Friday, June 8, 2012

On the 12th day of "pre CD release" Eric gave to me

I promise to get back to my random musings that have no relevance or connection to each other soon. But I'm so excited about the impending release of my new album, My Brother's Keepers, it's like Christmas for me. Due to that I decided to do a little something specifically pertinent to Christmas and the CD release.
Since there are 12 songs on the album I figured I'd tell you the inspiration or story behind the songs on "My Brother's Keepers" one per day until we get your lords a-leaping all the way to the partridge in your pear tree on June 21st. Sing it with me now.... "On the first day of pre CD release , Eric gave to meeeeee......"


In 1999, The Ugli Stick formed and we began playing, writing, and recording music instantly. Luckily for us our bassist, Brian Graves, happened to be an exceptional engineer/producer and had his own commercial recording studio in his back yard. This benefited the band in the obvious ways (having a sound proofed rehearsal space, having virtually unlimited recording time for free, having Brian's wife, the lovely Rebecca Graves, sporadically bring us refreshments (note: Rebecca Graves does not come standard in any recording studio/ rehearsal space deal in the world other than at Grave Danger. And that is definitely a feather in the cap of Grave Danger. Really enhances the whole process. Love you Rebecca)
But in addition to the more obvious benefits of having a studio owner in the band there were also some other perks. The main one being: we got to hear some of the new local artists that were recording at Brian's before they were heard by the world. A lot of these artists gave us more comic relief than inspiration, but I found a handful of my alltime favorite acts this way.

Brian's standard clientele was comprised of about 97% hip hop artists (of those about 97% weren't very good, although Brian made them sound like they were. And the other 3% were part of that group I mentioned above. This portion of the artists became among my favorites and I still play shows or collaborate with some of them to this day (most notably Uncle Dirty).

I'm eternally grateful to Brian Graves for allowing me this portal into music I may have never heard otherwise. Among these groups there was one that stood out from the rest remarkably. That group was Hamelin. This group of guys (with Brian's help) had recorded some of the most incredible music I had heard in years. I listened to the full album. Then listened again. Then listened again. I was amazed by the craftsmanship of the songs and the delivery of them. I was amazed equally by the fact that something this incredible and meaningful had at that point been only heard by about a dozen sets of ears (luckily for me, my ears were among those dozens).

My love of Hamelin and their music grew exponentially once I heard them live, met them, and played shows with them. I was already a fan but once I realized that they were equally kind, genuine people as they were exceptional musicians and songwriters, I was a full fledged soldier for the advancement of Hamelin.

The lead singer and primary songwriter for Hamelin was Ross Newell. Ross is a humble genius with a sense of song craft that can't be described as anything less than mastery. He's charming , shy, smart, gentle, giving, talented....(I'm starting to sound like a dating ad promoting Ross Newell. Hahaha And on paper it seems like this is the guy you would hate cause he's got everything, but I assure you can't hate Ross. It is just an impossibility. As a matter of fact I'm gonna say, If you have any negativity towards Ross Newell it says a lot more about you than it does about Ross Newell. But I digress). If ya can't tell already, I'm a huge fan of the guy. He is the real deal. He is every bit the song writer of all my heros and just an all around nice guy to boot.

Fast Forward a few years:

To date I have been fortunate enough to play with Ross 100's and 100's of times now. Everytime I hear him it is fresh and mind blowingly great. I have watched and listened to him progress (and when the base line of "progression" is better than everybody else, well that's an exciting progression to watch/hear). What I'm trying to tell you is that Ross Newell is a singer/songwriter of legendary proportions. The world at large is just learning that fact but I have no doubts that more of the world will soon know how talented he is and the world will be a better place for having heard Ross' songs.

Alright....Now that you are moderately introduced to Ross and my affinity for him and his music , let's get to the point.

I had a sketch or lyrical idea in my note pad for "Feel" for a while. I really didn't have any specifics. I knew I wanted to pay homage to one of my songwriting heros by basically pleading or appealing to the public to not ask for the writer's autograph. I thought (for the sake of exaggeration) asking for a genius' autograph would be such a waste. The writer in point obviously has a proven track record of using a pen to profoundly move the audience. Why would the public be willing to squander ANY of the precious moments that the writer could be inspiring us all to have him .....sign his name on something?

I liked this idea and knew it had "song potential" but I could never flesh it out. I repeatedly came back to the idea and never could connect the dots. I tried thinking of all my songwriter heros (James Taylor, Mac MacAnally, David Wilcox,...) and I kept putting the idea back in the sketch book.

Then one day it dawned on me. I couldn't finish it because I was using the wrong ingredient. I had overlooked one of my other songwriting heros..... Ross. I definitely considered him a songwriting inspiration but because he was by this point such a close colleague and great friend I just missed it. Then it hit me. This song wasn't about James Taylor. This song wasn't about David Wilcox. This song was about Ross. And it became very apparent once I realize it. The song lept from my pen and guitar easily and simply. The song basically said to me "What took ya so long, buddy?"

(SideNote: Missing the fact that the subject matter that the song wanted to be written about was right in front of me and I couldn't see it was a great songwriting lesson for me. See? Ross helps me to be a better songwriter indirectly too. Damn that guy's good. Haha )

Once I got myself out of the way and let the song tell me what it wanted to be about, the ideas flowed swiftly. Asking Ross for an autograph would be as wasteful as asking Hemingway to fill out your grocery list or Picasso to pick out the paint for your bedroom wall....

The result of all this (and some edits from my brother Wendell) is "Feel":

Music and Lyrics
by Eric Erdman and Wendell Erdman

I don't need to have Hemingway
To fill out my grocery list
What I need is the hand of a genius
To be taking me away from all of this
And helping me feel
Writing the words I was never quite sure how to say myself
Helping me dream
So when there's a genius with a pen in his hand
I need him to create

I don't need to have Picasso
To pick out the color paint for my bathroom wall
What I need is the hand of a genius
To be taking me away from it all
Making me feel
Making me dream
So when there's a genius with a brush in his hand
I need him to create

So when I see Ross with a pen in his hand
I don't want him wasting time signing autographs
When that same ink could be making me feel
Writing the words I was never quite sure how to say myself
Making me dream
So when that genius holds a pen in his hand
I need him to create


  1. I've never really been into autographs, but not for the reasons you mentioned. I guess I just never saw the point of them. I do love the idea that having a poet sign his name is in fact a waste of his potential... A rather romantic notion. Can't wait to hear the song!

  2. Go check it. You can stream it now at

    It's called "Feel"