Deborah Crooks

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Track 6: The Department of the West
Track 6 finds me circling back on the story of a family dispute over a piece of land, how family and American, history played into this generation’s dealings, my understanding reframed, having reconsidered the mythology around several ancestors, including purported, multiple-great grandfather George Washington Crook, whose tintype portrait and Civil War rifle hung in our living room when I was growing up. One of the many war (and Civil War) veterans in my family tree, he may or may not have been the same Gen. George W Crook whose claim to fame was having fought with Custer in the Civil Way and whose career in the military was mostly about Indian Wars....
Chorus: "Here we stand but this land was never ours /No matter who spoke truth or who lied/Settled scores, this land was never ours/In a war there are always two sides"

"Department of the West" by Deborah Crooks 

Recorded and mixed by Maryam Qudus at Tiny Telephone, San Francisco

Mastered by Piper Payne at Infrasonic Sound

Acoustic guitar, vocals: Deborah Crooks

Electric guitars, backing vocals: Danny Allen

Bass: Kevin T. White

Drums: Mike Stevens

 

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A post shared by Deborah Crooks (@deborahrcrooks) on Oct 26, 2019 at 6:02pm PDT

 

Join me in recognizing all music creators who work #BehindTheRecord, an initiative to #GiveCredit where credit is due! These are the amazing people behind the album The Department of the West (Dec 6, 2019), thank you all! Let's celebrate creators who work behind the scenes & bring music credits back. #WeAreMusic @recordingacademy

 Track 5: “A Garden”
This tune wasn’t going to be on the record—it wasn’t even in its present form—when I first went into the studio to work on The Department of the West last January. But midway through rehearsals, Kevin asked if I had more songs, commenting that perhaps we’d get through the 10 I had on deck quickly, and we’d have studio time left over for something else.
So I went home and looked through my papers, and found a draft of this song from 2010, written while pit-stopping at a friend’s place in Santa Fe, NM, just before I was set to fly to India for a couple months.
It was a time of adventure and living lightly: I’d pared my possessions down so I was was ready to make such moves at a moment’s notice. No pets, no full-time job, no long lease, no significant other.
In truth, the apparent carefree grooviness of my lifestyle masked a lot of my fear and disappointment.

It was a time of change and adventure ...and of feeling perpetually heartbroken.
Flash-forward nearly 10 years, and I found the first draft of the song had a lot of feeling...but it wasn’t quite there. Moreover, I now had a different perspective on the emotions that led to the lyric in the first place...and more compassion for the broken parts of we humans and inevitable messiness of life that often keep us apart from those we love. So I changed up the chorus, revised the bridge, Kwame suggested a chord change, and it became something new.
That said, the first lines, inspired by the big star-studded night sky of New Mexico, remain intact:
“there are different ways to read the stars/those that are near and those that are far/watch them shoot across the sky/I wonder where you are?”
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“A Garden” by Deborah Crooks, track 5 on The Department of the West.

Look for an audio preview later this week!

Between now and it’s official release day, I’ll be sharing a bit of the inspiration and backstory for each song on The Department of the West (December 6, 2019), and a preview of the recording.

Pre-order the record -http://www.deborahcrooks.com/the_department_of_the_west/ - and I’ll send you the featured song of the week of your order.

I grew up across the road from an apple orchard and a quarter mile from an avocado and kiwi farmer. We also had our own ragtag orchard of sorts: an apricot tree, a cherry tree, pear, walnut, persimmon, lemon, several apple trees as well as some scraggly grapes and a tangle of blackberries.
Some years you were lucky to get a few pieces from any one tree or bush but something was always producing a good crop. And what we didn’t grow ourselves we’d often get in exchange for our honey. (In college, living away from home for the first time, I was miffed to learn people actually bought fruit!)
My dad tended five beehives and we always had more honey than we could possibly eat ourselves.
When I was 11 or 12, I can’t quite remember, the grassy, sloping, until-then-undeveloped acreage next door was subdivided. Soon after, my dad went to check on the hives to find they’d been stolen.
The theft of the hives marked a big turn in my home life which I’ve tried to write about in a lot of different ways. I had a lyric about that time sitting around for several months when @kwamecopeland and I went to Joshua Tree to work on music:
“dreaming of bees/honey on the comb/the way they swarmed and flew on their way home/one big whir/queen and drone/making honey....”
When he brought me some music one day that I thought would be a good fit, voila, “Honey” the song was fully realized!
Between now and it’s official release day, I’ll be sharing a bit of the inspiration and backstory for each song on The Department of the West (December 6, 2019), and a preview of the recording. Pre-order the record HERE and I’ll send you the featured song of the week of your order!

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