On Episode 209, I'm joined by singer-songwriter Thomas Csorba. During this conversation, we talk about growing up in Houston, discovering Texas songwriters, recording with Beau Bedford & The Texas Gentlemen, writing during the Pandemic, how songwriting has evolved and changed over the past few years, Randy Newman songs, and what he has planned going forward in 2022.
This episode's presenting partner is Desert Door Texas Sotol, The Blue Light Live, and Charlie Stout Photography.
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Thomas Mooney 0:03
Hey y'all welcome back to new slang, I music journalist Thomas Mooney. This is Episode 209, where I'm joined by singer songwriter Thomas shorba. Last week, Thomas was on a short run with David Ramirez, and they had to stop here in Lubbock. Luckily enough, we were able to catch up for a conversation right around soundcheck. For starters. It was just a phenomenal show. It's always really cool and special to see a crowd fall in love with an artist or a band they have just really never heard before. Understandably, most folks, they came to see David Ramirez. But over the course of that 40 minutes or so that Thomas was on stage, he really pulled them in. With a mix of these heartfelt ballads, bulky storytellers. And if you humorous tongue in cheek charmers, for the most part, he pulled songs from his last couple of projects, his 2020 self titled full length, and last year's EP, from the Jordan, but, and it's something that we do talk about during this conversation. He also sprinkled in a few new songs that will make his way onto his next record. Two quick comments on what I see really emerging from his songwriting and storytelling. One, it is that humor, you're starting to see a little bit more that humor in his songs, something in that John Prine kind of way, stuff that Garner's a chuckle, but not at the cost of him saying something substantial. I think sometimes we focus too much on the serious stuff in music, rightfully so. But you know, it's nice to have some humor in there. It's, it's okay to have some funny, silly songs. And to, he's starting to get a great handle on talking about time, the passage of time. I've said for a minute now that that's what really makes all McKenna truly special. She's talented, obviously, in numerous ways. But what I think she does better than anyone else is captured that passage of time in a line or first, virtually better than everyone else. And some of Thomas's new songs really do the same. He captures that lifetime and align, you really feel the weight and the magnitude instantly, but it's also has a little bit of that residual power, that kind of lingers. easiest example of that passage of time that I'm talking about would be something like people get old by Lori McKenna. Or if we were vampires by Jason Izabal. Again, we get to some of that and much, much more during this conversation. But first, a word from our presenting partners over at Desert door Texas Athol today's presenting partner is our pals over at Desert door, Texas Soto if you've been listening to new slang, I reckon you're more than familiar with desert door by now. In case you need a refresher or just aren't exactly sure what desert door or what a soul is. Well, let me fill you in. Does or door is one of my all time favorite premium, high quality spirits harvested and distilled right here in the great state of Texas. Desert door is genuine and authentically West Texas. So tall comes from the desert plant it shares its name with as a reference point. It is an agave, so there is some semblance to tequila or Mezcal. And it does owe a lot of its heritage to the resilient natives. Although deserts of northern Mexico and West Texas, in my estimation, though, does adore Texas, oil is more refined, smooth and fragrant than its Agave cousins. It intrigues the palate and offers these robust hints of vanilla and citrus. There's a rich earthiness that often sends me back to my own Transpac is in Far West Texas routes. There's plenty to love about desert door. For me it starts with all those inherently West Texan routes, but a close second is just how versatile does a door can be. You can be down home in a denim jacket and a pair of work boots, just something short and sweet like a ranch water or throw it in some Coca Cola protip though, get yourself one of those Mexican cokes when doing so. Or if it's more of a blazer affair, maybe suit and tie does it do it it hits the spot then too, you can be a little bit more highbrow and concoct a variety of cocktails that call for muddling fresh fruit and sprigs of time and sticks of cinnamon regardless of the occasion or your preferred style. Just follow your bliss when drinking desert door. Right now you can find desert or all over Texas, Colorado and Tennessee, with budding numbers in New Mexico, Arizona, California and expanding across to a liquor store near you. For more on where check out desert door.com There you can learn more about their process history and what cocktails may suit your style. Again, that's desert door.com. Alright, let's get into it. Here is Thomas shorba.
Just like well want to start off is you grew up in Houston, which is kind of like a different world than wherever I've been like growing up. Yeah, in the middle of nowhere. Houston, my experiences growing up are always just kind of thinking of it as like the biggest place. Yeah, in the world, you know, in time we went through is like, how are we still in Houston? Yeah,
Thomas Csorba 5:13
it's It's wild. I mean, when people ask me whether or not I liked Houston growing up, it's hard to compare it to anything, because it's just what you know. But the way that I grew up was very, like, I was an outlier in my high school for sure. And the beauty of Houston is that that, that being an outlier wasn't met with nothing to do, you know, because I was kind of squared school or in the music or whatever, I was able to travel to other parts of Houston and go see a show at the monkey duck or back in the day, there's a mess. They'll be around a club called Fitzgerald's I saw a bunch of shows that so that there was a lot of culture and life outside of my high school bubble, which a lot of small town kids don't get to have. And a lot of suburban kids don't get to have, you know, so being close to you know, Houston probably kind of Houston proper, was super beneficial. Because I get to see a bunch of shows and you know, spend time like embracing the the culture of Houston super diverse culture, Houston.
Thomas Mooney 6:29
Yeah. Well, that's, that's why I bring it up is like, if I was wondering if your your experiences growing up where that suburban life or the, you know, where you're able to, you know, just take advantage of there being a diversity Yang that, as you kind of just mentioned, even if you're an outlier, you kind of are able to find other outliers other Yeah. Groups of people who are, you know, not thinking about the Friday night football,
Thomas Csorba 6:56
right? Yeah. And I like I rarely, you know, I think my first the first party I went to in high school was senior prom. And that's because I was dating a cheerleader who, you know, yeah, popular. Which was even funny that she dated me. But that's just a blast from the past. So yeah, I spent most my Friday nights like in my room writing or going to shows or looking through records, or, you know, I started recording music when I was 16 years old, driving to Austin to do it with a guy named Brian Douglas Phillips. And spending time with him in Austin, and getting to know his guys and the session players that he was working with. That opened my eyes as well. So the people who are spending the most time with when I was in high school, in their 30s, and from, you know, professional musician, musicians, so it's kind of a weird high school experience, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world, you know?
Thomas Mooney 7:56
Yeah. Well, so, you know, like for, for comparison's sake, you know, growing up in Fort Stockton, yeah, well, nowhere. I still think like, my idea of like, where, where the music was? Yeah. Was Austin. Yeah. Was that still the very much the same thing for you? Or did you
Thomas Csorba 8:15
I didn't, I didn't think about it. I didn't, I don't think I understood or really thought about the idea of like, music industry. I had a youth pastor when I was in high school that introduced me to Brian, because him and his buddies made a record with Brian and Austin. So just like, Oh, here's this guy that would be interested in making an album. He so happens to live in Austin. Yeah. So I started driving out there. And you know, you know, missing a little bit of class to go spend a few days in Austin to record so. But I don't think it dawned on me that like, oh, yeah, Austin's the place to make music, necessarily. Or Nashville's this like yeah, place you go to, quote unquote, make it I think going to Austin to make those recordings was just a means to make those recordings and it was as simple as that.
Thomas Mooney 9:08
Yeah. What was the I always find like this to be a really interesting time in someone's life? Is the was there like that artist or that person? Or that that time when when you you kind of realized or discovered quote, unquote, discovered music outside your parents music that you felt? Was your own that like, Okay, this is something Yeah, totally different than what they're doing. So great. It's my thing.
Thomas Csorba 9:35
Yeah. It's a great question. My, my, my parents were, like, semi musical. You know, my dad. You know, they're not musicians. I grew up around church music and that world. My dad like buddy, Holly, and Tom Petty and stuff like that he's from he's a, he's a California kid. My mom was from Texas. So she's saying Willie Nelson sounds to me to go to sleep and stuff like that. When I really felt like I claimed ownership of like a style of music and like, Oh yeah, I'm really into this thing was through my brother my older brother. He's about probably six or seven years older than me smarter than anybody he's met you know, but he was the he was my gateway into guys like Townes Van Zandt saying this is good stuff, making that making me digest it, you know? And getting me hooked on it me really like me and him saying, Okay, if you like towns, you have to like, Lightnin Hopkins because towns obsessed with Latin Hopkins. And if you like, let in Hopkins, you have to be obsessed with all these people, you know, all these Texas blues men that have kind of built the bedrock of what we know is Texas or American music. So he taught me that lineage, you know, 15 1617 years old. And I'm forever indebted to him. Because I think it was a really good lesson to learn to know where, where the music allows. Love comes from, you know. So, yeah, I think that's, that's when I started, it's really embraced like, okay. I can see, I can see that I like this stuff. And I'm starting to understand why. You know, and that's pretty pivotal moment. Anybody's music listening, you know? Yeah, journey.
Thomas Mooney 11:31
Yeah. Usually, like, you know, those those first records that you rebel against your parents listening, you kind of go back now and you're like, oh, it's not it's either not that great. Or you're kind of embarrassed by it. Or there's like this weird mix nostalgia. Yeah. But if it if it's something like, like the towns or Yeah, you know, the, I know you've mentioned like, guys like Willis Allen Ramsey. Yeah. Or like Guy Clark or something like that. That it's timeless. Yeah. It doesn't matter. When you really kind of get into it. You can appreciate Yeah, the greatness of it. That's a that's really interesting, because I feel like, you know, like, the first time I listened to Townes was I had read in a magazine about, you know, you want the saddest thing ever. Yeah, like that. And, of course, like, he does have plenty of different songs. But, you know, that's what I was gravitating towards. Yeah. You know, okay. Well, I, I love bright eyes and like, yeah, Smith. Well, this is something sad to write. Right. You try and go and find that and i
Thomas Csorba 12:32
Yes, yeah. So there's definitely that and that's like the, you know, the interview sexy side of the stuff that I liked, you know, the Willistown Ramsey towns. Yeah, hi, Clark stuff. But I was also, you know, my brother introduced me to Soufiane. Stevens when I was in like middle school, and Death Cab and bright eyes and that kind of stuff that he was really into, that I kind of piggybacked off of. And it's fun now, listening back to that stuff. It's, it's, it was cool, and still is cool for a certain reason, you know, yeah. Not just nostalgic. You know, I think that's such great.
Thomas Mooney 13:09
Yeah, the, I think there's a lot of music that, that if you're going to get into it has to come at a certain time. Or just it's kind of the same thing with books like with certain riders, like JD Salinger Catcher in the Rye. Yeah, best example of like, that makes a lot of different sense. Or it makes a lot of different points rather, when you're 30 than it did it. 15 Yeah. And there's, there's a lot of stuff I liked at 15 or 16, that I thought was the greatest thing in the world. Yeah. That, you know, if I read it, now, I'm kind of going man, you know, like, the main characters is an asshole versus, you know, like, the Yeah, the anti hero that we all wanted to, yeah, and or something.
Thomas Csorba 13:57
It's funny, I think the best art does that, you know, it's the kind of stuff that you can come back to 1520 years later. And it you grow around it, you know, and it's kind of this
I guess this like, fixed piece of, of art that, that you get to start seeing from different perspectives, you know, and I think the best art is able to be looked at from different perspectives and different conclusions can be drawn from it. So, you know, that's obviously like myself as a 25 year old, is listening to Townes way differently than I was as a 16 year old. And I think that's really valuable to understand it and notice you know, I think that's the mark of good yes work.
Thomas Mooney 14:51
Well, how do you I mean, this is maybe the unanswerable but like how do you apply that to your own writing to to understand their to maybe have that foresight. Yeah,
Thomas Csorba 15:01
I don't know. I really don't. I think like, you know, cuz you can make a claim that like, yeah, if if you're honest about it or if you whatever. But But I still feel like there are some Townes Van Zandt songs that he would say, Yeah, this one just showed up, you know, it just exists. And I was open, and I wrote it down. And there it is. And now it's waiting around to die or something, one of these songs that's like, on the Mount Rushmore, you know, right. Um, so I don't know. There definitely has to be an openness, you know, to write things that are outside of you. And I think that's something I struggled with. And those years in high school was like, I'm a I'm a middle to upper class kid and Houston. I have everything I need, and most of what I want, you know, right. I don't have anything to say. I haven't lived any life. I haven't, you know, I've been lived in the same house since I was a kid, whatever, those kinds of things. So it's like, what do I have to say, what do I have to contribute? But you have to like, check yourself on those kind of things. Because the best kind of art is, is aside from just the things that we experience, you know, you think about imagination and living through other people's experiences, and reading and learning and paying attention to the world around you. So I'm still learning that, that there's beauty in everything, you know, and everything might be worth writing about. Everything's at least worth paying attention to. Right. So yeah, I don't know. I think, I think that spirit and that ethos kind of helps drive, the kind of art that that survives, you know, kind of leads to these universal truths. Maybe that that survived past us, you know,
Thomas Mooney 17:08
yeah, what I think about is most of the the great stuff that I that I think that most people love. I'm one of the purists, I guess, aspects of some of our favorite writers is that they're always empathetic to whatever they're writing about. Yeah. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they're, you know, just writing about just the the woe is me of whatever character it is, but they don't dismiss the idea of like this person being a person with these motives that may be drastically different from what they grew up with, or their own morals or their own character. Yeah,
Thomas Csorba 17:56
I think that's what I love the most about Randy Newman stuff because he's more like the John Prine Angel from Montgomery example. hopping into somebody you know, especially in Randy Newman, like good old boys, which is a tragic listen. Yeah, absolutely tragic. Listen, but somehow brings the listener a different sense of compassion towards that kind of human. You know, I think that kind of empathy is yeah, the has to be the guiding light in writing. Songs that contain so much humanity, you know? Yeah. Which all of my all of my favorites are, you know, the songs that really embody humanity.
Thomas Mooney 18:41
Yeah, I just got some some new Randy Newman on vinyl. Yeah. A guy was selling. I guess like, what did he have? Trouble in paradise? Cool. Good old boys. Yeah. What was that on? Is that the title? Or is it
Thomas Csorba 18:57
Yeah, no good. Oh, boys has Murray and Birmingham and
Thomas Mooney 19:01
there was another one but yeah, but he's such a little criminals.
Thomas Csorba 19:05
It's great. Yeah. But yeah, it's all these like, I don't know what record it's on originally, but there's a song called political science. That's totally like evil villain. kind of perspective. But he's like, yeah, it's it's just great. It's, it's so tongue in cheek and you just smile listening to it because it's so ridiculous.
Thomas Mooney 19:32
This episode is brought to you by our partners over at the blue light live here in Lubbock, Texas. Blue light has long been the epicenter of the Lubbock songwriter scene, and has been a prestigious home away from home for some of Texas Americana, country and Rock and roll's finest over the decades. Talk with a songwriter who's come out of Lubbock, West Texas or the Panhandle the last 20 years and 99.9% of them are going to tell you just how interesting unnecessary the blue light has been in there come up as a songwriter and a performer. With live original music just about every night of the week, head on over to blue light lubbock.com to check out their schedule. I know over these next few months, you'll be seeing folks like Roger Klein and the peacemakers Grady Spencer in the work, Joshua leathers Troy Cartwright, David Beck's Mahana weekend, Tristan Morales and Braxton Keith graced the blue light stage. Again, that's blue light lubbock.com. While there, check out their merch page, they have a wide range of hats, beanies, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, and koozies you can get all your merch needs while you've seen your favorite band. Take the stage by just asking your bartender and they'll get you set up as well. And of course this should go without saying but make sure you tip your bartenders and buy some merch from the band while you're at it. That's 1806 Buddy Holly Avenue, Lubbock, Texas. Blue light lubbock.com pretty good chance I'll see you there. Okay, let's get back to the show.
Thomas Csorba 21:03
No, that stuff that stuff is really great. Yeah, that stuff has a it brings a level of humor to some of the really mundane and maybe sad or maybe unnoticeable things of the American life you know, right. That's why I love it so much. He seems to really have a great perspective at least really open eyes and is writing about things that are like oh yeah, I never would have thought to say like kangaroos and Assam Yeah,
Thomas Mooney 21:37
well, him and we mentioned prion a bunch Yeah, what I love so much is how those guys have like the longevity of their career and like being able to be sharp songwriters for that long and having something to say for that long. Yeah is really kind of amazing.
Thomas Csorba 21:57
Yeah, I think they I think part of that is is that mindsets that openness? It's like the the reason why John Prine well there are a million reasons why John Prine could and would have an entire audience in the palm of his hand till the moment that he passed. Yeah. Was because there was so much empathy in those songs. I don't know he's it's so hard to explain but you see it and it just it it's like the the narrative. It's like the the I don't know how to explain it. It's just like the perfect mix of speaker versus storyteller. You know, like who's the character and who's saying it because Brian has an entity you know him sold man standing up there with all these stories is just as good and just as interesting as the stories themselves. Yeah. I guess that's what I'm trying to say is when those two things meet, and in a really beautiful way when he's onstage Yeah,
Thomas Mooney 23:10
well, it's like the the character like I guess like what you're kind of talking about is like him being John Prine but then like the idea of John Prine. Yeah. songwriter, and then the storyteller. And like, it's, you can say the same thing about obviously a bunch of really great artists that maybe like they're like the idea. It's maybe and this is probably different from for everybody. It's the idea of who you have that person in your head. Yes. Like maybe my version of John Prine is different than your verse. Sure. onstage. I also just I find like it amazing. The the drive that these guys have had in their older years because same thing with like Leonard Cohen Yeah, it felt like he would go a decade without putting a record out. And then he almost knew like I only have like this much time and he got like three records out yeah. Is very end of his life there.
Thomas Csorba 24:09
Yeah, that's That's crazy to me. You know, like when when Prime put out the tree of forgiveness. And, you know, the last song and that that record is when I get to heaven, you know, when I get to heaven, I'm gonna shake God's hand. I heard that and I was like, this is sadly could be such a beautiful way to just leave you know, to to book in your catalog, I guess. And he did I remember everything which is really beautiful. And you know, they were able to release that but i i I don't know what kind of future I have and making music. I don't know if I'm going to be the guy that's, you know, 60 7080 years old up there still telling stories and smirking you know, like, like crying would but I hope to be able to look back and have a a catalogue of work, you know, to leave behind that that seems really important and exciting to me. Both for myself but also for for my kids and my grandchildren hopefully, you know, like, Oh, yes cool thing my grandpa did. My my I have a buddy who I lived in Waco for a while. My buddy's name is John McKay. And he's a great John Griffin McKay. I think his music fairly standard, because a great songwriter. He lives out in Memphis now, but he has these old records of I think his grandpa as like a church, gospel singer. And it's the coolest thing because it's, you know, he has his family's piano and it's just like this certain vibe, you know, 70s gospel music. It's a cool family heirloom, you know? I would love to have a collection of those things to leave. Leave my family.
Thomas Mooney 26:04
Yeah, that's something that I think you know, Ryan Colwell, right.
Thomas Csorba 26:08
Thomas Mooney 26:09
we we've talked about the, this idea of him. Like maybe like the the most interesting part of him being a songwriter is that like, he's created this, like, family myth. Most of like, the songs are, like, written with, like intention of with my daughters, but also like, with the intentions of like, hopefully these songs become like, our fairy tales. Yeah, some sense or some respect of like, I haven't heard that. It's clear, like, you know, great grandkids down the line, or are singing songs because like, that's like, their thing? Yeah.
Thomas Csorba 26:44
In the same way. I like that. I haven't thought about that. And I haven't heard Ryan talk about that. But they're kind of like, oh, yeah, my grandpa always had this story. You know, instead of saying that, it's like, oh, yeah, there's this song My family always saying, you know, that's a pretty cool, pretty cool, heirloom, you know, like that.
Thomas Mooney 27:04
Well, I think that's such a really fascinating, interesting thing. Because it is like the the old family story of like, okay, we've heard grandma save, like, every time this I don't know, whatever, every time like this dish is brought out. Right? She has a story about whatever, right? But you know, in this form, it's like, you know, 50 songs. Yeah,
Thomas Csorba 27:25
that is so cool. That is so cool. I hope you know, there's also a good chance that I'd make a bunch of records and my kids don't care at all. Which is fine, too. Maybe maybe a great nephew or somebody one day would be like, wait, no, that's, that's kind of cool. Yeah. Feels like it feels like me feels like an outlier in high school and, you know, find some sort of meaning and somebody from his bloodline, you know, having made something I don't know. Yeah,
Thomas Mooney 27:59
no, I mean, there's something very, sometimes I, I probably worry too much about that. That kind of thing, where maybe it's not for me, it's not songs or stories like that. But, you know, like my book collection. Yeah. collection was like, my kids just find that as like a burden, right? No, I mean, like, oh, yeah, he's gonna like, throw it on the side of the road kind of thing. Yeah, I
Thomas Csorba 28:20
know. Plenty of people. That's like, my wife's family. It's like when her grandmother passed away. It was this. Just the the estate plant like all the stuff. Yeah, the logistics of somebody passing is so hard. That it's like, what, what can I leave? That's, that's worth leaving, and is not going to be a burden on my family. Yeah. It's interesting to think about,
Thomas Mooney 28:50
yeah, well, I've jokingly said, you know, like my inheritances was put in like the form of Beanie Babies. Yeah, you know, like, that's, yeah, I wish stuff like that. You know that. Yeah, gotta think Oh, God. Why did you why did why was my family decided like, Why did I guess that was every family probably the Beanie Babies thing, but Right, right. Yeah, that strange thing that we collect
Thomas Csorba 29:18
those things are valuable now at least a few of them.
