The “Companion” idea was something I had even before recording “The Lonestar Hitchhiker”. I knew that a debut double-cd was perhaps overly ambitious and a wee bit unwise considering my record label scenario at the time, but it always remained a thorn in my side to complete. For three years, I found myself writing nothing other than songs about “The Lonestar Hitchhiker” character. Songs on the road, songs about being on the road, songs about wanting to be on a road, and finally, songs about not knowing exactly what road I was on. It got so that I became unable to broach another subject and wound up with several “extra” songs on the same theme but that didn’t quite fit onto the manically thought out “Hitchhiker” LP.
Hence “The Lonestar Companion-Vol. 2”. I had been worshipfully listening to “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake over and over and was fully convinced that would be my role model for the “Companion”. As an artist, it’s extremely hard to not emulate what inspires you. I was convinced that the record should be short, sweet, and acoustic with only my voice as an accompaniment. It took me about a year or so after I finished recording the first record to realize that I was, in fact, not Nick Drake. I failed miserably in my attempt to be him. Discouraged in my foray into recording “Pink Moon 2”, I decided to follow the footsteps of whom I know best…me. Mind you, this was no easy decision.
There’s a lot of my father’s spirit in both records, but especially this one. “The Last Desperado”, which is specifically about him, reminds me a great deal of what I heard him listening to before I cared what he was listening too. Of course now, I can’t tell him, “Oh, I get it now dad!”. But I feel a song like that validates his unwitting contibution to my musical wanderings. He wanted me to be a baseball player after all.
“August 18, 1805” was a song I wrote while reading “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose. Recounting the incredible journey of Lewis & Clark, it includes the wonderfully poetic journal entries of Meriwether Lewis. I found myself very drawn to this person and realized that he truly was the original “Lonestar Hitchhiker of the US of A”. There was a particular entry written on his 31st birthday that was compelling and that I related to heavily in my own little world. I tried putting these thoughts to words with a chorus I had that went “I guess it’s all a part of something bigger than one”. I failed miserably to say what Lewis had already so eloquently stated. So I just used his words. Almost exactly, I put his journal entry of August 18, 1805 to melody and chord. Though at points awkward to sing, his words are powerful and timeless.
“Ms Louisa’s Dafodils” was just simply the result of this reoccurring line “Runaway, runaway, runaway miss Louise” that refused to stop driving me nutso. I can’t imagine I spent more time than the songs’ actual length writing it.
One of the earliest tracks written here, and probably the one that most inspired the direction and idea of doing this album was “Swimming in Trees”. I don’t know what really to say about it other than it’s one of my songs that I’m most proud of both musically and lyrically. I feel lucky to have had this one come my way.
Listening to the late-great Hank Williams is a right of passage for any self-respecting musician interested in anything twang. His music more than speaks for itself. “Ol’ Hank Williams” is simply my humble tribute to his grand musical contributions.
“Blue Avenue”, I think, was written as a closing number. At least that’s how I want to remember it. This is one of my absolute favorite songs to play live because the outro is so raucous and unpredictable. The non-artist side of me should have faded the song well before it does, but I just love listening to the cacophony of out-of-tune instruments and voices that create a kind of mardi-gras at song’s end.
Finally, there’s this piece called “Election”. This is the result of Erik and I experimenting with any instrument we could get our hands on. Hence the ending of this one. Definitely sparked my fondness to alternatives uses of banjo as well as a new appreciation for the Casiotone monotone keyboard.
So there you have it. Perhaps more information than you needed. Ultimately, this album just ended up being the me of the “here-n-now”, and that’s what I get most out of it. It closes a long chapter for me personally and clears the way for a new train of thought. It is also a small personal victory in just completing it. From the cardboard packaging that I desperately searched for, to the hand stamped icons and text. I hope you enjoy this bookend EP. And thus concludes the saga of “The Lonestar Hitchhiker”. At least through my eyes.
Harry, wherever you are these days, enjoy your continuing journey. And thanks for the last three years of my life.
released April 1, 2003
The Artists & Musicians…
Paul Garisto: drums
Erik Olsen: bass, harmonies
Eladia Hayman: cello
Daniel Palmer: harmonica
Imani Coppola: violin
Stephen Hamilton: spaghetti electric
Gregg Williams: drums, percussion
Michael Aranella: trombone
Bree Sharp: vocals
Don: acoustic, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, piano, wurlitzer, dijembe, casio,
electric guitar, casio, harmonica
Ms. Louisa’s Dafodils
The Last Desperado*
August 18, 1805
Swimming in Trees
Ol’ Hank Williams
All songs written by Don except *by D. DiLego/E. Olsen.
Published by 23Willow/SESAC ©2002
Produced by Don DiLego
Recorded all over the damn place, 1999-2002.
Additional engineering by Gregg Williams (Blue Avenue,
Election) and Vassos (Swimming in Trees).
Mastered by Ken Heitmeuller for Independence, NYC.
Legal: Josh Grier (Pryor, Cashman & Flynn, NYC)
Velvet Elk Records
An unrepayable thanks to everyone who contributed to this work in every way imaginable, from moral support, to a musical hook, to a nickel in the album fund. I was not in this alone thank goodness.
A special nod to Hal Isaacson & Michael at Underscore, Jennifer Silver at Hear Music, Trevor Gale et al at SESAC, CB’s Gallery in NYC, Bono, the city of St. Louis, and especially my band for always supporting the cause. Thank You.
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