MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
And for Thanksgiving Day, we've made a trip to Nashville to hear some songs about home and travel and love - why not? We're here with singer/songwriter Kim Richey and her band. They'll be with us all this half hour. Kim Richey, it's great to see you.
KIM RICHEY: Hello. It's nice to be here.
BLOCK: And you have a house not far from here.
RICHEY: I have a house about 35 minutes south of Nashville, yeah.
BLOCK: What's it like?
RICHEY: It's beautiful. It's an old cedar house that a fellow built by himself about 25 years ago, so it's very rustic. And it's on a hill built on these pillars, so the front deck is almost like you're in a tree house because there's a big oak tree right in front of the front deck.
BLOCK: Sounds beautiful.
BLOCK: You are going to do a song for us, all about home, kind of, melancholy song about home and it's, I guess, about thinking about home being someplace you're not.
RICHEY: This is called, "A Place Called Home," and I wrote it with Mike Henderson. And this is, kind of - you know, it's about trying to find a place where you belong, where you fit in.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "A PLACE CALLED HOME")
RICHEY: (Singing) Well, it's not hard to see. Anyone who looks at me knows I am just a rolling stone, never landing anyplace to call my own. To call my own. Well, it seems like so long ago, but it really ain't you know. I started out a crazy kid, miracle I made it through the things I did. The things I did. Someday I'll go where there ain't no rain or snow. 'Til then, I travel alone. And I make my bed with the stars above my head and dream of a place called home. I had a chance to settle down. Get a job and live in town. Work in some old factory. I never liked the foreman standing over me. Over me.
Oh I'd rather walk a winding road. Rather know the things I know and see the world with my own eyes no regrets, no looking back, no goodbyes. No goodbyes. Someday I'll go where there ain't no rain or snow. Till then, I travel alone. And I make my bed with the stars above my head and I dream of a place called home.
BLOCK: It's beautiful.
RICHEY: Thank you.
BLOCK: That's Kim Richey with her song, "A Place Called Home." You know, Thanksgiving is so much about community. Do you think you'll find community in a song? Does that happen to you?
RICHEY: Yeah. I think "A Place Called Home" - I've had a lot of people write to me, you know, about that song, that they felt like that before in their lives and not quite sure where they belong or - one thing about songs, sometimes even sad songs, I think, that I really like when you talk about community, sometimes if you're not feeling really great, a sad song might be just what you need because then that makes you feel like someone else knows what you're talking about or that have the same kind of experience that you have. So then I think you're a little less sad, maybe, than you were if you feel like someone knows how you are.
BLOCK: Mm-hmm. There's a pretty deep streak of blue through a lot of, a lot of your songs, not so much on this latest album, though.
BLOCK: I think, like, you're - there's more sunshine coming through.
RICHEY: Yeah. I think I'm not like, kind of, an unhappy, sad-sacky kind of person.
BLOCK: You're a very happy person. You're wearing silver sneakers today.
RICHEY: Look at me right now, how happy I am.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
RICHEY: But I think most songwriters I talk to, it's just - it's hard to pull off a song, you know, where, oh, I'm really happy and everything's great. That's as deep as it goes, you know. You've got nowhere to go after that. But there's a whole lot more layers, I think, in melancholy or just thoughtful or those kind of things.
BLOCK: Do, do we have consensus from the band that Kim is, in fact, a happy person?
Unidentified Man #1: Oh, yes.
Unidentified Man #2: Yes.
NEILSON HUBBARD: Kim is very happy.
BLOCK: There was a rousing...
RICHEY: Yes, thank God for the endorsement.
BLOCK: The happy endorsement. Let's bring the band in here now. And I wonder whether you might want to do something up-tempo, maybe for folks who are in the kitchen cooking or cleaning up and need the time to fly a little bit.
RICHEY: All righty. This one's called "Chinese Boxes."
Unidentified Man #3: One, two. A-one, two, three, four.
SOUND BITE OF SONG "CHINESE BOXES"
RICHEY: (Singing) You're like Chinese boxes, one inside the other, inside the other, one inside the other one. You're smoke and mirrors, plastic flowers, magic spells, misdirection, smoke and mirrors, plastic flowers. How am I to know? How am I to know?
You're like all four season, one becomes the other, becomes the other, one becomes the other one. You're daffodils and summer showers, turning leaves, solid snow, daffodils and summer showers. How am I to know? How am I to know?
Oh, I've tried to ask you to gather clues and possibilities. I turned into something into sheet (unintelligible). I think they're meant to be. Still, you get the best, yeah, whatever else is left of me. Still, how am I to know? How am I to know? You're like Chinese boxes, one inside the other, inside the other, one inside the other one. One inside the other, inside the other, one inside the other one.
BLOCK: That's Kim Richey with Neilson Hubbard on keyboards and vocals, Chris Donagan(ph) on guitars, Scott Boore(ph) on Bass and Kirk Yoquolet on drums, doing the song "Chinese Boxes," the title song from Kim's latest CD. Somebody mysterious in that song, Kim.
RICHEY: Yes. You're never quite sure, you know, what that person's all about. But I got the idea from a James Bond novel. He was describing one of the characters as a nest of Chinese boxes. And he said, the most interesting thing about that was lifting off the lid and finding the next box and getting to the center, and maybe the center wasn't quite as interesting as the trip to the center. But that was what made it all worthwhile, was just trying to get to that place.
BLOCK: Kim, with this CD, "Chinese Boxes" - this is your fifth CD - that you started recording relatively late. Thirty-nine when your first CD came out?
RICHEY: Yeah, probably because I remember I was 37 when I got signed. I think when you're older, I had more of a sense of myself and what I was and wasn't willing to do to, you know, get a record deal. I think if I had been a lot younger, I would've dressed however they wanted me to and sang whatever they wanted me to. And the most important thing for me was that I was really proud of what I did, whether it was commercial or not, but just that I felt really good at the end of the day about a record that I made. And I'd like to listen to it, you know, later on.
BLOCK: Well, Kim Richey, you have that another song. Would you do "I Will Follow"?
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "I WILL FOLLOW")
RICHEY: (Singing) I saw you in a dream I had doing dishes at the Laundromat. And you smiled at me. You said that I am sick. I'm going to count to three. Ready to go. One step forward, two steps back. Funny I've got to laugh. You lead me down a garden path and I will follow. I will follow.
I saw you on a downtown street eating peaches in an apple tree. You said, take my hand. We'd be a marching band. They'll love us in Japan. Ready to go. One step forward, two steps back. Funny I've got to laugh. Lead me down a garden path and I will follow. I will follow. One step forward, two steps back. Funny I've got to laugh. You lead me down a garden path and I will follow. One step forward, two steps back. So funny I've got to laugh. You lead me down a garden path and I will follow. I will follow.
BLOCK: We're going to take a break. We'll be back in a minute or so with Kim Richey and her band on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block joined for this half hour by singer/songwriter Kim Richey and her band in Nashville.
And you guys traveling together must have a ton of stories. You're in close quarters all the time for better or for worse.
RICHEY: We have a really great time. We're driving around in a van. Kirk, who's a drummer, he is also our road manager and he is the driver. No one else is allowed to drive ever except for Kirk.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
Man #1: It's control issues.
Man #2: Yeah.
RICHEY: And Nielson is the copilot. He sleeps along. And in the next bench: Chris on the driver's side and Scott on the passenger's side. And then I'm in the bench behind watching everything that's going on there.
Man #3: We're kind of in charge of the cheese distribution.
RICHEY: Yeah, because you're in the middle.
BLOCK: Cheese distribution?
RICHEY: If we - sometimes we've had a couple of really long drives at night. So to keep us awake and entertained, we'll have a cheese party.
Man #3: Yeah.
RICHEY: And then I'll buy a couple different kinds of cheeses, like really nice cheese. And then we'll have cheese and crackers. Our whole thing is so rock. We do crossword puzzles, just way far out of control.
BLOCK: Big times on the road...
RICHEY: Oh, yeah.
BLOCK: ...with Kim Richey and band.
BLOCK: Kim, you're going to do another song for us? What are we going to hear?
RICHEY: "Jack and Jill." I'll play that for you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "JACK AND JILL")
RICHEY: (Singing) She wore that dress like it was a Saturday, pretty as a summer rose picked in the morning. And he held her hand like it was a mystery, one he couldn't quite believe. She's walking with him. They were high up on a hill. Something to say, the daylight to kill. Time slipped away the way that it will.
Around and around dancing around the question posed. Flip a coin and watch it roll down into the wishing well. Two steps unset there goes another day, another chance to give away secrets they keep to themselves. They were high up on a hill. Something to say, the daylight to kill. Time slipped away the way that it will.
Darkness falls without a sound. They come tumbling down, tumbling after, tumbling after. She wore that dress like it was a Saturday, pretty as a summer rose picked in the morning. And he held her hand like it was a mystery, one he couldn't quite believe. She's walking with him. They were high up on a hill. Something to say, the daylight to kill. Time slipped away the way that it will.
BLOCK: That's Kim Richey with her song "Jack and Jill" from the CD, "Chinese Boxes." I wonder if I can get you to do an old song for me. It's one of my favorite songs of yours. It's called "Every River."
BLOCK: All about, well, steadfast love, I guess.
BLOCK: Is that what you think?
RICHEY: Yeah. You know, this - I think it's a very reassuring song because it's just saying, I will love you forever no matter what happens. I think that's a nice thing. All right.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "EVERY RIVER")
RICHEY: (Singing) Once upon a time, somewhere in your past, someone said, forever, but the promise didn't last. And now you don't believe love is ever true. You steel yourself against the day when I stop loving you. When the day comes that I don't love you, every star will fall out of the sky. And every mountain will tumble down, every river run dry.
For every drop of rain that ever tumbled down, every tear that ever fell and never made a sound. I'll be there to hear you call. I'll be there to catch you, baby, should you ever fall. When the day comes that I don't love you, every star will fall out of the sky. And every mountain will tumble down and every river run dry, oh, every river run dry.
BLOCK: Kim Richey, it's been a pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving.
RICHEY: Happy Thanksgiving to you. Thank you.
BLOCK: It's Kim Richey with Nielson Hubbard on keyboards and vocals, Chris Donagan on guitars, Scott Boore on base and Kirk Yoquolet on drums. You can hear more music at npr.org.
You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.