Blue Notes

Eric Lindell Calls for a Revolution, But Not the Kind You're Thinking

Photo by Sarah Lindell/Courtesy of Alligator Records
These days on the streets, on TV, and in comments sections of thousands of social media platforms, there’s a lot of call for revolution. But for seasoned Americana artist Eric Lindell, that sort of change—or at least as he sees it on a personal level—needs to come from a different place.

That’s the idea he hopes to get across with his new record, Revolution in Your Heart (Alligator). And his inspiration comes from two seemingly disparate sources: The live Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh, and the late R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist Curtis Mayfield.

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Record cover
“Hanh was Martin Luther King’s right-hand man about the war in Vietnam. And I just love his books and his readings and his writings,” Lindell says. “I read this one thing where he was talking about how happiness begins within yourself. And in order to have that, you have to start revolution within yourself. It wasn’t those exact words, but they stuck with me.”

Lindell adds that all people have a competitive nature, and we’re all guilty about maybe wanting what other people have while we may be struggling. But he says you can’t go down that path, and have to be grateful and do the best with what you do have. “I also wanted this record to translate a positive message with a positive feel in the songs, and that’s where Curtis Mayfield comes in. He’s one of my favorite writers, and his whole message is incredible.”

In fact, all 12 tracks on Revolution in Your Heart do have an upbeat feel about them both lyrically and musically, with many based on Lindell’s real-life experiences and family, friends, and “personal characters” he’s known. And the Folsom, Louisiana (pop. 750) resident also wanted to challenge himself a bit from the more than dozen releases he’s put out since 1996.

“I feel like I’ve been making the same record for the past 20 years, so I tried to keep it stripped down here. No horns, no big background. And it was really hard to do that!” Lindell laughs. “There were times I wanted to add things but Ben Mumphrey, my co-producer and engineer, had to be protect me from myself!” For this effort, Lindell also played all the instruments himself, save the drums which were handled by Willie McMains.

He also recorded a bit differently, taking a “beautiful 40-minute drive” from his home to Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana. There, he worked about five hours a day, finishing one song a day.

That also gave Lindell time to pursue his other passions like horseback riding, fishing, and duck hunting – much of that activity on his 45-acre spread, populated with he, his wife, and a lot of dogs. But for musical inspiration, he often looks to the west for Texans, and that list includes George Jones, Freddie King, Jimmie Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Delbert McClinton, who he counts as a close personal friend.

In fact, he’s taken other friends out to shoot with him, including Texas guitar legend Anson Funderburgh, another personal friend who will also be producing Lindell’s second of a three album deal with Alligator Records after the current September/October tour winds up. There will be a noted Houston connection as well, since Continental Club owner Pete Gordon will be playing keyboards during the gigs. But back to duck hunting.

“I had Anson in a duck blind one time, and I had him all decked out in camo. He didn’t say a peep, and we didn't see one duck all day!” Lindell laughs. “But he’s down to do anything. Even fishing. He’s the first one to say ‘Hell, yeah—let’s do it!’”

Eric Lindell plays at 9 p.m. September 8, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main.  For information call 713-529-9899 or visit $20.

For more on Lindell, visit Eric
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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero