Charley Crockett Debuts 'Ain't Gotta Worry Child' Video, Talks 'Over Mythologized' Ancestor Davy
Charley Crockett's upcoming Lonesome As A Shadow -- whose "Ain't Gotta Worry Child" is premiering exclusively below -- is the Americana singer, songwriter and bandleader's first set ever of all-original material. And there's good reason for that.
"I've got a scattered brain," Crockett -- who is, yes, related to pioneer hero Davy Crockett -- tells Billboard, "which means I have a hard time finishing songs. I'm prolific; Some people say they have trouble writing on the road, but that's never been the case for me. But I need help finishing things off and arranging them. I had that on this (album), so I got to put my own stuff on here this time."
That assistance came from producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Zac Brown Band) who recorded the album with Crockett at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis. Crockett, a Texas native and one-time New Orleans street singer, also brought with him lessons from his last album, Charley Crockett presents Lil G.L's Honky Tonk Jubilee, a collection of honky-tonk covers. "That was easy to do, and they were all hits," Crockett explains. "Arranging those songs for me and my band (the Blue Drifters) gave me a better idea of how to record my own songs. When you sing somebody else's great songs it just makes you better when you're writing your own." The songs on Lonesome As A Shadow, meanwhile, address a spirit that Crockett traces back to his famous ancestor.
"Davy lived a wild life, a frontier life," Crockett notes. "I tend to think of him as maybe a man who got over mythologized; I call it the Disneyfication of Davy Crockett. I think the real man may have been more interesting because of that independent spirit, that spirit of wanting to make your own way and be left alone to do it. I can relate to that, and I think I'm doing something similar with music. I've been independent and definitely treading water where other people don't want to tread."
"Ain't Gotta Worry Child," a soulful track that calls to mind Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, is a song about those who are left behind in that pursuit, however. "It's a song I wrote about how when you live a life on the road, it's hard to keep the relationships together with anybody who's not on the road with you," he explains. "It's very difficult, and I’m not very good at being home in one place for very long. The strange thing is I'm gone all the time but I'm always thinking about the people I love and don't get to see. So there's this thing in my mind that I'm gone and hard to reach, but I'm always coming back.
"Me and my momma have this relationship where I don't always see her or speak to her, but there’s a deep connection. There's nothing she would want more for me than to be doing this, and even though I don't see her much I know she's really proud of me. That's kind of the energy of the song."
Crockett does have a home -- of sorts -- now, in Austin, Texas, where he moved two years ago and finds easy to go back to when he and the Blue Drifters aren't on the road. "Dude, that's my town. I love it," he says. "I prefer living in the country, but if I'm gonna be stuck in a big town, Austin's the one for me. People give it a lot of heat for changing and getting too expensive and all that, and maybe that's true. But I've seen that in every city I've been to. The main thing is when I'm home and I want to go see a band that's good, there's one playing every given night of the week. How can you not love that?"