SUNDAY CLASSIC GTC: MATT YORK Between the Bars
by Matt York
The album is called “Between the Bars” and is about alcoholism. I don’t drink. I did when I was younger but it was never really an issue for me. I spent a lot of years doing music and then a lot of years away from it before returning about two years ago. One of the things I really forgot about is what a big role alcohol plays in the music world. When you are a musician, you are often the first person there setting up and the last one leaving when you are loading out. As a musician, you see lots of drunks. You see the fun alcohol can bring out of people and also the despair it masks in people. That’s what this album is about.
BETWEEN THE BARS
This song is about knowing that your relationship is through. It’s about how drinking has caught up with somebody and has caused their relationship to falter. More specifically, it’s about a person knowing that the relationship has faltered and that they are the cause of it. I’m always struck by people I see drinking at a bar alone that have clearly been there a while and, for whatever reason, I often think it’s because they have no place else to go.
I played down in Nashville last year. I was up early on a Saturday morning and went down to Broadway to find some souvenirs to bring home for my kids. There’s a very narrow window of time there where the bars are closed and then it seems like by 9 a.m. or so, the party cranks back up. This song is about a person getting drunk the night before, waking me, and taking their hangover right back to the honkytonk. There’s a line in the song “I introduced my sadness to a beer, no one likes me here at the honkytonk, but I don’t feel alone when I’m here” which pretty much sums up the song.
This is a more upbeat song and more written from a female perspective. This song is about being with somebody that you know isn’t the right person for you but is your current best option. “Started out with breakfast at a bar, later on, you said I pushed you just a little too far” is how the song starts. This is another subset of people that I seem to key in on at bars. Couples that really drink their way into thinking that the person they are with is satisfactory when really they know otherwise. Overall, that relationship can be temporarily fun but ultimately, the truth catches up with the relationship.
I live in Boston and we have pretty harsh winters here. Life generally shuts down for a two-three month stretch and there’s less socializing, less time outdoors, etc. Seasonal Affective Disorder is fairly prevalent in my region. This song is really about the summer coming to end and knowing that soon the fall will be here. The fall season in New England is beautiful but is also obviously a precursor to the winter. The temperatures can fluctuate wildly and there can be a dreariness mixed In with the vibrant colors. This is really about that. It’s about knowing those colors are going to fade, that hibernation is going to begin and that there’s nothing that can stop that from occurring.
In some ways, this song is the heart of the album. It’s meant to sound like an Irish singalong but is about what damage alcohol is doing to those people singing along. I have two kids and there’s nothing in life I enjoy more than being with them and my wife. I’m always struck by men that hang out at the pub and ignore their families. Many of them are in great spirits while at the pub, laughing and joking but don’t necessarily consider the damage they are doing to their families and themselves. A “Man Who Does Nothing” is really somebody that works, drinks, recovers, and then repeats the same pattern day after day.
This song is about treading water and finding a way to hold on post-relationship. It’s an upbeat song and I think the message of the song is relatively upbeat as well. This one isn’t necessarily about drinking as much as it’s about having a relationship end and just hanging out with people that you aren’t particularly thrilled to be hanging out with. A guy is out drinking at a bar with buddies that are sitting there wishing he was just hanging out with an ex-lover that he knows isn’t coming back. He doesn’t necessarily think that relationship was meant to be, he just knows that, at that moment in time, he’d rather be in that relationship than out with his friends.
MATT YORK Between the Bars
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Artist photo via Facebook
Vocals: Matt York. Recorded 2017 in Revolution Sound, Boston, MA.
Produced by Dave Brophy.
Drums: Dave Brophy
Bass: Joe McMahon Guitar
Organ/Piano: Ken Clark
Trumpet: Matt Girard
Guitar: Johnny Trama
“Between the Bars” was released in late 2017. Gatehouse Media’s Peter Chianca wrote, “Put Boston’s Matt York in the ‘should be rich and famous department’ — his country rock with a jangly edge has instantaneous appeal, combining wry lyrics about barflies, ex-lovers, and fading summers with infectious melodies and a rocker’s penchant for strumming his way through heartbreak“. – bio