Today, Jon Dee Graham is sharing the third single from his upcoming album, Only Dead For A Little While, out November 10 on New West subsidiary Strolling Bones Records. The single, "there's a ghost on the train," references an eerie trip Jon Dee took on the legendary train the "City of New Orleans," immortalized in song by Steve Goodman and made famous by Arlo Guthrie, among others. In keeping with Halloween, the song is premiering exclusively today at The Bluegrass Situation HERE and will be available on all streaming services on November 2 HERE. Along with his long-running Wednesday night residency at Austin's famed Continental Club, Jon Dee will be doing a hometown in-store at Waterloo Records in Austin on Monday, November 5 at 5 pm CST.
Jon Dee shares, "SO…my old friend Charlie Hunter, who started Roots on The Rails (train adventures with live music…we’ve been to see polar bears in Churchill on the Hudson!) had made friends w the guy who found and restored "The City of New Orleans" train of Steve Goodman fame. Charlie asked if I’d play the first run from Chicago to NOLA. I was in. It’s such an old and iconic train I got to talking with one of the porters, and I said ‘I bet this train’s got a few ghosts’. He got all serious and said 'O this train is haunted as hell!’ No matter how I wheedled him he wouldn’t say anymore than that.
"So I’m playing on and off late into the night. At one point during a break I’m heading back to the baggage car to have a smoke and as I’m approaching one of the doors between cars, I see a hazy figure on the other side and I get all gooseflesh and it keeps coming and I think ‘Sweet Jesus! I’m seeing a ghost on the City of New Orleans!’ When I reached the door, I realized that I was SEEING MY OWN REFLECTION in the door’s window. Relieved but disappointed, I pushed on through to the baggage car. When I entered the dark baggage car, I caught a brief glimpse of 3 or 4 guys sitting in the back and then it was gone…another trick of the light.
"Next day Charlie said, 'Were they PLAYING CARDS? Penny a point, ain’t no one keeping score??' SO, pretty sure I saw the ghost of Steve Goodman on The City of New Orleans.”
Only Dead For A Little While, his first new album in seven years, brings Jon Dee back to the New West family, where the three albums he released after the turn of the century helped launch him as a solo artist. The 5th generation Texan's artistry and accomplishments are well-known throughout his home state and the music community beyond, as a seminal figure in Texas punk and Americana (The Skunks and True Believers), as a hotshot guitarist for other artists (Alejandro Escovedo, John Doe, etc), as an explosive performer whose club sets leave no prisoners, and as a singer-songwriter whose range extends from a whisper to a howl. As a guitarist, he’s been tapped by Alejandro Escovedo (True Believers!), John Hiatt, The Knitters, John Doe, James McMurtry, Eliza Gilkyson, Lone Justice, Patty Griffin and many more.
It's a collection of songs an artist makes when he has nothing left to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide. Think of Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind, but sharpen the blade and crank the volume. You might even think of Frank Sinatra’s September of My Years, though Jon Dee Graham is a very different sort of saloon singer. There’s a certain darkness, bittersweet, whenever you stare mortality in the face. And especially when that face is the one you see in the mirror. But there’s also the richness of being alive and in love and open to it all. And that’s where the magic lies.
The result is a full-force triumph that reflects the seismic challenges we’ve been through—the pandemic or all of us, financial and medical and psychological issues for some of us, a return from the dead for it least one of us—and reassures that everything will somehow work out.
JON DEE TOUR DATES:
MON, Nov 6 Waterloo Records in-store - Austin, TX, 5 pm CST
SAT, Nov 25 Fitzgeralds - Berwyn IL
SUN, Nov 26 Kiki’s House of Righteous Music - Madison WI
THU, Dec 7 The Post - Fort Worth TX
SAT Dec 9 The Blue Door - Oklahoma City
SAT Feb 3 Bugle Boy - La Grange TX