Modern Day Drifter

Album: Modern Day Drifter (2005)
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Songfacts®:

  • This was written by Nashville songwriters Wyatt Easterling and John Scott Sherrill. Says Sherrill: "That's another one of those true life situations where I was really feeling like it was time to cut loose from everything and head on out, find some different kind of life. It was kind of rolling around in my head without a real title, but just the feeling of wanting to leave. Finally one day the title popped up and it was smooth sailing."
  • The ring on the finger is a reference to Sherrill's first marriage.
  • Sherrill moved to Nashville from New Hampshire in 1975: "I had a little band up there, a hippie band. We lived in a commune together and raised all our own food, made our own beer and wine, had chickens and cows and everything else. Every time we needed money, we'd go play a gig. It was backwards thinking compared to the real world, but it was great while it lasted - for about 5 years. Then it dissolved like bands will, and I was cast adrift. I was looking for something to do and was headed out to California to see if I could try the music business out there, and my van broke down here in Nashville on the way out there. In a thunderous rainstorm the windshield motor couldn't keep up and it caught fire, so there was smoke pouring out from under the dashboard; it fried up all my electrical wiring and I had to pull over and get a job to fix it. That's how I ended up here.
    While I was trying to get money to fix the van I started going around to some of these writers nights, which I had never even heard of. The songs up in New Hampshire with The Family Of Pan, these songs were 10, 12, 15 minutes long and they'd change keys, they'd change tempos. They were very hippie songs, they didn't really make much sense. So here I am going to these writer's nights and it blew my mind, these people could emotionally grab you and take you on a journey in 3 minutes. I was just blown away, I couldn't get enough of it.
    I knew the name of one guy here in town from the old Family Of Pan days. Harry Chapin's brother Steve was producing the Family Of Pan band for Electra records but they passed on it after a couple of sessions where we traveled down to New York with all of our equipment. We had a ball. So I contacted Steve Chapin and said I was headed out to Los Angeles, and he gave me a couple of names out there and said if I was passing through Nashville I should look up Rob Galbraith at Combine Music, so I did have one name in town. I went over there and played him some of my songs and he said, 'Well, you know, these songs are interesting but they're 15 minutes long and they change keys. What you need to do is learn a little bit about this. Why don't you come in the back door, so you don't have to go through the secretary, and just go up the back stairs and hang out with those writers up there and listen to what they're doing,' which I thought was really wonderful of them to let me do that. It was like going to songwriting college, just to hang around with those guys. Back then, Combine was the epicenter of this whole thing. It was just awesome the different types of writers who were over there: Lee Clayton, Tony Joe White, Kris Kristofferson - just unbelievable writers. I used to get to hang out, watch them work and listen to their songs. It was an incredible experience. I got the van fixed and had no desire to go to L.A."
  • Bentley wrote most of the songs on the album, but this resonated with him and he not only recorded it, but used it as the title. Says Sherrill: "He had heard that song - he heard me play it or something - and liked it. He wanted to do it on his first album but never got around to it, but never forgot about it. The second album came around and sure enough, he cut it. That really blew my mind because it is a personal song and it's a ballad, not your typical up-tempo Country record, but it tickled me to death."

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