Whether you want it or not, there will more than likely be some sort of ceremony to mark your passing, and you hope it will be a celebration of your life, not your death. Either way, let’s say that before you kicked the bucket you’ve specified the manner in which you’d like to be disposed, and that’s been carried out. (I, for instance, plan to be buried in my ’73 VW Beetle in my backyard beside all my beloved cats and dogs.) Have you given directions for your wake—how you would like to be celebrated? Most importantly, have you made a playlist? If you haven’t attended to this detail, it’s possible that your send-off could be to the crappy strains of “Sugar, Sugar,” “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” or “We Built This City.” The horror!
Darby spent six years composing the songs that made it onto this album. They were difficult years. She spoke to me about these hard times, as well as about her creative process from her home in Nashville.
Why is he standing there alone like that? What’s he looking at? I’d read that he’s an early riser, but a dawn-early riser? And all I have to do now is open the door and walk across this Nashville street. Stick out my hand. Say, “My wife sent me here to meet you, to see that you’re mortal like me, to put an end to this grip I’m in.”
The partially wrapped cardboard sleeves from two LPs landed at my feet, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Carryin’ On with Johnny Cash and June Carter. I picked them up, removed the rest of the red wrapping paper, and smoothed my hands over the covers. Jagged pieces of broken vinyl pushed against the inside of the cardboard. I wondered if I could glue the records back together.
A lot of people are completely clueless to my solo career thus far. At this point, people only know my work with the Chocolate Drops. Even though I founded the group, there was always more of a focus on the old-time music of North Carolina than on the music I was really passionate about. When I play as the American Songster, I have a completely separate repertoire. I know that the Chocolate Drops sound I helped create will come through on my new album, but I also feel that people will hear a little something different in my music, just because I am doing it my way.