All songs © and ℗ Richard Bowdon, all rights reserved. These are only the ones I’ve recorded so far. To paraphrase Merle Travis, songwriting is a habit, like chewing tobacco.
Outstanding in his Field
(2021) coming real soon! almost finished!
Richard Bowdon on vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboard, percussion; other friends and family as noted. Produced and arranged by Richard Bowdon except as noted.
Thanks to the folks who shared the fun of recording these songs: Bob Bowdon, Jim Amsden, Melody Bowdon, Brad Bowdon, Peter Curry, and Amelia Kelley. Recorded at Stellar Studio in Cary, North Carolina; PowWow Fun Room in Los Angeles; Clear Sky Studio in Cary, Grovetastic in Hoboken, NJ, and Seven Gates Ranch in Hamilton, Texas.
I challenged myself to fill the vacuum of songs describing the universe … specifically, everything that ever existed or ever will exist in the past, present, or future … in three verses and a bridge. As a course in cosmology it’s necessarily simplified; the original matter was hydrogen plasma, not gas, i.e. bare protons, but you already know that, and unfortunately, plasma has an extra syllable. While creating the video, I learned that “Eternity” is a trademark of Calvin Klein. Jim Amsden on bass.
That’s Way Before My Time
Denial is more than a river in Egypt, it is a natural defensive reflex. People don’t like being told they are complicit in an injustice … even when they are. Or especially when they are.
One of my oldest songs, I wrote Hope in 1979 in an isolated trailer by a lonely lake in the piney woods of East Texas, soon after my college girlfriend broke up with me. I first recorded it c. 1984 with the Bradley Trio at Joe Danger Productions in Houston, for my 1st album, Dancin’ & Dreamin’. In 1987 it was released as the B side of my 45 rpm single, Back to Grand Rapids. For that recording I hired a fiddle player, who was just okay. This new recording is definitive. Bob Bowdon on piano, Melody Bowdon on keyboard.
Pour and Pray
A bluesy country number, the only song on this album recorded live with no overdubs. “I’m proud of all my scars.” Yes I am. They show I’ve had a life. I like this song’s unusual structure.
Here I Am in Singapore
The first line (and title) popped into my head while waiting at a crosswalk in Singapore in 1996. Sure, I was in Singapore, but so what? Later, back home, I figured out what the song was actually about when I wrote the last verse in a high school classroom, during my very short career as a substitute teacher.
Produced and Arranged by Bob Bowdon. A Bradley Trio Production: Bob Bowdon on keyboard, Brad Bowdon on bass.
If Only You’d Change
Sometimes a song inspires me to write one with the same theme. This one was inspired by “If I Were the Man that You Wanted” (I would not be the man that I am) by Lyle Lovett. Gee, if you were a different person in just a few key ways, then I would really love you. That’s a very common wish, although usually a subconscious one.
Produced and Arranged by Bob Bowdon. Bob Bowdon on harmonies, bass, percussion, keyboard.
Heads They Win and Tails I Lose
For many, life really is stacked against them. For others, it’s not, at least not as much as they think, but it’s a convenient excuse. Interpret it either way; this song is for them.
You Share That With Me
My attempt at a universal human anthem. I came close, but later realized space travel is not aspired to by all cultures. I imagine the Tabernacle Choir could really nail this one. Amelia Kelley sings harmony.
Pullin’ Me In
My singer/songwriter friend Linden Thoburn once told me “poets attract people like a magnet.” This was originally titled “Three Ways to Fall in Love (the Poet Magnet)”. So it has three titles now. Bob Bowdon on piano.
The Good Book of Prine
The late John Prine wrote “Donald and Lydia” about real people. Did they ever get together in person, or only in their dreams? “Mostly they made love from ten miles away.” Mostly, not only. Soon enough they went separate ways, but what happened after that? Imagine they heard John’s record, recognized themselves, and became lifelong fans. Then imagine decades and failed marriages later, they applied what they had learned from all of John’s songs and got back together for good.
Happy and Free
By the end of 2020 with its global pandemic and exhausting politics, those of us clinging to sanity craved an escape to peace and quiet, where everything was under control and normal again. Here’s to a daydream.
(2020) Album with a dozen of my songs, recorded by my band No Worries, streaming on Spotfiy, Apple Music, Pandora, and all other major platforms: search “No Worries Downstream”. But the best place to listen, download, and get lyrics is on Bandcamp. Some of these have videos at the No Worries channel on Youtube.
There are tons of love songs, lots of breakup songs, but this one is in between, an “ambivalent love song.” The inspiration was a brief conversation: “This car was my father’s. It smells like cigars.” “Yes, and it never won’t.” You never know where a song idea will originate. Recorded by No Worries at Clear Sky Studio. Produced by Richard Bowdon.
BACKWARDS UPSIDE DOWN
Inspired in the kitchen by the irony: “All my foil is heavy duty, I have so many other great qualities too, why am I not universally loved and wildly successful?” Recorded by No Worries at Clear Sky Studio. Produced by Jim Amsden.
THE INVISIBLE MAN
This one is about the guy who never gets the girl, because she is not aware of his existence. I read about that guy. Always a fun song to play, featuring Jim’s blistering electric solo and a bosso bass solo by Rob Surra.
Recorded at PowWow Fun Room, Clear Sky Studio, and Stellar Studio. Produced by Richard Bowdon.
