mind what the vocal arrangement will be. i usually go to garageband and put in a rough mix of what we have already, and then i add the harmonies in with my own voice, just to see all things work. i know brandi's range, so i can kind of work out what's going to sound good coming from her.

so on a song like "bird in the hand," i'll go in with an idea of the vocal map, and i'll go to brandi and say, "this is what i have in mind, but do your own thing too and let's see what works." for the song "i didn't," though, i didn't know what notes i wanted her to sing on that at all. i just wanted her to interpret that any way that felt right to her, and felt honest to the song. i had written the background "answers" in the chorus, but in terms of the other stuff she did on the track, i had no idea how to make that work and she just came in and sang that from off the top of her head. with brandi, also, it's kind of like she can sing with anything and it's going to sound good and fleshed out. (laughs) she's got an amazing range and depth, and can just really get into the world of a song like that.

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2012-03-14: amy ray: lung of love, glide magazine:

still, it's two of the final songs, "lung of love" and "bird in the hand" that show amy ray's able songwriting hand and are major highlights of the record. the former recalls the youthful energy of prom, but brings a real thoughtful and mature lyrical voice that demonstrates ray's firm poetic grip that is rivaled by so few. she sings, "this lung of love, this failing breath / the compass of the heart that won't rest / the murmur's beat, the stalling gait / the compass of the heart that won't wait," as she reaches out to a lover about the struggle of being a traveler and agent of the world (oh, the life of the touring musician!) and a homebody. it's a touching and novel take on the subject, elegantly executed and intensified by greg griffith's superlative production. "bird in the hand" is again mid-tempo, but it's a beautiful send off. a cello line comes in after fifteen seconds, which reveals ray's newfound interest in strings (showcased heavily on the last indigo girls record beauty queen sister), and then there's brandi carlile to provide that delicious americana flavor and round it all out. it's one of amy ray's best, and a perfect closer to such a great effort.

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2012-04-26: amy ray - interview, chicago pride:

jn: can you tell me about the "bird in the hand" song?

ar: it is a song about being a traveler and being afraid that you are not going to be able to do that. it is about acting out when a person tells you to do something but it is more in a melancholy mood. it was my way to talk about all of the things that i do and see when i am traveling. there are many nights when you are walking around and you stop to talk to people on the streets. i have these long bike trips that i do on my days off, especially in the midwest where there are great bike trails. i will see hobos around a fire and sometimes i want to be lost in that place and the intimacy of that. i am trying to capture that in the song when someone is telling me i will lose all that i have if i follow that path. why would i give up what i have at home for the intimacy of the road and the battle between those two things? they are both strong pulls.

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2019-03-xx: the amy ray band will play the 2019 newport folk festival, the newport buzz:

in retrospect, it's easy to see how songs like lung of love's "bird in the hand" and "the rock is my foundation" served as signposts of what was to come next for ray. with goodnight tender in 2014, she recorded in asheville, north carolina, and stepped squarely into the country music that has been a part of everything she's done. but it's not the kind of country heard on the radio; it's the country music culled from folk, bluegrass, gospel, and southern rock, going so far as to title a tune after duane allman.


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