Making the Long Player Late Bloomer album did tremendous things for my self esteem and confidence. Even before we were finished making it, there seemed to be a great deal of interest for the record coming from labels in the States (which hadn't been the case for many years).
As it turned out, though, all my high spirits and self confidence would begin to evaporate the minute we started playing it for these same labels. For years I had been told that my music wasn't very radio friendly and now they were telling me that the album was too commercial! Well typically, I sunk into another depressed state feeling like I couldn't do anything right. With these feelings swirling around in my heart I wrote Nowhere To Go and instantly began to feel better (which is one of the things I love about writing songs!).
I see it as being a kind of "sad clown" song… slapstick tragedy? A little downbeat perhaps but with humour as well, and It's not everyday you can fit the words "lawn mower" into a song so I was happy about that. I could tell right away that it would be the first tune on whatever record I made next and so it triggered this whole new writing frenzy which helped to pass the time while I was waiting for LPLB to find a home in Europe and the States.  
The intro guitar figure was something I came up with right before demo-ing the song at my friend Paul Linklater's house and on the album version it's augmented by a lonely french horn... giving it a sort of Can't Always Get What You Want vibe.  It felt great to be reunited with Mr. Froom again. I've always looked up to him and so this felt like a homecoming of sorts.
After I had written most of the songs and had demo-ed them. the first person I sent them to was Bob Rock. LPLB did so well for me (relatively speaking) that it seemed like a good idea to continue with him. He called me and said that he liked the new batch but that I was 4 or 5
songs short of a great album… which I entirely agreed with. So I went back to the drawing board and did just like he told me.
Nowhere Is was the first new one that I came up with, there was an earlier version where the verses were different than what you hear now but I felt that the chorus was so strong that I could write something better if I put my mind to it. I needed to simplify and get to the point and so it was not long after that I came up with the new words "A shadow falls across my mind."  With that came a brand new verse melody and it all started coming together. Lyrically it deals with a sense of relief in having Colleen in my life after years of questionable behaviour on the road and that if not for her I might still be carrying on that way which I knew was going nowhere... I love Mitchell's arrangement here. It feels very cinematic to me like Don Quixote or something. 
Almost heroic.
Colleen and I went to a friend's cottage in the summer of 2011 and for those of you who may not know this about me, I'm not much of an outdoors person. But I took my guitar in case I got bored... which was a very good possibility.
One afternoon in my guest cabin I was strumming the guitar singing the words Lonely Avenue and thinking that it sounded pretty good until it occurred to me that Doc Pomus had already written a song called Lonely Avenue! So I messed around with it and came up with the title If Only Avenue which seemed to fit in with the theme of  regret that runs through the album. I imagined it being in the same neighbourhood as Johnny Cash's song Home Of The Blues or Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel. I even quoted the iconic line "Down at the end of lonely street" from the latter song.
The lyrics are pretty straight ahead I guess. It's just about how most of the time we are only able to see things clearly in hindsight and that even though we may wish to change things in the past that if we went back there, we'd probably do it all the same way. Once again, I think MItchell nailed the arrangement with the baritone guitar figure (that reminds me a little of the Seven Dwarves Hi-Ho song) but over-all it has this eery David Lynch quality about it that suits the words in my opinion.
Much of these songs were written on my front step in the spring of 2011. I was bashing away at this chord progression thinking that it had a nice bluesy riff and so I started thinking about Robert Johnson and that old folk tale of him selling his soul to the devil which in turn got me thinking about my own life and the temptations I battled with. The words came relatively easy
as I took a stroll down memory lane and detoured down Snake Road.
I was a young father and spent my 20's reading bed time stories and taking my kids to the park and then as I turned 30 my life changed dramatically as my dreams started to come true. All of a sudden I was never home and I found myself getting sucked into this very cliche "rock n roll"  lifestyle that on one hand was a lot of fun while on the other was very hurtful to the people around me. So I guess with a bit of distance now I was able to write this song and cut myself some slack?
Mitchell gives this one a cool funky arrangement that reminds me a bit of that old Joe Cocker song Feelin' Alright. it's a shame I can't sing like him though.
This was one of the first songs I wrote for Forever Endeavour and I wasn't sure at first if it was any good. I was just thinking after watching some horrific news story on CNN how very grateful I am to live in such a relatively sane country as Canada. With so much tragedy in the world be it natural disasters, poverty, terrorism, governments oppressing and killing their own people to name a few… How are we able to go on with these lives of relative safety and comfort?
It just makes me appreciate the life and the circumstances I was given all the more. I'm not a political person and I'm certainly not a political song-writer so I wasn't sure how to approach this one or if I could put it down in words without sounding preachy or overly naive. I guess I feel mostly helpless in the face of the world's problems and I just wish that it wash't so unfair. I had asked Mitchell if he could write an intro for this song but I never imagined it would be so lovely. He really outdid himself here and I feel blessed to have put my songs in such capable hands.
Every now and then I feel as though I'm in the "Ron Sexsmith" zone when I'm writing and this one certainly  gave me that feeling. I'm not sure how to describe it but there are songs throughout my career like Thinking Out Loud, Wastin' Time and  Foolproof where it feels as though I'm writing an old standard.
It began with the title which is just a common expression I guess and I was actually a little surprised that it hadn't already been written. That combined with this sort of "folky" picking style that I do from time to time made me feel like it was meant to be. I don't know what else to say about it other than I"m proud of the words and the over all structure of it. It's  a proper song.
I would definitely call this one a "front porch" song. It was written not long after "Nowhere To Go" and I was still feeling the rejection of my LPLB record long before it even came out and had been thinking yet again about disappearing but not wanting to make a big spectacle of it. 
Anyway, like Nowhere To Go this song made me feel better just  by writing it. I guess It pretty much sums up how I was feeling at the time aided by some lively word play so as not to get mopey about my situation.  And it was fun to sing "I Mo Be On My Way"  like in that old '80s song Ya Mo Be There by Michael MacDonald. (BTW I can do a pretty good impression of him.)
Mitchell tried different arrangement ideas for this one but ultimately we both decided to leave it be.  We felt it was a nice break from all the bells and whistles so we sequenced it in the middle of the disc for that very reason.  It's one of my favourite tunes on Forever Endeavour for some reason. It sounds to me like an old country blues song from the '30s.
While I was out touring LPLB in the USA I detected a lump in my throat one night while I was trying to sleep. It was definitely one of those "oh oh" moments. I'm a kind of person who whenever I get a mystery pain I head straight to the doctor to get to the bottom of whatever it is. And so it began a period of waiting rooms and tests and then of course waiting for test results. An ultra sound had indeed found the lump (which was worrisome) and so a CT Scan was  arranged as well. Throughout this period I was walking around in a fog. I wasn't really afraid to be honest but the "not knowing" made me uncomfortable and I felt a bit wistful about things in general.
I wrote this one originally on piano and it was very dirge-like which didn't make me feel good at all so I re-imagined it in a more  exuberant and "Beatle-esque" way. Lyrically it was about this feeling of deja-vu I kept having as I wandered around. I was running into people that I hadn't seen in years and they would all say nice things to me and I wondered if that's what happens when you're on your way out?  I could almost predict who I would bump into next and what they might say. I would go out for drinks and see bands but I was finding it hard to enjoy anything with all this on my mind. When we started recording the song I felt that it was sounding too much like a parody of a Beatles song - like The Rutles, who I love. I started thinking it didn't belong on the record at all but then I got an idea for it on the way to the studio (on LA public transit!)
With every record I had ever made with Mitchell there had always been one song in which I played the res-o-phonic guitar….(e.g.: Summer Blowin Town, Clown In Broad Daylight, Every Passing Day, All In Good Time.) And so I thought perhaps that it was a tradition that could benefit this song and put it back into "Ron" territory. As soon as we tried it out it started to feel better (at least to my ears) Mitchell then added some cool Glenn Miller samples on the bridge and finally we had something I could call my own and that would help uplift the second half of the album.  It's still very Beatle-esque sounding I  suppose, but with a bit of my stamp on it as well.
