When I first heard David Ramirez’s brilliant new release Fables, I was immediately struck by a lyric in “New Way of Living,” a poignant song about escaping the morass and finding a path forward. “There’s a plumber down in Arkansas, the best writer I ever met,” he sings, “When I asked where to find his cd, he just laughed and lit a cigarette.”
I kept coming back to the song repeatedly, in part due to that lyric. There was something intriguing about it and I suspected that there had to be an interesting story behind it. So I asked.
I was in Fayetteville, AR for the Fayetteville Roots Festival last year – it was a great bill and a lot of fun. I played a couple of sets, and afterwards I was standing at the bar and these local folks came over to talk and were really cool. They invited me and my girlfriend to come hang out afterwards, just to sit around a bonfire and have some whiskey and play some music.
So we went out there, and it was a ten minute hike through the woods, and we found ourselves by this little stream. They had a bonfire going, and there were like six or seven of us sitting around the fire, taking turns playing songs. Every time the guitar got to this one guy, his songs would blow me away. This guy was amazing. He said he was a blue collar worker of some sort, a plumber or construction worker. So I asked him where I could get his CD or if he had anything online. He laughed at me and said “I don’t do music for a living, I just like it. I have a job.”
At the time, I was really struggling with my place in this whole music business, and trying to write a great single that could get a lot of radio play. I wasn’t writing for me anymore. I was writing for the business and I was very unhappy.
I started that song a year or so before this all happened, but I got stuck on it and stopped in the middle of writing it. As soon as I had that interaction with that dude in Arkansas, the whole thing came together. Here’s this guy, writing because he loves it. That was me ten years ago, when I first started out. I realized I had to get back to that.
You can download an acoustic version of “New Way of Living,” plus several other gems from the album here.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.