Interview/Video Premiere: Roger Street Friedman “Come What May”

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photo by Drew Reynolds 

Americana Highways presents this video premiere of Roger Street Friedman’s song “Come What May,” due to be available on March 5, 2021 via Rock Ridge Music.  The song was engineered by Fader Istheman and Roger Street Friedman; mixed by Friedman; and produced by Roger Street Friedman and Larry Campbell.

“Come What May” is Roger Street Friedman on vocals, guitars, piano and fretless bass; Jim Toscano on drums and percussion; and Teresa Williams and Lucy Kaplansky on background vocals.

The video was shot and edited by Roger Street Friedman.  Friedman’s guitar playing is a fluid lullaby rocking this song of a love story. The video is just glorious scenes from the road.

AH: Tell us the background story of this song.

RSF:  “Come What May” was written just before the recording sessions for Rise but after we’d already selected the 12 songs for that project.  I cut a demo to play for Larry Campbell, and he said that to him it sounded like it was finished.  While we were recording the rest of the tracks, we had this track on the back burner (it was on our radar to work on as a potential bonus track), but we kind of ran out of time to pull up the session until the very last day of tracking background vocals with Teresa Williams and Lucy Kaplansky.  We opened it up and gave a listen and Larry thought all that was needed were some harmonies. He produced those vocals, and we had it as the last tune for Justin to mix.  In the end, it felt like 13 songs were too many for the album, so I decided to hold it back and to release it at a later date. I recently wound up mixing the song myself with help from Justin Guip and Larry, and it felt like the right time to put out something new. The song is metaphorical, about being committed to a relationship even when it’s hard, when there’s been a drifting apart, but where the love is steadfast and strong. Relationships are, after all, hard and filled with pitfalls and rough patches. The imagery of the song, starting with getting “the letter” while on a highway in the desert with “jagged lines of pinion pines,” is about realizing how strong the love is, even when it’s hard, and pulls from my experiences on the road in the Southwest – where the scenery is beautiful, rough, and hard, all at the same time. The image of the compass is a metaphor for the internal compass that brings us back to love’s true north, and the verses parallel the process of pulling away from, and coming back home to, that love, while the chorus is all about the vow we make to each other, ”for better or for worse.”  If we can stay in that commitment, we can get to the higher place that love promises… hopefully.

AH: What inspired you to write this song?  What is it about?

RSF: The song was inspired by the struggles and triumphs of relationships.  It’s mostly metaphorical – about being far away emotionally after some conflict or another – and having the realization that love takes work and commitment.  That’s the whole point of “for better or for worse, come hell or come what may, love both heals and hurts, I’ll take it either way,” and even through “bitter words,” we need to stay present and work through it. That’s when you get to the better part of better or worse! I guess the bottom line is that it’s a love song about staying when it’s hard.

AH: How was it writing this song — did it all come out at once or did you really have to work at it for the song to come together?

RSF: This was one of those that came out all at once.  In fact, I think I only revised a few words here and there.  It’s great when that happens.

AH: Because of COVID, did you have to change how you recorded this song? If so, how?

RSF: Well, in fact, this song was recorded prior to COVID, in 2019, so it had no effect. It started out as a demo for my last release, “Rise,” but it wound up not making it onto that album.  I kind of had it on the shelf and then revisited it during COVID, and after playing it for the label, we decided it was time to release it.

AH: Do you have any favorite parts of the song — lyrically or musically or vocally?

RSF: I think my favorite line in the song is “my heart gleams in the slipstream, of the moonbeams, and the stars as bright as high-beams clear up any doubt that clouds my mind.” That surprised me when it came out. Musically, I think the lift in the last chorus is pretty cool, and I’m partial to the lead guitar work on this track. It’s simple but fits nicely. Also, I’m proud of the fact that I learned the part on piano and played it, even though I’m not much of a piano player!!

AH: How did the video come together?  Whose idea was the video treatment?

RSF: This is where the project was influenced by COVID.  One thing I started playing around with during the pandemic is video editing and production.  So, I can take full credit for the concept and the production of the video.  The idea was to combine stock footage with shots of me playing the instruments on a green screen.  It was a lot of fun to put together, although it took FOREVER because every time I wanted to try something new, I had to research it on the web and learn how to do it first.  I couldn’t even count the hours I spent on this video!

AH: What is coming up for Roger Street Friedman in the next few months?

RSF: In addition to the normal, day-to-day life with my amazing family, I’ll be doing a regular series of livestream shows from my studio.  I’m also working through a very large list of new material for a new album project with Larry Campbell that will hopefully come together for production later this year.  Also, I’m hoping to be able to play in front of a live audience as soon as that becomes safe again!!


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