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100 Summers

by James Lee Baker

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    CD comes as a hardcover-style book with a 48-page, full-color perfect-bound booklet etched in gold leaf. The booklet contains stories about the songs, artwork, and descriptions of the artwork.

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1.
100 Summers 03:47
I don't daydream about being a rich man To pay the bills and keep my passions alive I don't need a thousand friends who don’t know me To make me think I've had a good life I don't long for how I haven't lived yet Or for the home that I haven't quite made All I really have is the gift of today So why would I give that away? If I could have one wish It would be to live A life full of meaning and wonder For a hundred summers There's not some bucket list folded in my wallet Burning a hole in the pocket of my dreams Yes, there are things I would like to experience But without them I will still feel complete And while I love you more than I’ve loved anyone And I would give my life to spare yours You have your own desires and I have mine We've our own trials and sorrows to endure If I could have one wish It would be to live A life full of meaning and wonder For a hundred summers Our children run around and giggle in the front yard On a day that brought sunshine and thunder I’m sipping your homemade peach iced tea Dodging water balloons and sunburns If I could have one wish It would be to live A life full of meaning and wonder If given wealth untold I would trade it all Just to have these moments so tender For a hundred summers
2.
You first international flight To a place that you have never been To meet a woman, kind and fair From a gentle, peculiar land You thought you went there to find your darling, eternal lover But little did you realize It was yourself that you would discover A feeling in your gut You refer to divine intuition A sudden urge to walk away But you insisted that you take this mission Like a thirsty, stubborn mule You didn't listen and you never do Eager to fill a void inside Determined to see this through There are angels on the other side And you believed they were your guides Telling you that she was not the one But all they were trying to do Was protect her from you She would greet you at the gate With her arms stretched open wide How could she have known what you'd do In the seven years that would pass by When your eyes met at last It was in that moment that you knew That you did not belong to her And she did not belong to you There are angels on the other side And you believed they were your guides Telling you that she was not the one But all they were trying to do Was protect her from you One foot in and one foot out Cataloging her every flaw Half your heart was full of doubt From keeping track of them all You lay alone in bed at night Surprised she showed no grief When she up and disappeared Now all you want is some relief
3.
I said farewell to San Francisco At the cusp of spring and summertime I’m following the winding slopes Down the 101 to Anaheim She kept the house, gave me the car She wouldn't drive the hills of the city streets So I packed my things and I headed south I had to get the hell out of North Beach When the freeway met the ocean And the ocean met the setting sun I felt the page of my story turn As the road merged into Highway 1 Santa Barbara I have come to hear your mission bells ring To feel the warm sand on my feet And the balmy Pacific breeze On my skin I'm here to start a new life again You were a treasure chest of the Gold rush Once a dangerous and lawless place A bandit and a gambler’s haven Found in the spoils to these United States Your tragedies, they redefined you Like a phoenix quickened in the hills Rebirthed from the ashes of Earthquakes, wildfires and oil spills And I am nestled in the bosom Of your Santa Ynez mountainside Cradled in your June Gloom fog That looks like a blanket from the outside Santa Barbara I have come to hear your mission bells ring To feel the warm sand on my feet And the balmy Pacific breeze On my skin I'm here to start a new life again
4.
Hey, it's Rick from the band I’m sitting here at home I thought I’d check in Could you pick up the phone? It’s been a few months now and I know your life has changed You and I, we haven’t spoken since Holly passed away I came to realize Since my heart attack in April I need to do what I love as long as I am able so I’m giving you a call to see how you'd feel About getting the band together for a meal You could wipe the dust off the bellows I’ll string up my guitar We'll play the "Alligator Waltz" or Buckwheat's "Back into your Arms" Life is one big performance and we are the stars so wipe the dust off the bellows Please come play your part Back in the day The ladies called you "the squeeze"? Cause you'd steal a girl’s heart When your fingers touched the keys. But the only woman you fancied All the boys wanted too Thank God she had the moxie to propose to you (Instrumental of chorus) I think of her smile in the front row And if Holly were here today I know that she’d want you To take the keys out and play But I’m running out of tape On your answering machine So give me a call back When you’re free You could wipe the dust off the bellows and play "The King of Zydeco" I’ll take the harmony And you can break out your solo Life is one big performance and we are the stars So wipe the dust off your bellows And come play your part Wipe the dust off the bellows of your heart
5.
I can see the runway lights We’ve returned to Paris one last time It's been ten years to hell and through Since our wide-eyed, red-eyed rendezvous We were so impulsive then Unbridled, no regret, no discontent Two vows made, one just in case This didn’t work out we’d come back to this place The young lovers here don’t know what they do There's this hunger in their eyes that reminds me of you and I We have come to the city of love to say goodbye For so long I believed this day would never arrive But here we are looking down at all these lights while ours is going out On our backs on Champ de Mars In the dying grass underneath the stars The clock strikes twelve, the bell tolls As the Eiffel tower glints and glows We booked flights on separate planes Threw our wedding rings into the Seine cut our lock off the Pont des Arts And we said our final au revoir Walking back to my room I tried not to picture you crossing bridges all alone Uncertain where it all went wrong We have come to the city of love to say goodbye For song long I believed this day would never arrive But here we are looking up at all these lights While ours is going out
6.
