Dan Navarro photo shot in Tacoma Park by Carol M. Highsmith
Americana Highways had a chance to catch up with Dan Navarro recently, and we dove deep into all manner of things including his approach to touring post-Covid (as “Nomad Dan”), his songwriting, early years and Frank Sinatra, performing and what motivates him. Dan Navarro is working on a new album and we have a special video of him performing the title track: “Horizon Line.” It’s lovely and beautiful with Dan Navarro’s signature flinty vocal tones. Also within the interview is a performance he gave for the 30A songwriter’s festival this past year, a re-write of his song with Eric Lowen,”We Belong.” Dive in and enjoy!
Americana Highways: Was there a singular moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be a songwriter?
Dan Navarro: Yeah I can, actually. There are two singular moments, which is not singular. I knew from the age of 10 that I wanted to be a singer. I had aunts and uncles who lived in my area, who would come over every Sunday, and they would bring my cousins over, my mom is one of six sisters. And a couple of them would come over with their kids, we’re Latino Catholic so there were lots of kids involved. And, so we would do little talent shows. And I would lip sync to Frank Sinatra records. And a couple of times, and basically I started singing along, instead of just lip syncing. And I’m thinking “dude, you’re kind of good.”
I was noticing I could hit the stuff, obviously at 10 years old, it was up the octave but, I thought this is really cool. And I loved how it felt going through my body. So that was step one.
Step two happened in high school, when I’m hanging with some friends and we were saying, “We’re going to write songs.” I didn’t know how to play the guitar, but I sang. And I didn’t sing out, there was no boys choir or mixed choir in my high school. I sang in the eighth grade choir, which was a mixed choir, and by the time you hit high school, it was only girls’ choir. So, I’m kind of making stuff up and I start making up words, and they’re going like, “Yeah, that’s pretty good.
So I start writing lyrics, and singing. And the three of us wound up putting together a little trio, and singing a few things here and there, including, I guess we did “Get Together” by the Young Bloods at church. And I sang lead and they sang harmonies. I played bass, one guy played guitar. So I started to write lyrics and melodies, and I’m going, this feels better than anything I’ve ever done. I like to draw, I like to act in school productions, but nothing felt as good as that. So I got focused and started writing lyrics.
By the second year in college I was tired of not playing the guitar so I bought a guitar to learn how to play, within a month, I accompanied myself on like 10 songs singing, and I’m thinking, it’s time to take the dive and start writing songs. So by my beginning of my third year of college, I started writing songs all by myself, melody, lyrics, chords. The first song I ever wrote, was, interestingly called “Where We Can Begin,” but it was horrible. But some people liked it, and that’s all the encouragement I needed. It took off from there. But the true singular moment was understanding that, this feeling I’m feeling of making something up brand new, and just that was all it took.
This was also, by the way, as I graduated high school in ’69, that was the year Crosby, Stills and Nash came out. The community was there, I mean, we’re talking Crosby, Stills and Nash, and James Taylor, and Cat Stevens, Neil Young on his own, and all of this stuff got me thinking, I really want to do this. I was crazy, but that’s how I felt.
AH: That’s a wonderful story. I can relate to the singing along stuff, I just can’t relate to having the quality of voice that you have.
Dan: I did play … from the age of nine I played trumpet and then later French horn in school band, so I was musical. I’m sitting there going, you’re in pitch. You’ve got a pretty decent little vibrato, you can cop that tune. What’s funny about it is that, years, years, years later, decades later, as an adult, I’ve been doing session work in films and commercials since 1988. And I’ve done Sinatra pops, maybe three times, and so that tone color, and that attitude of singer, got under my skin. I shifted when the country rock and the folk stuff came out, and the Beatles, the Beatles and Crosby, Stills and Nash did more for my world than I could even imagine.
But, the Sinatra stuff was a weird foundation in how to hold pitches, in how to bend pitches and how to sell song emotionally. I absorbed it really young.
AH: What inspires you as a songwriter?
DN: It’s always been affairs of the heart. And that doesn’t necessarily mean romance, or romantic love. But anything that gets in below the surface, and causes the heart to sing, or to weep has always been my inspiration. Whether it’s elements of emotional fulfillment in relationship, or inspiration by the beauty of a connection of some kind. What motivated me initially was usually some sense of frustration or loss. So it basically needed to come out in a kind of a way, I had to work it out of my body by singing it, and making up a story. And that’s where that all started.
My earliest songs are songs of wide eyed wonder mixed with frustration. When I really hit stride about two years in, they were basically heartbreak love songs. And they would tend to rock the foundation. And it wasn’t just, this person isn’t in my life, it’s really more like, this is all making me wonder, what am I doing? What am I all about? And that sense of search, that search was what inspired me to write pretty prolifically when I really hit stride without, again, I’m an older guy, I wrote my first song in 1971, but by 1973, I was writing really accurately. And I went through a tough situation with a woman, and I was off to the races 26 times about that particular situation, including my first cut.
And, in fact, the first two songs I ever got recorded on albums were both by other artists, were both inspired by that relationship. And there’s a song that ended up on my first solo record that I dredged up that was from that relationship, and there’s a new song that’s going on the next album, that I had deep sixed, ages ago that I wrote when I was 21. It’s going on the next record, that’s also from that relationship. So I guess I got a lot of mileage out of that.
AH: What is your favorite thing about playing live?
DN: The two way energy of the vibrations of the music, vocally, and guitar wise, a full band, solo, it doesn’t matter. Music is vibrations, it’s sound waves. Those sound waves going through my body and out through an audience, and the palpable energy of what comes back from an audience, is my favorite thing about it. A part of that is the fact that the live experience is immediate. You make a mistake, you integrate it. You blow a lyric, that’s the way the song goes that day. And the immediacy and the spontaneity coupled with the intensity of that energy, both sonically in terms of the vibrations, but also kind of spiritually in the energy you get back from an audience, I could do it.
I do perform long performances and, God I guess it was too weeks ago, I did a two and a half hour house concert in Gambrills, Maryland, got in the car. at 2:00 p.m. got in the car went down to McLean, Virginia did another two and a half hour performance that evening, no problem. It just feels like a million bucks.
AH: Yeah. Wow. That’s a wonderful answer, I love that answer.
DN: I’m a lucky man, I get to do this. I’ve been doing it a long time, there’s not a single part of me that is cynical or resentful about any aspect of what this is, I get to do this. And I’m lucky that at my age, of course I’m 69 years old, and I get to do this.
AH: That’s wonderful for me to hear because I come at everything from a fan’s perspective. And it’s a very similar thing, a lot of times it’s very similar concept, a really similar thought, but it’s just a wonderful thing to hear in your own words in different circumstances.
DN: Thank you.
AH: Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
DN: That’s almost impossible to answer. It changes from night to night. There basically are three, maybe four. And there are different reasons. The song called “Cold Outside” that was recorded in 2004. And one of the things I like about that is, it’s a little more upbeat, it’s about the energy of attraction, not about a heartbreak. And I generally will go into something improvised in the middle of it. Now I don’t necessarily mean like a solo, I mean, I will make up … I’ll either integrate an existing song into it. I’ve done “Happy Together,” “Wichita Lineman,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Love is Here to Stay.” I’ll shove another song into the middle of it using my chords to those melodies.
And I actually started making up a thing where I would sing this song on the fly about how I’m talking to some woman and … because the song is called “Cold Outside,” and the hook line is “Baby it’s cold outside.” So I actually will integrate into the middle of the song: “You’re looking at me, and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, don’t you know there’s another song called “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” you idiot?” And refer to myself as an idiot in the middle of a song about attraction, it makes the audience laugh. So I enjoy that because of the spontaneity.
A song from my solo record called “Bulletproof Heart” is probably the most emotionally fulfilling the play because it’s a deeply romantic song about someone who won’t open up. And it gets under my skin every single time. And truth be told man, I’ll play that song and when it’s over, I hear gasps for the audience, mostly women just kind of going, “Oh my God.” And it’s very fulfilling.
Lately, there’s a new song that’s going to be the title track of my next record, and it’s called the “Horizon Line.” About why do you do this. And it’s all about, I can’t slow down my wheels are turning. I don’t care if I’m wasting time, going to set my sights on the next horizon line. About moving forward and pushing forward.
