When Bob Wayne took a few minutes from his road-dog touring schedule for an SER Sitdown, we talked to him about some of our favorite tracks from his two Century Media releases, ranging from the title track of his most recent album, to the first song he ever wrote for the Outlaw Carnies …
“TIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF,” TILL THE WHEELS FALL OFF (2012): The raucous tale of partying that opens Wayne’s most recent album of the same name begins with him making loud train whistle noises. It’s an announcement that this album is coming down the tracks, and if you don’t get out of the way, you’re likely to get flattened. The song tells a tale of life on the road, the thing that Wayne loves most. Though now sober, he says the song is a reflection of the life he once lived and also a tale of falling off the wagon.
BOB WAYNE: We were playing in Alabama. I’ve actually written a lot of songs like this. I observe what’s going on and a lot of times songs are out there just waiting to get written. After the show I went to a party and a lot of people there were really high. Everybody was taking LSD. There were naked girls jumping in the pool, naked girls jumping on the trampoline. Everybody was just really messed up. I saw this guy that was about 60 or 70 years old. He had no front teeth, he could barely talk. I watched him take a bunch of acid, and I said, “Man, after all these years, you’re still going, huh?” He looked over at me very seriously and said, “Son, I’ll be going till the wheels fall off this motherfucker.” I immediately went and grabbed my guitar and said there’s got to be a song there. I’m actually sober now. If you’re touring as much as we do — 300 days a year and 300 days of getting as much as you can drink from the bar for free — you can only do that so long. Most people who do that go out on the weekends and do it. You start doing it every single night, and it’s not long before you’re puking up blood and all other kinds of bad stuff. I’ve actually been through it twice, and that song was one of those relapse nights, where “I used to say no to the things I used to do.”
“BLOOD TO DUST,” OUTLAW CARNIE (2010): Though Wayne is known for his hell-raising, uptempo party tunes, he’s also capable of writing a very somber and meaningful song. “Blood to Dust,” originally written for his self-released album of the same name, is perhaps his most poignant tune, an autobiographical story that lays bare some of his feelings and emotions, and also features a surprisingly poetic chorus.
BOB WAYNE: I started writing that one, and I was thinking about my grandma. I was asking her about my real dad, and she knew him. I was wanting to know about him. She knew he was a drug addict and all that. She looked at me and said, “Bobby, some things in life are best forgotten.” I love my grandma, but that didn’t sit well with me. So I wrote the line, “They say some things in our lives are best forgotten; I say those are things that make us who we are.” I’m saying don’t just try to push that stuff to the back. Be proud of where you came from, wherever it is. We’re all living this life. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a Porsche or a Pinto, we’re all driving down the same road. We all have our problems and our pasts. The rest of it is just my story. Every word of it is true.
“DEVIL’S SON,” TILL THE WHEELS FALL OFF (2012): Originally recorded on his self-released 13 Trucking Songs, “Devil’s Son” was the first song that Wayne wrote for his band, the Outlaw Carnies. In the song, we meet a young man who wants to make a deal with the devil to make music, but discovers the devil is actually his father. The devil tells him “you can’t sell me something I already own,” but decides to send him to Nashville to make a record. It’s both a rowdy and fun tale, and in its way, a statement on Nashville.
BOB WAYNE: “Devil’s Son” is a weird one. It’s interesting that you asked about it because that’s actually the first Bob Wayne song that I wrote for this band. The weird thing is if you listen to those lyrics, I kind of wrote my own destiny. I wrote that song in Seattle. I had never been on tour, never gone anywhere. I just had an idea. In the song, it talks about going to Nashville, and how they’re going to embrace me, and I’m going to be with all the right people. The first time I went to Nashville, I had flown to Florida to go to work for Hank III. I’d never been to Nashville before, and, of course, he lives there. I rolled into Nashville for the first time on Hank III’s tour bus with all those guys that ended up helping me record my first album. They were all the right people I needed to be with. In a way, I kind of wrote my own destiny.
“GHOST TOWN,” OUTLAW CARNIE (2010): One of Wayne’s tributes to Johnny Cash, this song tells the story of a singer and his band on a stop in a small town in North Dakota where things go bad after dark. The people of the town turn to ghosts and demons and attempt to kill them before they’re saved in a very unlikely way. At this point, I have to confess that the main reason I chose this song was because it’s one of my 8-year-old son’s favorites. As soon as those words were out of my mouth, Wayne stopped me and said, “Don’t tell me, let me guess — ‘Ghost Town.’”
BOB WAYNE: I wrote that song for my 8-year-old niece and nephew, and all kids love that song. That song is actually kind of subliminal. Right after Johnny Cash died, I turned on the news and saw that he was dead and immediately wrote that song. In the song, I was in a dark place with demons trying to kill me, and the ghost of Johnny Cash saved me. It’s subliminal in the way that I was drinking and using heavily at the time. In my last days of getting really destroyed, I sat there and listened to this Johnny Cash record over and over. It was one of the only records I had. I feel like his music helped pull me through. He went through all of the same things that I did, and in a way, he was like a role model, and he helped me. Johnny Cash saved my life.