Looking in the mirror At the grey hairs on my face I can still remember The younger man who didn’t have to shave Now the manager that I work for Who’s younger than me The one who signs my paycheck At the end of the week I was a new world man in the days of old now i’m an old world man in a new man’s world Now I can’t follow the new slang Or even keep up with my phone Technology connects us all Together but we’re more alone The videos, the TV Only telling bad news While outside the sun’s still shining In a sky of blue I was a new world man in the days of old now i’m an old world man in a new man’s world There’s safety in the shadows Of the cynical and afraid As the world around me changes With every passing day But there’s always a choice Between fear and love So I’ll embrace the changes When they come I was a new world man in the days of old now i’m an old world man in a new man’s world
7.
18 wheeler, without a trailer 17 minutes past the hour 16 miles to our front door And then I'll hang these keys up for awhile 15 years since we settled down 14 of them spent on the road 13 year old baby girl Just aching to get out on her own I’m coming home The miles keep rolling on the dashboard I’m coming home I watch the second hand turn slowly around the face of the clock I’m coming home I count the days, I count the hours Until I'm finally with the one I love 12 sunflowers on the passenger’s seat Eleven year California wine I’m shifting down through ten gears As I pass the city limit sign I’m coming home The miles keep rolling on the dashboard I’m coming home I watch the second hand turn slowly around the face of the clock I’m coming home I count the days, I count the hours Until I'm finally with the one I love Exit Texas Highway 9 The 8-track playing Fleetwood Mac’s Seven Wonders There’s all of these numbers It’s like I'm looking out there for a sign Telling me that it’s time I come home to you I come home to you Six cold beers, five o'clock news Four more smokes left in the pack Three square meals with two sweethearts I'm one lucky man who's glad to be back I’m coming home The miles keep rolling on the dashboard I’m coming home I watch the second hand turn slowly around the face of the clock I’m coming home I count the days, I count the hours Until I'm finally with the one I love
8.
A corporate chain of grocery stores Settled into town Ran specials every week drove the meat prices down The feed lots came next then the processing plants They offered better pay so the workers left the ranch This was one fence the herdsman couldn’t mend it seemed his time on the range Was coming to an end How could he bear to ride in a stockyard pin Confined by steel bars and concrete? Or raise a sharp young man to do the same then waller in old age and defeat? There are those who can never be tamed Like the stubborn last cowboy in Hutchinson county The machinist builds the gear drives That turns the water pumps around To pull the moisture from the earth from the outskirts of town That quench the fields of white corn For the harvest ahead To fatten the Longhorn steers And make a damn good loaf of bread Wrapped in a burlap rag Cut from the sack that held the corn Tucked in the satchel of the herdsman From whom the machinist was born These are changing times for a dying breed And for the only son of a simple man Who cut the teeth of his dreams on books and magazines And a world wide web in his hand Such a future is too bright for him to see He's the son of the last cowboy in Hutchinson county At 6am the shift bell rings the machinist leaves the shop Hangs his safety hat on the rack and punches the time clock Rolls the windows down of his four-door sedan at the edge of the parking lot to let some fresh air in In the patience of the twilight A restlessness ensues That the hum of the power lines and the street lights can’t subdue It's a three mile drive through suburban streets The smell of feedlots fill the air And everyone at home is sound asleep Except an old weathered man in his chair The machinist pours some coffee to drink and sits with the last cowboy from Hutchinson county
9.
Do you suppose that the Son of Man knew That he had no doubts about what to do Did he lay awake paralyzed By second thoughts of his own demise Between Crusades and the inquisitions The indigenous slain through Spanish missions All of it done in his name Would all he’d preach be heard in vain? Even if he was perfect in every way You don't have to be a sinner to feel afraid Let’s go down to the river Cast our nets into the water We can catch us some dinner And leave the saving souls for later In a two-piece, pinstriped suit and tie With the morning's sleep still in your eyes You part the bible like Moses and the sea So many lives left to set free While the camera sits on the shelf Next to a portrait of the Lord himself Your children play in the yard Forging memories and earning scars We are made from the dust upon the earth And to that dust we will return So let us go to the river Cast our nets into the water We can catch us some dinner And save the saving of souls for later The good word, it does not change Doesn’t come and go and doesn’t age Doesn’t long to make someone proud Then disappear into the crowd Will you lay your yoke down and come with me For soon you’ll be just a memory Let us go to the river Cast our nets into the water We can catch us some dinner And save the saving of souls for later
10.
Some nights I dream that I am falling From a window down to the street Trying to grab hold of something While I’m breaking through the sunbeams And wishing that I was still asleep I'm woken up by screaming in the darkness On a bunk bed that feels like concrete In the barracks of the Army In Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri A drill sergeant calls us to our feet He yells “what makes the green grass grow, soldiers?” “Blood! Bright red blood!”, we shout back In only eight weeks We’ll be killing machines But there’s no green gras in Iraq (Chorus) I think a lot about that September morning I watched the whole thing unfold on the news While co-workers and friends All met their end I was sick at home with the flu So I handed in my two-week notice I knew exactly what I had to do I mustered up the courage And I stepped out of the brokerage And into a pair of boots (Chorus)
11.
On the 6th day of creation God put Adam in a slumber Took a rib from his side To create another From his side he did take Not from his head or feet So that in his garden of Eden equals they would be An eternal life in paradise All was perfect, all was right No worries and no strife Until she took was just one bite Then sin cast them out with shame And somewhere along the way In the thorny, ragged briars She received the blame If Eve hadn't eaten the Apple Would we know the name of the wife of Cain or the widow who gladly gave her mite oh, if Eve hadn't taken a bite? The apostle Paul once said For every woman on this Earth There is a god-fearing man that should be the head of her But even the proudest of men Were all once sucklings on a breast Helpless, safe in a mother's love Heartbeat to heartbeat, chest to chest (Instrumental) Oppression comes from fear and fear comes from survivalism Survivalism is just ego Ego is just a prison For our daughters and our mothers Sisters and our lovers They are all and have always been our equals Oh, if Eve hadn't eaten the Apple Would we know the name of the wife of Cain or the widow who gladly gave her mite oh, if Eve hadn't taken a bite?

