“Where are you from?”
It always seems to be one of the first things that comes up in conversation, and I’ve never known how to answer it. I was born on a military base, and being a military kid means that you don’t get to be from anywhere. You grow up bouncing from town to town. You learn how to blend in. You learn how to adopt accents and mannerisms that make people feel comfortable around you, even though you’re always from somewhere else. I can’t tell you where I’m from, but I can make a very long list of where I’ve been.
I’m pretty sure that I’m an American, and I’m pretty sure that I make American music. Although one old fellow in a pub in Rathmelton, Co. Donegal disagreed with that. He pounded the bar and said, “Don’t you believe it. You’re from here.” Taking the long view, he wasn’t wrong. I had been to the family gravesite earlier that same day.
Wherever I’m from — wherever I’ve been — these songs must be from there, too. I’ve written them in train stations, learned them on the sides of mountains or in pubs long after midnight, played them on street corners in cities around the world. I’ve given up trying to define them, to say what they are. I just know that they’re right, that they fit me, and that they move me along from wherever I’ve been to wherever I’m going.
Shoulder your pack and travel with me for a bit.