lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: black heart today

2001-03-05: indigo girls' amy ray goes it alone on 'stag', wall of sound

q: "stag" feels like it was written as a piece. it holds together well. was that intentional?

a: i meant it to feel like a piece. some of the songs are older, and i had been working on them for a while. "black heart today" is an older song, and "mtns of glory." those are the first couple of songs i'd written that i was like, "ok, it's finally happening. i'm writing the stuff that i'm going to do a solo record with." i started writing a lot more prolifically in the last few years. i wrote some as i was recording, and i saw things falling together. it definitely has a thread running through it. gender identity, high school - kinda sorta - "what's going on with my hormones" kind of thing. . . . "late bloom" was written after most of the album had already been recorded . . . and i was thinking about (daemon records band) three finger cowboy, who's called 1945 now. it just felt like a song that would be totally for them. that song was like the missing piece for the record. i feel a little bit like a late bloomer. it's kind of about the whole idea of this record.


2001-04: amy ray does it her way, girlfriends magazine

the album's birthing process not only gave ray the freedom to explore some of her own creativity which doesn't get airtime with the indigo girls, but also forced her to do some personal soul searching. "the songs on stag deal frankly with my confrontations with the oppressive elements of the music industry, my frustrations with imposed standards of gender all around us, and the shortcomings i see in myself."

as far as shortcomings go, ray has always been frank about her musical ability. she once told a music industry magazine that when she and saliers were playing coffeehouses in the early eighties, emily would work on ever-more sophisticated chord changes and fingering, while she was practicing the same three chords. recently, ray has been pushing herself beyond her own perceived limitations.

"on this album, i wrote all the harmonies and i played lead guitar-things i didn't know or maybe didn't believe i could do before," she said.

but the album's lyrics also have to do with other personal shortcomings ray was feeling. "you know, the songs 'hey castrator' and 'black heart today'-they're about that solitude and doom that are important to me somehow."


2001-04-xx: amy ray goes stag, the washington blade

ray explores both the personal and political on her new album, sometimes mixing the two. "'black heart today' is a song to myself about not being able to rise above my bad mood," she says. "but when i talk about social issues - human rights issues, or gender issues - like in 'laramie' - things that i'm calling other people down on, i'm including myself when [suggesting that] someone needs to work on things."


2015-05-21: ar.2001, official indigo girls "a year a month blog" on tumblr

in 2001 i was finally ready to take a leap of faith and release my first solo record on my indie label daemon records. daemon had released and promoted over 30 records by other artists and i loved being able to work with so many of my favorite bands. at this point, many of the daemon artists and other musicians i met through the label and indie scene started to really influence my song writing. my first solo effort, stag was born out of my fandom for the great bands of the southeastern indie music scene. danielle howle, 1945, and the rock*a*teens were bands that i considered to be groundbreaking and seminal in the lineage of great writers and musicians of my region and time. i had written songs with these artists in mind with the hopes of eventually getting to collaborate with them. the butchies, a north carolina punk band were on the top of my list too, and while they weren't signed to daemon, they were a band i had always wanted to work with. they had toured off and on with the ig's and in the midst of this we had started jamming on new music. i had about half a records worth of material that was inspired both stylistically and thematically by the butchies. to round out this incredible list of dream collaborators, i revisited the suffragette session's tour, where i had discovered a musical kinship with kate schellenbach and josephine wiggs. by some miracle, we ended up adding joan jett to the equation and recording a punk song i wrote called "hey castrator." i can't recall how we all managed to get in the same room, but wow, what an incredible feeling to play with that trio of rockers. it took a while for me to make stag, traveling around to capture the bands in between ig dates. i started in athens, ga recording "black heart today" with the rock*a*teens at david barbe's studio; traveled back and forth to durham, nc to play with the butchies; spent a couple of days in nyc with kate, jo and joan; worked in atlanta with danielle howle; mixed most of the record back in athens and then went to birmingham to record and mix "late bloom" with 1945. it was a totally new way to make a record for me but i loved it.

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