I’m super pumped to play this exclusive new track from one of my favorite musicians, Matt Hammon. “Out of Touch” is from his debut solo record that you can learn more about here. Hammon’s got just a few days left on his IndieGoGo crowdfunding project so take a listen to “Out of Touch” and then go here to contribute and get the full album. Scroll down for the full story behind “Out of Touch” from Hammon himself.
Out of Touch
This song went through many, many changes – there were three entire sets of lyrics for it, the production went several different directions and I had almost scrapped it from the record entirely because it was so elusive to me. I mean, I knew I liked the “bones” of the song – very simple chords, straight “4 on the floor” drums, big and wide electric guitars…but the words were all over the place. It was like there was so much space between phrases that I felt the weight of the world hung on each line, which of course is a totally myopic and unreasonable notion, but was in my mind nonetheless.
I had the chance in the summer of 2015 to spend a week with Karin Berquist and Lindford Detweiler (a.k.a. Over The Rhine) at a songwriting workshop they curate every August. I have been a massive fan of theirs since the I.R.S. records days and consider them among my biggest influences as songwriters and presenters of music. So it came my turn to throw a song on the table for the group of 15-20 people in the workshop to tear apart and piece back together. Naturally, I threw that song “on the table”, meaning I stood up at my seat, about 9 inches from Karin, and delivered that song (which was then called “Western Sun”). So I played it and nothing horrible happened, so I figured I had done what I came to do and had pretty low expectations of what they might jump on.
Right away Lindford asked, “Matt, what is this song actually about?” And I’m thinking to myself, “It depends on which set of lyrics I’m singing at the time”…but my actual answer, which was more true than I had yet let myself confess, was that it was a song about jealousy. When I said that, the room erupted in laughter. The words had absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted the song to be about; I can’t even express how liberating it was to utter those words out loud: “This song is about jealousy”. So we went line by line, each person at the table giving their two cents on each line – it was horrifying, for reasons beyond the fact that Karin Berquist was marking up my lyric sheet!
Have Your Fun Out In America
In truth, I “wrote” that song when my wife Cameron was on a trip to California to hang with her brother Alex (The Damnwells) in the studio where they were mixing Air Stereo for Epic Records with the legendary Jim Scott. Apparently the Dixie Chicks were around and there was just a ton of beautiful energy surrounding the whole thing and I was missing out. I was so jealous that she was having that experience without me.
Sometime that night when I was up trying to write the song, it occurred to me that I had been around the world playing rock shows in amazing venues, in amazing countries, with amazing artists – all without her. I distinctly remember empathizing with her in a big way that night, and thinking back through tour memories and such and how I would often go days without even calling her when I was out on a tour. A stranger would have thought that I didn’t even miss her; that I had no one waiting for me at home, which was very far from the truth, but was exactly what I was putting out there with my neglect. So once I had made that connection, I was no longer jealous that she was having this experience without me but became really happy for her. From that change of heart came the second verse: “The only thing I have / the only thing that holds me / was written in your hand / everything you told me / so have your fun out in America / is she everything she promised? The best part is that Karin totally loved that line as it stood, and it is the only line from the song that remained intact from the first draft of the lyric.
Really, the challenge I got from Karin and Lindford sent me back to the drawing board on the entire record, lyrically. The tracks were done and I had already tracked half of the lead vocals, but ended up rewriting the lyrics of almost the entire album when I got back from that workshop, meaning I had to re-track all the vocals with the new lyrics