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Carrie Chip

A Conversation with Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

PM: When I listen to "Memphis, Texas," when you guys hit that first chorus, I just lay my head down and cry sometimes. It's really pretty.

CR: Thanks.

PM: Is there a story to that song? Do you remember when you wrote that?

CT: Well, that's one of the first ones we wrote together. We wrote three songs together on the album. So Carrie, why don't you explain a little bit more about that process, what that thing was about?

CR: Well, I guess Chip just was really wanting me to bring something of my own to the record. And I was pretty intimidated by that because Chip's such a legendary songwriter--

PM: Indeed.

CR: --and what could I possibly bring? So he finally just suggested that I--he gave me a deadline.

PM: [laughs]

CR: He said, "Okay, by this day, I just want something." So I found some chords that I liked and a little hint of melody, and came in with that. And we just started playing it together and let it form its own thing between us. And then Chip, once the vibe of the song was there, Chip started putting out some words to catch the mood of it. It's kind of hard to explain--he's so organic in the way that he does lyrics, I don't even know how--

PM: That's an astonishing chorus, lyrically, I think.

CT: Yeah. Well, I like the setting, because it's almost like when I met Carrie for the first time, just the thing--how you would feel meeting somebody for the first time, and she being from down here and me being from New York. And I can explain things a lot better after the fact than I can before, because I really don't know why certain words come out of me, because I don't think about them.

But I had this feeling of this girl--of saying who she was through talking about where she was from. I just had the feeling of that, and the words sounded so pretty as they came out. Then Carrie and I adjusted them a little as we went along. But the flow thing just came from a real--my spirit, of who Carrie was and where she was from, and Memphis, Texas is the little town where Carrie's grandma was from. And we were trying to figure out how we would get that to all work together--we kind of forced that a little later from the fact, and liked the way that worked. But the chill thing we got from singing that thing together just is amazing.

PM: Yeah, it's really great. I guess, Carrie, when you talk about a hint of a melody that you brought in, it's the melody on top, and then you guys put the vocal on the bottom later? Is that what you mean?

CT: She would bring in the pattern of the chords and a little bit of a melody. And when we'd get together and start playing it together, that would shift and change.

CR: It kind of evolved.

CT: Yeah. It kind of evolved differently. And then as the words would flow, the melody would change with the words. That's the way it usually happens. And so the melody was--the hint of everything came in with Carrie. And that's the nice thing about it, and that's why I wanted her do it on her own, bring something that she'd come up with, because what she would bring to the table would be different than what I would bring. Then it's not just another Chip Taylor song with another friend helping. She's a little bit more bluegrass oriented, so whatever she would play, whatever little chordal thing she might play on the fiddle, plucking it, or on the mandolin, would be different than something I would come up with.

And so the groove of all three songs was started by her. Then the melody would develop around that. Maybe she brought in a hint of it, but it would develop more when we were together. And usually it developed with words thrown in, because that's the way I write. I don't write from melody putting words to it.

PM: Right. What are the other two co-writes? Because my credits got away from me, they're at the webmaster's, where they're uploading clips.

CT: "All the Rain," and "Confessions," which was the first one we wrote together.

PM: All three great tunes.   continue

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