Thomas Mooney 29:23
Yeah, that's the I've saw some like it's either like it was on like, one of the there was like a little documentary about how I say documentary was more just like a TV program. Yeah. About how Beanie Babies just came around at the right time. It's like the internet because like that's what real that's cool. blew it up? Yes. Like this idea of them being more scarce than yeah than anything else. And it was the list and like, right oh, they showed like the the the Beanie Babies website and it's like, oh my god, like You know, that looks like a junior high my attorney. That kind of thing.
Thomas Csorba 30:04
My Are you familiar with Robert Dallas, Texas? Yeah. Have you seen his website recently? I have it, you gotta go look it up. It's so great. It's like purposefully looks really buggy. And it's super sales pitchy and kind of like what a Beanie Babies website might look like, in the 90s to check that
Thomas Mooney 30:25
out. Yeah. This episode is in part brought to you by Charlie stout photography. I want y'all all to head over to Charlie stout.com right now to get a glimpse of his work. While you're at it, go give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter at Charlie stout. Right now he has more than 50 photographs for sale on Charlie stout.com. With a diverse selection of landscapes and sky shots of West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, open roads and windmills, sunsets and start us, cotton, rose and cacti. He captures a lot of what I love about West Texas and the great American Southwest. The depth the way and raw intensity is all there in his photography. He captures that struggle between man and the land. It's Mother Nature, reclaiming objects like rusting tractors and abandoned homesteads, where it's man wrangling the wild and trying to put his impression on the land rows of cotton or colossal windmills or iron orchards pumping oil from the deep, dark below. And sometimes it's just the raw beauty of a mountain breaking up limitless sky, or setting sun leaving the day behind. At any rate, choice photographs move you, maybe there's a little bit of that I ain't crying. That's just west Texas, in my eye, in all of Charlie's photos. Again, go visit Troy stout.com. and order yourself a photograph or two. Also a pro tip, keep an eye out on his Twitter. He's consistently posting one offs and errors and randoms on there that are available in the flash sale variety. Again, that's at Charlie stout. Head on over to Charlie stout.com. Grab us on print, buy a record, it's good for your soul. All right, let's get back to the episode. I wanted to go back on to you know, you mentioned something about art maybe being static or like, it being a certain kind of thing. We are the ones who are growing around it. And that's how you get perspective. Yeah. In saying that, like, for you like when a when there's a song that I guess like how does a song grow for you?
Thomas Csorba 32:38
Over time? Or my own songs? Yeah, yeah. Songs, your own songs? Well, you
Thomas Mooney 32:43
do find like, you've
Thomas Csorba 32:46
started performing them differently. Yeah, or, or whatever the case is. Yeah, it's so interesting. Because there there are different lives, which within my songs, right, there's a demo version, like the instinct kind of thing that comes out, right. And that's its own thing. And that's gonna stay in my Dropbox folder for as long as my Dropbox will hold it, because I want to go back and listen to that. 10 years. Yeah. So there's like, there's that version of it, there's a recorded and produced version of it, which is a bit more final. And that one's on, you know, on wax, it's on vinyl, and it's on a CD. It's on DSPs. So it's, that's that that one feels like more of a stake in the ground. But the beautiful thing about, you know, being here in Lubbock, and playing a show is that all the songs can be played in an infinite number of ways that the way that I'm going to play, every song I played tonight, will never be identical to the way I played again. In the the mystery of that is so beautiful to me. And it's the reason why I love doing it. Because you can walk offstage and be like, Whoa, I didn't know I could do that with that song. Or I didn't know that song could do that to me, you know, or spill out in that way. It's interesting. I'm putting songs together for a new record right now. So I haven't, you know, I've probably got 2025 songs set, which is a lot for me, I've never had this much going into making record. But all these songs that I'm choosing from and trying to find the through line through and were gaps in the story and you know, trying to make a narrative out of this record. And I've spent so much time with the songs on my couch in my living room. Luckily, now that you know, I'm able to place more shows and get out and about. I've started to watch the songs blossom on stage, you know, what words end up sounding in important, you know, to me in singing that song, which words do I say, and I hear somebody kind of like chuckle, you know, from the audience because they thought it was a good line or something. That stuff's really, really cool and really unique. And it'll be interesting to see how that affects my actually recording the songs. I think that this record more than any other is going to feel more performance oriented, you know, because I've spent so much time one on one with the songs. Whereas in the past, it's kind of been like, yeah, wrote the song and played it a few times. Let's see if we can make a studio version of it. Right, if that makes sense. So yeah, no, very much does. They've, they're definitely taking shape in their own shape in a really cool and different way. So I know I kind of rambled there. But But yeah, they, they kind of they're different lives of the songs. And, you know, the recorded versions are really cool to go back and listen to. But the beauty of them is that like, you know, a song I wrote when I was 15 harvest, which I sing almost every night. I sing it so much differently now on stage than I did when I was that age. And there's something really beautiful to that, because those lines mean something different to me now.
Thomas Mooney 36:18
Yeah, so that's that's why I've never been mad at like Bob Dylan for Yeah, changing the way something sound Yeah. 40 years down the line. Yeah. Do
Thomas Csorba 36:27
you think have fun? You know, it's
Thomas Mooney 36:29
different. Yeah. You're you're kind of a different person or you do find the of I'll like, the the atmosphere, the mood that this song is, if I play it on piano or whatever the case? He said something really, really interesting there, though about maybe like the songs are, or breathing a little bit more maybe like you're letting them have them a little bit more space on stage. Yeah, to work themselves out versus maybe perhaps in the past, like that's either been in the studio, or I've noticed this with a lot of songwriters. They're always just kind of in the back of the head. Yeah, you're kind of maybe working them in that way. Yeah, where maybe this one is a little bit more. out in the open.