WHAT’S THE NEWS
You can learn a lot on the lnternet. But not everything. Video is recorded live with No Worries at Johnnie’s Gone Fishing. MP3 is by No Worries at Pickdrop Studio.
THANK YOU DOC
My tribute to the late, great Doc Watson, written shortly after his passing. MP3 is from the CD “Hitching’ Doc’s Highway” by No Worries, recorded at Pickdrop Studio. Video is a live performance from the Caberet Stage at the Fall 2017 Grassroots Festival at Shakori Hills.
MUST BE DYIN’
One of my bluegrassier songs. Recorded by No Worries at Pickdrop Studio, featuring Ken Faircloth on lead guitar.
A nice little story song, recorded on No Worries’ album Downstream.
MR PAWN MAN
Inspired by a chance encounter years earlier in a Calgary pawn shop. Both of these are live recording; the MP3 is from Chatham Hill Winery, the video from Imurj in Raleigh. Jim Amsden on mandolin.
Yes indeed, I wrote this song in the campground at Shakori Hills.
PAVIN’ THE ROAD
Written in Nicaragua and while driving the California coast. Performed live by No Worries at Mayton Inn in Cary, NC.
CUT YOU FREE
I decided to write a song with the same feel as “Lungs” by Townes Van Zandt. I think I succeeded. This is the oldest song of mine I still regularly perform, including with No Worries. (It was started at least in 1979.) This recent version was recorded at Powow Fun Room in Los Angeles and my home studio. Original title: Existentialism.
Hitchin’ Doc’s Highway
(2014) No Worries’ first album has 10 songs including these 3 originals of mine. Released on CD, it also streams on all major platforms. Search for No Worries Hitchin’. Recorded at Clear Sky Studios with Ken Faircloth on lead acoustic guitar.
HOW THINGS WILL BE
A treatise on the futility of making predictions, especially about the future. Video recorded live at Open Eye Café in Carrboro.
My attempt to write the absolute bluesiest blues song ever. Recorded at Pickdrop Studios, from the CD “Hitching’ Doc’s Highway” by No Worries.
FOUR JULY PARADE
A “mature love song” recorded at Clear Sky Studios.
Free Size Songs
(1996) My second solo album was self-produced and recorded at Seven Gates Studios in Houston on a 4-track tape deck.
OUR HEARTS DO THE TALKING
MP3 – My rodeo song.
HER PURE HEART
MP3 – A true love song.
COME WITH ME
MP3 – Really fun to sing this because I get to belt it out.
MP3 – Different than anything else I’ve written. Fun to sing.
The persona in many of my songs is a loser. Here’s another example, from Free Size Songs. He’s talking to a bartender who doesn’t care.
BALLAD OF A COFFIN SALESMAN
MP3 – Every now and then my inner John Prine writes a song with a strong social message.
WHAT’S ON THE INSIDE
MP3 – True, written in Canada, and featuring my only keyboard solo ever.
GIVE ME YOUR HEART
MP3 – My only acapella round.
COVER YOUR HEAD
MP3 – The chorus is some good advice from my mother. When this song was half written, I used it in a songwriting seminar for a Midland, Texas Mensa group monthly meeting, asking folks there to write a verse. Not much of their material made it into the final song though. Recorded at Seven Gates Studios and self – produced for my 2nd album, Free Size Songs.
LOVE IN DALLAS
MP3 – Most of my songs are not as autobiographical as this one. Anne P knows the story. Recorded at Seven Gates Studios and self – produced for my 2nd album, Free Size Songs.
Dancin’ & Dreamin’
(1987) Recorded in Texas at Joe Danger Productions and Seven Gates Productions with the Bradley Trio: Brad Bowdon on bass, Bob Bowdon on piano. Originally released on cassette.
MP3 – An open letter to Dr. Karl Marx.
DANCIN’ & DREAMIN’
MP3 – A nice romantic fantasy waltz, recorded solo at Joe Danger in Houston after the rest of the Bradley Trio had left town. My old Martin 12-string sounded good.
BACK TO GRAND RAPIDS
MP3 – Written and recorded in Midland, Texas after the Great Oil Price Crash of 1986, it was the only song of mine that made the A side of a 45, and got radio play in both Midland and Austin.
NOOKS & CRANNIES
MP3 – Life is not like a road. Life is instead like big house.
MP3 – My John Prine influence is showing.
TOGETHER FOR A LONG, LONG TIME
MP3 – I rarely play lead guitar, but I’m proud of this effort, which I made up just before going to the studio. Percussion includes Al’s bones (so fine).
WINE SONG, THE
MP3 – My hobbies of wine and music intersect. Chosen by Rod Kennedy in 1984 for the Kerrville New Folk Finals. You have to be of a certain age to remember that Blue Nun commercial.
MP3 – Kenosha is the town in Wisconsin where I cooled my heels while waiting for my suddenly, surprisingly ex-girlfriend to agree to see me one more time, in July of 1979. I didn’t actually murder her.
IS IT A GIRL OR A BOY?
YouTube – Dedicated to my children Andrea and Benjamin. May they take it to heart.
Youtube – lyrics – Written in Ft. Davis, Texas after I escaped a nasty West Texas spring dust storm. Dedicated to the owner of the one nice house in that little godforsaken town I drove through on the way south from Midland.
WEAVINGS AND WINE
MP3 – Another in my series of true love songs, it has held up well. The birds in the back yard seemed to like it, anyway.