Portland, Ore., might be where the dreams of the ’90s still live, but it’s also where musicians’ dreams can falter. Louisiana native Chuck Westmoreland, however, hasn’t given up. He picked up the guitar at 13, played in several bands in high school, and by the time he was 17, relocated to southern Oregon, eventually making Portland his home.
Before long, Westmoreland formed indie-rock outfit The Kingdom, who signed to Greg Glover’s Arena Rock label. The Kingdom garnered coverage from Pitchfork and toured with the Silversun Pickups. When the band unraveled, Westmoreland turned his attention to the bar he owned, Portland’s The Red Fox. However, when his wife was diagnosed with (and has recovered from) cancer, Westmoreland returned to music. “Denim Tears” is one of the story songs on his upcoming album Long Winter Rodeo.
“Denim Tears” is a hardhitting rocker in the vein of old-school of another Moreland: John. The song is a strident take on a truly painful experience: being stuck in the closet. Westmoreland writes, “Denim Tears is about a gay young man struggling with his identity and dealing with a family that does not accept him. The young man hears his father’s voice in the back of his mind saying, ‘Ain’t nobody gonna hit you if you tell them lies’ and ‘ain’t nobody gonna miss you if you let them down.'”
“I was out getting some drinks with a buddy of mine right before I wrote this and we had a conversation about his coming out,” he continues. “I was really touched by his story and by his strength. He said he felt like he had to be a different person around certain people to try and keep everybody happy and that it was confusing, exhausting, and terrifying. He grew up with terrible anxiety and depression. I wrote the line, ‘Ain’t nobody gonna see the denim tears you cry’ first and went from there.”
Long Winter Rodeo is out June 1 on Black and Gold Records.
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