Thomas Csorba 37:12
Yeah, I think like, in the past, it's been like, Okay, how do we, how do I? Excuse me? How do I figure out how this song is supposed to sound and work and write and what's the not formula, but what's kind of the, the form that the song is going to eventually take. And that kind of pre assumes a, a, quote unquote, final version of the song. And what I've been learning over the past few years is over the past decade of writing songs, is that there is no final version of the song, there's a recorded version, there's a live version, there's a demo version. And so I, I think this time, more than ever, yeah, I'm letting the songs lead, you know. And I don't have you know, with the solo acoustic stuff, especially like, I don't have to play in time, if I really want to enunciate and like point out a word to my audience, make a joke in the song, I can slow down a little bit, I can sing quieter, I can sing louder, I can speed up a little bit and get through the lines that I am ashamed of, you know, and I haven't taken the time to go back and fix. You know, like, things like that i those moments, especially listening back to some of these demos. So I'm constantly making demos, these songs. I'm just like, Okay, let's try to make this feel like I'm just playing the song. And trying to notice, like, what are those words that stick out? And then the fun part of that is, are those words repeat repeated and other songs? And is that a good thing? Is that a through line? Is that is that a motif or a theme? Or is that just my lack of vocabulary? You know? Yeah, and that stuff is fun and exciting, you know. But that's where the real work
Thomas Mooney 39:04
is. I think that's the that's the part where like, I'm thinking as a journalist or a writer, that's the one thing I'm always like, in the back of my mind thinking, Oh, have I used this word? Yeah. 1000 times? And is this just something that I end up using all the time? Because it's just maybe like, more of my style, right? Yeah. Or is it because like, or is it the right word? Yeah, sometimes Yeah. Sometimes it is the right word, right?
Thomas Csorba 39:29
It sucks when when you find the place for it to be the right word. And you have asked it and another thing, and now you have to go change the thing. Yeah. I've found myself in that position before.
Thomas Mooney 39:41
Yeah, that's the I know exactly that feeling because there'll be something where it's like, this sounds okay with this word in it, this description of whatever. But this is like, where it should be. Yeah. And then you're like, do I go back and just like Nix that line? Do I go back and yeah, you know, and of course, Like, none of my shit has to rhyme. So right, like, you know, you can you can take out a whole lot and it'd be fine. Yeah.
Thomas Csorba 40:06
But no, it's, it's interesting because there is, yeah, you're right, there's a form to songwriting and there's, there's like a pace to it. And there are gaps to fill. And there are parts of songs that you write the whole song, you're like, okay, but I need to go back and fix it, you know, there's a placeholder there, or there's a gap there. And that stuff's hard. But I really think that that sets apart the amateur from the professional songwriter, it's, it's, it's the people that are willing to do the editing and the work, you know, beyond just initial instinct,
Thomas Mooney 40:40
right? Well, that's the part that I find the most interesting, I think we all love the idea of man, the song came to me to dream. Yeah, I wrote it down in 15 minutes, you know, devil had my handwriting, you know, whatever, like, you know, any kind of narrative like that. Yeah. The the magic, if you will, yeah. But where it's become, where I find like, the older I get, the more I'm fascinated with the process, the the editing process, because that, to me, it may be less glamorous, it may, we may be stripping away the romanticism of it. But like, that's where all like, the craft of it is, is like that makes you, you know, no different than the great architect or like the, you know, or something even as simple as, like the guy who is a great carpenter.
Thomas Csorba 41:28
Sure, you know, yeah, it definitely becomes more craft oriented. And no, I mean, if I did have the kind of song that can be in a dream, you know, bring it on, that, that'd be great. But yeah, it hadn't happened for me that way. I've had a couple, you know, some that are easier than others. And you can, you can attribute that to the muse, you know, just being there. Or you can attribute that to the fact that I woke up and didn't scroll on Instagram and walk my dog first thing in the morning, you know, like, or I didn't have coffee. And so my, for some reason, my brain chemically feels more susceptible to be, you know, you know, firing at a quicker pace. So, there are too many factors that are at play. But I do know, that I've, I've, the songs that I've written have happened when I've sat down and written the song, you know, yeah. So as often as I can do that, I'm going to do it, you know, I think that's the, quote unquote, magic, you know. Yeah. Which is, you know, I'd like to, I'd like to be able to say that I sit down and do that every day. But I don't, some days, I'm counting T shirts. And some days, I'm, you know, sitting in the van like today and just reading and whatever.
Thomas Mooney 42:53
Yeah, well, that's the, you know, it's always I guess, like, for me whenever I have a hard time certain stuff. Yeah. So. But once I get going, it's fine. Yeah. But it is sometimes you, you can put off doing something. And it may just be as easy as you know, oh, I want to write today. But maybe you're putting it off because maybe you didn't have an idea. Or maybe you don't have anything to write about. I guess where I'm wanting to go with this though is like, you know, obviously the past couple years. We've been in the middle of this pandemic. Yeah. Which has made perhaps like there being more time for routine. Yeah. Have you have you been able to like, I mean, you just talked about having 20 songs, more songs ready for the next record, then? Yeah, perhaps other projects, but like, I guess, like, where I'm going with this is? Did you feel like you were able to utilize time better or your experiment better?
Thomas Csorba 43:53
Yeah, the try things differently, totally. At the at the height of like, all this stuff, I kind of realized like, Okay, I'm hanging out with basically my wife and my wife only. Just because we're at home most time and even if we get out, we're not hanging out with people. We're going to the grocery store, whatever. So I started doing a lot of CO writing over zoom. Which was weird and hard at first, but ended up being really good. The good thing about it is one it taught me that CO writing is fun, especially with my buddies, too. I think the songs are a lot better. But also, those songs wouldn't have existed unless I'd sent that text and said, Hey, how does Wednesday at 10am sand and there's a level of accountability there. You know, saying having that appointment in the calendar and knowing okay, like Brian, for example. He's got kids and a wife and he's setting aside Time to do this. Let's make sure that I come to the table prepared, and be a good be a good steward and in appreciative of his time, by, you know, spending the time really writing. And, you know, a lot of the songs have come through that, you know, method of writing, which is really cool. For so many ways, it's communal, you know, like, I get to make things with buddies, and we get to, you know, look at it on this side of writing and say, Wow, that's cool. And this is why it's cool, if it doesn't feel self indulgent, you know, but also, just because of their sheer existence, you know, they wouldn't have existed without, without that time, you know, spent writing. So that's been a big lesson, I think, if I'm able to, you know, set that time on the calendar for myself and say, Great, I'm gonna write at 10, shut the door. And I'll be in here from 10 to one, you know, put it on your calendar, right? Like, that's a very tangible way to make it happen, rather than waking up and be like, What am I going to do today? That kind of wandering basically, generally ends with you sitting on the couch watching some, you know, another crime show that you've basically seen a million times?
Thomas Mooney 46:22
Yeah, that's, that's one of those things where I felt like, you know, the first few weeks of the pandemic. You know, all of us we're wasting time like, no, yeah, because we're kind of in this weird, Purgatory of, you know, in three weeks, we'll be fine. Yeah, you're just kind of led on by that. So we were all just like, wasting time in that way. And it wasn't until, like, you kind of figured out like, Hey, I have to have a little bit of I want to break in just one more time to mention the Lubbock way, a collection of wallflower vignettes. That's a book I wrote and released this past fall. As you probably guessed by the title. It's a collection of stories and thoughts about the Lubbock music scene circa 2015. To around 2017. I'd like to characterize it as an insightful peek into 35 nights, weekends and episodes about various songwriters and bands, like red Shea Han, flatland Calvary, Randall, King, William Clark, green, Brandon Adams, and many many, many, many mini others. It's currently on sale in the new slang merch store. That's new slang podcast dot big cartel.com. While there you can also find T shirts, koozies, coffee mugs, stickers, and a bunch of other stuff. This first edition has been exclusively limited to only 806 copies, obviously, a nod to the panhandle area code and all the 806 or south. Links to the merch store, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They'll also be in the show notes. Again, go buy a copy of the Lubbock way a collection of wallflower vignettes by me Thomas Mooney All right, let's get back to the episode. One of the things I guess like I've talked with other artists about is the maybe finding other thing other artistic endeavors totally in the pandemic that made have made their songwriting easier made it because I feel like, at the same time, you just kind of given this, we were all given this. Yeah, time to say, hey, you know, right, we're maybe that's like the not the most important thing. Yeah. Did you? Did you end up finding other ways of getting?
Thomas Csorba 48:31
I mean, running for sure. Just being outside and using my body. I mean, it's, it's funny how, how simple it is, what are what we need, as humans, you know, food, water exercise, some, hopefully some creative outlet, you know, whether that's your job or not. My wife and I both have experienced that and got to embrace that, you know, it's like, it's kind of like, no wonder we feel a little like closer to each other, or at least the ones we love. After all this, it's like it's good to slow down, you know, we live in a very fast paced, productivity minded environment. And I get sucked into to like, I listen to podcasts all the time about how to be more productive. And that kind of stuff is fun to listen to, because I do want to squeeze out as much of this as much as I can out of this life, you know, but at the same time, there's a point of diminishing returns, right? Oh, and finding the balance between what I do for work and spending time with my wife is the big thing on my mind. You know, we've got a baby coming in July and thinking about it. leaving for tour not just leaving my baby and leaving my wife but leaving my wife to be with the kid without my help, you know, like, it's also intertwined, you know. So finding that balance and setting up kind of our or life and setting up parameters to where we both know we're getting what we need while also I'm out, hopefully making money on the road, you know? Yeah. So it's an interesting thing, but But yeah, I feel like solving those issues and B, being intimately in the trenches, with my wife has really shaped me and my mindset towards my work, you know?
Thomas Mooney 50:51
Yeah, I think we all we all kind of had to have varying degrees of shifting our priorities. Yeah. And, and understanding like, you know, what, like, I felt like, for a lot of people, it was, Is this gonna be the simple example, but it's the do I have to be, like, at an office, right to do my job? Or can I do a lot of people found out like, that can be done at home? Right? Or, you know, now maybe that's, maybe that's what they actually needed? Yeah. You know, because I've know a lot of people were just felt current, you know, just they, since they were not getting they, I guess they realize they thrive on human interaction. Yeah, totally. Strangers. Totally. And for me, I was like, Yeah, whatever. Take it or leave it. But yeah, I think there's some like, yeah, that's what they needed.
