In our Track by Track feature, artists unveil the inspirations and stories behind each song on their new album. Today, Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks takes us track by track through his new record In Heaven.
The follow-up to 2019’s Eraserland finds Showalter in a different place, both physically and emotionally. He relocated to Austin, Texas, stopped drinking, and his family experienced profound grief. “In Heaven was created with so much love and my greatest hope is that it connects with people and provides a momentary space for reflection, joy, catharsis and whatever else someone might be looking for in their life,” he said in a statement. “Music is magic and I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I’m allowed to share it.”
This is the mission statement of the record. Acknowledging the dark times but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and chasing that feeling. It’s literally telling my audience, “I don’t want to drag you down.” Its purpose is to rewrite the script with Strand of Oaks and work toward empowerment and love.
A love song to my wife and taking the leap together in moving to Texas. Taking the grief of losing so dear to your life and celebrating that love with another act in life. There is a line in the song that says, “She’s my Easter,” that is one of the most important lines on the record because if you find love in your live it can be a constant resurrection and rebirth in your life.
The transformation into a life without alcohol dependency and drawing closer to the ones you love. When I say, “This world’s not meant for me,” it’s actually a positive line. At any point in your life you can change. Living a life without substance dependency was a change for me. It’s taking back control of your own decisions and actions.
“Horses at Night”:
Trying to encapsulate the vast overwhelming feeling that life is finite, yet that even after we are gone, there is a universal connection to all things and our love lives on. “Horses at Night” is both grounded in the very real loss of Sue’s mom and in dealing with that loss, the only way I could express the loss was going into the cosmos. Whether we lose someone we love or a planet is born, it’s all connected and there is comfort in that.
“Somewhere in Chicago”:
My ode to the late John Prine and the midwestern ethos he so perfectly embodied. The song dreams of a Chicago where John can forever and happily wander that great city. It also signifies me growing comfortable again with the acoustic guitar and that power doesn’t always equate to volume.
“Jimi & Stan”:
My sweetest buddy/cat Stan sadly passed away, and the only way I could describe my love for him was imagining Stan and Jimi Hendrix hanging out in heaven together, smiling and going to shows and having the best time. Heaven for me equals hope that the people you were lucky enough to love can live on somewhere they’ll be as happy as I imagine Jimi and Stan to be together.
A stream-of-consciousness lyrical journey trying to make sense of why we become who we are and how our own constructed mythology can bring comfort. There was a lot I needed to get out on this song. It’s the only song on the record whose meaning it might take me a few years to figure out. Sometimes songs are meant to be mysteries even to the songwriter.
Understanding the infinite points of existence and how at its most basic we are only just carbon. There are elemental themes on the record. I’m extremely proud of “Carbon” because Kevin and I had the confidence and freedom to say, “What is the most powerful thing we can add to this song?” and it ended up being a fiddle. It’s something Talk Talk would do.
A total vibe song intended to make you move and release past trauma and just fully face life head on. There is a point on any record where you need a visceral experience. This is the song during the recording process when I needed to express FUN.
Longing for human connection and understanding how much my life depends on that. It’s a bold statement to have your chorus just say, “I need humans,” but what else can you say after a year and a half of not seeing the ones you love.
This is me trying my best to tell my wife, who lost her mother tragically, that I will always be there for her. In Heaven in general is a community record, it’s a human record, but for the last song I wanted to make it a singular focus for my wife and tell her I love her.
In Heaven Artwork: