In the first few months of a worldwide pandemic, bluegrass-rockers The Steel Wheels took to their own home studios—in some cases pieced a home studio together—and got to work. Recording more than 60 songs when all was said and done, the group landed on a concept unlike any waters they’d waded into before; they called it “Distance Together.” Conceived by The Steel Wheels’ lead singer and songwriter, Trent Wagler, the project became an avenue for fans of the band to commission works and send musical greetings to their loved ones. The initiative sparked a surprisingly impactful and intimate songwriting process, with Wagler setting the personal stories of fans to song and verse. Some songs were written for individuals, some for friends and families—many were specific to a time and place—and some were commissioned for weddings and anniversaries or to commemorate a lost loved one or the completion of a life's work. At the end of the process, The Steel Wheels—Brian Dickel, Trent Wagler, Jay Lapp, Eric Brubaker, and Kevin Garcia—were left with some of the most heartfelt, inspiring material they’ve ever written, and the result shines through on Everyone A Song, Vol. 1, a brand new 9-song album to be released on November 20th.
Today, The Boot premiered Everyone A Song, Vol. 1’s first single, “The Healer,” which came to life as a song to celebrate the retirement of a physical therapist’s 38-year long career. Before making it onto the album, “The Healer” was used during a socially distanced retirement party as a special gift to commemorate an amazing career. “As the family recalled stories from [the subject’s] life, it was clear that her healing skills were not limited to the workplace,” recalls Wagler. Like every other tune on the album, the song’s lyrics and melody reflect the love and admiration that encircle the celebrated. Fans can listen to ‘The Healer” now at this link and pre-order Everyone A Song, Vol. 1 right here. Additionally, on Friday, Oct. 16th, the band will join The Boot’s online community via Facebook Live to play a few songs from the new record, including the first single “The Healer,” at 8pm central.
The process behind this new album has been further documented in an accompanying podcast, We Made You A Song. Each episode dives into the creation of a single song on the album, serving as an in-depth audio liner note. Wagler interviews the band as well as the actual subjects of each song to give a rare glimpse into the creative process and what it means for someone to have their experience distilled into melody and rhyme. We Made You A Song is distributed by NPR and WMRA.
Everyone A Song, Vol. 1 was born out of a desire to close the distance created in the midst of the Covid-19 shutdown. “Maybe I was dreaming of being an essential worker,” says Wagler. “It made me ask the question: what’s essential about music? It’s the connection. The understanding. The beauty and magic of melodies that transcend us with the words that say, ‘You there, I see you, and you see me, and doesn’t it feel good to not be alone in the world?’ That’s what art has to offer. Especially right now. And planting real stories right in the middle of it kind of pushed aside any other pretense or distraction about being cool or whatever.”
Everyone A Song, Vol. 1 Tracklisting:
My Name is Sharon
Don’t Want To Come Back Down
The Man Who Holds Up The World
Water And Sky
Florida Girl (Work For It)
Family Is Power