Never in my life have I felt so diminutive in this Universe but so filled with the world as when I was standing at the base of the Sawtooth Mountain range. Both inspired and terrified, I made my home in a tiny mountain community northwest of Boise, Idaho. Severe both in its appearance and its climate, the seasons controlled our lives completely. When the sharp teeth of the mountains began casting ominous shadows over our homes we knew it was time to draw in, depending on one another for basic needs - including human companionship.
If you can imagine a town populated by community-oriented recluses you would understand McCall. I suppose most of us only shunned our previous lives, whether we were graphic designers from L.A. or musicians from New Orleans. We were bonded by our strong desire to keep the rest of the world out. I began to write music for my first album, which I made while living in Idaho. However, it wasn't until I left that beautiful and lonesome place that I realized how truly changed I was by living there. My current album, Summer Hours, was created because of my time in Idaho.
It would be dishonest to say that McCall was a Utopia of sorts, or to say that the reliance on my neighbors helped me overcome certain social anxieties. Life in the mountains was bittersweet. Just as the greatness of Hemingway's words and spirit were imprinted on the Sawtooth, so seeped the angst and sorrow of his death into that same frozen soil. I co-habited with both fugitives and forest service employees. When the snow was deep and the roads impassable, there was the comfort of a few hundred yellow lights, working to softly illuminate the inky blackness of winter night. We spent time threading our lives together during the winter months. It was necessity. However, soon the short days and long nights grew tiresome, as did the company -- no fault of anyone's. The mountain became claustrophobic. Spring was almost worse, as we could get down the mountain to Boise, but were mired in mud, gloom and weeks of rain... which did nothing to improve the mood. We were stuck in transit, waiting to reach the sun.
And then it came. The lake thawed, the ground thawed, and everything turned green. You would have expected to hear singing and see people dancing, with flowers in their hair, praising the God of Summer... but instead the town became peopled with tourists, and the singing of the birds became muffled by the buzzing of boats on the lake. Those of us who lived on the mountain forgot all we knew of community and became reclusive again. When I wrote the title track of my album, I had these moments in mind. Unlike the frozen lake, my life thawed only in the winter. When the summer hours came again I disappeared. I didn't just acquiesce to the mountain; this was my nature and why I went to the mountain in the first place.
Listen to Summer Hours: