(Click on a track to listen while you're reading: Track 3 is soulful, track 6 is a toe-tapper, track eight will make you laugh, and track 13 is wacky.)
Al “Doc” Mehl presents his second album of original western music. With Doc singing and performing on guitar and cello, virtuoso Washtub Jerry on the washtub bass, and newcomer Eric Christiansen on the harmonica, this unique collection of songs isn’t quite like anything you’ve ever heard around the campfire!
THE LADIES' MAN. If you’re busy cowboyin’ out in the old west, you’re not going to get many opportunities to make a good impression on a member of the fairer sex. So take good care when first you speak, or she’ll be long gone.
PANIOLO. One of the largest and oldest ranches in the United States is on the big island of Hawaii. When winter weather descends on the U.S. mainland, one might imagine a lifetime spent working cattle on a tropical island, and living the life of the Paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy.
I'D RATHER BE... One Saturday morning, I woke up achy from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. No cough, no fever, no upset stomach, just achy all over. When I found I was no better on Sunday, I turned to my wife and lamented, “Hon, I sure hope I’m sick. Because if I’m not sick... I just got old.”
SWEET BARBARA WIRE. Did you ever hunker down by an old barbed wire fence, and hear the wires singing in the breeze? Add a few creature noises, a bird overhead, and a coyote off in the distance, and you’ve got yourself a regular cowboy choir.
WET DOG. Leave it to the golden retriever to always find a puddle for splashing when we’re out and about. After piling back into the vehicle, the smell of that dog’s wet fur struck me as one of those memorable sensations that can’t be mistaken for anything else.
BRAND NEW LEATHER. A few years back, I was asked to play for a group of leather workers and saddle makers. They seemed to be hoping for a song about the feel and the smell of “brand new leather.” I guess I couldn’t fathom their using the word “brand” as an adjective rather than as a verb.
CAN'T DO WITHOUT... If you have to grow old, you couldn’t do better than to have Kath and Jim taking care of you. She was Kath’s mother, but we all just called her “Mama.” As she continued to lose her faculties over time, I couldn’t help inventing a few of my own stories about her now forgotten past.
TWENTY POUNDS OVER. I’ll admit to carrying a bit too much weight. Seems I was holding my own, though, rock steady at about twenty pounds overweight. Then, ever so gradually, my weight started creeping up again, until one day I was shocked to weigh in at twenty pounds over my previous twenty-pound excess. This can’t be good.
LEAVIN' MONTAN'. Imagine being an early explorer in the rugged Rocky Mountains, and stumbling across a magical valley of azure waters, boiling mud, and echoing eruptions of jets of white steam. This song is set in a time when Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho were all U.S. territories rather than states, and the mystical corner where they meet was not yet a national park.
STARTIN' TODAY. With each passing year, there aren’t as many cowboys left playing the traditional tunes and sharing the old stories. Here’s a song in remembrance of one of the old guard.
WOULD I WERE A COWBOY. Years ago, my sweet bride Annie introduced me to her long-time friend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He dropped in, and stayed in his run down motor home parked outside our house long enough to get the neighbors whispering about us. Then he was off to new adventures. I guess there’s just a little bit of Jack in my song and in my spirit.
LOVE IS LIKE... I told Annie that I had finally composed the love song she keeps encouraging me to write. She listened to it once, and then said, “Keep trying.”
HAPPY TRAIL MIX. If you’re going to sing about the lives of men who work cattle, eating beef would seem to be a prerequisite. In the cattleman’s battle to compete with emerging dietary trends, this finale is a new take on a familiar tune.
So just who is this Al "Doc" Mehl, anyway?
Hailing from Boulder, Colorado, Al “Doc” Mehl traces his family roots to Central Kansas, where his grandfather raised six children on the family homestead. With one foot in the past and one in the present, Al weaves the history and the mystery of the West into his original poetry and music. He has performed in cowboy poetry festivals from Denver to Durango, from El Paso to Cheyenne. His debut music CD is titled “Asphalt Cowboy,” and this second music CD titled “I’d Rather Be...” was released in 2008. Al has also published a CD of original poetry titled “Cowboy Pottery,” and his poems have been featured on the website www.CowboyPoetry.com. Poet Doris Daley describes his work as “refreshing, original, witty, and loaded with clever wordplay about contemporary cowboy life.” Musician Juni Fisher adds, “Just when you think his fries have been left out of his Happy Meal, he whacks you over the head with a verse that leaves you stunned.” And, in the words of Rick Huff as published in The Western Way magazine, “there’s a unique mind at work here that may be one of a kind in the Western Music arena.”