about

With his stunning new album 100 Summers, James Lee Baker reaffirms the fact that he’s one of the most gifted singers and songwriters on Americana’s musical horizons. Recorded in one-take recordings at Blue Rock Studios in Wimberly, Texas, 100 Summers finds Baker working with an exceptional group of collaborators — among them, Chris Bell (the man behind the boards for the Eagles, Don Henley and Christopher Cross), Doug Pettibone (John Mayer, Jewel, Lucinda Williams), Roscoe Beck (Leonard Cohen, Eric Johnson), Paul Simon’s Grammy winning accompanist Joel Guzman, Americana Songwriter of the Year nominee Mark Erelli, and Laurie MacAllister from the famed folk group Red Molly.

“I elected to record at the most appropriate studio I could find, with the best session players I could afford and the right engineers for the genre,” Baker reflects. “I aimed to give this everything I had in hopes that people who are seeking it can receive it.”

Indeed, his efforts paid off. Brandishing an easy and accessible folk-rock sound, Baker traces echoes of Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Tom Rush, and any number of other tenured balladeers whose narratives found a universal bond. Not surprisingly then, the album’s flush with soothing melodies — the title track, “Misinterpreting the Angels,” “Wipe the Dust Off Your Bellows,” and “Returning to Paris,” among the many — and melodies so soothing and stirring, they find calm even in the midst of confusion.

At the same time, the message that accompanies the music rings with reassurance and resolve, stocked with emotions that strike a universal chord. It’s poetry at its purest — tender, touching and flush with sweetness, sadness and sentiment in equal measure

“While traveling my journey, these songs came to life,” Baker says when asked about his inspiration. “I unknowingly was following the path of a centralized theme, that of change. It wasn’t until I was three quarters of the way through creating this album that I realized that each and every song touched on that central subject.”

He cites some specific examples. “‘Santa Barbara’ is about a divorce, but it’s also more about rebirth — the gift of a new identity that becomes your best persona yet as a result of the fact you’ve ceased to be your previous self. ‘The Last Cowboy in Hutchinson County’ is a rumination on how the world keeps evolving and either leaves us behind or forces us to adapt to the changes. ‘A New Man’s World’ offers advice on avoiding the pitfalls of cynicism, a mindset often seems to accelerate with age.”

