RESURRECTION OF THE MULE: WARREN HAYNES

 
When I listen to my favorite songwriters, I have always been pulled into the real dark personal pieces, you know. The ones that I feel like are exposing raw nerve.
--Warren Haynes
Photo by Andy Tennille
 

In terms of your songwriting alone, I have noticed that a lot of your songs deal with love in various forms, yet you've been married for a few years. Can you easily project yourself as a songwriter into other people's shoes or circumstances and take their viewpoints, or is this Warren talking about something that is going on in his life? Are a lot of these songs autobiographical?

I tend to write about characters that are based on either other people or people around me. Sometimes it might be something that I have heard about or read about or whatever, and then a character will be formed that has a certain amount of myself as a part of that character. But hardly ever is the character completely me. I kind of feel like, to write only about what goes in my life would be a pretty limiting scope, you know. But at the same time, a lot of my songs contain at least parts that are autobiographical. Most of my favorite writers take that same kind of approach. They come up with characters, and you can almost sense when that character becomes themselves, and when they take on other characters. That's the way that I tend to do it. I don't know if it's fortunate or unfortunate, but I'm around a lot of real characters. (Laughs) All my life, I have been around people that have struggled just to get through the day--whether it's emotionally, or chemically, whatever the case may be. I've lost a lot of friends through the years, and I try to learn from those experiences, but somehow they keep haunting you and creeping back into the things you write about as well. We're here to learn from all these experiences and sometimes it's hard to know what the lesson really is. Again, I do a lot of stream of consciousness writing where I write it down as fast as it will come out and go back later and try and figure out what really connects with me. So there is a lot of editing involved when I write that way.

Let's talk about the album here specifically. I just wanted to throw some song names out at you and just tell me about the recording of the song, how you wrote the song, whatever kind of interests you in terms of each song. And the first one I wanted to start out with is "Little Toy Brain."


Haynes & Abts by Adam George
"Little Toy Brain" I wrote quite a few years ago. It was definitely written way before Woody died. I think it has a Beatles influence, and at some point we would have probably recorded that song with Woody, because Woody was such a McCartney freak. He just adored McCartney's bass playing. Whenever he had an excuse to show that side of himself, he would love to do it.

We never worked that song up as a band while Woody was around, but at some point we had talked to McCartney's camp about him playing on the Deep End. Had he agreed to be part of that project, we would have recorded that song with him. It was kind of reserved for him at that point. I wrote a letter to McCartney, a very heartfelt letter saying that the reason we were reaching out to him was as a seminal bass player and not as a Beatle or a pop star. We were reaching out to the Paul McCartney the bass player, in the same way that we would reach out to Jaco Pastorius or James Jamerson if they were still alive. He contacted us and his camp said that he was very intrigued with the project and thought it was great, but he was just too busy to be part of it. But just the fact that we got a response made me feel good. So that song would have been done with Sir Paul, had that opportunity arose. And since it was already floating around in my brain, I thought we could go ahead and work it up as a band. With Danny and Andy, it just sounded amazing.

Yeah, I think it does too. Talk about "Bad Man Walking" a little bit.


Danny Louis by Mir Ali
"Bad Man Walking" was me and Danny sitting around in his little studio, working up a song. That song came together really quickly. Danny had this idea that turned into the intro, and then I came up with the riff that turned into the verse, and it just kept kind of falling into place. I was scribbling down lyrics while we were sitting there. The next thing you know, like an hour and a half later or something, we had this tune. Of course, we would continue to work on the arrangement and all that stuff in days and weeks to come, but it came together relatively quickly, which was nice. It's always nice to have something that funky or that upbeat as part of the overall picture. Andy's playing just brings that song to life.

Yeah, his playing is awesome on that track. He carries the deep end on that tune pretty well. What about "Lola Leave Your Light On?"


By George Weiss
That song was the last thing that we put together at the end of the record. I had this idea musically floating around in my head, and I put it on tape while we were in the studio. Matt had to fly to California the next day and we were pretty much done with recording. There were two song possibilities that we could have done at that point--one that we had worked on a little bit, and one that would turn out to be "Lola Leave Your Light On." So we sat down and worked on the music for a while and basically put a rough sketch of the music together. Then Matt flew home and it kind of turned into a song after he left.

I have a friend in North Carolina named Jeff Anders that I've co-written a few songs with. He is a musician that I grew up with and we stay in touch. He co-wrote the "High Cost of Low Living" on the last Allman Brothers record, and he also co-wrote "Tattoos and Cigarettes" on my solo record. A few years back, Jeff and I were talking about ideas one night, and he mentioned this song title he had--"Lola Leave Your Light On."

The day that we put together the music for this unknown song, we didn't even know if it was going to be ready in time for this record or not. So it was like two o'clock in the morning and the only person who ever calls me at two o'clock in the morning is Jeff. We're both up late. So at two a.m., I answer the phone and it's Jeff. And he goes, "Hey man, remember that title I gave you, 'Lola Leave Your Light On?' Did you ever do anything with that?" And I said, "Jeff call me back." (Laughs) I wrote the lyrics to "Lola Leave Your Light On" and called him back like an hour later and said, "I, just did, man." (Laughs) He gave me that title and it just fit perfectly into what I wanted the hook of the chorus to be. It was just one of those things that was meant to be. We laugh about it every time we talk now. It came together so quickly. I love it when that happens. "Bad Little Doggie" was kind of written that way. It just all came out so quick that we didn't really have time to question it. It was created in a similar way to Lola. We put the music down first, and then I wrote lyrics to it. It's funny, I said something to Danny or somebody toward the end of the day we recorded "Lola." I was like, "Well I'm hoping that this comes together like 'Bad Little Doggie' did." And sure enough that night, Jeff and I had that conversation, and I went back into the studio the next day and told the guys I had it.


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