Linda McRae

Linda McRae

 Kingston Springs, Tennessee, USA
SoloFolkAmericana

On banjo, guitar and accordion Linda McRae's warm and world-weary voice, unforgettable melodies and thought-provoking lyrics, make her a captivating and sought-after artist. Linda has performed in venues as diverse as Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre and New Folsom Prison, where she performs and facilitates writing workshops for the inmates. These experiences lead to the creation of her Express Yourself Writing Workshops currently being presented in youth and adult correctional facilities.

Biography

New Folsom Prison provides starting point for new Linda McRae album 

  

California’s Folsom State Prison occupies a hallowed place in the history of country music. As the location of several Johnny Cash performances and the subject of his song “Folsom Prison Blues,” it has become a symbol of the “outlaw” element of outlaw country. Now, some 60 years after Cash first put it on the map, the California State Prison complex has had a transformational impact on another country roots musician: Canada’s Linda McRae. 

  

  

After answering a call to host a song-writing workshop at New Folsom in 2011, McRae and her husband, James Whitmire, were moved to develop song-writing workshops for at-risk youth – to try and prevent them from ending up behind bars in the first place. Her new, Steve Dawson-produced album, Shadow Trails, is inspired by that work. 


Though perhaps best-known for her eight-year tenure as a member of the platinum-selling band Spirit of the West, Linda McRae had already raised a daughter and performed for more than ten years with west coast punk and roots outfits before joining Spirit. In fact, the band members were regulars at shows by her previous roots rock band, Terminal City. She joined Spirit in 1988 and is heard prominently on two of its most famous and enduring songs, “Home for a Rest” and “If Venice is Sinking.” In 1995, she and the band performed and recorded with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and released the resulting recording, Open Heart Symphony.The following year, she left the Spirit to launch a solo career and has been charting at folk and roots radio ever since. 

  

  

In 2006, McRae found love and much more with James Whitmire, a retired American rancher who had recently discovered his voice as a poet, and who put his skills to work trying to woo her. He told her he’d move wherever she dreamed of living, so the couple settled in Nashville, and Whitmire – who she pays tribute to on the album with the song “My Man” – became her manager, collaborator, and constant source of moral support while she’s out on the road. A recovered addict, who’s been clean for more than 25 years, Whitmire has life experience that many incarcerated individuals and at-risk youth relate to, and that has helped the couple build trusting connections through their therapeutic song-writing workshops. 

  

  

That work, in turn, has inspired McRae, whose new album is chalk-full of raw, honest reflections on hardship delivered with a rough-hewn authenticity. 

  

Lyrics

Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts

Written By: L. McRae/A. Mader

I’m starved for affection don’t strive for perfection
just someone to catch me should I fall
the band’s finished playing outside it’s still raining
I look around and there’s no one at all

CH Rough edges and ragged hearts
come together just to fall apart
where living is a dying art
rough edges and ragged hearts

My ears are ringing when I wake next morning
the phone in it’s cradle is silent as hell
but maybe this evening I’ll find redemption
dancing with the demons that I know so well

CH Rough edges and ragged hearts
come together just to fall apart
where living is a dying art
rough edges and ragged hearts

I’ll wear my scars like a well-worn dance floor
I’ll wear my hair up so I can stand tall
the music surrounds me like the arms of a lover
just because my world spins does it mean I must fall

Single file, ladies chain, bend the line, promenade
roll away, half sashay, you turn back, separate

CH Rough edges and ragged hearts
come together just to fall apart
where living is a dying art
rough edges and ragged hearts

Be Your Own Light

Written By: L. McRae

This world is dark, no walk in the park
just like Noah and his ark you’ve got to be your own light
you’ve got to have faith when you can’t tell night from day
when you can’t find a way to keep the thieves at bay
you’ve got to be your own light

Chorus There's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
you’ve got to be your own light

If your vote’s not counted you can’t drink from that fountain no
you’ve got to climb that mountain so you can see your light
go out and make some noise when you find you’ve got no choice
put down your toys the world needs your voice
and it sure could use your light

