Three Bridges album cover

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2007 marks my 20th year of touring. I can’t imagine a better celebration than to release an album like this one, a showcase of some of my most requested songs. I wish I could’ve put the liner notes in a beautiful thick CD booklet but I didn’t have a Trump budget. Much better hair, though. So, here’s the rest of what I wanted to say. Settle in with a cup of coffee. Heck, make a pot. You know how we musicians are, especially when we get to talk about our music.

In 1987 my friend Martie van der Voort and I decided we wanted to attend the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. If only we didn’t live in Arizona. Hey! We’re musicians, we can book a tour. Martie brightly exclaimed, “We’ll pretend we’re booking agents!” and off we went. I’ve been collecting tiny motel soaps ever since.

I’ve crossed many bridges with this crazy touring life, playing in thirty seven states and four countries, in over a thousand venues, from the 1993 March on Washington for GLBT rights (for a mere few hundred thousand people) to small house concerts. I missed Montana and both Dakotas but I’ve played in Alaska, in Hawaii, on a couple of Caribbean islands and heck, I’ve been happy to perform in Kokomo and Boise — wherever there’s someone who wants to hear my tunes.

It’s fitting that I dedicate this album to Dakota. No, not the state, but my (now ex) partner who wisely commented, “You don’t want to wake up when you’re 80 and say, I wish I’d done that.” I did it. And I’m still doing it. (I hope she’s not mad about the break up songs. Hey, it’s art.)

I also want to dedicate this to my fans. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be singing in my living room for my house plants. They don’t applaud. Not only did you clap but you cheered me on in countless ways. I love you all.

On May 11, 2007, when I traipsed into AirShow Mastering with my original master tapes and CDs, Charlie Pilzer, the engineer, smiled and raised an eyebrow. “Let’s get most of these songs from the CDs” he calmly said, “And if we need to go back to the original studio tape, we will.” We had to do just that for three of the cuts. Fortunately, he had an old reel-to-reel machine. I crossed every appendage as he loaded a tape that hadn’t been played in 15 years. Every couple of minutes he’d hit stop, pull up the tape, and wipe the heads with a cotton swab and alcohol, removing a layer of mildew and dust. I’ll be damned if the tapes played. It brought me right back to being a nervous new performer, wondering what the bejesus I was doing in that big studio, recording my little songs.

All songs written by Jamie Anderson, except “A Family of Friends,” by Sue Fink and Jamie Anderson; and “Where the Water Runs Deep,” by Lois Hoover and Jamie Anderson.


Three Bridges

(2001 Listen) © 2000, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Miriam Davidson: accordion, Jennifer Kirk: bass, Kiya Heartwood: vocal, Suzanne Mulcahy: vocal

It took me about ten years to write this song. It’s based on a true story so I had the verses down for a while but I struggled with the chorus. I played the song a few times for my friend Martie and at one point she leaned closer to me and said, “Well, what is the song ABOUT?” Always have a therapist evaluate your songs.

I was a finalist in a song contest with this one. Tret Fure won instead. Hey, if you’re gonna lose, lose to someone who doesn’t suck.

The CD cover photo shows the actual three bridges I sing about. They’ve since torn down the oldest one in the middle but the other two still carry traffic. You can find them over the Salt River, near downtown Tempe, where I grew up. And actually, the oldest bridge hadn’t been used since the 30’s – okay so I’m not a historian – and the bridges are in Tempe, not Phoenix, but “Tempe” just didn’t sing well.

There are three bridges across the Salt River
A steel one for trains, two others for cars
One of them hasn’t been used since the 40’s
Its concrete is crumbling with rusty rebar
On this bridge on a warm Phoenix evening
I walked with my friends as we peered down below
Carefully stepping our way through the rubble
We gazed to the river where it used to flow

I feel safe with my friends around me
Under the moon, over the Salt
They give me strength, with them I feel courage
I know they’ll catch me if I start to fall

At the end of the span we could’ve turned right
To the bridge with the traffic and sturdy sidewalk
But we chose the left and walked to the rail bed
Under the moon we continued to talk
Fitting our feet on top of the rails
We never looked back to where we’d come from
Half way across the long trestle I realized
If there was a train there’d be no where to run

I feel safe with my friends around me
Under the moon, over the Salt
They give me strength, with them I feel courage
I know they’ll catch me if I start to fall

We quickened our step, hoped fear was forgiving
Like in a dream our movement seemed slow
Just as the last one of us reached the end
We stopped and heard the train whistle blow

I feel safe with my friends around me
Under the moon, over the Salt
They give me strength, with them I feel courage
But it’s up to me if I start to fall

Drive All Night

(1999 Drive All Night), © 1997, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Richard Gates: bass, Doug Plavin: drums and shaker, Dave Dick: mandolin, Joyce Zymeck: vocal, Kevin Barry: electric guitar

We recorded this with all of the instruments all through the song. When we mixed it, my producer, Jim, took everything out of the first verse but my voice, the shaker and that eerie electric guitar. I thought it sounded cool so we kept it that way.

