The five-piece Redwood Honey was discovered by Eddie Money, but don’t hold that against them. All kidding aside, though, this was a big break, as Money took the group on a tour of the United States. The band is a self-described Americana act, and they create good, honest American music.
“Six Strings & Me” is taken from the album Wandering Mind, and it’s the autobiography of a traveling musician – the ‘six strings’ in the song’s title refers to his guitar. At one point, the singer relates how he’s been playing live since he was sixteen. But if you look at the quintet’s publicity photo, they do not appear to be old, grizzled rock & rollers. Instead, they look young and fresh-faced.
The song begins with sparse instrumentation and a vocal. The lyric talks about starting out young, growing his hair long and music being the only thing he can do well. He also sings about not being able to change for another. Just as Waylon and Willie, with “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” advised, “Make ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such,” this guy has probably been told to ‘get a real job’ at time or two. However, this music thing is not just a phase; it’s a calling.
The song is built around a twangy guitar part that’s part country, part America-like soft-rock. When the vocalist sings about “these six strings and me,” it comes off as a kind of musical manifesto. It’s him and his guitar against the world, at times. It certainly must feel that way when times are tough. Colin Meloy (of the Decemberists) tells a story of when this now-popular band was first starting out. The group played a show at some bar somewhere in Wyoming where there was just the band and one patron in the audience. Meloy must have felt a bit like his guitar was his only friend right then. This gets to the myth of overnight success. Sure, the movies make it appear as though bands make it big, seemingly overnight, but the truth is far less optimistic. Redwood Honey knows the road is going to be rough.
That rough road means that even wonderful women, ones that don’t fully comprehend the sacrifice in making it as a rock and roll band, sometimes must be left behind. He tells a girl here he can’t change his calling for her. Therefore, his guitar must be his best friend for a while.
In addition to this song’s nice, country-influenced guitar work, this track also features some pretty, yet subtle, piano on it. The recording also includes nice harmony vocals.
“I didn’t sell this soul for nothing,” the singer sings at one point. He may be exaggerating; Robert Johnson, the blues singer, is the only documented artist to sell his soul for musical talent. Nevertheless, it must feel like that at times. Redwood Honey sounds ready to make any all sacrifices for success, or they wouldn’t be singing about. Let’s hope it’s worth it.