Thomas Csorba 51:42
It's interesting. I think there's, there's been an American format for so long. And that was a little shake in the past couple years. And it's interesting to see what, how things land, you know, because they're still landing. Yeah. I think, you know, it's, it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. But I I'm interested to see, you know, I, my siblings, and my siblings, spouses, and my, my parents, and my friends all do different things, you know, none of whom are musicians. And so, my mind is also very much in the world of like, What's life gonna look like for them. And, you know, I, my sister and brother in law have two kids and live in Nashville, I've got another sister and brother in law, who live in are moving to Alabama. And the beautiful thing about my work is that I'll get to, I get to be the uncle, you know, that's there every once in a while, gets to visit them and come into their world and I'm on the road. And that's a beautiful thing. And both, both of those both have their families and their their work, you know, and how they work. How my brother's not work, especially. It's gonna be interesting part of that equation, you know?
Thomas Mooney 53:10
Yeah. I'll try and get you out on this right here. Yeah. The self titled, you worked with Bobette for Yeah, Texas, gentlemen. I feel like this is going to be a compliment to both of y'all. But I feel like that's that also that the Ottoman honestly does not feel like the the Texas gentlemen, I've heard previously. Well, previous records. Yeah. And I guess, like, what I'm saying with that is that they would have like, you know, find find what works for your songs. Yeah. A, how was it working with Bo? A guy who's got, you know, a reputation of being able to work with, you know, a diverse cast of Yeah. of artists. Yeah. And, and going forward, you know, this new record, who are you? Who you working with?
Thomas Csorba 53:56
Yeah. So, I'll first talk about Bo. Bo's the man, you know, he's, he's my neighbor, and a close friend and a close friend of the fam, my family, you know, the reason why he's so good at working with so many people is because he serves the songs really well. Bo's entire spirit is about how can the collective we make something beautiful. It's intoxicating to be around and so fun to be around. You hang out with Beau and it's like, I just want to, I just want to think about art in the way that he does, you know, because he's not just a dreamer. He also works his ass off, you know. So that part of it's really fun. It's always fun being in a creative space, but we've been writing a lot of these songs together over the past couple years. But he working with the Jets was fun because he knows those guys so intimately, you know, used to tour with them and be part of the band and so being in the studio is fun because I got to see, I got to see them communicate in a way that I've never seen people communicate before. Nick does a guitar part, or, you know, we're tracking this live, we track it live. And he looks at Scott on bass. And he's like Scott, great at this one part because you do blah, blah, blah. He's like, got, it looks at Nick. He's like, Hey, Nick, that was a little like, more Eric Clapton than it should have been JJ Cale. Like, can you do the Jedi kill thing. And he, they know, the references. They start referencing, like different recordings of Grateful Dead songs and different recordings of the same songs in different tones. They're, they're, they're vocab list of music, you know, it's so at the tip at the tip of their tongue in the forefront of their mind that they can communicate in a quick and efficient manner. Right? It's so wild to see because I'm just sitting with my guitar, like, okay, like, let's let me just try to play in time and get a good take here. So that's a really fun process to watch and be a part of, I don't know what we're going to do for the new record. I haven't picked a producer Bo's definitely on the table, they're a bunch of other guys that I've thought about doing it with. And it's fun, because all these people that I'm thinking about making a record with, I know I can make make a damn good record, there are people that I really respect and, and admire. And so I'm hoping that you know, there are so many versions of this record. But what it boils down to is like, finding somebody that cares about the songs as much as I do, and really wants to dig in deep and make a, you know, front to back a record that, that that really says something and, you know, makes people want to keep moving the needle, you know, so I don't know what we'll do. But man, I'm excited about these songs. And it's so fun to get to try them out live and see if people like them and see if they don't, you know,
Thomas Mooney 56:58
absolutely. So yeah, it's always about finding the, you know, like that right. Person who, you know, is just as excited. As you know, I understand, you know, that that final version or that final vision. Yeah, you know, or the vision at least Yeah, you know, because it's a
Thomas Csorba 57:15
hard part of it, too. Because, I mean, I say I have a vision for the record, but also, it's like, I like a lot of different stuff, right? I don't want to make a record that sounds like Leon Redbone. Because I can't play and sing like that, and scat and whistle like that. But I think that stuff is cool. You know, so where's the line drawn between how to serve the songs and who I want to be as an artist, you know, finding somebody to help you guide? Guide yourself on that journey is important.
Thomas Mooney 57:45
Absolutely. I mean, that's, that's the, you know, not to ramble on on this part. But yeah, it's this goes into that whole thing of like, Who are you influenced by? And like, Who do you like, yeah, where like, you know, on Facebook, in the early days, you'd see people just like listing 1000 artists, it's like, well, those are all the artists you like, you're maybe influenced by, right? You know, a few of those guys. Yeah,
Thomas Csorba 58:08
not all of them. And there are certain things I like about certain artists, right, you know, branding, or just like the way they've built a team, you know, I'm upset. I love DOS, you know, that's one of my favorite bands, or his school messenger is a great example. But I, I'm not gonna make that music. Right. You know, I can't play guitar like Taylor Goldsmith. And I don't have the same vocabulary or the same perspective that Mike Taylor doesn't have his school messenger. So it's interesting to take those things and to appreciate them and embrace them and distill down what it is that I can learn from them. What is
Thomas Mooney 58:51
exactly, yeah. Well, Thomas, it's been a pleasure talking to you. Yeah, I think you're the first Thomas Organix. Yeah, it's great. I'm glad to be back. All right. We'll see you down the road. Thanks. Okay, that is it. For this episode. Be sure to check out the songs and records of Thomas shorba. Go stop on over and visit our presenting partners over at Desert door, the blue light live to Charlie's stock photography. Do yourself a copy of my book, the Lubbock way if you haven't just yet, and yeah, we'll see you for another episode of Newsline really soon.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai