Stories Behind the Songs: Dave Tamkin

Updated: Oct 10, 2018


Singer-Songwriter, Dave Tamkin, has a unique style of rhythmic-acoustic sounds that is showcased on his newest release, Dave Tamkin Live at eTown. Hailing from Boulder, CO, Dave has a unique musical vision that provides the perfect platform for his skilled songwriting, which is often shared in intimate acoustic solo performances.This impressive and undoubtedly skilled songwriter sat down with us to share some of the stories behind the songs on his new album.


You’ve got a new EP out, Dave Tamkin Live at eTown. What inspired you to record a live album?

Funny enough, I didn’t even know it was happening and I’m thankful I didn’t. When I hit my last chord of the set I didn’t want to leave the stage. The audience was so receptive, the sound engineer dialed in the mix with just the right amount of reverb and I only screwed up the right amount of times where I didn’t think anyone would notice. I later found out that they record every show at eTown Hall. I was nervous to listen to it at first as I already romanticized the evening to an epic performance. The listen back wasn’t as slick as I imagined but I was proud overall. I wanted to share it.


What are some of the differences recording a live album versus a studio album? Which process do you prefer?

The studio is not my strong suit. I never listen to myself with headphones on, or play with a click, or listen to anything I perform long enough to want to record it over 20 times so that it’s just right. It makes me nervous and I get too much inside my head. I’m grateful for the musicians and producers in my life that made the other recordings as unique as they were. I could not have done that by myself. As far as a live album goes… I’m good as long as I know it’s not being recorded :)


You’ve recorded several albums over the years. How does this EP compare to your earlier releases? How would you say your music has changed over the course of your career?

It was nice to release this EP with just my voice and guitar being represented. This live EP also introduces a new song while covering songs from my last 4 releases. I’ve collaborated a lot with other songwriters in the recent years also. We keep each other honest and make sure you can read the story as well as feel it. It was a lot easier to hide behind all the instrumentation in my previous efforts. The 2017 EP and this live EP do not leave much to hide behind. Hopefully I can continue to grow with the musicians around me and express that in my future recordings and performances.


What is your favorite thing about performing live?

It’s the energy building from my guitar and audience. It’s a mixture of tambers, echoes, breaths, vibrations, heartbeats, and voices. I struggle with the nervousness before each show but know it’s there because I love the opportunity to connect with the audience in front of me while releasing the struggle and gratefulness I have for each song. I am truly lucky to still have the chance to play live as much as I do.


Fun Question: If you could collaborate with any artist (dead or alive), who would you want to collaborate with and why?

I would want to collaborate with Glen Phillips. He is not only a great songwriter but influenced me so much with the album FEAR (Toad the Wet Sprocket). I would love the opportunity to see how that songwriting session would go and if his influences on my past would mesh with his writing today.



Read below for Dave's track-by-track analysis of each song and the stories and inspirations that went into creating Dave Tamkin Live at eTown.




Bleeding Orange

I was driving down from Omaha to Kansas City in October while listening to NPR. I learned that I was driving through the Monarch Butterflies migratory path and that all residence should keep their wild flowers growing for as long as they could for they provided nutrition to the butterflies. Moments later I killed what seemed like hundreds of butterflies with the windshield of my car. It was pretty horrible though I learned to never turn on my windshield wipers in cases like that in the future. As I cleaned off my car I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that while running down my dream as a songwriter I ran down the dreams of all these butterflies. Tom Petty’s song “Running’ Down a Dream” then played on my satellite radio. This song is a tribute to those butterflies and Mr. Tom Petty who passed away a day later. I brought these lyrics to my friend Tim King in Cedar Rapids, IA and he did a great job finding the melody.


Demons and You

We all have friends or family members who fight their own personal demons. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, racism, mental health, abuse, abandonment, bullied, sexism or anything else in life that can make a person feel less than. You can often see it in someone’s eyes. Everyone of us could take a little more time to look up and offer a little love and truth in the eyes of the people that need help fighting the demons inside.


Fly Me

Not everyone is supposed to stay in your life forever. Even if you ask them to. Spread your wings and fly.



Drift

Your flavor lingers In owning your way. I like that lyric because it truly describes my wife Anne. I’ve drifted through too many years of my life though I still have to remind myself to stay focused. Anne seemed to know her focus from the day I met her. It was inspiring then and still inspiring 10 years later. Life and relationships are not easy. We can only do our best to show up to both and learn to be better humans while doing so.


Mary

I wrote this song with my friend Chris Webb. It was fun to sit in his garage and white board these lyrics out though I think we both felt a little depressed at the end. I don’t want to point out the meaning of this song as it is different for each person and I couldn’t be more pleased with that. Some find closure while others find sadness. Some of us like to sing alone and some of us want to sing from the mountain tops. Some of us, like Mary, have lived a life that allowed both.


Tuesday

I wrote “Tuesday” on a street corner in the town of Lake Geneva, WI with an idea of what I thought my life was going to look like and what music was going to sound like within it. 20 years later I’m still trying to figure out both but I can feel the music calling me just as strong as it did back then. I’m learning that it’s never too late to listen to the music.


Thoughts Up Here

I used to play this song so fast that the lyrics were not understandable. I hope I’ve fixed that over the years. This song pulls from a variety of experiences in my younger life. Love, desire, the unexpected and the inevitable confusion that comes with rejection from someone you want to be closer to. This song always takes me back to those moments in my life and I often can feel the song getting faster as I play it. I’m not sure if it’s because I want the song to be over or because I know it never has to be.



Download your FREE copy of Dave Tamkin Live at eTown through the month of October HERE!


Follow Dave on Social Media (Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and visit his Website.

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