Tom Armstrong

A Conversation with Tom Armstrong (continued)

PM: What is the story with "My Home Is Not A Home"? I don't know this great song [written by Onie Wheeler and Tony Lee] from anywhere else--do you know anything more about it?

TA: Onie Wheeler, it's kind of sad. Onie Wheeler is the only person ever to die right on the stage at the Grand Old Opry.

PM: Oh, my Lord!

TA: He was from Missouri. He was a harmonica player. His biggest hit was probably "Run 'Em Off," which Lefty Frizzell covered back in the early 50s. There are a few others where his name got taken out of the writing credits. One he wrote for Carl Smith called "No, I Don't Believe I Will." He was a singer and harmonica player, and he made a couple of rockabilly records for Sun later on. Then in the 60s he kind of gave up on his own solo career and became a sideman for people, playing harmonica.

PM: What about "My Sweet Love Ain't Around"?

TA: That's a Hank Williams song that I've loved for years. When Conrad told me about the project, he gave me the songs he wanted me to learn, but I also thought about what songs I know that might sound cool given that kind of a treatment. Those were the two that came to mind. He'd never heard of Onie Wheeler either. But I really love that Onie Wheeler song. That melody--the way it resolves to the fifth below the one?

PM: Oh yeah. It may be my favorite tune on the record.

TA: It's such a cool melody. All of those fifths and fourths and stuff. I just thought that might sound really cool given some kind of droney or atmospheric treatment.

PM: Yeah, 'cause it's got a modally nature melodically. That one's just amazing. It's cool that two of the ones you brought to him were ones he ended up using. And your vocals, they are superb on the record.

TA: Thanks. Conrad gets props for that too, because he's a really good engineer.

PM: What's he using--what kind of a microphone did he have on you?

TA: Aw, I don't know, man, I don't know anything about microphones. I don't know anything about that stuff. I just show up. [laughs]

PM: But he really put it to tape in a way that impressed you?

TA: Yeah. He did a great job recording my voice. That's part of why it sounds so good, he recorded it in a way that really picked up the nuances or whatever.

PM: How did you feel about how the whole project turned out?

TA: It's a cool record. One song I really love is that instrumental, "Wade In The Water." That one really turned out great. Yeah, it's a cool record, I hope it does real well for him.

PM: I think it's going to get some attention.

TA: It already has. It's already starting to. I hope it does real well for Conrad. He's a real nice guy.

PM: And I hope it pushes all the co-creators further out there, brings everyone a little more attention.

TA: Well, it's already--I mean, I'm talkin' to you. [laughs] continue

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