Saints & Sinners - Album Notes

Some useful (maybe) and useless (but fun) pieces of information about our new CD

First of all, we’re thrilled that after 27 of being married to each other we’ve finally got a real studio CD that we hope the rest of the world wants to hear.  And now, at last, we have an answer for the many times we’ve heard the question:  “When are you going to release a new recording?”  Thanks to all of our fans for encouraging and supporting us over the years.

And away we go.

The Old Photo Under The Disc

traycard_200For those of you who buy the actual cd you'll see a photo under the disc. This was taken at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana, Cuba sometime back in the 1940s when the cool thing to do was to hop a quick boat ride over to Cuba from Miami and toss back few Cuba Libres.  Left to right, it’s my grandmother Estelle Schlaudecker O’Brien, my grandfather Frank A. O’Brien, Sr, and my great-great aunt Catherine Bullard.  My grandfather was a saint.

In the Studio

Here are some links to a few movies that Eric Thorin took in the studio on February 26th. I'd just finished singing the lead vocal track to "Keep It Clean" and since we had all the players right there we figured we'd better get them all to sing on the choruses. In the first movie you'll notice there's not much singing going on - just some horsing around. They're all waiting for the chorus to come around and so there's time for Christian Teele to make some faces and for Ben Winship to gargle. In the second movie there's lots more singing and you'll hear John Magnie holding the last note out in his unmistakeable baritone. Our friend Casey Boone had stopped by to see us and so we enlisted him to sing too. It was fun to hear these guys sing since normally they're behind the drum kit or the bass or the piano and don't worry too much about harmonizing. Maybe the Irish whiskey helped a bit but they sure let it all hang out vocally. Be sure to hear Rich's comments at the very end.

In the studio: a little bit of Keep It Clean

In the studio: a little bit of Keep It Clean

Here's a little movie of me and Rich rehearsing "I'm Shakin'."  That's Kevin Clock, owner of Colorado Sound, and Jesse O'Brien who engineered for us.

In the studio: a little bit of I'm Shakin'

Song Notes From Mollie

Keep It Clean
(Charley Jordan)

We started out doing this one just for fun.  When every audience laughed every time they heard the chorus we knew we were on to something.  The more tawdry verses were lifted from a Dave Van Ronk version.  Who knows from whence they were lifted?  We kept John Magnie’s funny note in at the beginning of his solo despite his objections.  It’s perfect.

New Boots
(Mollie O’Brien, Rich Moore, Ben Winship)

I wrote the words for Rich who knows how often dads take the back seat in the family. We both thank Ben for encouraging us to record this.  It was a huge leap of faith for me to do it.

(Dave Van Ronk)

Dave Van Ronk was a big influence on a young Rich Moore.  Mr. Van Ronk is famous for being a Tin Pan Alley devotee at heart - he’s often quoted as saying that as a young man he wanted to play jazz in the worst way and that that’s what he did.  All these characters and their shortcomings - my my my. Haven’t we all been in the same boat a few times in our lives?  Note the mellifluous sounds of Brad Goode on trumpet.

The Ghost Of You Walks
(Richard Thompson)

How the world spins in the aftermath of love. I am in love with this song.

Lonely For A While    
(Jesse Winchester ) 

We’ve been doing this song for several years now. It’s a seemingly simple melody that starts out almost funny.  By the last verse the tide’s turned and the heartbreak sets in.

Dead and Lovely
(Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan)

Here’s sinner for sure.  Well, 2 sinners really.  But one’s met her match and it’s not a pretty sight. We admire Tom Waits for his songwriting as well as his highly principled business practices.

Saints and Sinners
(David Francey)

Thanks so much to our producer, Ben, for suggesting we record this song. Having grown up a block away from the local Catholic Church and school this one hits especially close to home for both of us. As Eric Moon said after he recorded his parts, this one has a “big ass message”.

Everything I’ve Got
(Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart)

Crazy love from the view point of a strong willed and confident woman. This tune’s from the Rodgers and Hart 1942 musical By Jupiter. The story revolves around a group of Greeks who end up in the land of the Amazons.  They’re dumbfounded to discover the place is ruled by women who run things and do the battling while the men mind the hearth and home. Equality for both sexes?  Yes, it eventually happens here which means it’s a fictitious tale.

Don’t Bother Me
(George Harrison)

George Harrison was only 17 years old when he wrote this aching account of love lost. You can count on a few fingers the number of teenagers who’ve put such pathos into a pop song.

I’m Shakin’
(Rudy Toombs)

The jitters? The panting? The sweats? Feeling sick ? No it’s love.  I must admit that we stole this from The Blasters. Little Willie John’s version ain’t bad either.

Mighty Close To Heaven
(James B. Coats /Additional verses by Mollie O’Brien)

This song is found on the video “The Singing Stream” which is the story of the Landis Family of gospel singers from North Carolina ( I heard this tune years ago and was instantly enchanted by the melody and the message.  James B. Coats was a songwriter for the Stamps Baxter Music Company which published the convention books of shape note hymns that were sold at singing conventions in the American South in the 1920s and 1930s.  Entire communities would gather for a day to make a joyful noise with an all day sing that culminated in socializing and dinner on the grounds. Bertha Landis, the matriarch of the Landis family, was part of this history and her grandson, Ken Daniels, continues the family tradition as a member of The Golden Echoes whose lineage is traced in video.  What a thrill it was for me and Rich to have our daughters sing with us on this one.

Think About Your Troubles
(Harry Nilsson)

When life brings tears, make tea. We spent many years trying to figure out a way to put a different spin on this song.  Rich succeeded very well I think.  Kudos to Eric Thorin for dreaming up an oboe duet that’s placed next to the outer limits sounds of Glenn Taylor’s pedal steel.

(Rich Moore)

This is Rich’s gorgeous tribute to the beautiful island that we passed by one day while on a bluegrass cruise.  If only we’d been able to go ashore.  Maybe we will go someday soon... and toss back a few Cuba Libres.


Booking Information: Mongrel Music
Radio Promotion: Brad Hunt, The WNS Group
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