This was a hard song for this folk singer to write. I’d always rebelled against simple love songs but hey, a gal can only sing about food, sex and mama for so long before she needs to dial it back.

I spend so much time in my truck touring that it’s natural I wrote using driving metaphors. Y’all are lucky there isn’t a Motel Six mentioned.

CarTalk played this song. I didn’t have the heart to tell them it’s not about driving.

I like how the steering wheel is firm under my hand
I like how the headlights cut across the shadow land
I like how your voice is low and breathless in my ear
I like that it’s cold outside but warm in here

Surrounded by this highway, we’re at the speed of light
Baby, let’s drive all night

I like how your features soften in the dashboard glow
I like how your body settles underneath your clothes
I like how the rumble of the wheels against the road
Quickens with my heart, I don’t wanna drive slow

Surrounded by this highway, we’re at the speed of light
Baby, let’s drive all night

Your hand on my shoulder
Then slides up through my hair
We are rushing forward
I’ll take you anywhere

Surrounded by this highway, we’re at the speed of light
Baby, let’s drive all night


(2005 A Promise of Light) © 2003, BMI

Jamie: vocal and acoustic guitar, Kiya Heartwood: vocal, Dave Arms: bass, Kara Barnard: acoustic guitar

This is based on a true story. I was telling someone about a friend’s decision to have stomach surgery and commented, “I thought she was beautiful before.” The woman I was talking with said, “That sounds like a song” so I wrote it down in a little book of song ideas that I always have with me.

In 2006 I received an honorable mention from the Unisong International Song Contest for this one. Given that there were a few thousand entries, I think that’s pretty good.

I probably get more comments on this song than almost any other song I do.

Hey how ya doin’ she says, with a quick embrace
I step back and look into an almost familiar face
Laughing she says she lost almost fifty pounds
“I can wear most any clothes now I’m not so big around”
Her smile is hopeful but I can’t think of more than
I thought she was beautiful before

The surgery was worth it she said, then slowly frowned
“I was scared, there were complications but I’m five dress sizes down”
Gone are her lovely curves and the shine in her eyes
She wants me to be happy but I just want to cry
I thought she was beautiful before

You might think I’m bitter but I’m healthy, I feel great
I wish the same for her, it’s not about the weight

Oh my dear friend, I hope she’s really fine
I told her that she’s beautiful at any size
What she did was dangerous, was it worth the try?
Truth is I love her, I’m just glad that she’s alive
I think she is beautiful
She is so beautiful
We all are beautiful in my eyes

One Out of Three

(1995 Never Assume) © 1993, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Lisa Koch: vocal, Bruce Hurlbut: piano, Garey Shelton: fretless bass, Linda Severt: percussion

This is a true story. It was a shock that my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only in her early 30’s and the disease doesn’t run in the family. Thankfully, she’s been cancer free since the early 90’s.

At the time I wrote this, the American Cancer Society said that one out of every three people in the US will get cancer in their lifetime.

I talked with friends and folk duo Justina and Joyce about doing the backing vocals on this one because we’d performed it live and I loved their creative arrangement and how they blended with my voice. It was too expensive to fly them in from New England to Seattle though. Lisa used some of their vocal arrangement so it was almost like having them in the studio. I think she did a really fine job. Not only is she funny but she’s a damn fine singer.

Women, please do your monthly self breast exams and get mammograms or other tests as recommended by your doctor.

I always thought I felt pretty good
I check every month, I know I should
I found it in autumn, didn’t think it’d stay
But this thing in my body won’t go away

One out of three, I hope it’s not me
I’ve got too much to do to leave this world so soon
One out of three

Just before Christmas, I went in for tests
I tried not to worry about the lump inside my breast
Just the week before, my cousin had phoned
She said she had cancer, was she all alone?

One out of three, she says I know it’s me
I’ve got so much to do, to fight this thing through
One out of three

I know I’m lucky, the test said benign
And my cousin gets treated, she’s doing fine
For too many more, that’s isn’t true
I know your stories, I’m singing for you

One out of three, it’s you and me
We’ve got so much to do, we’ve got to speak the truth
We need courage and so much time
We need to save each other’s lives
‘Cause one out of three’s too many for me
Any number’s too many for me

My Dad Loves to Sing

(new) © 2007, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocals, Kara Barnard: mandolin and bass

I wish you could all hear my dad’s beautiful deep voice. He’s my biggest inspiration.

Kara and I recorded this and the next song with Karen Kane. We had such a relaxing and fun time.

Booming voice as he strums the strings
When I was a kid he was embarrassing
Yeah, that’s my dad I’d mumble
And he loves to sing

My dad loves to sing old country songs
You can’t help but sing along
My dad loves to sing

At parties or his favorite bar
Surrounded by friends, he’d play the guitar
Funny songs he wrote himself
In his element, it was easy to tell (that)

My dad loves to sing old country songs
You can’t help but sing along
My dad loves to sing

Got a phone call late one night
My brother said you better catch the next flight
The hospital let us bring instruments in
Acoustic guitar and mandolin
Like he taught us we sang funny songs
He opened his mouth, he couldn’t sing along

He gets around now, doesn’t go very far
His left hand’s too weak to play the guitar
Last week when he thought that no one could hear
To Buck Owens on the TV he sang soft and clear (’cause)

My dad loves to sing old country songs
You can’t help but sing along
My dad loves to sing

Too Busy Being Blue

(new) © 2007, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar, shaker and vocals, Kara Barnard: electric guitar and bass

Never dump a songwriter.

There’s a white spot on my left hand
Where I used to wear your ring
I took it off that April night
When you told me every thing
Now you wanna be my friend
You say you’re not like the rest
I’m too busy being blue
Fuck you

You left a note on the counter
You say you can’t forgive yourself
Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?
After you dragged me through hell?
Now you wanna be my friend
You say you’re not like the rest
I’m too busy being blue
Fuck you

Gone is our life, our home, your love
All that’s left me is the truth
I’ll hang it here on my heart
This is my note back to you
Keep your friendship, keep your tears
Keep the seven goddamn years
‘Cause I’m too busy being blue
I’m too busy being blue
I’m too busy being blue

I Wanna Be a Straight Guy

(1999 Drive All Night) © 1996, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Richard Gates: bass, Doug Plavin: drums, Kevin Barry: electric guitar, Leigh Peterson: tambourine, Jim “Doo Doo Head” Henry: burp mentor

This was inspired by Louden Wainwright III’s “I Wish I Was a Lesbian.” I always loved his song and figured I needed to write an answer. Over the years, I’ve tried to get the song to him but so far I’ve have been unsuccessful. If you’re his best friend, could you give him a recording? I’ll send a box of chocolate your way. None of that crappy domestic stuff either.

I didn’t even know what the Stanley Cup was when I wrote the song, I just knew that it rhymed with “up.” I’m a folk singer, not a sports fan. Am I still a Real Lesbian?

I wanted burps at the end of the recording but had trouble getting a mighty one. Jim rushed into the studio with a can of pop and exclaimed, “Let me try!” That’s him saying “Didja get any of those?” at the end. The best burps are his. I’m the one gasping for air. When we mixed this song, Jim wanted to take out the belches. When I told him they were funny he replied, “Yeah, but I thought we were just goofing around.” It’s comedy, Jim. Comedy.

I wanna legally marry, I wanna make more money
I wanna feel safe wherever I go, make a big noise when I blow my nose
I wanna wear an ugly tie, I wanna be a straight guy
I wanna be a straight guy

I wanna hang my shorts on the door, wear wrinkled shirts off of the floor
I wanna pee standing up, I wanna win the Stanley Cup
Have a George Clooney glint in my eye
I wanna be a straight guy
I wanna be a straight guy

I wanna drink beer and belch all day, drive like everyone’s in my way
I wanna name like Tom or Mort, I wanna a bathroom line that’s short
There’s no reason to ask me why
I wanna be a straight guy
I wanna be a straight guy

I wanna drive without a map, I wanna wear a jockstrap
Kiss my girl for all to see, think everyone is stupid … but me

I wanna be a straight guy


(2005 A Promise of Light) © 2003, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Kiya Heartwood: vocal, Dave Arms: bass. Miriam Davidson: keyboards

In November of 2001 or 2002 I stayed at the Highlands Inn in Bethlehem, NH. Out of my window I saw a depressingly gray sky over icy ground. A bitter wind blew the bare tree branches. There was no phone or TV in my room and I couldn’t get a signal on my cell phone. (Lest you think this is some rough bunkhouse, it’s actually a wonderful inn. And now they have a wireless net connection.) What else to do but write a song? I flipped through my little song idea book and found “two girls falling in love with each other at church camp, hallelujah.” Well, okay then. I fiddled with an opening tuning (DADGAD for all you guitar nerds) and wrote the story. I named the main character Grace ’cause that was the name of the innkeeper and I thought it was handy that someone in a song with so many hallelujahs would be named Grace.

I never fell in love at church camp but Girl Scout camp, whoo doggie. The camp counselors who played the guitar were always my favorites. Fleebus, will you marry me?

Grace is on a Greyhound, nose pressed to the glass
Hands clenched tight, she’s going to church camp
Anticipation rattles every teenage bone
It’s her very first time away from home

Hallelujah, hallelujah, praise the lord

Bible study’s kinda boring
Still with every question Grace holds up her hand real straight
When she knows the answer Patty winks at her
She swears the light glistens ’round her face
She wears these dorky shorts
All the other kids laugh behind her back
But Grace likes to watch her play ball
She’s never seen a girl run so fast

Hallelujah, hallelujah, praise the lord

In the meadow, in the morning
Grace sees the sun shine like god through the trees
Breathing in the silence, then footsteps behind her
A low voice calls out Grace it’s me
Her heart is beating, she turns slowly
Patty’s strong hands on her waist
Closing her eyes she feels the sunlight
Patty’s lips brush across her face
She whispers, “I love you Grace”

Hallelujah, hallelujah, praise the lord

She heard that camp closed in the 80’s
Still Grace holds that meadow memory tight
Now she sees the goddess in rays of the sun
It’s a different kind of light
And the spirit is inside her, she knows who she is
She thanks the warmth of the sun and a young girl’s kiss

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Dark Chocolate

(1989 Closer to Home and 1999 Drive All Night), © 1988, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal

I wrote this after our second date – the songwriter’s equivalent of bringing the U-Haul.

I’ve gotten more gifts of dark chocolate because of this song. I’m writing a song about lasagna next.

I recorded this one twice. This is the version I cut in 1999. We experimented with various backup instruments but decided that my guitar and vocal was enough. There was only the engineer and producer in the studio at the time and it was kinda weird being the only woman, singing a song like this. Jim (my producer) was so sweet, trying different things to relax me. I think we ended up recording it live with the lights turned down a little. I stood in the studio alone, closed my eyes, and sang the song like I’d done for years.

The way to a woman’s heart is through her lips
Through the shudder of her sighs and the motion of her hips
Through the softness of her thighs to that place between her shoulders
And if a woman wants her, do you want to hold her back?

Are you thinkin’ ’bout a woman you might like to see?
Look her deep in the eyes and say, slow dance with me
You know what you’re wanting, you might ask now
You can show her, then she’ll know how (that)

The way to your heart is through your lips
Through the shudder of your sighs and the motion of your hips
Through the softness of your thighs to that place between your shoulders
And if she wants you, do you want to hold her back?

I’m thinking ’bout a woman who might take me home
Feed me dark chocolate and other sugar that she owns
I know what I’m wantin’, I’m asking now
I can show you so you’ll know how (that)

The way to my heart is through my lips
Through the shudder of my sighs and the motion of my hips
Through the softness of my thighs to that place between my shoulders
And if you want me, I won’t hold back

Mama Come Quick

(1999 Drive All Night) © 1998, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Richard Gates: bass, Jim Henry: acoustic guitar, Marie Burns: vocal

This isn’t a true story for me although my brother Kelly did get a beebee gun taken away from him for shooting birds in the yard. I wondered what would have happened if he was a more messed up kid and grabbed one of Dad’s guns. We all knew where they were kept.

I love the bass part Richard plays. That syncopated part in the chorus sounds so ominous and captures the mood well.

For all you guitar dorks, this is in a G tuning capoed at the fourth fret.

My brother had a beebee gun, he shot it in the yard
He hit a neighbor kid, it left a little scar
Mama got angry and took the gun back
Now he’s headed for the bedroom and Daddy’s gun rack

Mama come quick, Bobby’s got Daddy’s gun
Mama come quick, he says he’s only having fun
Mama come quick

He waves it around like his heroes on TV
He’s laughing loud as he points the gun at me
I tell him not to do it but then I hear a click
I don’t feel a bullet, still I feel sick

Mama come quick, Bobby’s got Daddy’s gun
Mama come quick, he says he’s only having fun
Mama come quick

When I go to sleep I hear the click in my head
If he’d found the bullets I know that I’d be dead
He was only playin’, still I cry real heard
I call for Mama in my dreams, she’s always too far

Mama come quick, Bobby’s got Daddy’s gun
Mama come quick, he says he’s only having fun
He says he’s only having fun
He says

When Cats Take Over The World

(1995 Never Assume) © 1993, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Lisa Koch: vocal, Linda Severt: vocal, toy piano and percussion, Orville Johnson: guitars, Steve Klein: bass

This is one of my most popular songs. Kids especially like it. When you include a cat barf imitation, you can’t go wrong.

There are several videos on YouTube that feature this song including one that received over 130,000 views before it was taken down. My favorite is the one that helps to raise money for a cat rescue association in Brazil.

This was partly inspired by “The Bass Player’s Lament,” a song written by Emily Kaitz about how bass players should take over the world. I thought, hmmm, cats are taking over my world and ta da! A song was born. Originally, I dedicated this song to my cat Linda Su, a talkative and loving Siamese I had for 17 years but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my current felines Emily, Zoe and Vito. Now will you three quit shredding the living room carpet?

We had a lot of fun with the sound effects. We piled some stuff on a music stand and knocked it over for that one line. That’s me doing the cat hiss, Linda the cat barf and Lisa, the dogs barking. I love the little inquisitive “woof?” at the end of that.

That really is a toy piano that Linda is playing. She sat on the floor in front of it, her knees poking up on either side and banged out the melody with one finger.

The world’s in bad shape indeed
There’s too much anger and greed
But I can see through the gloom
Change is coming soon
When folks will be very nice
Tuna will plummet in price

When cats take over the world
Everyone will be kind
You could jump on the counter
And eat whatever you find
You could cough up a hair ball
And no one would mind
Maybe we’d all purr
When cats take over the world

Doors will be against the law
Everyone will keep their claws
Dogs will be shown no mercy
They’ll be shipped to New Jersey
There will be no more cars
Cat haters will be sent to Mars

When cats take over the world
All trouble will cease
You could jump on a bookcase
Knock over whatever you please
You could clean your butt hole
In front of company
In public you could hurl
When cats take over the world.

