In the afternoon the sun shines in the glass door that separates the deck from the master bedroom. That beautiful environment is where I have always loved writing. Burn one and start playing. It doesn’t really matter what. Just play. Invariably something always shows up. A melody line, a lyric, and if I’m lucky both. If I’m really lucky I’ll remember it when, eventually, I ease back to reality. Such was the case with this song. I had come up with a groove I liked and a few words to go along with it but that’s where it ended. Just a lick, some words, and a few chords. I do remember I was thinking about Jan at the time.
Michael and I were working on songs for our “Shanghai” album and I would go down to Branson where he was living for regular writing sessions. It was always a good time but getting there could be a problem. He lives about three hours southwest of me and the spirits that look over old hippies weren’t always kind. The day before I was scheduled to take off seemed to be the day my car would conk out. That meant the bus to Springfield MO. It would head down I44 (old Route 66) which meant there would be a lot of people headed to LA. Usually, there would be a mom, often of Mexican heritage, with 2 or 3 children camped out in a couple of rows of seats. I was always amazed at how mom always seemed to keep it together and make the bus feel like home. That was always endearing but I would worry about them. I knew there could be criminals on the bus as well.
Writing The Song
Michael and I would usually start out finishing up the last thing we had worked on and go through the songs we had to date, polishing them as we went along. Then, after a break and some refreshments, start looking for something new. On this particular trip, I remembered the lick and the words that I had come up with in the bedroom a week earlier. It seemed to inspire Michael enough that he immediately started adding more words and chords to it and we were off. “Dance With A Lady.” For me it was a song about Jan. They always are. For Michael, it would have been Scarlett as I’m sure it always is. Two guys writing love songd, each with his own love in mind.
We were at a studio owned and operated by Lou Whitney, an old friend who was really the producer of the sessions. The band was made up of our old drummer and guitar player plus some Ozark Mountain Daredevils and other Springfield musician friends. We blew through the basic tracks in a couple of very long days and nights. To say it was fun would be an understatement. It was Celestial. On this particular song, everybody in the room started whooping when the last note was played.
The vocals and solos came next. While we had put down some “scratch vocals” when we were doing the tracks, it was now time to add the real thing. Singing to nearly finished tracks is always fun and this time we even added some “Sha La La La Las” for the heck of it. Not a very Brewer and Shipley thing to do but we did it anyway. And, after a few weeks, we had it. The album would be called “Shanghai” and was ready to be released.
I’ve always felt blessed to be able to work in multiple disciplines. Having been a television producer as well as a singer/songwriter and recording artist I have started putting some of our music to video. Doing so gives me an opportunity to further express the feelings I had as the original inspiration for a particular song fell upon me. I have done so with two new songs this past year and have just completed this one from our “Shanghai” album. While neither Jan nor Scarlett are in the video, for me, transposing their faces on the girls dancing in the footage works just fine. And I don’t believe I could have gotten either of the ladies to dance for the camera anyway.So here it is. Brewer and Shipley “Dance With A Lady.” While you might have already heard the song, I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did putting it together.