Americana Highways brings you this video premiere of Erik Timmons’ song “Good Lord Willing,” the title track from his forthcoming album due to be available on September 9. The song will be available on July 8. The album was engineered by Dana Telsrow at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City, Iowa; and also engineered, mixed and mastered by Logan Christian of Midday Studios in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Good Lord Willing” is Ben Fust on bass; Thomas Grothe on drums; Erik Timmons on guitars and vocals.
The song is a real old school jive: “We ain’t got no hope but we might as well try.” With the time changes and line “Good lord willing’ and the creek don’t rise,” is an optimism that somehow we’ll make it through the treachery.
We had a chance to sit down and chat with Erik Timmons briefly about the song. The premiere appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: What was the inspiration behind this song? Did something in particular prompt you to write it?
Erik Timmons: The image that comes to mind is of me sitting alone at the edge of a ditch on a gravel road. There’s a lot of feeling packed into that memory, but essentially, it was one of those crossroad moments for me. It was Good Friday, a full moon, and I had just arrived at my friend’s farm about an hour’s drive from my house. I hadn’t even sat down to visit with my friend, when my brother called me to tell me someone who meant the world to me had passed away. Hearing that news shook me. I excused myself and walked down that gravel road until I found a place to sit. I stayed there for a long time, alternating between staring up at that moon and then slumping over and burying my face in my hands. This song was written in the days or weeks after that moment. This song, and the whole album, are about processing that moment.
AH: Tell us about the songwriting process for this song.
ET: I don’t recall many specific details about actually writing the song other than it was with my acoustic guitar and in my parents’ basement. I returned to my parents’ house from the East Coast after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my wife and I separated. I’d be down in the basement messing around on my guitar at night, then during the day I drove a delivery route for a local printing company. So I’d carry the tune with me and work out the lyrics while I was driving all over central Iowa. After work, I’d go back down to the basement and pick up my guitar and try out the lyrics. This is how most of the songs on the album were written.
AH: What kind of sound were you going for on this song? Did it end up sounding the way you’d imagined before it was recorded?
ET: No, never! The song never comes out on a recording the way I hear it with my mind’s ear. But that’s what’s fun about recording. For me, the song exists almost as an entity that’s living and breathing. Recording the song is like taking a photograph of something in motion. You capture it and then have a static or frozen image of it in that recording. Listening back to the recording feels like looking at a picture where you can see it posed in a certain light, wearing a certain garment, and appreciate it from that perspective. But it’s not the song itself. Listening to a recording of one of my songs is like seeing a picture of myself. I’m like, “Is that really me?! Do I really look like that?” The sound on the recording never quite fits because it’s a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional thing.
AH: What do you want its message to be to the people who hear it?
ET: This song, more than any others on the album, felt like me screaming into the void. Like any voice projecting itself out into the darkness, I think the message is just, “Hear me.” Hear me singing, hear me struggling and striving. When I sing lines of the song like, “I’m on my way and I’m not afraid to die,” I feel like there’s an honesty and authenticity to that. Making art and then putting it out there in the world feels vulnerable, because you honestly don’t know if anyone will even care. It takes an act of faith and a certain boldness to speak or sing your truth and let go of how the message will be received.
AH: How does this song fit in among the songs on your forthcoming release?
ET: Structurally, I think the song stands out from the rest of the album because it alternates between different time signatures. That wasn’t a conscious thing for me because I honestly don’t really know any music theory. I usually find out stuff like that when I play a song with real musicians! They say something like, “Oh, that’s interesting, you just switch the signature there.” And I reply, “I did?” For me, I have to just feel it out. But looking at the song, just from the musical aspect, I think it gets to the heart of what all the songs are about on the album, which goes back to that image I have of sitting at the edge of a gravel road on Good Friday under the full moon. There was this energy there and a certain breaking point or personal surrender. In my emotional world, it was cataclysmic, and unpacking that moment was really the catalyst for the whole album project. I chose to make “Good Lord Willing” the title track for the album because it just feels like it best sums up my experience.
You can pre-order and pre-save the music here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/eriktimmons/good-lord-willing