Among the countless people impacted by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are musicians who've found themselves with months of postponed or canceled tour dates. With that comes anxiety, restlessness and the task of transitioning from life on the road to quiet days at home alone with plenty of time to ponder the uncertain days ahead.
Although Texas band Flatland Cavalry recorded "War With My Mind" for Bruce Robison's The Next Waltz music label long before "self isolation" was a part of our daily vocabulary, the song was born out of feelings that are all too familiar to life in quarantine.
"Lost in a maze that ain't got an exit/ Stuck in a phase of bad habits I can't quit," lead singer Cleto Cordero sings on the track. "I've run out of faith and I can't see the light/ Down in the trenches, at war with my mind."
Cordero says the song was written with his fiancée, fellow singer-songwriter Kaitlin Butts, after a long run on the road.
"We were touring on the weekends and during the weekdays I would kind of come home and just kinda feel...unsettled," Cordero tells Wide Open Country. "I was just feeling uneasy."
Cordero kept coming back to the phrase "war with my mind," which seemed to fit the feeling of being lost in a "meaningless haze" and trying to look forward to better days.
"That title just jumped out..it kind of gave me hope to see the days ahead and see them through," Cordero says. "I'm hoping people will get some kind of positive message from the song. That's my only hope -- that it maybe shines a light on somebody's really dark situation."
Watch the video for "War With My Mind," recorded at The Next Waltz studios, below.
"War With My Mind" is Flatland Cavalry's latest release on The Next Waltz, a web series and music label helmed by Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison, who's become a mentor for several musicians in the Texas scene and beyond.
"At first it was super intimidating in a sense because Bruce is just kind of revered, you know what I mean? He's got all those great songs that I used to listen to going into town in my mom's '80-something Suburban," Cordero says of working with Robison. "But then he's just got this kind of stoic, really wise nature to him. He's super kind and he sits back and watches and lets you work. He kind of lets the song turn into what it wants to turn into...It was so cool to get to work with him and it's just so surreal."
As for Cordero, while he has written a few songs during quarantine, he says gardening has served as a much needed release after the whirlwind of going from non-stop travel to months of canceled tour dates.
"The first couple of weeks I started a garden in the backyard... I had to do something," Cordero says. "For the first two or three weeks, I just worked my tail off. It kind of took my mind off of the kind of craziness of what's going on."
Cordero, who's also a member of Texas supergroup The Panhandlers with John Baumann, Josh Abbott and William Clark Green, says he hopes continuing to release music to fans will help them through this situation in some small way.
"Music has gotten me through a lot of really tough times. It's pulled me through, you know? So maybe that's kind of our duty as people that are diving into music every day and trying to create," Cordero says. "It's a good thing to see the good in a bitter situation and pass it along to your buddy."
"War With My Mind" will be released on April 24 via The Next Waltz.