It’s pretty animated, it’s a rocker and that, I closed my shows with that lately and that just, I’m sitting there at that moment feeling like I’m on a Harley someplace, on a chopper going 80 miles an hour down a road that disappears into the vanishing point. And again, I feel like a million bucks. So, those are the three that are probably my most favorite to play for slightly different reasons. But in a way they all have to do with getting the mother lode of that energy.
AH: Can you describe how the Nomad Dan tour came about?
DN: I’ve been thinking for months during COVID. During COVID, I started streaming, I even did a stream in fact, I did one on Americana Highways, last year. I started streaming a lot, we’re talking at one point for about five months, six days a week. I did over 250 shows in lockdown. But I’m sitting there going, I want out of here. I want to, maybe I’ll get a van and be in a pod, and not be in airports. And, just stick to myself and go out there, and maybe I don’t even have shows, maybe I’ll just go, “Hey, can I play in your driveway? I’ll stay 50 feet from you.” So the idea had been brewing since the middle of last year. And I started shopping vans, and learning the ropes about what the van life really is like.
And the idea was swimming in there. In January, a dear friend of mine I’d known for a long time posted pictures of her van on Facebook that she was selling one, and it was practically brand new, only 6,000 miles on a one year old vehicle, so I jumped.
Another part of it is, I’d been booking shows all during lockdown, and they kept getting canceled and we booked shows and then they were canceled. Booked, canceled, booked, canceled, kick the can down the road. And end of April they weren’t getting canceled and it’s like, and it coincides, picked up the van early March, I figured, well, I got these tour dates, maybe they’ll get canceled and they didn’t.
And then there’s the idea of the name, I’m talking to my next door neighbor and he sees the van in the driveway and he said, “Oh man, you’re Nomad Dan.” I’m like, Bingo. Thank you Jack.
And then I started playing with the logo and I found the Nomad Land logo, modified it only because my name is D-A-N, and L-A-N-D. And a friend of mine went to someplace where you make license plate games and now that logo is real.
There’s a hard copy that he had built for me, a real license plates pounded into a piece of three quarter inch thick plywood, and so I shot a picture of that, no copyright infringement, and there we were.
Once the visual was there, then I just kind of went from there and I’ve got Nomad Dan face masks and bumper stickers and, of course, the face masks just in time for the CDC to say you don’t need them but. And I even have Nomad Dan Hand Danitizer. It’s all silly and more merchandising than I’ve done in decades, this is something that lends itself to it, I got guitar picks coming and it’s all silly but if the idea can last for a couple of years, because I’m going to keep going.
AH: Right now you’re currently in a 10 week run, right? So, what is the plan for how long it lasts? Are you just got to keep going as far as you’re booking stuff?
Dan: I have characteristically always been booked, two weeks a month, always. I never really would go home for more than a couple of weeks. This has been 30 years of this. By the time we got locked down I’d gotten busier, and I was out three weeks a month, which is really unusual, but that’s what was happening. So the way it is now, is it’s more concentrated. I’m out for 10 weeks, I’m going to go home for two months, then I’m going to go out for another two and a half to three months, then I’m going to go home for a couple months over the holidays. So it’s going to be longer runs, punctuated by longer breaks.
The beauty of that is because I’m going home for more than two weeks, when I go home at the end of June, I’ll be home until probably August 15th. From June 25th to August 15th, I’m going to make the next record.
AH: Before we get to the new record, can you tell me a little bit about how your idea for donating some of your performances at hospitals came about?
DN: It started a year ago, a friend approached me saying that a woman mutual friend of ours, who is an advanced care nurse at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, wants to do a still picture video to the song “Lean On Me,” the old Bill Withers song about lean on us during COVID lockdown. Because I’m experienced at publishing stuff, my friend said, “Can you help her figure this out?” And I said, “Sure.” “Chances are, they won’t charge anything.” We contact the publisher and she wanted to use a version by the cast from Glee. And so we got all the details, but nobody was returning phone calls. Everybody was working remotely, everything was being sent by email, no one was answering phones.
About three days passed and she’s saying, “You know we really want to move on this.” I said, “Well, you know I got this song that I co-wrote called “We Belong,” let’s write new lyrics.” And I own the rights, the Lowens and I own the rights and don’t need to get permission. So we rewrote the song, and put it to the video. But it really was good so I started playing it out a little bit. And every time I played it people are going, “This needs to get out there more.”
