This is the first song I wrote for People Are My Drug.  I’ve long been drawn to the swing and swagger of New Orleans’ step rhythms.  The left-right bass lines get my feet stepping, the drums channel my hips and the weightless carefree melodies coax my arms up rom my sides toward the sky.  Within my mortal body and experience, this music is freedom.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the Crescent City on Super Sunday, when all the Mardi Gras Tribes unveil their regalia and the Social Clubs join up on the banks of Bayou St. John and parade down Orleans Avenue.  The streets are packed with local residents and brass bands, flag-bearers and buckjumpers of all ages. The joy is brimming and contagious. Everybody honoring one another’s spirit, this community feels so vital, so affirming of life.
I was recently in a pub in Dublin, Ireland after a show and the DJ was spinning Motown at a generous decibel.  “Nowhere To Run” by Martha and The Vandellas came on and, it maybe it was the Guinness, but it felt like I was hearing it for the very first time.  The snap and sway of the background vocals chimed on in my head for weeks afterward. After writing the verses for Steampowered Blues, this song was done for a while, until I realized it needed to go into doubletime and break into that same snap and sway for the outro.  It was one of those great moments as a songwriter when I realized what the song itself wanted and all I had to do was get out of the way.
Lyrically, this track is playful in a way that I can get behind.  I always loved the mood of John Hartford’s songs. Never taking himself too seriously, but staying sharp with his observations of the human condition.  I also love repeating the phrase “So tired of running” over and over while the music picks up tempo and barrels ahead. I wanted folks to have an easy way to participate in the live shows for People Are My Drug.  This song is easily accessible with the outro chant.
My hope has always been to elevate the spirit of the room.  To engage and transport people from the beginning of the night to the end.  To help them forget their worries for a few hours. We all need it. The only way I’ve found to do that is to let people know it’s okay to let go by letting go myself.  I do that best when I’m surrounded by great people on stage, doing what they do best with their own individual instincts, coalescing into one big spirit. If we can give it, people can also meet us there.  I’ve seen it over and over. We give, they give.

STEAMPOWERED BLUES BY PHIL COOK

So tired of running

This big machine

Spent down to nuthin

Bust out the seams

 

So tired of running

What does it mean

(When ya) Been down the river

And Can’t find the sea

 

Well I’m gone

Til i’m gone

Til i’m gone yeah yeah

When ya got no use

Steampowered Blues

 

So tired of running

(About to) Give up the dream

Cause I'm worn out to ribbons

Fresh outta steam

 

So tired of running

Just passed me by

Just slip me something

Don’t ask me why

 

Til i’m gone

Til i’m gone

Til i’m gone hey yeah

When ya got no use

Steampowered blues

So tired of running

 

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