So too, the new album caps a year of achievements. In 2019 alone, Baker scored a number of honors from several prestigious competitions. Two of his songs — “Returning to Paris” and “The Last Cowboy in Hutchinson County” —- qualified him as a finalist in The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival's Emerging Artists Contest. Those same two songs also found him a finalist in the Wildflower! festival as well. In addition, he was named a semi-finalist for the Unsigned Only songwriting contest. He also qualified as a 2019 Official Showcase Artist at the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (SWRFA). He toured extensively over the past two years, playing stages throughout the Southwest while opening for singer/songwriters Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert and becoming an established presence in the Folk Alliance community.

“What's the use of having a studio full of paintings if they are never taken out and showcased to the world?,” Baker explains. “Art must be judged, and it takes courage to be that vulnerable to the world. We all have a gift to give existence, regardless of what we do. It’s our contribution to the furthering and betterment of our species.”

James Lee started his journey with a pair of EPs -- 2011’s Something You’ve Left Behind and A Brilliant Defeat in 2014. He returned to recording in 2017 with the full length LP Home Again, utilizing the Fiverr platform to recruit session players from across the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Four of its songs were gleaned for a radio sampler titled The Canadian River EP. The title track charted at #23 on the Folk music charts and another, “Disappear for the Weekend,” was included on two compilations representing the best new music from current Texas singer/songwriters.

The album itself charted in several folk and roots-oriented publications, garnering over 400,000 streams on Soundcloud and Spotify. That led to a number of enthusiastic accolades from several industry journals, music publications and radio programmers. Billboard cited him as an Emerging Artist to watch while No Depression hailed him for his “heavenly voice and talent for writing deeply inspiring and intimately connective songs,” rounding out its review by saying that “to call him anything other than brilliant would be criminal.” Mobangeles raved, “To put it simply, James Lee Baker is going places -- fast -- and if I were a betting man I would wager everything I’ve got that by the time 2020 rolls around, he’s going to be one of the biggest and more lucrative players in this industry.”

“It’s still a challenging craft to be an artist, especially a songwriter,” Baker muses. “We take the emotions we feel, experiences we observe, and epiphanies we have and distill them into some form that is received by the masses. In order for people to be receptive to it, it needs to be relatable. At the same time, this now relatable product must hold a unique depth to it that is reserved for the esoteric place where the most profound beauty and poetry lies. A song must be as particular to one individual as it is universal to so many.”

Clearly then, Baker’s best efforts are still ahead of him, and with his new album, he’s an artist that will be well worth watching.

“How do I, as an artist, stand out in the crowd and bring something to the table that is worth the time of the listener?” Baker reflects philosophically. “That has been my quest and it has led me through countless voice lessons, songwriting critique sessions, retreats, workshops, prayers, and moments of self-reflection.”

With the shimmering 100 Summers, that quest continues.

— Lee Zimmerman

credits

released September 4, 2020

Produced by James Lee Baker & Chris Bell

Engineered and mixed by Chris Bell at Blue Rock Studios in Wimberley, Texas
If Eve Hadn’t Eaten the Apple recorded and mixed by Christopher J. Bloom at Sound Structure Studios in Denver, CO with additional recording by Neale Eckstein at Fox Run Studio in Sudbury, MA and Chris Rival at Middleville Studios in North Reading, Massachusetts

Mastered by Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering in Los Angeles, CA
Cover & Illustrations: Zulfikri Mokoagow
Photography: Delaney Gibson
Design: James Lee Baker

More information including performance dates and news can be found at: www.jamesleebaker.com

© 2020 James Lee Baker (BMI). All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

All songs written by James Lee Baker except:

Returning to Paris
written by James Lee Baker (BMI) & Paul Nelson (BMI)

A New Man’s World
written by James Lee Baker (BMI) & Robby Hecht (Old Man Henry Music, SESAC)

18-Wheeler (I’m Coming Home)
written by James Lee Baker (BMI), Aaron Hart (ASCAP), & Paul Nelson (BMI)

James Lee Baker: vocals, acoustic guitar
Matt Hubbard: mellotron, organ, harmonium, hurdy gurdy
Roscoe Beck: upright bass, electric bass
Doug Pettibone: electric guitar, dobro, pedal and lap steel
James Edward Baker: percussion, backing vocals
Joel Guzman: piano
Mark Erelli: backing vocals
Laurie MacAllister: backing vocals
Mary Margaret Dement: backing vocals
Javier Chaparro: fiddle
Kevin Barry: lap steel, electric
Craig Akin: electric bass
Molly Venter: electric bass

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