Musician Dan Myers finally learns to let go
The lyrics on Dan Myers’ haunting new record are filled with biblical allusions and references to the natural world, elements the musician said were informed by growing up in an evangelical home in Oregon, where he spent his free time hunting and fishing outdoors.
These experiences were heightened during military training sessions where Myers said he was tasked with spending two to three weeks at a time in the woods. “I’d be out there not sleeping and not eating,” said the musician, who will releaseSoy Boy Blues (Space Canoe Records) to streaming services on Friday, May 15. “And I think I found myself in those times, when there were no other distractions and nothing to pull me away … and I probably pulled a lot of that into the songs.”
The album’s musical inspiration is rooted in a similar journey into nature, blending elements of the country music Myers grew up hating (he finally changed his tune after hearing Bill Anderson’s “Walking Out Backwards” while stationed in North Carolina with the Army) with the spaced-out atmosphere and arrangements of the psych-rock he first absorbed on a nighttime drive through the woods. “I’ve never been impacted by music the way I was when I heard Pink Floyd for the first time,” Myers said. “My best buddy and I each bought a copy ofWish You Were Here, and then we drove out to Salem [Oregon], riding through the forest and just listening to that album front-to-back on repeat.”
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Prior to that discovery, Myers, who played in assorted teenage bands beginning with a ska trio that he formed shortly after taking up the trumpet in fifth grade, said he was driven to make music mostly by some combination of ego-fulfillment and a desire to attract girls. But Pink Floyd’s music unlocked something different in him. “I almost felt like I became an archeologist at that point,” he said. “And music became this craft that I needed to explore, and everything became about serving that craft. I was still making bad, shitty music, but the goal had changed. … It was like, music just needs to be, it needs to exist, and I need to find a way to be part of that story.”
ForSoy Boy Blues, Myers also embraced his own story for the first time, writing candidly about break-ups and hospitalizations and his struggles to reconcile the person he was with the one he desires to be. The musician doesn’t always portray himself in the best light, either, capturing his past callousness on songs like “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” written about his divorce.
“There’s a line at the end the chorus that goes, ‘I don’t live here anymore/And you don’t love me the way you think you should,’ and that’s definitely a cop-out, and that’s putting a lot of weight on my ex-wife that she shouldn’t have to carry,” Myers said. “But I wasn’t writing an album so that other people could feel good about me, or so that I could feel good about myself. It was more that I felt that way coming down those stairs to leave the house, and I wanted to preserve that moment in my life.”
Gradually, though, the album does bend toward the light. The saddle-worn “My Own Broken Heart” is written from a more learned perspective, as though Myers has finally clawed his way to the other side of the river, and the record closes with the comforting “Doxology,” the word itself a liturgical form of praise, on which Myers lifts his voice to the heavens, sounding joyously unburdened.
Due to the personal nature of the material, Myers, who recorded Soy Boy Blues 18 months ago, allowed himself extra time to sit with the songs, developing a comfort level with inviting listeners in before releasing his grip and letting it loose into the world.
“Going in, I knew I was going to make a space-country record, and I think knowing that took a lot of stress off, and gave me the freedom to write more honestly than I’d ever been able to, and it was really daunting to think about letting people in to that,” he said. “And I think it took me a bit longer than I’m comfortable admitting to be OK with rolling the dice and letting people hear it. I had to get to a point where I accepted it for what it was … and now I’m OK with it. Whatever it is, I made the record that I wanted to make, and now it’s time to let it go.”