Chorus There's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
you’ve got to be your own light

Live your life the way you wanna among the flora & the fauna
tell lies if you’re gonna and watch what happens to your light
then when you meet your maker as a giver or a taker
you won’t be thrown in the baker if you be your own light

Chorus There's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
there's no doubt about it
you’ve got to be your own light

You won’t be thrown in the baker when you meet your maker
If you be your own light

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Written By: L. McRae

Who momma who
is the old woman living in a shoe?
so many children she doesn’t know what to do
who momma who?
she feeds them broth but hasn’t any bread
she whips them soundly, sends them to bed
doesn’t she love her babies like you do?
Who is she momma? Who?

What momma what
makes the wind blow in the treetop?
when the wind blows the cradle will rock
what momma what?
when the bough breaks the cradle will fall
down will come baby, cradle and all
what makes the wind blow why doesn’t it stop?
What is it momma? What?

Where momma where
shall I wander because someone’s waiting there?
In his lady’s chamber up and down the stairs
where momma where?
he met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers
he took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs
I don’t like these stories they're making me scared
Where is he momma? Where?

Why momma why
were 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie?
sing a song of sixpence and a pocket full of rye
why momma why?
When the pie was opened and the birds began to sing
wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king
but when the pie was opened I know I would have cried
wouldn’t they have died? Why?
Wouldn’t they have died? Momma why?

Three Midnights

Written By: Linda McRae / James Whitmire

I bought a house with no windows
it’s crumbling and showing scars
built on a street called Misery
where everything I touched fell apart
a house not fit for man nor beast
where no one ever really wants to stay
couched with shame, so unforgiving
a place you own, but never give away

I bought a house by lying and stealing
black as the poison in my veins
I spent all my pride and got back no change
soaked to the bone with years of pain
I thought my house was so unique
and that I held the only key
but that key so many times been sold
unlocks the door to purgatory

Oh Lord give me back my sanity,
my home my family, lord give me light (Chorus)

And now my house is vacant
within it walls lies my past grief
so if you walk by and it catches your eye
keep on walking it don’t come cheap
for it’s a house made of fire and brimstone
and the souls that have gone before
nightmares in the basement, sorrow in the attic
and it’s darker than 3 midnights in a jar

Oh Lord give me back my sanity, my home my family
lord give me light oh lord I fell down on my knees
I asked and I received now I see the light

Geppetto's Boy

Written By: Linda McRae / James Whitmire

I’m a real live girl not a marionette
the boy I love’s my greatest joy
Don’t tell lies, if you tell lies my momma said
your nose will grow like Geppetto’s boy

When I am with my love and even in my dreams
he’ll hear the truth in my voice
I am flesh & blood & when I fall I bleed
a real far cry from a wooden toy

Geppetto made his boy with love and with wood
yet root and branch it was destroyed
my love’s made of truth and all things good
I won’t end up like Geppetto’s boy

I’m not a puppet I don’t come with strings
without strings true love can last for life
I will give my heart as I take the ring
that joins us as husband and wife

Geppetto made his boy with love and with wood
yet root and branch it was destroyed
but my love’s made of truth and all things good
I won’t end up like Geppetto’s boy

Flowers of Appalachia

Written By: Linda McRae,Ken Blackburn

This is a demo for my upcoming recording for Borealis Records and is only available for the purposes of Sonicbids Applications.

I co-wrote this song with an inmate at California's New Folsom Prison. Ken wrote the lyric and I wrote the music. Ken is 73 years old and is serving life without parole. I gotten to know Ken through my participation in the Arts and Corrections Program at New Folsom and have created a writing workshop Express Yourself Writing Workshops as a direct result of my involvement there. In 2014 I have partnered with the follow organizations and will be giving the workshop as part of their community outreach programs: Folk Alliance International (MO), Vancouver Island Music Festival (BC), PlainSong Festival (NE), South Country Fair (AB), Waterton Opera House (AB), and Harvest Sun Festival (MB). For more information please see http://lindamcrae.com/workshops. Thank you.

The Flowers of Appalachia L. McRae/ K. Blackburn

Wood-smoked winter mornings lay heavy on my mind
Memories of paradise and the life I left behind
But the music of the mountains still makes my heart content
And the flowers of Appalachia
Still have the sweetest scent

When I looked though eyes of youth my world was black and white
But looking through the eyes of age I see I wasn’t right
But the music of the mountains still makes y heart content
And the flowers of Appalachia
Still have the sweetest scent

I longed for the city life for the rhythm of its streets
Now I long to be back home I’m gettin’ travelin’ feet
But the music of the mountains still makes my heart content
And the flowers of Appalachia
Still have the sweetest scent

I’ll limb up on old Piney Top and have a look around
I’ll fill my lungs with mountain air and make a joyful sound
But the music of the mountains still makes y heart content
And the flowers of Appalachia
Still have the sweetest scent

And when I’ve run my final race and darkness seals my eyes
Just lay my bones beneath a stone and mark it “here he lies”
Where the music of the mountains still makes his heart content
And the flowers of Appalachia
Still have the sweetest scent

Love Is A Game

Written By: Willie P. Bennett

This is an unreleased Willie P. Bennett song and until it's release is only available as part of the application process here at Sonicbids.

The song will appear on my upcoming release for Borealis Records as well as the Willie P. Bennett Legacy Project being presented at this year's Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, MO.

Love is a Game Nobody Wins Willie P. Bennett

Love is a game nobody wins
risk your self-respecting heart
And gain an everlasting shame
It can break your will
if you don’t let go of the shame
Nobody wins
When love is a game
Nobody wins

When love is a game nobody wins
The deck is stacked against you
The fix is already in
You may think you’re holding all the cards
But you’d better think again (minor)
Nobody wins
When love is a game
Nobody wins

Bad Girl, Bad Boy

Written By: L. McRae,M.C. Hansen, M.C. Hansen

This was recorded live at Hillbilly Haiku in 2014. This song will be re-recorded and featured on Linda's upcoming Borealis Release. This is for Sonicbids applications only.

Well, I was watching Cops one night
Everett and Audrey had a mean old fight
She hit him so hard poor Everett he was seein’ double
When the sheriff asked “hey what’s happened here?”
Beer-bellied Everett put down his beer & he whined
“Hey man, she hit me on the head with a shovel!”

Bad Girl, Bad Boy, what ya gonna do, how you gonna avoid
all the trouble you’re finding yourselves in
Bad Boy, Bad Girl, what ya gonna do, you’re head’s awhirl
will you stick it out through thick and thin?

Well, Audrey caught Everett with her best friend Fran
She didn’t take kindly to seein’ that
Fran r-u-n-n-o-f-t- like a varmint down a rabbit hole
Well fortunately she couldn’t find her gun
Everett was so stunned he couldn’t run
All she could find was a big ole’ honkin’ hoe
(shovel didn’t rhyme)

Bad Girl, Bad Boy, what ya gonna do, how you gonna avoid
all the trouble you’re finding yourselves in
Bad Boy, Bad Girl, what ya gonna do, you’re head’s awhirl
will you stick it out through thick and thin?

Shoveladydeeay, Shovelooodeo Shovelaydeaydelodeodeldeaydelodelodelady

Now Audrey and Everett they’re happy as clams
She wouldn’t press charges against her man
Cause hey, it was Audrey who struck the first blow
every Monday night they watch Cop re-runs
and now whenever their show comes on
they’re celebrities at the local Wal-Mart store (bring holy water)

Bad Girl, Bad Boy, what ya gonna do, how you gonna avoid
all the trouble you’re finding yourselves in
Bad Boy, Bad Girl, what ya gonna do, you’re head’s awhirl
will you stick it out through thick and thin

Yodel
what ya gonna do when they come for you?