(Click on a track to listen while you're reading: track 1 is upbeat, 2 is soulful, 13 is funny, and 17 is a love song... eventually.)
Removed by a generation or two from his cattle ranching roots, Al Mehl recaptures the cowboy spirit from a uniquely envious perspective. Written with the whimsical lyrics of a cowboy poet, Al's seventeen original tunes are gonna keep ya from fallin' out of the saddle, by gum. Conceding that there’s more cowboy in his “genes” than in his “jeans,” Al writes and performs an eclectic brand of contemporary western music, with music for every occasion, from the road trip to the rodeo. Start with a tight finger-pickin' style on the guitar, add the buttery tones of Al's vocals, then throw in some close harmony, a killer harmonica, even cello and a trumpet line, and you'll be wearin' out the CD in no time.
Try buyin' Al a beer late in the evening, and here's what he just might tell ya about the songs:
1. Asphalt Cowboy – The times are changing, my friend. If you can’t find a way to be part of a real trail drive, then maybe the best you can do is to get out on the open road. "Any road that leaves the city is my kind of road, I think... " This title song of my debut CD received national airplay on NPR, National Public Radio.
2. Jupiter and Mars – Late one night, walking under a star-filled sky, I began humming what I imagined would become a sweet campfire tune about "sleeping under the stars." Little did I know that my song would end up being co-authored by the ghost of a special woman who had recently passed away.
3. Reel Cowboy – Remember the days of the epic western movie on the great silver screen? Can’t you just imagine yourself riding horseback alongside those heroes like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix? "The best place for a boy... Spend the afternoon with Roy... "
4. Not From 'Round Here – I sure felt nervous and out of place at one of my earliest performances in Valentine, Nebraska. As I eyed the crowd, I realized that my boots were different, my jeans were different, my belt was different, even my hat was different than the local standard. It was pretty obvious to everyone there that the man on stage was definitely " ... not from 'round here!"
5. Knee Deep in Religion – Can’t say that I attend church much these days, though I did learn a thing or two from all those mornings in Sunday school. Nowadays, I mostly find myself admiring God’s handiwork when I’m out fishing in a mountain river, wading the ever-changing currents, and breathing in the clean air and glorious scent of pine.
6. The Blackened Blues – A cowboy sure does a lot of hard work, birthing cattle, branding cattle, raising cattle, driving cattle… all with the hopes of putting meat on your dinner plate. So doesn’t it just make sense that he would have some strong opinions about how the meat ought to be prepared?
7. That Hat – My father is still alive, and stronger than an ox. So it isn’t quite clear to me just whose daddy is hiding in this song. Still, the sentiment about old dad’s influence and legacy pretty much hits the mark.
8. I’m Rodeo – When I perform my original music, I don’t talk much about my day job. (Let's just say I'm not as close to working the land as I'd like to be.) One old codger leaned up close to me after a performance and whispered, "I know why you won’t tell us what you do for a living." Then, with reference to the lowest caste of cowboy life, he continued, "You’re rodeo."
9. Bring Me a Bud – Not much of a drinker, myself. But every song collection deserves to have at least one good drinking song. If you’re a beer manufacturer and the name of your product is in this song, I think you should just keep in mind that any such reference to your ale is meant as a compliment. So don’t go calling your lawyer or some such silly nonsense.
10. Man Who’s Leavin’ Town – It’s great having a best friend. Especially one who drags you out of the house, even before you realize that getting out is just what you need. And when that best friend moves away, and " ... takes a little of your soul?” This song resulted.
11. I Think of You – Trying to write a love song is one of the hardest things you can ask of a cowboy. You can bet it will be short, like this one. And, knowing how a cowboy can feel about his horse, or his truck, or his saddle, when the song is done, it may not even be about a woman.
12. Stupid Dog – Taylor is his name, in case you were wondering. He’s a golden retriever, and, no, he isn’t really all that dumb. But every so often (about twice a day, on average), he does something that I consider pretty darned stupid. And I find myself mumbling, “Stupid dog!”
13. Welcome to the Whine Bar – Not much of a drinker, myself. But every song collection deserves to have at least two good drinking songs. "Welcome to the whine bar… come inside and whine!"
14. Almost Cowboy – Isn’t it amazing, watching a youngster grow up? Every year, the boy is acting just a little more mature and making fewer poor decisions. And how do you know when the boy has finally arrived at adulthood? It’s the day that, on average, he’s making fewer poor decisions than his dad.
15. The Red, White... I’m Blue – I’ve got to admit that my song writing has been known to drift along in the currents of blue thought from time to time. Maybe that’s how this songwriter somehow found his way into writing a sad song over the festive Fourth of July holiday weekend.
16. There’s Two Cowboys – Thanks go to fellow musician Jerry Green for the inspiration behind this song. He mentioned, on a Sunday, that a song about two cowboys in the same body might be fun to try, and by Tuesday this song had somehow emerged.
17. Good Enough – During a dry spell in my song writing, I decided that I should just try writing about something I know really well. So when this song first emerged, it was about being too frugal to replace well-worn clothing. The song turned out maybe a little better than originally expected, thanks to the love of a good woman. For you, Annie...
So enjoy! And don't be shy about orderin' more copies for your friends. They'll thank you. And so does Al.