So when I started my tour and the first thing that happened was two days to New York got canceled. And I thought, look, you’ve got bookings, but they may not happen. And what’s happening is, every so often gigs are getting canceled because of local restrictions. But gigs are also being added. Well, I can add hospital visits, let’s tell a different story. And let’s sing that song. My first encore has always been “We Belong.” Well, I don’t do the old version for now. for about a year now I’m only going to do this new version that’s dedicated to healthcare workers, saying, we belong to a spirit of strength that’s why we lean on each other.
And that’ll be the theme, plus whatever is changing in COVID, it’s not gone. It’s still here.
DN: A friend of mine said something the other day that chilled my bones, man, and I only heard about this yesterday. Got a friend who was fully vaccinated, and just died of COVID. Now, is it an isolated incident? Probably. Is it something to cause us to go back underground? No. But we’re not out of the woods, people are excited, people are happy. It’s opening a bit but, to sit there and, it’s a little bit like an army movie. And the battle has gone on and you’re in the trench. And it’s been quiet for a while and you sit there and you go, “it’s quiet, I guess we can …” and then the guy steps out of the trench and gets shot. I’m not convinced that we’re all the way safe yet. I’m not a conspiracist at all, I believe that this is going to work. But it’s not really over yet.
So, I want to continue to be careful and I want to continue to honor the people that have put their lives and their health on the line, I mean, health care workers man, they’re running in the building when everyone else is running out.
AH: My day job is at a major hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you just said.
DN: It’s true.
AH: First off, I love that song, I loved the Benatar version when it first came out.
I’m support personnel so I’m one of the people that help the nurses and doctors do this stuff. But there were some moments … my most vivid memory is about 3:00 in the morning one night I’m there, and the entire floor is there. I’m responding, bringing some equipment to the nurses and doctors, and every one of them has got the headgear on and they look like Space Age helmets.
And there’s this big, long corridor, and there’s like 15 doctors and nurses, and they all got that on. I got my N-95 mask on and I’m walking right into where they’re at. And it’s just like, holy shit, here it is. This is it right here. But the strength and the courage that I saw every single day, just from these nurses and doctors, and they just … the attitudes were just: “we’re here,” they’re so appreciative of my being there. But I was being exposed to it every single day, and it’s just a wonderful thing to hear someone like yourself to bring your talents and your creative talents to do that when it’s just a … it’s just a wonderful thing, I can’t thank you enough man for that.
DN: Well thank you man. We all live in our personal silos. Our own private Idahos. And we all think we’re the center of the universe. We’re all vain, we’re all self centered, we’re all egotistical. But when-especially after what we’ve just gone through, when you couldn’t leave the house, you couldn’t go to a store. You couldn’t visit a friend, you couldn’t hug your grandma. And I spent a long time all by myself. I didn’t leave my house for months, except to take the trash out. And I mean I was in the dwelling. I’d take the trash out, and then I do, everything else delivered, groceries delivered, dropped on the doorstep. Food delivered, dropped on the doorstep. That kind of thing.
We’ve missed each other. Here is a group of people who are saying, I can’t touch you, I can’t be around you. But then: “Okay, let’s go to a little room, let’s see what’s your temperature. How are you feeling? Let’s get you treated. Let’s get you checked in. No space in the hospitals, beds in the hallways.” Ambulances being told, “If they’re going to die, leave them in the ambulance we don’t have room inside.” And making those incredibly difficult choices, all of which has to be, like human beings who can put on all the N95s they want, but none of us really knew how it was spreading. I mean we learned that it’s not as easy to pick up from surfaces, it’s mostly droplets in the air.
My droplets project 20 feet, forget six feet. If I’m saying, you need to be 20, 25 feet away from me or you’re going to get sprayed by me whether you feel it or not. So as all these things and because I’m an activist in the singer community, I’m on the Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA board as a recording artist representative to the membership, we learned all of these safety protocols. And I’m sitting there going, Yeah, this is all well and good.
And here’s a group of people. If they isolate, everyone dies. If they don’t isolate, lots of people get saved, but they’re at risk all the time. They’re like medics in war. I made my war analogy earlier when that guy sticks his head up and he gets shot. The person who has got to go out there on purpose to bring that person back is the medic, and they’re at risk. And yeah, they’re wearing a big cross and they’re not supposed to get shot by the Geneva Convention, tell that to a virus that does not give a good goddamn about whether you’re wearing a red cross or not. So, forgive me for getting sensitive about it.
