Hard Rock Daddy recently spoke to Tom Keifer about his solo album entitled The Way Life Goes (see album review). The posting of the interview was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, but that’s “the way life goes” sometimes.
Given the amount of time that it took to complete “The Way Life Goes,” was it difficult to settle upon the final tracks?
Well, most of the songs were selected when we started to cut the tracks and produce the record. We didn’t over-record and then select the songs. It was probably harder at the beginning of the process to say which 14 songs we would choose. Actually, it started out being more like 12, and then there were a couple that we added in. “Mood Elevator” and “Welcome To My Mind” were later additions when we were actually in the middle of recording.
With 10 years of material to choose from, it couldn’t have been easy picking the final cuts for the album…
A lot of the writing was done prior to the recording, but as I mentioned, some of the songs were written during the recording. It’s always hard, because I had a lot of songs to choose from and sometimes you just don’t know which ones are going to come out the best until you actually start recording and producing them, so it’s always a tricky process. I like to pick of mix of songs that create dynamics and give you some variety.
Lyrically, the album shows the highs and lows that you’ve been through as far as relationships are concerned. Your wife, Savannah, is a big part of this record. You seem to have great musical chemistry with her. What was it like working with her on the record?
Very easy. She’s so talented, and an amazing songwriter and producer. She co-produced and co-wrote a lot of the songs. What’s really cool is that we approach music the same way. I know some songwriters who feel that they always have to be writing a song, and kind of forcing it, but I’ve never been that way. I’m very happy not to write a song for a year-and-a-half, because I just figure that I’m not supposed to be writing one at that moment. Sometimes, the break allows you to fill the well and get inspiration. Savannah approaches songwriting the same way. I don’t think that either one of us could stand living in the house together if one of us was a pushy songwriter.
You can definitely feel the love between you and Savannah on the album, but there is also some hate on various songs. Were those inspired by one bad relationship or several?
I think when those things get written, it’s cumulative. Those are feelings that we’ve all felt throughout our lives many times. From high school on, we all experience many heartaches and anger about bad relationships. With songs like “Cold Day In Hell” and “Ain’t That A Bitch,” I can’t really point to any one person in particular. It just builds up in you through the years from the time that you’re an adolescent. “Nobody’s Fool” was like that too. It wasn’t about one thing. It’s more about capturing an emotion that we all go through many times over in our lifetimes.
There’s a disclaimer on “The Way Life Goes“ about someone from high school not really becoming a drag queen.
(Laughs) – Well the title track is a little tongue-in-cheek about the irony of life. There are real people in that song, people that I grew up with in high school, but as far as I know, he did not become a drag queen. It was kind of a funny way to make a point because they were the all-American couple, you know, the prom queen and captain of the football team. I had to find a way to have it end in despair in an ironic way, so it was pure fiction.
The storyline of the song actually reminded me of Billy Joel’s “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.”
Oh, well, thank you! That’s a compliment. I love Billy Joel, and his ability to write about the slice of life. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Growing up in high school, The Stranger was huge album that I loved.
You do a great job of capturing a slice of life on this record. One of the things that I appreciated most is the way that you do it with a social conscience, while hitting on things going on in society today. For example, the way that you highlight the short attention span that exists today due to technology on “Fool’s Paradise.”
I think that technology is a catch-22. Good or bad, it’s changing our society drastically. I think that a lot of our modern conveniences are opening the door to not such good things.
On the song “A Different Light,” I think that you really captured a lot of what is going on in America today, in a sympathetic, positive kind of way.
I’ve been asked about the meaning of that song a few times. To me it comes down to non-judgment. People are sometimes guilty of looking at someone’s situation, and judging them on the situation while forgetting that there is a real person there, and maybe there were circumstances that were out of their control. You might see them very differently if you look at their situation in a different light. Basically, we all want the same things out of life, and sometimes people end up in unfortunate circumstances that are beyond their control.
Check back on Friday for part 2 of the interview with Tom Keifer to read about the vocal cord problems that nearly ended his singing career, his duet with with Lzzy Hale and the future plans for Cinderella.