by Michael Todd
When asked what brought him from Lexington, Neb., to Lincoln, Lloyd McCarter says with a laugh, "I was supposed to go to school."
After he moved for college, though, he started hounding the Pla Mor Ballroom, the only country music venue that would let an 18-year-old in. He talked to any band he could find about playing or sitting in with them for a show. As it turns out, McCarter would find his place as a steel guitar player in the Prairie Rose Band, stepping in for a fiddle player who was expecting a baby.
"I did that for maybe six months or so," McCarter says, "then Dave Wilson from FortyTwenty calls me up. He says, 'Are the legendary Lloyd McCarter?' I say, 'Who is this?' and he goes, “You’re the legend.' I just said, "OK."
That's how Lloyd McCarter, who started playing rhythm guitar at age 8, became the 18-year-old steel guitar player who put school on hold for country music. It's fitting after all since his mom and dad, from Brady and North Platte respectively, met in a band, and the song that opens McCarter's new five-song offering was written by his father.
McCarter and his Honky Tonk Revival play Hear Lincoln this Friday at noon on the corner of 13th and O, and will also release the album Tired of Being Me on Friday night at The Zoo Bar. Listen to the full release below, and hear what McCarter has to say just after the jump.
1. "Who's Going to Drive This Pick-up"
My dad actually wrote that song, long time ago. That’s a traditional, truck-driving beat, honky-tonk song about being too drunk to drive your truck home at night.
“Tired” is really written about being in a place in your life where you’re just tired of being you. If there’s ever been a point in your life where you really couldn’t control the situation, and you didn’t want to be there, but felt like there was no way out, and you were just tired of being you: That’s what “Tired” is.
3. "Big Time"
“Big Time” was the title track on our first album, but I wanted to put it on this, and that song is a really heartfelt song about the way country music has changed, and it’s become more and more about the money than the people. That whole song is about me saying out loud to people, to myself and to my family that the music I play I owe not just to myself: I owe this music to everybody including my mom and dad, and my family, to keep real, traditional music alive. It’s something that can’t be lost.
If you look at all the people who have longevity, and aren’t even around: Johnny Cash and Waylon. They sang real songs about real people. That’s the stuff that stands the test of time through the generations. People struggle through the same crap, and they relate to the same topics in life. And it’s not just Americans, it’s everybody. Everybody goes through the same stuff. And that’s why those people are so timeless.
Then you get somebody like Kenny Chesney or you could name so many people, they just fizzle out because it’s all about the money. It’s all about a songwriter has a song that a producer gets ahold of and says, “I can make money off this.” Then they get ahold of an artist, and they get in this big love triangle and they run their hands together and go, “Oh, we’re going to make so much money off this.” And it doesn’t really matter, three weeks or three months down the road, it’s gone, but who cares: They made their money and they move on to the next throwaway song.
4. "More Than I Can Say"
“More Than I Can Say” is another traditional shuffle, honky-tonk song. It’s about a guy whose wife chews him out for going out and drinking at the bar all night long. She says, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’m going to leave.” And his rebuttal is, “Well, if you were ever home, and you weren’t out runnin’ around on the town, then maybe we could start a relationship again. Since you’re out doing your thing the whole time, the only friends I have are my friends at the bar.”
The line is, “This bottle’s always been there for me to hold my hand / That sawdust floor always catches me when I’m too drunk to stand / You say this drinking will kill me, that might be true / But this honky tonk always been there for me / And that’s more than I can say for you.”
“Mexico” is me wanting to write a mean, ugly song, a Marty Robbins, Mexico-feeling song.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He is still going to be Garth Brooks when he grows up, even though Garth might have been one of the first to exploit country music. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.