Give it Away is the new album!
1: Nickel and Dime
2: Don't Burn My Cornbread
3: Uncle Dewitt's Cafe
4: Damned if I Do
5: Give It Away
6: Fool Hearted Lover
7: Nitty Gritty
8: How I Need You
9: Train Smoke
10: Relationship Man
11. I'll Take Care of You
12. Amos Moses
Nickel and Dime Mac Arnold
Mac goes way back on “Nickel and Dime”. Sometimes it seems like he’s spent his whole life on the road. Through ups and downs, he’s met great people and had great times, but he’s also met some shady characters looking to make a fast buck off other people’s hard work. There were times when he spent his own money to get to a gig and back, raking and scraping together every nickel, only to get ripped off by some joker. Mac said, “We’re lucky now, though, we’ve got great fans around the world, we’ve got each other, and our business people are straight up.”
Don’t Burn My Cornbread Mac Arnold
“Don’t Burn My Cornbread” is a love song, but don’t tell Mac. He still thinks it’s just a bouncy little song about dinner. One night while Mac, his wife Vonda, and nephew Joey were sitting at the dining room table Mac thought he smelt something over-cooking and said, “What’s burning?” His wife checked the oven and said “Nothing’s burning.” Mac replied, “Don’t burn my cornbread”. Mac immediately picked up his gas can guitar and wrote the whole song right there. The rest of us couldn’t help but love it, we had to throw all sorts of stuff in the mix—from soul to hillbilly, from R&B to reggae. As Mac says, “Whoever likes whatever, it’s in there.” The final track is as much about food and the music we love, as it is about loving that someone special. If that isn’t love, nothing is.
Uncle Dewitt’s Cafe Mac Arnold
These things really did happen down at Uncle Dewitt’s Cafe. Man, it seems like only yesterday that Mac, Leroy, and a car full of girls went rip-roaring down to Uncle Dewitt’s Cafe. Mac’s Uncle Dewitt was into everything. You name it-drinker, bootlegger, barber, shoe repair man, and owned a juke joint out in the country. The place was 20 by 30 feet and jammed full of people. On Friday nights, Leroy would drive around, pick up a carload of girls, and take them dancing at the cafe. Songs cost a nickel on the Rockola juke box and the Coca Cola and beer were cold. Leroy used to watch Dewitt hide his white lightning out back and sneak around to dig it up later when Dewitt wasn’t looking. “All this really happened,” Mac says, “and I haven’t told it all yet.” There is more to come.
Damned If I Do Max Hightower
The thing you really need to know about “Damned If I Do” is that it isn’t true but it could be. Max started at the end: you come home late one too many times, you’re trying to do right, but you’ve got that awful feeling like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The guys take a more Buddy Guy, Junior Wells approach on this one with Austin’s guitar answering verse, every lick Max churned out while Mac and Scotty clench the groove.
Give It Away Max Hightower
Jack Robinette taught Max his first chord on the guitar. Jack always took the time to talk to Max about music, answer any questions, show him a few licks and tricks and always had words of inspiration. Jack became sick and was very frail, but still worked a strong smile. The last time Max and Jack got together they sat and talked music just as they had 28 years ago. Jack played his favorite song “ You Are My Sunshine” Chet Atkins style. A few days later Max was at home working on an arrangement when a knock came at the door. Max was told Jack had died and immediately the idea for “Give it Away” was born. The lyrics fell right in place with the arrangement he had been working on. Max later shared the song with Mac and Austin but something was missing, then Mac sang “You don’t need money, you don’t need gold, all you need is in your soul” and the song was complete.
Fool Hearted Lover Austin Brashier
Austin kept “lover” to himself for a while. He worried that the song was too far out of the box for the band, but they were open to it—more than open to it. Mac has admired Austin’s ability to create interesting arrangements since their first days together and he loved the tune from the beginning - it reminded him of his old R&B days. “Fool Hearted Lover” is pretty self-explanatory; bottom line it is about acceptance—good and bad.
Nitty Gritty Max Hightower
“Nitty Gritty” went through many stages but has always had the early 60s rock and roll sound—that groove. “Nitty Gritty” tells the story of the blues—about how blues artists have influenced American and European music. Blues music has given a lot to the world, but blues musicians don’t always get the credit they deserve. Let’s face it, there’s been some stealing and it’s hard not to get a little angry. The blues is the real nitty gritty. We’d been talking about this song for years. The first time Austin saw the lyrics he liked them so much, he said, “Who wrote this?” That’s a good question. So the next time you listen to a rock and roll song, you might ask a similar question: “Who really wrote this?”
How I Need You Max Hightower
The first time they performed “How I Need You” was before cutting the track, right there in the studio first time out. Max said, “The song is not just about someone you love. Its about someone you are addicted to, someone you need, someone that completes you.” He had the lyrics down but the arrangement was rusty so Austin polished it and sweetened it up a bit. Mac didn’t really need to think about it at all he just delivered the song like he always does. Sometimes it happens that way.
Train Smoke Max Hightower
Train smoke reminds Mac of visiting his Grandparents farm near the railroad tracks. He’d count the coal burning train and box cars as they passed. You know how sometimes you hear a phrase, a combination of words and the words vibrate, and you just know—it sticks. The words follow you around said Max. Austin recalls, one night Max was in a crowded bar, and a guy said something about “train smoke” to Max. Max pushed his way through the crowd to find the rest of us all excited. “I got it!” he said, “I go way back like train smoke.” We all felt something there, in those words—our grandfathers, our childhoods, even ourselves as we grow old—but Max, he had to pull more words together. It wasn’t an easy song to write at first, but once he got the momentum he couldn’t stop. Max got it all right, and he showed us what “train smoke” means. It’s about living, learning, getting off track, getting back on track and moving forward.
Relationship Man Max Hightower
Max tossed around the concept of “Relationship Man” over and over. He didn’t know where the song was going except it was about a guy that did not want to settle down. While on tour in Europe, Max ran the idea by singer-song writer, and harmonica player Paul Reddick who was on tour with them. Paul said something about a love timer.....then Max added, ”My love timer’s set, 24 hours I got to go” and the lyrics just came together. Mac thumped out this playful bass line to accommodate Scotty’s New Orleans rhythm, and Austin added that infectious lick that you can’t get out of your head. This song just goes to show you how it gets easier and easier for the guys to write together. They don’t always agree, but that’s the beauty of it, they can work things out and share their thoughts. Time takes its toll, but time can be generous, too.
I’ll Take Care of You Brook Benton
Mac was chatting with Bobby (Blue) Bland backstage at the BMAs, and Mac mentioned he wanted to record one of Bobby’s songs. Bobby said, “You should do ‘I’ll Take Care of You’.” Bobby was never quite satisfied with his recordings of the song and wanted someone to get it right. We mic’ed everything on this song, even Mac’s feet, and Scotty had the idea to use a drum case with snares taped to it. Max’s organ created a sound reminiscent of the early days. Mac’s voice is haunting as he sings he’s “loved and lost / the same as you” and tell the man “you’ll be true” and “he’ll take care of you”. The words and Mac’s delivery breaks your heart. We played this song raw, the way it ought to be played. One take, it’s the rawest on the album. Bobby’s not with us anymore and we did our best to honor him and the song.
Amos Moses Jerry Reed Hubbard
This Jerry Reed tune is the only other cover on the album. Mac and Leroy used to laugh as they sang this song on the bus. This song’s all about “creating wildness”. Jerry is Mac’s idol and inspired Mac to be wild. “It’s about mud—old time mud, mud of the earth, crazy people all over the dang place natural musical energy,” Mac quoted. Max said, “We should record that song one day,” and Austin replied, “Let’s put it on this CD.” Poor Amos Moses! His daddy used to tie a rope around his waist and use him as gator bate. Who wouldn’t have the blues with all that going on?
Memories Austin Brashier
My family and I went to visit Leroy at the nursing home. He was having a good day; he was happy just being alive and spending time with us. Leroy was always such a huge influence on Mac, on all of us. All his life he was happy with who he was and where he was. In the end he had no regrets. ”Memories” grew out of all the fun times, all the laughing, all the generosity of spirit. There’s so much more we could say about Leroy. Learning from the past, having no regrets, it’s here with us now - it’s who we are.
Leroy Arnold’s influence is also felt throughout this album. Leroy built the original gas can guitar for Mac back in ‘46 and makes cameo appearances in “Uncle DeWitt’s Cafe”. Leroy’s irrepressible joy and love shows up in all the songs. Leroy passed away in 2015 and he was a blessing to everyone who was lucky enough to have him touch their lives. He is greatly missed.
Special thanks to all of our families, friends and fans for their love and support.
Mac Arnold — bass guitar & vocals (Gas Can Guitar on Tracks 2, 3, 11)
Austin Brashier — guitars & vocals
Max Hightower — harmonica, keyboard, vocals & bass guitar
Scotty Hawkins — drums & percussion
Album produced, mixed and mastered by Mac Arnold, Austin Brashier, Max Hightower & Scotty Hawkins. Engineered by Brad Phillips at Studio 101. All songs by Mac Arnold, Max Hightower & Austin Brashier except for I’ll Take Care Of You (Lyrics©Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC) & Amos Moses (Universal Music Publishing Group) Mac Arnold & Max Hightower (©2015 PFOB Music LLC, ASCAP) - Austin Brashier (©2015 Brashtone Music, BMI) - All Rights Reserved PFOB MUSIC LLC
Design by Brashtone Creative | Cover photo by Eric Graham | Liner notes by Jeremy Jones
Leroy Arnold photo by Brian S. Kelley