And so I was honored to be able to use this song, I volunteered it. I’ve donated this to numerous places, played at virtual festivals all over.
AH: I did all the precautions and then, the heart rending thing for me is that, initially, knock on wood, no one in my family got it. But then, as we’re coming out of it, my brother in Florida, goes in the hospital and, for other health reasons, he catches it. We don’t know if he caught it while he was in the hospital or not but, he never came out. He passed away. It was in Florida, with no chance to go see him. There was no funeral, no nothing like that. So it just drove the point home to me, man, there it is all the time, right there in front of me and I agree with you, it’s not over.
DN: The thing that concerns me the most, I’m so glad, I’m so happy to see the optimism, and I agree with you, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I think we’re moving in the right direction, I think we’re going to beat it. But the thing that scares me is, is the Spanish influenza, although it’s a misnomer for that, but the 1918, the 1917, 1918 flu, there’s a reason why they have two years behind that, or they describe within two years, is because it went away and then it came back. Then it came back with a vengeance after it mutated. That’s the thing that scares me. It’s not over.
AH: Stuff like what you’re doing, and what other musicians are doing, is very important. Trying to find ways to play and still be safe.
DN: I tell people flat out, you stay over there, I’ll hug you twice next time. And so that we can live to hug again, actually there’s a title in there,” Live to Hug Again.” Don’t think I don’t love you, don’t think I’m not nice. I’m going to say no this time, next time I’ll hug you twice. And, that’s just me making that up off the top of my head.
AH: Oh wow.
DN: This is what I think we need to be doing, is not drop our guard. It’s okay to move forward. But if we drop our guard, someone’s going to get hurt. And that doesn’t serve anyone. So, am I bothered that I have to be extra careful? No. It’s better than getting hurt. Or hurting someone else.
Dan Navarro performing “We Belong to Hope” at 30A songwriters’ festival
DN: I’m sending you a version “We Belong to Hope,” written by Rebecca Sanford and myself, which I slayed for 30A songwriter’s festival. She’s an advanced care nurse. McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts is the same place James Taylor went when he wrote “Fire and Rain.”
I heard a audio book where he said, “That’s where all the Taylor family went for their mental health issues.” And she works there. I played at Belmont, outside McLean hospital on May 25th. I played at a community hospital down in, I think it’s called Fort Belvoir, Belvoir, B-E-L-V-O-I-R, it’s just south of Washington DC, and I’m going to add as many as I can.
I basically pull the PA out of the van, set it up next to the van, play in the hospital parking lot, because I don’t want to go in the building, it’s not good for anybody, and it’s basically for the workers doing shift changes.
Give a little wave and have a listen as you go back, play for about an hour. I don’t need a captive audience, I don’t need a lot of attention.
AH: What does the word ‘music’ mean to you?
DN: Oh God. Love. I mean if it’s a single word, that’s the first one that popped into my head. It’s really energy, soul, passion, love. Those are the single word category. What music means to me is, the abstract representation of dealing in something that technically has no real intrinsic meaning, whatsoever. Music doesn’t mean anything. But, those sonic vibrations get in our bodies and they make us feel something. Excitement, sadness, joy. Pensiveness, loss, we feel, from these energies, well, vibrations, do things. They break rocks, they move water, they do … vibrations do something.
And when they get in our bodies, one of my most profound feelings was when I played in the school concert band. This was junior high school. And it’s 100 instruments, and you all hit something, and that energy of your own instrument coming from your own wind vibrating through your body, and all the instruments around you, that’s the greatest feeling, without being a jerko, there are very few feelings on the planet that touch that. Sex, seeing your child being born, that’s … the most amazing sunset at the Grand Canyon. When you think of what those things are, that’s what music is. Music is the abstract representation of all the most incredible feelings in life.
AH: Wow. That is one of my favorite answers to that question I’ve ever heard. That hits it. I was reading a book in the past year and it was talking about the origins of music for human beings. One of the theories is that, it literally started somewhere, with broken reeds somewhere, somewhere somebody was sitting by a river bank, a lake side, an ocean side and there were broken reeds and wind started going through those broken reeds.