We’ll stare into thin air
Pretend there’s something there
We’ll learn meditation
And perfect manipulation
No one will ever get wet
Or have to go to the vet

When Cats Take Over the World

Loretta and Bernadine

(1992 Center of Balance) © 1990, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Earl Edmonson: acoustic guitar, Maureen Smiley: violin, Jane Young: cello

My grandma had boxes and boxes of old photos. When I came to visit I’d go through the cartons and ask her who all those people were. Sometimes she knew or I found the name written on the back. One faded black and white photo, probably taken in the 40’s, had no caption. It was of a woman alone, holding a briefcase and gazing directly at the camera, her mouth in a set line, like she’d been too distracted to smile. “Who’s that?” I asked Grandma. “Oh that’s your Great Aunt Bernadine. You met her when you were a baby.” After listening to Grandma reminisce about her, I figured out the part of my aunt’s life that Grandma didn’t see. I did my best with the story here, making up a few details to fill in the gaps. I found out later that I’d gotten a couple of the facts right even though Grandma hadn’t told me. Maybe my aunt was peering over my shoulder as I wrote.

Bernadine was a nurse who married a disabled man; he passed away not long after they married. In the 40’s no one thought twice about a widow living with another woman so I doubt that any eyebrows were raised when Loretta moved in. Bernadine went back to school and learned to be an optometrist. Grandma said something about her lecturing at a university too – maybe she was also a professor. Loretta kept the house while Bernadine earned a living to support them both.

I think it was around the time Bernadine had a stroke that Loretta starting selling their belongings. My family was angry because they felt she was stealing Bernie’s things. I’m sure Loretta was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to pay Bernadine’s medical bills and that she’d be left homeless and without an income. My family put Bernadine in a nursing home in a little town in Michigan, far from her Chicago home. She passed away a few months later. Loretta moved to Florida where she had friends. I tried to find her in the 90’s but never did. If anyone knows of Loretta O’Shay who lived in Florida around that time, I’d love to talk with you.

I don’t want to paint my family as cruel. They didn’t understand the relationship between the two women and heck, I don’t know if I do either. They may have been partners or they may have simply been good friends. What I do know is that they were family to each other. I wish my family had respected that. I wish I’d have known about this before Bernadine passed away. In my heart of hearts, I think I might have been able to explain it to Grandma and maybe she would’ve stood up for them. Grandma was a very loving woman – giving the greatest hugs and quick to tell someone she loved them. She’s gone now, as are the older members of my family who knew my great aunt.

This is for you, Bernadine. I hope you like it.

Bernadine got married before the second war
For a woman then, there wasn’t much more
Than a house bought and paid for
A husband who was kind
Good friends and family, children on her mind

Then something happened in the middle of the night
Her husband grabbed his chest and said, “Turn on the light”
He was so young, there was so little warning
They did what they could but he didn’t live ’til morning

It was then that Loretta moved right in
Bernie needed company and Loretta was a friend
Neither woman would have to be alone
Loretta warmed Bernie’s heart and blessed her home

For many years, they lived together
Their love changed and grew and got so much better
Bernie had her work at the university
Together they had friends who were their family

Late last year Bernadine had a stroke
It was too much for Loretta’s eighty years to cope
So she called Bernie’s sister, said I can’t care for her this way
I can’t feed us both, can you come right away?

Bernie, I’m tired and I’ve gotten old
And I can’t drive anymore I’m told
It hurts to tell you this after so much time
But you need a nursing home and some rest I need to find

Loretta looked at their fine possessions
Where Bernadine was going, she wouldn’t need them
So she put some things in storage and kept her favorite chair
She packed Bernie’s clothing and sold the silverware

Bernie’s sister got mad and said, What did you do?
You’re selling Bernie’s things, they don’t belong to you
After forty years, Loretta knew that wasn’t true
Bernadine stayed silent, confusion shone through

The court battle lasted ’til early this year
The sister got the property, Loretta got the tears
Bernie settled into a small town nursing home
Her sister took over, leaving Loretta alone

The lesson is not that growing old is hard
But to trust in the family who won’t leave you scarred
When you can’t make choices of how you want to be
Prepare for the changes, who is your family?
Loretta and Bernadine

I Don't Know About the Night

(1992 Center of Balance) © 1991

Jamie: acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals, Laura Berkson: harmony vocals, Ralph Gilmore: drums, Steve Grams: bass, Randy Lopez: keyboards

I really did come out on New Years in 1976, in a bar called The Habit. The band was playing a goofy song about “going home with the armadillo, good country music from Amarillo and Abilene” while a circle of women formed a raucous conga line and sang at the top of their happy-ass lungs. I sat at a table, grinning wider than the grill of a 57 Ford and feeling more content than I’d ever felt in my life. After that, the bar lived up to its name and you could find me there several nights a week, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when the band performed. In those days, the only way to find lesbian community in Phoenix was at that bar or playing softball and since I hit like a girl, I spent a lot of time bellied up to the bar, sucking down ice water and watching the dancers. I used to bake cookies and bring them to the bar so everyone called me Cookie Lady. (And no, there were no illegal substances in them although I was regularly accused of that. I was underage in a lesbian bar – do you think I’d do something that dumb? Don’t answer that.)

