Americana singer and songwriter Jackie Greene is gearing up for a quick run of March shows through the Southwest, including an L.A. area stop March 13 at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on the way to a pair of shows for the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin.
In conjunction with the new tour, Greene is releasing as special Record Store Day vinyl single of his song “Light Up Your Window,” from his forthcoming album “Back to Birth,” and Pop & Hiss is premiering this version of the song.
For the Record Store Day release, a 7-inch single due April 18, the Sacramento-born, Bay Area-based musician recorded a live version of “Light Up Your Window, ” part of Yep Roc Records Sawyer Sessions series of live acoustic performances in spaces near the label’s headquarters in Hillsborough, N.C.
It’s a wistful, upbeat song about being separated from a loved one, and the anticipation of sweet reunion:
How long does the road go on?
How deep the darkness before the spark of dawn?
It suffers me to think about
All the nights we do without
"I started writing [it] on the road," Greene tells Pop & Hiss. "I don't have a specific inspiration for it other than some of the old country stuff I was listening to at the time. I wrote it as a two-step country song, but it quickly morphed into the funky album version once we got in the studio."
The stripped down voice-and-acoustic-guitar presentation presages what Greene says will be an album focused on songs, much more than sophisticated production work. “Back to Birth” is due Aug. 25 on Yep Roc.
As for the album title, Greene says it's "a reference to the somewhat heady idea of 'cyclic existence.' The notion that life is circular and birth and death are closely related. Quite common in Eastern philosophies, although I use it more generally. Called samsara by Buddhists, for example. It's quite easy to understand the principle. Oh yeah, and it's also the title of the last song on the album. Maybe that's it."
One intriguing element of "Light Up Your Window" is the opening line's melodic similarity to a vintage country-rock song by the Monkees: Michael Nesmith’s “Sunny Girlfriend,” one the group resurrected during its 2012 reunion tour focusing on their third album, “Headquarters.”
Asked about the similarity, Nesmith, 72, told Pop & Hiss, “Yeah, it’s the same riff – a little different way around the track.”
Another Sam Smith-Tom Petty situation in the making? Nesmith gave no hint that a call to lawyers was in the offing.
“We are all singing the same song on some level,” he said. “It would make a good mashup, that’s for sure.”
In fact, Nesmith says he’s a fan of Greene’s work, which now encompasses seven solo albums, two EPs, a DVD, a book of his lyrics as well as his participation in the rock collective Trigger Hippy with Joan Osborne and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, plus his part-time gig playing guitar with Phil Lesh & Friends.
“I like Jackie Greene’s stuff,” Nesmith said. “He has played Videoranch3D, in fact,” referring to his Videoranch 3D online platform for a wide range of Americana singers and songwriters.
The first leg of Greene’s 2015 Forever, I’m Gonna Wander tour starts tonight, March 6, in Grass Valley, and also stops March 14 at North Park Observatory in San Diego before he moves on to dates in New Mexico and Texas. He’ll be playing twice during SXSW, on March 19 at the Continental Club and march 20 at Lucy’s Fried Chicken.
Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter for pop music coverage