And then human beings being human beings, pulled some of those reeds, broke those reeds in the same length, and then started replicating the sounds that they heard with the wind was making through those reeds.
DN: How we discovered it is amazing to me. How as a species we sat there and said, “I need to reproduce this. Here’s a stick, here’s a rock, here’s a horn.” We talk about horns, horns were horns. Horns were animal horns cut off, hollowed out, and you’d blow through them and make a sound, and then you discovered that different sizes make different sounds and, they are … if you did your lips differently, you can make different sounds inside the horns. And those are nothing but the acoustical properties of sonic vibrations, in dealing with whatever the physical is, I studied all of this in school, and it’s as simple as that.
We deal with orchestral and instrument … instrumental music is meaningless. Or is it? And I mean, if you think about it, it doesn’t mean anything. Why does a minor chord sound sad? Why does a major chord sound happy? Why does fast music sound happy? Why does slow music sound sad? But these are instinctive, our bodies react to them, and we now have centuries of doubling down on that, let’s try something different. Let’s add to it, let’s try these things, and the physical body responds. It’s why the economics of supporting music are important. And I work on the economics of music, and film, and drama in my board service, but also I’ve done a lot of it in Washington.
The main thing is, we can’t live without it. We really can’t. We can’t do it. And if we did, if television networks went away, and there was no more recorded music, we would sit there and go back to prehistoric times and grab a spoon, start tapping on a table, and hitting on a glass. We would make music out of whatever’s around instinctively if it all physically went away. So, when I discovered that for myself, that nothing on this planet, and I am, forgive me, comparing it to sex, or a great meal, or a beautiful sunset, or your child’s laughter, nothing makes me feel like that I will do it the rest of my life, whether I’m paid for it or not. And it’s a good feeling.
The last sound Eric Lowen ever heard before he died in 2012, was our music. And it happened to be the last song we ever recorded. The last song we ever released on our final album, the final song and the final album of him singing a song, that was his farewell to our audience. And that’s the last sound he ever heard.
DN: That’s what we’re here for. I don’t … Life is an enigma, it’s pretty weird, how did this happen? Some people think they know, and some people know they don’t know. All I know for me, is that when I discovered what music does, not just to me, but to others, that was it. That was all she wrote. And, I’m lucky, I’m lucky that I get to do it. And that’s a feeling that will never leave me, I’m a fortunate man and I continue to be fortunate because I’m willing to continue to put myself out there. 11 hour drive in one day to the next show? Bring them on, let’s go. No problem.
AH: What are your future plans? What are the plans for new music and the next album Horizon Line?
DN: Horizon Line is the next album. I’ve got all the songs I need, but I’m still writing. I’ve already made arrangements to record the record in July and into August with Jim Scott producing, who produced the first lowering the bar record, and the final lowering the bar record. Multiple Grammy winner, engineered Tom Petty’s Wild Flowers. Has won Grammys for Foo Fighters and Carlos Santana and the Chicks. And an amazing, amazing recorder, mixer, producer, who I’ve worked with a lot, but I hadn’t worked with last summer, I worked with him was in 2008, and so that’s about 13 years ago.
He’s gotten busy with the immediate family, which is his band with Danny Kortchmar, and Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel. And so Steve’s going to play on it, I decided to make the shift back to Jim for old times sake, and his skill, and he’s going to play all over it. But the bottom line is to have the space and go, I’m ready. I’ve got all the songs I need and I’m still writing, we’re going to have too many songs. What a great problem to have.
AH: Is there a projected time for its release?
DN: Well, that I got to talk to other people about. With any luck I’ll have it finished by September, and I can release it in the fourth quarter. But it might make certain amount of sense to release it at the very beginning of 2022. Because a lot of times … in the old days, the big guns would put their stuff out in the fourth quarter for the holidays. It’s a different world now with CDs relatively meaningless compared to streaming. So I might just wait. Working with Jim, I’m fairly certain that I will be able to get it done before the end of the year. That’s the most important part.
AH: How much longer will the Nomad Dan tour continue?
DN: There is no projected end date to Nomad Dan tour. It’s a little bit like Bob Dylan’s never ending tour. I’ve got bookings starting in late August that go into September. I’m only going home for baseball games, for Dodger games, believe it or not. That sounds silly, but it’s really true. I have tickets June 29th, I have tickets July 11th, I have tickets in September. But I go back out again in September. I’m booked solid through November, through the end of November, I’ll go home for the holidays.
My old schedule of every January in Chicago, every February in Minnesota, every March in Minnesota, all of that stuff is still happening. The difference is I’m not going to go home in between. So the Nomad Dan tour is slated to carry on through Summer 2022.
And then it’s going to be capped, if you want to call it that. I’m doing a cruise with fans, my 20th cruise with fans on the Danube, on a river cruise, with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Gretchen Peters joining me for about 150 people. We’ll have the whole ship, it’s the 20th concert cruise I’ve done, and it will be, God I hate to say this out loud but I don’t hate it. It’s scheduled for October of 2022, three weeks after my 70th birthday.
DN: Bring it on. And the thing about the song, and I should actually, another thing I’m going to send you, is a version of Horizon Line.
I have a video version of Horizon Line
It’s telling the story. It’s saying, “if I sit too long the television starts telling me it’s my friend. When the air goes still it starts feeling like the end. And then the world calls out a wind whispering, Danny I got something new. It’s a siren song that beckons me to move. I can’t slow down, my wheels are turning, don’t matter if I’m wasting time, going to set my sights on the next horizon line. The past is gone, I’m still learning. They’re hanging on $1 sign, going to set my sights on the next horizon line.”
And that’s the motivation for all of this. So in terms of the big … let’s say that if it’s really going to culminate in anything, it’s going to culminate in that cruise, and there’s information on my website on the cruise.
I’m turning 70 in a year and a half. I’m as busy as I’ve ever been in my life, if not more busy. I’m more motivated than ever. I have more energy than ever, I don’t freaking know why, and I’m not about to question it. It’s not just coffee it’s that I learned something in lockdown, the 250 shows led to a real connection, and I’m just going, this is where I want to be, this is what I want to do, and then the van popped up. Yeah I’ve been thinking about it and planning, and researching, but the fact that a 30 year friend was selling her van that was perfect, literally perfect, and I just joined. This is all saying, this is what I’m supposed to do until the moment I draw my last breath, this is what I’m going to do.
And it’s about bringing it to everybody and listening to them, and experiencing it with them, and that two way connection. That’s what it all is. So there’s no projected end date. In fact, I don’t really even, I mean, obviously nothing’s booked past October of 2022, but I do know my agent will just simply keep going. She’s already rolling well versed, we just keep going. And keep going and keep going.
This version is just guitar and voice. And so if you like this wait until the real one comes. There’s a key section of Horizon Line which is the bridge, that says, “I’m the drifter and the driven. Unforsaken, unforgiven. Burning brighter, burning down a house in one more town.” And that’s where it comes from. That’s what it all is. So, there’s no cynicism and no fatigue. There’s just opportunity to connect and a drive to keep it going.
AH: So the new record is in process?
DN: The new record is going along beautifully. We are working quickly, and very well. Jim Scott is producing (Wilco, Tift Merritt, Whiskeytown, Fogerty, Petty, and five L&N albums).
When the album comes out, the album’s going to feature Russ Kunkel and Leland Sklar and Steve Postell from the Immediate Family. It’s going to be Bob Glaub, and probably Fritz Lewak from Jackson Browne‘s band, and these are all buddies of mine. And we’re going to get in there with Jim, we’re going to have a different group to track with, every day for four days of tracking. Track probably 20 songs, and then start sprucing them up.
So far, we’ve cut one set of songs with Mai Leisz on bass (David Crosby, Jackson Browne), Jimmy Paxson on drums (Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham), Steve Postell on guitars (Immediate Family) and Phil Parlapiano on keys (John Prine, Tracy Chapman, Grant Lee Buffalo), and a second set with Taras Prodaniuk on bass and Michael Jerome on drums, from Richard Thompson’s trio, Peter Adams on keys (Rachael Sage), and Steve Postell again. One song has only Phi Parlapiano on acoustic piano (so far) and one more is yet to be cut. I’m having a blast.
AH: It’s wonderful to talk to someone like yourself, to hear the love and the passion, and the origins of it. Thank you.
DN: Well thank you brother, I appreciate it very much.
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