The band, Indavana Blues Band, were my heroes. They were an all women’s band who did a lot of popular rock and disco tunes. I’d never seen a woman play drums or lead guitar before them; I had a massive crush on every one. I when found out the guitar player didn’t care for cookies, I brought her an avocado. Rochelle, the harmonica player, loved cookies and usually had a stack of them on the tray that held her harps. Last I heard she was still kicking musical butt in a blues band in Arizona. She played on my Closer to Home album.

And yes, I did find my first lover in Girl Scouts. In high school I kept my membership in scouting secret – for fear of looking like a big dork – but now I’m the envy of every lesbian I know. Where else would you find women’s community that early?

Lois owned a 1972 fire-engine-red Ford Maverick with an 8 cylinder engine. She taught me how to pop the clutch and beat the high school boys out of lights. Oops, I was supposed to keep that secret.

I liked her a lot and I followed her around
She had the coolest car in town
I was just a kid, barely fifteen
She slipped into my dreams

I don’t know about the night
If it feels like love, is it all right?
I close my eyes, shut out the light
And leave love in my dreams

We spent the night at each other’s house
She was a poet, we were both Girl Scouts
She taught me bravado and I made her laugh
One night I kissed her, she kissed me back

I don’t know about the night
If it feels like love, is it all right?
I close my eyes, shut out the light
And leave love in my dreams

It was just practice, we were just friends
I swore off believing, I didn’t intend
To love her, it wasn’t a part of the plan
I always thought I’d love a man

I don’t know about the night
If it feels like love, is it all right?
I close my eyes, shut out the light
And leave love in my dreams

In ’76, on New Years Eve
In a crowded bar, I saw women like me
I joined in their dance and I learned my own name
Drew strength in their courage and cast off the shame

Now I know about the night
If it feels like love, I know it’s all right
I open my eyes, let in the light
Release love from my dreams

Her Problem Now

(2001 Listen) © 2001, BMI

Jamie: electric guitar and vocal, Kara Barnard: electric guitar, Leigh Peterson: drums, Jennifer Kirk: bass, Problemettes (Martie van door Voort, Kiya Heartwood and Miriam Davidson): vocals

I wrote this after watching a Bonnie Raitt video and thinking, why don’t I have a big blues number? This was actually a few years after a breakup so I wasn’t really feeling this bitter but it provided a handy topic and a catch phrase I thought was fun.

I got to play electric guitar on this one. I had to borrow it since I don’t even own one. I am such a folk singer.

This is dedicated to everyone who’s relieved that they don’t have to fake it anymore.

Angry moods, slamming doors
All you did I wasn’t sure what for
I’m not sorry I left
Glad to go and how
You’ve got a new lover
You’re her problem now

There were times you were kind
Then you’d turn on me, what was on your mind?
That was quite a show, go on take a bow
You’ll get no applause from me
You’re her problem now

Her problem now, I don’t have to fake it
Her problem now, I don’t have to take it
For me, there is no regret
I’ve got my self-respect
You’re her problem now

I thought you needed therapy
You said the problem was me
Maybe so, I’ll claim my share
But truthfully, right now I don’t care
You’re her problem now

Her problem now, I don’t have to fake it
Her problem now, I don’t have to take it
For me, there is no regret
I’ve got my self-respect
You’re her problem now

Menstrual Tango

(1995 Never Assume), © 1994, BMI

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Lisa Koch: vocal, Linda Severt: vocal, Will Dowd: drums, Orville Johnson: tasteful Spanish guitar, Steve Klein: bass, Bruce Hurlbut: piano, Nova Devonie: accordion

I was telling someone the other day that this album was my legacy. I don’t know if I really want this particular song to be my legacy but my friend Mary Anne says it’s funny. A few others have decided that too since I still get requests for it 13 years after I wrote it.

My buddy Martie van der Voort used to do a song called “Menstrual Rag.” I decided I needed my very own menstruation song but I wanted mine to be a dance. I looked up “dance” in my thesaurus and found “tango.” Perfect.

When I went to record this song, Nova, the accordion player, listed several accordion players who specialized in tangos and asked which style I wanted. Heck, the only reason I vaguely knew how a tango went was because there was a tango percussion button on my little Casio keyboard. I think my response to her was a mumbled “pick the best arranger.” So, what Nova is playing is authentic. The rest of us are making it up.

I was twelve when it happened, this mysterious thing
Overnight my hips grew and my uterus started to sing (la la la)
A voice said to me, “You’re mature, now you’ll have fun
For today darlin’ you are a woman

Do the menstrual tango, if you dare
Do the menstrual tango, in your underwear
Do the menstrual tango, it’ll make you grunt
For the next 40 years, it’ll happen once a month

What is all this stuff I’m supposed to use?
Tampons and little pads that stick to my pubes
Cramps that make me cry, fluctuating weight
Please remind me why this is supposed to be great

Do the menstrual tango, it’s kinda odd
Do the menstrual tango in your swollen bod
Do the menstrual tango, how much can you stand?
It’s the only time you wish you were a man

I know I should celebrate this thing that makes us unique
But why couldn’t it be something that didn’t last a week?
It’s universal, a thing that women share
We bond over mood swings and what products to wear

Do the menstrual tango, move your butt
Do the menstrual tango, eat chocolate
Do the menstrual tango, eat constantly
Let’s all tango together, let’s go out to eat
Let’s all tango together, while we bleed

A Family of Friends

Recording the vocals for “A Family of Friends” l-r Miriam Davidson, Susanne Mulcahy, Martie van der Voort, Kiya Heartwood – Recording Listen, August 2001

(2001 Listen), © 1992 Sue Fink (ASCAP) and Jamie Anderson (BMI)

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Martie van der Voort: vocal, Kiya Heartwood: vocal, Miriam Davidson: vocal, Susanne Mulcahy: vocal

In the early 90’s Sue Fink and I were at the Institute for Musical Arts, then in Bodega, CA. She had a song she thought might make a good title cut for a compilation we were planning. The chorus was done and there was a melody for the verses but she wasn’t sure of lyrics. Sitting at a big grand piano we worked out the words for the verses. Dakota, Jane Emmer and June Millington wandered in and out of the room. We’d play them what we had and sometimes they’d offer suggestions. While they were originally credited with co-writing, it was really written by Sue and I, mostly by Sue. We recorded a few months later, in a choral style, with a bunch of women in women’s music. A prominent part of my shows, I decided to re-record it in 2001 with just a few of my friends. I wish Sue could’ve joined us. We debated about various arrangements and ultimately decided that a simple guitar and vocals would suit the song just fine.

It’s been sung by a lot of choruses all over the US and Canada. It does my heart good to know that one of our ‘children’ has traveled so many places.

You always thought your mother knew though you never said a word
You always thought that she’d come through but I guess she never heard
When you said the words out loud you thought she’d be okay
You asked for love and her support, but she just turned away

Let us be your family
Let us take you in
Let us be your family
A family of friends

They bought the old Victorian with plans to fix it up
Forever was in store for them but hope was not enough
Illness overlooked their dreams, it can disregard the heart
Now he goes upstairs alone, and lies there in the dark

Let us be your family
Let us take you in
Let us be your family
A family of friends

It’s more than ties of birth
It’s more than flesh and blood
We’re always waiting here for you
A family’s simply love

Let us be your family
Let us take you in
Let us be your family
A family of friends

Where the Water Runs Deep

1986 Heart Resort) © 1986, lyrics by Lois Hoover and music by Jamie Anderson

To find this song, play through cut 16 and let it run. If you go directly to cut 17, all you get is four seconds of silence.

Jamie: acoustic guitar and vocal, Michelle Marquand: vocal, Sue Norton: flute

Even some of my longtime fans don’t know about this little recording. This is one of the first songs I ever wrote so it’s a little clunky but heck, it’s vintage Jamie Anderson. The tape wasn’t a very good quality when it was recorded and after storing it in countless attics and garages, it’s degraded even more. Still I think you can hear it well enough that it serves as a good marker.

My friend Michelle sang beautiful harmony vocals. We called her the one-take wonder because she did so many vocals quickly, matching my phrasing well with her beautiful voice. Sue played fabulous flute – it was like having my own Kay Gardner. I always loved working with both of them.

I sound so young here. I was older than twelve. Really.

This song is a eulogy of sorts but don’t worry, I plan to be on this planet a long time. I’m not sure about Lois since I lost track of her in the 80’s. If anyone knows of her, please contact me.

So I’m a weary restless dreamer
Fools and drifters always fail
But don’t be sorry when I’m gone
Where the water runs deep, I sail

Find me where the waves of blue
Meet the sky above
And sunset leaves a golden glow
There you will find my love

But there my love will never stay
You’ll find yourself alone
Other winds must touch my sails
Where the water runs deep I roam

Maybe you could sail with me
A drifter by my side
The ocean waves will be our path
And the stars will be our guide

A silver moon will shine above
The clouds so soft and pale
The wind will whisper words of love
Where the water runs deep I sail


Here’s more about the albums where I got these songs:

2005, A Promise of Light, produced and engineered by Kiya Heartwood, recorded at Outlaw Hill Studios in Stamping Ground, KY; mixed by Karen Kane at Overdub Lane in Durham, NC.

Outlaw Hill Studios sounds like a slick studio but actually, it was Kiya and Miriam’s (Wishing Chair) upstairs bedroom. I recorded my vocals and guitar while sitting in the hallway of their old farmhouse, a poster of Peggy Seeger right next to me. The musicians were all recorded at different times, when I wasn’t even there. It was a weird way to record but when Kiya brought me the tracks, it was like opening a great birthday present. I really love her arrangements. She sang the bass player his parts (an octave or two higher, I presume). Miriam played flute – I didn’t even know she played flute – and Kiya, violin. She’s a beginner and was really excited to get her first violin credit. Kiya also sang all the backup vocals. It must have been quite a feat to run between the mike and the computer. Hey, record AND get a work out. Maybe I should market that concept.

