Rock ‘n roll icon Tommy Shaw has taken us deep into the heart and soul of his new solo album and bluegrass debut, “The Great Divide.” Every day for the past 11 days, Tommy has shared a song and a story with the Comet to celebrate official March 22nd release of the album. Today’s song and No. 11 is “I’ll Be Coming Home.” Enjoy!
“I’ll Be Coming Home:”
I had met Brad Davis (producer/musician/songwriter) about a year before while he was working with Billy Bob Thornton. He asked me to sing a high part on “Tell Me Son” which would later appear on his “I’m Not Gonna Let My Blues Bring Me Down” album. It was fairly straightforward harmonizing. I did it at home and sent it to Brad and he liked it so much he suggested we try our hand at writing some bluegrass sometime.
There it was. The seed was planted.
There’s this chrome Dobro Resonator guitar you may have seen off and on since I was in the Damn Yankees and it’s made its way onto recordings every so often whenever that particular tone seemed like a good idea and here it is again. It’s my pal and it’s what I reached for to play the riff that got “I’ll Be Coming Home” started.
As I played, Brad scribbled on a note pad. Then he sang it to me over the riff. This song was so ready to be written it was like a baby born in a cab on the way to the hospital. Brad and I worked on the rest of the lyrics and then made sure we had the arrangement we liked. It wasn’t until later that I realized what we’d said.
I guess it’s truly about coming home in the end. The ultimate home coming.
It is a very simple melody and refrain. To me, these are the hardest to write. I love it when they show up and surprise you before you have time to over think them.
We laid it down immediately for the same reason. Just basic instruments, and then I sang it. This is the vocal you hear. There were two little punch-ins later on where I’d garbled a couple of words but the rest was fresh off the delivery table, or taxi cab seat, if you want to go with that analogy.
Sam Bush played fiddle on this track near the end. Such a talented musician. Brad had told me about Sam and every word was true. He lights up the room with his personality and when he plays that same personality broadcasts from his mandolin and his fiddle. He has the chops to keep up with the fastest beats per minute anyone throws down, but it’s the notes he chooses and the inflections that set him apart from the rest.
As we went along, we kept sweetening the arrangement, a little bit here and a little bit there, never too much anywhere. Finally, when it was just about finished and ready to mix, Will Evankovich and I added the hand claps and the call and response. It felt like something that would happen in an old fashioned church meeting.
When all is said and done, it’s human nature to want to go home.