CHAPTER EIGHT: IN WHICH THE FLATLANDERS GO BACK TO THE STUDIO FOR THE FIRST TIME
"The music would fill the room up. You'd watch something come from thin air, and all of a sudden, it became a song," Ely says. "And good songs give you a new hope for this crazy old world. It's just a weird, magical thing. It keeps me going—I know that. So many dreadful, dreary things happen in people's lives, but making music is a thing that has always given me inspiration."
In 2002, New West put out the record that came from those sessions, Now Again, and when they discovered a dusty old tape of the 1972 show at the One Knite, they put that out, too.
CHAPTER NINE: IN WHICH THE
FLATLANDERS TEACH YOU TO SING
By March 2004, the One Knite is long gone, but the Flatlanders are still playing in Austin. New West's SXSW party falls on a balmy afternoon, and the thirsty fans packed into the Club DeVille parking lot are glad the beer is flowing for free. When Hancock launches into his catchy and Dylan-esque "Baby, Do You Love Me Still?" off their latest record, Wheels of Fortune, he makes it hard not to sing along. Ely gets a lot of smiles as a jilted lover wielding a lethal frying pan in "I'm Gonna Strangle You Shorty." And on the sweet and simple "Back to My Old Molehill," he sings, "I headed out across the flatland in a rooster tail of dust/Lookin' to find some peace of mind from someone I could trust."
CHAPTER 10: IN WHICH JOE ELY REFLECTS ON A LIFE LIVED TO THE FULLEST, AND JIMMIE DALE COMES A-CALLIN'
"I've always thought of living as being totally aware of everywhere that you are," Ely says. "And so, over the years, I've kept a running journal and a sketchbook in my guitar case, and I draw pictures and carry a camera. I've always kept this log of writings and pictures and songs."
He pauses before he adds, "I've never really thought of myself as really being in any business. I feel really lucky to have been able, my entire life, to go out and just enjoy living."
And with that plain and simple philosophy of life, delivered in the same sing-song voice as all his lyrics, Ely shouts a hello to his friend, who has let himself in. It's another hot one, and Gilmore has come over to play. The screen door slams as he hangs up the phone.
The Flatlanders Perform with The Kelly Bowlin Band and Kevin Banford & The Bakersfield Boys at The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Thurs., Aug. 5, 8 p.m. $29.50. All ages.