In 2010 I was asked if I had any songs for Faith Hill of all people. So while I was out on my coffee walk one morning I started working on this song. Not knowing much about Faith Hill's music I attempted to write a country styled song about family ties and how the passing of time makes us hold on tighter to one another. Well, as I half expected the song was turned down and I guess I just filed it away in my unwanted folder or island of misfit toys.
Fast forward to 2011 after discovering the lump in my throat and wondering how serious it might turn out to be. I was reminded of the song and so I took another look at it and decided to keep it for myself. I had to tweak a few of the lyrics to make it my own but  it already said pretty much everything that was on my mind during this strange period. 
Maybe Faith Hill will do it now?
I was heading down to Nashville on a co-writing trip and I've found that it's helpful or at least it can be helpful to bring a few ideas with me. I had jotted down a bunch of potential country song titles like Emphasis On Memphis and Me, Myself And Wine to see if there were any takers so to speak. One of the writers I was working with felt Me Myself And Wine was a bit too "jokey" so I decided I'd write the thing myself and I'm very happy I did!
One of my favourite things  to do in life is to listen to records by myself and have a few glasses of wine and so this song basically celebrates this pastime and pays tribute to the listening experience in general.
It was lot of fun writing the words…singing about phonographs, cobwebs and quoting Don't Cry For Me Argentina too.  (I had been getting into Argentinian Malbec's!)  I was worried initially that some people might not get the "dead soldiers" reference for empty bottles but I went ahead with it anyway… I worry too much. 
In terms of the arrangement Mitchell surprised me with this sort of  drunken dixieland treatment but like "Snake Road" on the first side, I felt this song should provide some comic relief on the back half and the loose New Orleans feel seems to do just that.
I wrote this one early on with Nowhere To Go and Sneak Out The Back Door. It's probably my favourite song to sing from Forever Endeavour but I'm not sure why. Musically I was toiling in the fields of that early Rod Stewart sound. I always liked You Wear It Well and of course Maggie May for their folky rock looseness and openhearted vibe as well, I only wish I could've sung it in that raspy voice of his. (maybe by the end of the tour I'll sound like that) Lyrically it's just a romantic love song for Colleen and how she has been so beneficial to my life and overall mental health.
You'll notice a fuzzy electric guitar solo after the first bridge, well that would be yours truly.  Mitchell kept trying different instruments in there solo-ing but nothing seemed to work. One morning on the bus to the studio I wrote a guitar solo in my mind and tried it out first thing after I arrived. It was probably the most fun I had during the whole session (being a frustrated lead guitar player and all)  so we doubled it and panned it from left to right giving it a  psychedelic effect in the speakers. Not much else to say about it. it's a relatively catchy tune I guess.
This one is another song I wrote in the shadow of my little health scare. I was reminded of how when Neil Young had his own health scare he made a record called Prairie Wind which had a beautiful song on it called Only A Dream  and in it he sings about the sun coming up and birds singing etc. So I was lying in bed one morning watching the sun come streaming in with all the dust floating around and I thought how great it is just to simply wake up in the morning and still be here! With all this this in my head  I started writing The Morning Light.
I had these guitar chords that I"d been playing around the house for awhile that sounded vaguely medieval to me. I started to work the lyrics around these changes and I was soon off to the races so to speak. I think Mitchell perfectly captured the mood with the woodwinds and all. It really sounds like Sunday morning to me and now that I think of it, the whole record is kinda like a Sunday morning record.
And so with The Morning Light, another album comes to a close. It was a good experience working with Mitchell and David again. They really understood the songs and what needed to be done and so I"m forever in their debt. At the end of the day when I look back on all my records I know that this will be one I look back fondly on