RIFFS / Singer and writer Jackson Browne on Mark Curry's 'Musta Been Joe'

Click to follow
CURRY seems really literate, even though what he's talking about is pretty blue-collar. It's about somebody having dug up the remains of a dog. They've left it out in the street, and the narrator is watching the cars driving over it again and again. 'It must have been Joe that dug up the dog,' he sings. It just evokes a desperate scene, and a way of life. It sounds like biker, working-class California, somewhere like Sacramento or Santa Anna. The imagery is compelling, and yet it's not really clear what's going on.

It's a medium tempo number with a great progression; it opens with a guitar hook that sounds like it's orchestrated - it's not riffing, it's a beautiful melody line that doesn't occur again. The bass just plays eighths, and the drums are playing two and four on the snare. Further into the song there's a really sad guitar line, it's turbulent and dark, and his voice has a desperate quality. It makes me wonder - who was Joe? Another dog? Who would throw a dog around? It must be about a certain desperate time in someone's life. I like the line 'It smelled like death, / So I took a deep breath. . .'

When the guy talks about the girl who's left him, it's like he's writing a letter to her. He doesn't say why she's gone away. Your heart goes out to him.

Mark Curry is playing acoustic guitar with a pick-up, which is not a great sound to record. He obviously went for the live vocal and didn't worry about miking up the guitar. So instead of overdubbing, you get music of the moment.

'Musta Been Joe' is on Mark Curry's It's Only Time (Virgin America, CDVUS490)

(Photograph omitted)