2001, Listen, produced by Kara Barnard, recorded at Overdub Lane in Durham, NC, engineered by Wes Lachot.

Kara has played on my last three recordings and hot damn, she’s creative, easy going and we rarely have to re-record her parts. She produced this project. We recorded it with few overdubs. That means most of it was recorded live – me sitting with my guitar pressed to me, a couple of mikes clustered around my face and guitar, while the drummer and bass player sat in the other room. I could barely see Leigh’s head over her drum set, sticks poised above to hit the snare just as “Her Problem Now” ended. The energy was vibrant – like a live performance – but it meant we had to leave in a few mistakes. Many of my friends joined me on this album, including Martie van der Voort, the woman who did my first two tours with me. She flew all the way from Arizona to North Carolina. I threw her in a studio with other vocalists she never met and overnight they came up with those great backing vocals you hear on “A Family of Friends.”

1999, Drive All Night, produced by Jim Henry and recorded at Signature Sounds Studio in Palmer, MA, engineered by Mark Thayer.

 I loved working with Jim ’cause he was such a laid back guy, very funny and a great musician. He didn’t quite understand my humor, though, and that’s why I had to explain “I Wanna Be a Straight Guy” to him even though he IS a straight guy. He’s played guitar with Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Burns Sisters and many more. I hired him partly because he’s such a great guitarist but he ended up only playing on one song. All of my albums feature wonderful musicians but on this one, I had part of Paula Cole’s touring band, Brooks Williams, Richard Gates (who’s played bass on almost every Patty Larkin album), Joyce Zymeck (songbird from Justina and Joyce) and the Burns Sisters. Get back Loretta.

1995, Never Assume, produced by Lisa Koch and recorded by David Lange at David Lange Studios in Edgewood, WA (near Seattle).

Lisa’s concerts are pee-in-your-pants hilarious so you can just imagine what she’s like off stage. It’s a wonder we got any work done. At one point she and Linda Severt were practicing the goofy backing vocals to “Menstrual Tango” and accidentally ran the tape in their little Walkman backwards and at high speed. Nonplussed, they improvised Chipmunk-like vocals with a special hip thrusting dance that can only be described as frantic. We recorded it and were going to include it on the album as an outtake but lost it. For the title cut, the mandolin player had to sit in a utility closet. Of course, that brought on many “coming out” jokes when he was done. This was one of my favorite studios in which to work – from the soothing blue-green walls to the relaxed attitude and talents of engineer David. When we took a break, we could walk outside into the cool woods to take a walk or just hang out with the cats; one had a giant sized purr that we thought would be great for the end of the cat song. Ultimately we decided that a cut from a sound effects CD would be better than miking a squirming tomcat. It’s still a real cat’s purr, we just didn’t record it ourselves.

1992, Center of Balance, produced by Dakota and Jamie, recorded by Steve English at the Sound Factory in Tucson, AZ.

Wow, that was a long time ago. I remember having a tough time recording “Loretta and Bernadine.” The guitar part on this six minute long song wasn’t turning out well because I had to play most of it perfectly in one take. This was in the days of analog tape – giant reels with ? inch tape – and editing either meant an engineer with hair-trigger reflexes (push “record” NOW) or one who was good with a razor — no, not to slit his wrists, but to actually cut the tape. After I finally got the guitar part, Dakota rushed in and reprimanded, “You are NEVER writing a six minute long song again.” The violin player unconsciously sang along so we had to edit out her vocalizing.

1986, Heart Resort, produced by Jamie and recorded by Taylor Smith at the Sound Factory, Tucson, AZ.

Damn, talk about a long time ago. Two women, Sharon and Jeanette, heard me play at an open mike and decided I should have a recording. They gave me a little over a thousand dollars; a fortune to this folk singer who was taking a full load of classes at the University of Arizona and working part time as a secretary. I found the cheapest studio I could and hired my friends to play for free. The rest went for design, printing and duplicating. I hardly knew what I was doing and not long after, the engineer went back to his other job as a golf pro. I think I sold about 200 of these cassettes. Originally I wasn’t going to include anything on Three Bridges from this tape but after finding a dusty copy in my garage and listening to it I thought heck, I might as well show you my complete journey, bumpy beginning songs and all. Lois Hoover wrote the words for this one ’cause this was in the days when I didn’t think I could pen lyrics (except for a couple of songs that I was convinced were freaks of nature). Lois was my first girlfriend and the one I sing about in “I Don’t Know About the Night.” I haven’t seen her since 1984 in Phoenix. I miss you, Lois.

There are a few other albums but I haven’t included songs from them. A Family of Friends was released in mid 1993. It’s a compilation I co-produced with Sue Fink and Dakota and contained the first recorded version of that song. Bad Hair Day was released late in 1993 and was a collection of funny songs, mostly from earlier albums. My first real album was Closer to Home, released in 1989 and while I haven’t included any cuts from that one, it does contain my first recording of “Dark Chocolate.” If you want one of those, I still have 2 boxes of LPs in my garage. The mildew is free.