Rowland Salley

Rowland Salley


Singer and Songwriter of "Killing the Blues" recorded by Shawn Colvin and also by John Prine. Longtime bass player for Chris Isaak.


Rowland Salley grew up in the Mississippi River Valley area in the State of Illinois. He was introduced to the piano and to music in general by his grandmother. At the age of ten he was playing the French horn and within a few years had switched to bass. Radio broadcasts from Chicago and other Midwestern stations allowed him to hear music ranging from Steven Foster to country, blues and rock and roll, all styles that have found their way into his musical foundation. By the age of sixteen he had taken an interest in simple direct songs and began to write some of his own, an interest which has held forth to the present.

His "Killing the Blues" was recorded by John Prine on his "Pink Cadillac" album and also by Shawn Colvin on her "Cover Girl" album. "Killing the Blues" was also voted by Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle as one of 2005's Top Ten Songs.

His career as a musician includes Maria Muldaur, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin, Ian and Sylvia, Bobbie Gentry, Joan Baez and many others.

Today Rowland is recognized as the long standing bassist with "Chris Isaak and Silvertone". That group shot their Showtime television series "The Chris Isaak Show" for three consecutive seasons in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this environment "off the road", Rowland recorded a dozen original songs on a new record called "Killing the Blues". In addition to singing, he plays bass, guitar, and ukulele on this collection of songs with a classic backing band.

In addition to being a musician, Rowland has drawn and painted all his life. He takes his easel with him when the band is on the road and goes where ever he can to paint as often as he can. "It's like crop rotation when I finally get the chance to paint. There's often plenty to do musically and there always comes a time when it is time to balance one with the other" he says. "Watercolor is the perfect medium for traveling because it dries fast and it's portable."


Killing the Blues

Written By: Rowland Salley

leaves were falling
down like embers,
in colors red and gold,
they set us on fire
Burning just like a moonbeam
in our eyes.
somebody said they saw me
swinging the world by the tail,
bouncing over a white cloud
and killing the blues.

now i am guilty
of something
i hope you never do
because there is nothing
sadder than losing
yourself in a love.
somebody said they saw me
swinging the world by the tail,
bouncing over a white cloud
killing the blues.

for then you ask me
just to leave you,
to run out on my own
and get what i need to.
you want me to find
what i've already had.
somebody said they saw me
swinging the world by the tail,
bouncing over a white cloud
killing the blues.
yeah somebody said they saw me
i was swinging the world by the tail
bouncing over a white cloud
killing the blues.


Written By: Rowland Salley

now will i grow up to be twenty
or only nineteen,
or does it make a difference because of all the stuff i've seen?
i really loved that girl,
i don't care what you say.
how you gonna speak for me unless you've lives my days?
man unless you lived my days,
oh unless you've lived my days.

i'm going through the motions until the sun goes down.
i don't go to sleep at night
i just go driving 'round.
pick any direction
and i drive my car.
wind up in a field of corn before i get too far.
yeah before i get too far
oh before i get too far,
yeah before i get too far,
i guess i ain't a-going too far.

i can't even remember,
now what did i need?
the only thing shaking in my town tonight is a tumbleweed.
a tumbleweed,
there goes another tumbleweed.

man i was mistaken
about the stuff i own.
'til i lost my baby one day
in a big cyclone.
we really ain't got nothing in this world that we're born into except the time and the power to make a couple of dreams come true
yeah a couple of dreams come true
oh . . . make the dreams come true
just a couple dreams come true.

i can't even remember,
now what did i need?
when the only thing shaking in my town tonight is a tumbleweed.
a tumbleweed.
yeah a tumbleweed
oh there's a tumbleweed.
shaking is a tumbleweed.
oh another tumbleweed
yeah another tumbleweed
ooo a tumbleweed
there goes another tumbleweed.

Sugar Blues

Written By: Rowland Salley

i was walking with my baby one night.
we were out there stepping in the pale moonlight.
i told her "honey. you are looking so good, sweet enough to tear down any neighborhood, and it ain't no telling what the kid might do if something gets between us and i get the sugar blues."

when he made the world it took him seven days.
then he made somebody from a piece of clay,
set him on the ground and give the world a spin
but there wasn't nothing shaking 'til the sugar went in.
now it still goes pretty much according to who's got the sugar/who's got the sugar blues.

i was sleeping in my baby's bed.
i had a riddle running through my head:
the more you taste this stuff the more you need.
it's stopping you dead while you're still picking up speed.
what feeds you while it makes you hungry too?
i know the answer. it's the sugar blues.

down on lovers' lane where all the sweethearts go,
juliet put the question to romeo.
she said, "hey. hey mister. how'd you get so sweet? and do you want to climb around to my back seat?"
romeo said "no i'm staying up here with you
'cause any place without you, babe, gives me the sugar blues."

working in a field of cane,
he heard the whistle of the sugar train.
he was tired of hanging around
waiting for a ride downtown.
he jumped the train just to ride the blind
headed for the sugar blues
someplace down the line.

i was talking to my baby one night.
we were standing in the pale moonlight.
"honey honey honey now you're looking so good,
sweet enough to tear down any neighborhood."
she said "extra! extra! ain't you got the news? you don't get the sugar, boy, without the sugar blues."


2003 Album: "Killing the Blues"

Set List

30-60 minute set of songs selected from Rowland Salley's "Killing the Blues" album.